Journalists like to tell us about their professionalism and the many layers of editors that ensure their accuracy. However, somewhere in those layers of editors, have reporters lost the ability to perform basic research? In the case of Reuters reporter Jeff Mason, it would seem to be so. Mason wrote an article on California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Monday speech on global warming, in which he wrote,
President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of the Kyoto accord, saying it unfairly burdened rich countries while exempting developing countries like China and India.
This is a startling revision of history. Apparently Mason forgot, if he ever knew, that although then-President Bill Clinton signed Kyoto, he never submitted the Kyoto treaty to the Senate for ratification. And according to Wikipedia's entry for Kyoto,
The United States (U.S.), although a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the Protocol. The signature alone is symbolic, as the Kyoto Protocol is non-binding on the United States unless ratified.
Mason also neglects to mention the 1997 Byrd-Hagel Resolution against ratifying Kyoto. The Reolution passed the Senate 95-0 in 1997, and stated that,
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that--
(1) the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992, at negotiations in Kyoto in December 1997, or thereafter, which would--
(A) mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex I Parties, unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period, or
(B) would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States; and
(2) any such protocol or other agreement which would require the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification should be accompanied by a detailed explanation of any legislation or regulatory actions that may be required to implement the protocol or other agreement and should also be accompanied by an analysis of the detailed financial costs and other impacts on the economy of the United States which would be incurred by the implementation of the protocol or other agreement.
So to recap, the United States has never 'pulled out' of Kyoto, since we were never legally in Kyoto. And the treaty, though signed by President Clinton, was never submitted to the Senate for ratification since the Senate made clear that they would not ratify Kyoto or any other similar agreement. All of this information is easily researchable on the Internet, yet Mason neglected to mention it in his rush to accuse President Bush of being anti-environment. Perhaps Mason should tend to his own failings- including learning objectivity and reseach skills before rushing to judgement on easily disprovable accusations such as this. Hat tip to NewsBusters reader Anthony Grafton. Cross-posted on StoneHeads.