Today's Papers

Greenhousekeeping Seal of Approval

The approval in Kyoto of a global warming control plan leads all around. The dailies note that it puts the first-ever mandatory limits on greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, assigning various countries different output reductions to be implemented from 2008 to 2012. The U.S. would be required to cut emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels. USA Today says developing countries are exempt from the emissions cuts and that delegates agreed to a U.S.-backed emissions trading system for industrialized nations but will spend a year deciding how it will work.

The coverage is confusing, since, for example, the Washington Post says the meetings simply tabled until next year the issue of whether and how the world’s poorer nations would participate, and the New York Times says the industrial nations are required to reduce their emissions of the six main greenhouse gases to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels, while the Los Angeles Times says they’re bound to a 6.5 percent reduction. (But the LAT headline says 6 percent. No small matter–that half a percent represents a lot of pollution.)

The reporters’ work was no doubt made difficult by the same rigors faced by delegates, who kept working even though the interpreters went home and, says the WP, the dining hall was down to just a few bananas.

The papers convey the overall impression that environmental groups are fairly pleased by the Kyoto protocol and that industry groups hate it. “This agreement represents unilateral economic disarmament,” one lobbyist tells the WP. And all the papers agree that the plan’s prospects in the Senate, which must ratify it for the U.S. to become bound to it, are at best iffy. Indeed, the WP runs a separate piece about this under the headline: “Senate GOP Declares Kyoto Pact Dead.”

The LAT says Kyoto will alter the way “global residents” do things. Question: are there any other kinds of residents? But give the LAT credit for making the most straightforward observation about why some reform is necessary: “…1997 has been the warmest year on record.” Some of the Kyoto headlines, like USAT’s “Global Warming Pact OK’d,” overstate a bit, since it’s a plan, not a deal. The NYT hits the nail a little more squarely: “Tentative Accord is Reached to Cut Greenhouse Gases.”

Both the LAT and WP report that the scientific journal Nature reveals today that scientists have achieved a primitive form of teleportation, by replicating the exact properties of a light particle into another one three feet away. After reading the Kyoto pieces, it was surprising not to find an outraged quote or two here from airline lobbyists.

Lingering question from l’affaire Lawrence for assignment editors: Why not do a story about how Lawrence came to seize upon the Bushnell sinking as the fabric for his fiction?

No White House story these days is complete without a quote from Dick Morris, who rarely misses a chance to bite the hand that no longer feeds him. Today’s example comes in USAT’s story about the new presidential dog. Morris weighs in with: “I think the phenomenon of unconditional loyalty is probably something that he could use as president..But if I were the dog, I would watch my back, because I’m not sure the quality of unconditional love is always reciprocated.”

The NYT reports that prior to setting out for the South Bronx yesterday, President Clinton spent the night in “a” $6,500-night presidential suite at the Waldorf-Astoria. (Question: do they really have more than one presidential suite? If so, why?) After touring the Bronx, the WP reports he went shopping, buying among other things, $400 in jewelry and some sweaters and briefcases. When the owner of one store said he couldn’t charge the president, Clinton produced his credit card, saying, “Yes, you can.” Question: Does that mean we also get to charge him for that Waldorf room?