Politicians and officials arriving at the climate change conference in Bonn yesterday found their route lined with dozens of placard-waving protesters shouting their support for President Bush and his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol.
In front of the conference hotel, more than 40 American students marched in yellow T-shirts bearing the slogan: “Stop global whining” . Others wore cow and chicken suits and stopped anyone who would listen to sing President Bush’s praises and spell out the economic dangers of reducing greenhouse emissions.
Most are political science students from deeply conservative families, who have each paid $750 (£530) to gather in the former German capital and who believe that cuts to fossil fuel energy demanded by Kyoto will seriously damage the American economy.
The protest was the idea of Fred Singer, Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, who is one of the most prominent critics of the science of global warming.
Professor Singer, an atmospheric physicist who was the founder of the United States weather satellite network, said that the best scientific evidence showed that the world had not warmed appreciably since 1940. “I think some day George Bush will be praised for saving Europe from economic suicide,” he said.
However, climate scientists meeting in Amsterdam yesterday were told that, in a series of dramatic climate changes triggered by human activity, Europe could soon find itself in the grip of a new ice age. The United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate change predicts a hotter planet, with an average temperature rise of up to 6C, but some researchers told the Amsterdam conference that the assumption of progressive and even temperature rises could be completely wrong. They now fear that climate change could proceed in a series of sudden “flips” involving previously unimagined effects. The consequences could be catastrophic in any part of the world.
In Bonn, the World Wide Fund for Nature said that the world’s largest animal, the blue whale, could face extinction in Antarctica because global warming is destroying its source of food. Populations of krill, the small, shrimp-like creatures that are the mainstay of the whale’s diet, are declining in the Southern Ocean because of rising temperatures and melting sea ice.