“Extreme weather events around the world have underscored the reality of climate change.” With these words, Prime Minister Jean Chretien told the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg on Sept. 2 that Canada will ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change by the end of the year. The “imperative for global action,” Chretien said, “is strongly felt by Canadians.”

The Protocol has set off alarm bells in the pro-life movement since it was first signed in 1997. At the time, the American Life League warned that global warming “most often attributed to human-induced pollution” could be used to justify “reducing world population.”

Pro-life researcher Susan Roylance said, “The specific purpose (of Kyoto) is to establish a legal mechanism to require countries to comply. If (a) country has too many people-caused emissions, one of the easiest ways to reduce the emissions is to reduce the number of people.”

Pro-lifers in Canada also cite the prediction of then-Globe and Mail financial columnist Terence Corcoran, now editor of the Financial Post: “In the name of climate change, the signing nations have agreed to manage just about every aspect of human activity.”

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute in New York told The Interim, “What undergirds Kyoto and other documents is that human settlements and the growth of human populations” contribute to global warming.

In theory, Kyoto will enter into effect when it is ratified by enough countries to reach 55 per cent of world carbon dioxide emissions. Signatories have promised to cut so-called greenhouse gases to a level six per cent below those of 1990 by 2008-2012, the target agreed to by 180 participating countries in Bonn last year.

Canada accounts for only two per cent of world emissions, and industry leaders say implementation of the protocol would cost 450,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector alone. A leaked government document says at least 200,000 jobs would be lost, with a $16 billion loss to the economy. Alberta, the province likely to be hit the hardest, may try to opt out.

But Kyoto may never recover from the mighty blow it received when the United States – invariably chided as “the world’s worst polluter” – pulled out of the protocol earlier this year. The Bush administration did not feel bound by Bill Clinton’s endorsement and says Kyoto does not serve the U.S. national interest.

In 1998, over 15,000 American scientists petitioned the Clinton administration to oppose the accord, voicing “frustration and disgust” over the “misuse of science to promote a political agenda.” Dr. Frederick Seitz, past president of the National Academy of Sciences, said, “The treaty is, in our opinion, based upon flawed ideas,” and called greenhouse gas fear-mongering “a complete fabrication.”

Furthermore, some of the world’s biggest producers of greenhouse gases – including developing countries with large populations such as India and China – were never obliged to sign.

Still, China is one of several countries that practise coercive population control, notes Austin Ruse, and during early negotiations it actually tried to earn Kyoto credits for contributing to a reduction in human-induced climate change.

In an interview with The Interim, Scott Weinberg, with the Population Research Institute in Front Royal, Va., calls the sustainable development mindset “classic neo-Malthusianism.” Thomas Malthus was the economist who, in 1798, predicted that population could outstrip production within 50 years – a staggering miscalculation that ignored human ingenuity and a host of other unforeseeable factors.

Weinberg says the same misguided zeal drives population controllers today. For instance, in Peru, 200,000 women were forcibly sterilized in the 1990s with the help of the UN Population Fund, to which Canada has contributed millions of dollars. Weinberg calls this “trashing the environment of the woman and her child,” a violation of human dignity that sees contraception and “safe abortion” promoted “at the expense of a woman’s right to deliver a healthy child safely.”