Monday, December 14, 2009

Kyoto & the Articles of Confederation

A forgotten bit of United States history provides an analogy to what could happen to the Keyoto Protocols in Copenhagen.

The United States had a constitution before the U.S. Constitution. It was called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, or simply the Articles of Confederation. Article 13 stated that only the Congress of the states could amend the Articles of Confederation.

However, rather than amend the Articles, a series of conferences and conventions were held, which resulted in the Articles being discarded and replaced by the U.S. Constitution. A similar thing appears to be happening to the Kyoto Protocols to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Powerful nations are trying to discard the Kyoto treaty and replace it with something else more favorable to corporate interests.

It's instructive to reflect back on what motivated the dismantling of the Articles of Confederation. Following a meeting in Mount Vernon to address navigation issues between Maryland and Virginia, the conveners recommended a convention of all the States for the following purpose:

"to take into consideration the trade and commerce" of the Confederation. [1]

Ah, yes. Commercial interests at work again. According to political scientist David Hendrickson:

When the war ended in 1783, certain special interests had incentives to create a new "merchant state," much like the British state people had rebelled against. In particular, holders of war scrip and land speculators wanted a central government to pay off scrip at face value and to legalize western land holdings with disputed claims. Also, manufacturers wanted a high tariff as a barrier to foreign goods, but competition among states made this impossible without a central government.[2]

So, out with the Articles of Confederation and in with the U.S. Constitution and a central government. The same interests seem to be at work centuries later trying to say out with Kyoto and in with a corporate-directed approach to global climate change. This establishment approach must be challenged.


1. C. Tansill (ed.), Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States, H. Doc. No. 358, 69th Congress, 1st sess. (1927)

2. Hendrickson, David C., Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding. (2003)


1 comment:

  1. Nicely done. Progress is a slow march so long as campaigns take money the lobbyists have leverage. This issues precludes all other issues because it infects all other issues. We should have many, many versions of the CBO and every voter should have proportional amplification of their interests based on one man one vote. Our current system is like the Senate when it should more resemble the House. It's important people understand the history of the formation of our bicameral legislature and its real effect on the interests and the leverage of the most which negates possible Organic Utilitarianism from the jump.

    Kudos to you sir, please continue to advocate for my interests.