Bad Air over Kyoto

STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, left, and President Bush

By the end of the century, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported, melting ice caps could raise global sea levels by as much as 88 cm. But last week the Atlantic Ocean seemed to be just growing wider. After U.S. President George W. Bush bluntly rejected any American role in the gargantuan, decade-long effort to forge an international agreement to slow global warming, advocates of the Kyoto Protocol in Europe reacted with howls of protest and betrayal.

The reaction revealed a trait Europeans have long considered a quintessentially American attribute: political naiveté. It seems pretty obvious...