A dangerous rush to action

February 13, 2007|By Paul Driessen

Europeans have set themselves up for a head-on collision between ecological purity and economic reality. With Congress poised to enact heavy-handed climate legislation, the United States may be doing likewise.

Europe is finally realizing it cannot meet even current Kyoto Protocol commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Economic ministers are worried that Kyoto will harm living standards and send facilities and jobs to China and India, which aren't required to cut emissions.

The European Commission wants still more draconian reductions by 2020, because even perfect compliance with Kyoto would keep global temperatures from rising only 0.2 degrees F by 2050. That's why alarmists now say we must slash total global emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent by 2050, to keep CO2 at a "safe" level and "stabilize" a climate that has never been stable.

If poor, developing nations remain exempt, as they should, developed countries will have to go virtually carbon-free to reach this goal. How will Americans slash their energy use and emissions by 40 percent, 60 percent or 95 percent? Such policies would change life as we know it. They would put alarmist politicians, bureaucrats and activists in charge of every housing, heating, cooling, transportation, manufacturing, business and consumer decision.

They would terminate millions of jobs, cost hundreds of billions of dollars and send living standards tumbling, while giving every U.S. citizen a "carbon allowance" akin to what other parts of the world now "enjoy" (2.3 tons of CO2 per year in Cuba or 1.2 in India, compared with our current 19.8 or Canada's 17.9).

The elderly and minority workers and families would be especially hard hit. Heating and air conditioning would become luxury items as energy prices rose.

Other than fossil fuels, no technologies exist to provide the 100,000 megawatts of new electricity the United States will need during the next decade. Nuclear plants can't come online that quickly, and even the best wind turbines would require some 2 million acres to provide 100,000 megawatts of intermittent electricity.

Europe has green taxes on air travel and a $50-a-day climate charge on big cars in London, and there is a proposed "food miles" tax on the distance produce is shipped. Some environmental groups are pressuring U.S. banks not to finance coal generators, dams and fossil fuel projects in the United States or Africa. Calling it "socially responsible," compliant banks are caving in.

Yes, there is consensus that Earth's temperatures have risen slightly and that humans have played a role. There is no consensus that climate change will be catastrophic, that human CO2 emissions are the primary cause, or that slashing emissions will prevent the supposed cataclysm. It's a bait and switch, repeated endlessly by activists, scientists, journalists, bureaucrats, celebrities and politicians.

Computer models, headlines, weather anomalies and horror movies are not evidence. We would never rely on 50- or even two-year computer forecasts to make investment decisions. To trust our future to deficient climate models, and railroad through life-altering climate legislation, is to commit economic suicide.

Why do some support such legislation? Follow the money, says meteorologist James Spann: "Billions of dollars of grant money are flowing into the pockets of [scientists] on the manmade-global-warming bandwagon."

For activists and politicians, it's money, power and control. For companies, it's avoiding public floggings and selling new politically correct, tax-subsidized technologies. If there's no crisis, the gravy train comes to a halt.

We should develop new technologies to further improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution and enter a new era of energy generation. But we must not rush to judgment, trash our economy or slash living standards just to "do something" about a speculative climate change "catastrophe."

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Congress of Racial Equality and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, which have received funding from ExxonMobil for work on disease, agriculture, climate change and other issues. He is the author of "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death." His e-mail is pdriessen@eco-imperialism.com.

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