An economic suicide pact for Europe and the US
By Paul Driessen
Europeans have worked themselves into such a lather over "climate chaos" that they've set themselves up for a head-on collision between eco-ideology and economic reality. With the new Democratic Congress poised to ram through heavy-handed climate legislation, the US may be heading down the same path.
At long last, European economic ministers and CEOs are realizing they cannot meet even current Kyoto commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions 5% below 1990 levels, by 2012. They are voicing growing concern that Kyoto will hammer consumers and living standards, and send facilities and jobs to China, India and other nations that aren't required to cut emissions.
Despite lofty green rhetoric, Spain is some 20% above its target, Italy 15% – Austria 25 percent. At "just" 7% above its target, Germany faces a future with no nuclear power (by law it must shut down all reactors by 2020), no coal-fired generators (greenhouse gases), little hydroelectric (4% of its total electricity), unreliable natural gas (Russia controls the spigots), and forests of gigantic, undependable wind turbines.
But the European Commission won't budge. Instead, it's demanding even more draconian reductions by 2020. It knows even perfect compliance with Kyoto would keep global temperatures from rising only 0.2 degrees F by 2050 – assuming CO2 really is the culprit, rather than the sun and other natural forces that obviously controlled previous climate shifts.
That's why alarmists now say we must slash total global emissions by 60-80% 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.
The impact would be catastrophic. Such actions 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 US 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, versus our current 19.8 or Canada's 17.9).
The elderly and minority workers and families would be especially hard hit. Deaths from winter cold and summer heat waves would soar, as energy prices rise and heating and air-conditioning become luxury items.
Memo to Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and Prince Charles: Switching to fluorescent bulbs isn't the answer, and few envision you living in cottages or becoming jetliner-free homebodies. So what will you personally do to cut your energy use and emissions 20, 40, 60 or 95 percent? What will the rest of America do?
Saying we can't afford the expense, House Speaker Pelosi wants to chop $1 billion off the Coast Guard budget. But she's perfectly willing to have America sacrifice hundreds of billions a year in direct costs, lost jobs and plummeting GDP, as her climate rules go into effect.
She and her colleagues railed against $3-per-gallon gasoline last year, but now appear happy to push all energy prices sharply higher, to "save the world" from a far-fetched climate Armageddon. They don't seem to realize that abundant, reliable, affordable energy is the backbone of the entire US economy. Tampering with the energy system – locking up oil and gas, or making it harder to use or pay for fossil fuels – puts jobs, families and national security at risk.
Other than fossil fuels, no technologies exist to provide the 100,000 megawatts of new electricity the US will need during the next decade. Nuclear plants can't come online that quickly, even if Congress streamlines the glacial approval process. And even the best wind turbines would require some 2 million acres (Delaware plus Rhode Island) to provide 100,000 MW of intermittent electricity that requires gas-powered generators (and drilling off our coasts) as backup.
Europe already has green taxes on air travel, a $50-a-day climate charge on big cars in London – and a proposed "food miles" tax on the distance produce is shipped. Already Rainforest Action and CERES are pressuring US banks not to finance coal generators, dams and fossil fuel projects in the US or Africa. Compliant banks are caving in, and calling it "socially responsible," while EU and UN officials are telling Africans that climate change is a greater threat than malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS or poverty.
Efforts to restrict energy and economic development in Africa are "literally a life-and-death matter" for tens of millions on that continent, says University of Pretoria emeritus professor WJR Alexander. "We can do without this resurgence of European colonialism and paternalism."
Yes, there is consensus that Earth's temperatures have risen slightly, and humans played a role. But there is no consensus that climate change will be catastrophic, human CO2 emissions are the primary cause, or slashing emissions will prevent the supposed cataclysm.
It's a classic bait-and-switch tactic, repeated endlessly in a well-coordinated propaganda campaign by activists, scientists, journalists, bureaucrats, celebrities and politicians. They used similar tactics 30 years ago to excise DDT and other insecticides from disease control programs. Tens of millions died from malaria – and not one of the perpetrators has ever apologized, admitted error, or been penalized or otherwise held accountable for the unconscionable disease, brain damage and death they perpetuated.
Now they say we should trust them on climate change.
Computer models, headlines, weather anomalies and horror movies are not evidence. We'd never rely on 50 or even 2-year computer forecasts to make investment decisions. To trust family, state, corporate and national futures to deficient climate models is sheer folly. To silence climate chaos skeptics, ignore inconvenient questions and truths, circumvent inconvenient congressmen like John Dingell, and railroad through life-altering climate legislation is to commit economic seppuku.
Why do many 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 man-made global warming bandwagon." For activists, bureaucrats and politicians, it's money, power and control. For companies, it's avoiding public floggings, and selling new lines of politically correct, tax-subsidized technologies.
If there's no crisis, the gravy train dies up.
We can and should develop new technologies, to further improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution and enter a new era of energy generation. But we need not and must not rush to judgment, trash our economy or slash our living standards, just to "do something" about a speculative climate change "catastrophe."
We need a rational debate, with all views fully represented – not a media and congressional circus, and certainly not a legislative juggernaut more suited to Zimbabwe or North Korea than to the United States.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power · Black death.