Whilst at lunch today, I listened to some of the Newt Gingrich--John Kerry debate about how to address global climate change. I might have listened to more, but I simply can't abide Kerry's blathering. Even if I agreed with 100% of what he was saying, I don't think I'd be able to bear more than a few minutes of his stilted delivery and almost embarrassing efforts to strike a common chord with the audience (say something about Barry Bonds and steroids--the Joe Six Packs always enjoy sports analogies).
After listening to Gingrich's introduction, I made it through Kerry's opening statement--where he described the "Greenhouse Effect" in mind-numbing detail while reminding us often "that's science"--and Newt's rebuttal. Then, about sixty seconds into Kerry's second round, I couldn't standz no more and had to bail.
It's interesting to note that while Kerry and Gingrich disagree about the best solution to global climate change, they were in agreement that global warming was occurring and that man-made CO2 emissions were largely responsible for it. The fact that Gingrich appears to have moderated his position on climate change, moving into what is generally considered a more mainstream view, leads me to believe that he is seriously considering jumping into the aught eight race. It wouldn't be prudent to be viewed as a crackpot skeptic at this juncture.
Meanwhile, two people who likely aren't worried about political considerations have penned excellent pieces at National Review Online on climate change. Both deserve to read in full.
The first, by Roy Spencer (principal research scientist at the Global Hydrology and Climate Center of the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville, Ala--just another crackpot) casts a skeptical eye towards Vanity Fair's 2007 Green Issue :
The fact is, almost all of today's popularized solutions to global warming would do little more than allow us to congratulate each other for "doing something."
Actually doing something substantive about global warming would be neither easy nor cheap. As is always the case, wealth diverted to making the environment cleaner is no longer available for other purposes. Access to abundant, inexpensive energy has enabled prosperity, good health, longevity, comfort, and convenience. Even if the 1° F warming over the last century is entirely due to mankind--a scientific claim which I find dubious--has that been such a terrible price to pay for our prosperity? How much prosperity are you willing to give up in order to prevent some (likely unmeasurable) portion of future global warming? Everyone considers himself an environmentalist until he gets the bill.
And then closes with a bang:
I have to wonder how much the writers for Vanity Fair actually know about potential real solutions to the global-warming problem. When you live in a world without physical cause and effect, where the benefits of modern life are self-existent and where pollution is nothing more than a bad choice someone else has made, maybe all you need are good intentions and creative-writing skills.
Only in a country as technologically advanced, yet as scientifically and economically illiterate, as the United States do we find such mindless hypocrisy masquerading as "environmental awareness" and "eco-justice." Devoting column inches to an environmental version of Dante's Hell containing, among others, George W. Bush might help sell more copies of Vanity Fair, but it is not much more than thinly disguised tabloid propaganda.
The second piece, by the appropriately named Kenneth Green, examines Al Gore's plan and asks what the people beyond the climate change scare-mongering are really after:
Think about it: if we tax the carbon in energy at a significant level, people will immediately have the incentive to build and buy low-carbon-emitting homes, cars, and light bulbs. They'll immediately have incentive to seek power-sellers who are using lower-carbon fuels such as nuclear, natural gas, wind, solar, or coal with sequestration. Corporations will immediately have incentives to reduce energy use. The trajectory toward lower carbon emissions as a country would already be set, and there would be no need for additional controls.
But clearly, that's not enough for the controllers. They have to have their mandates, their wealth redistribution schemes, their corporate-bashing schemes, and their social-engineering schemes.
Imposing the other elements of Gore's plan would, in fact, lead to the double taxation of carbon: first directly via the tax, and then indirectly via the added costs of regulatory compliance and international wealth transfers via the emission-trading mechanisms of any Kyoto Part 2. Plans for the follow-on treaty to Kyoto center around the establishment of an international cap-and-trade regime with extremely stiff emission reduction targets--up to 60 percent by 2050. Such stringent demands could not be made domestically without economic devastation, and would virtually guarantee that US companies would have to buy emission credits from abroad, where potential reductions are less costly. This dynamic is essentially a money pipeline from American consumers to the pockets of carbon permit sellers in countries like Russia, which are setting themselves up to sell (unverifiable) emission reduction credits.
The redundancy of Gore's list suggests one of two things: Either he knows that people would never tolerate a tax on carbon that is high enough to achieve the reductions he wants without a huge additional layer of government regulations, or that, for Gore, the regulations are less a means to an end than an end unto themselves.
You could sum up what this really boils down to in one word: CONTROL.