By Steven Milloy* | FrontPageMagazine.com | 1/21/2009
As a new president takes office and elevates global warming alarmism to official federal policy, much of America is experiencing record low temperatures. While the deep freeze amounts to little more than irony, Americans should nevertheless take what could well be a last opportunity to reconsider the cliff off which Barack Obama, Al Gore and the rest of the global warming industry want us to jump.
No doubt many experiencing the bitter cold this January have muttered under their breath that we could actually use some global warming about now. But the ongoing cold spell no more debunks global warming alarmism than Hurricane Katrina proved it was real. Weather, a short-term phenomenon, is simply not evidence of climate change, a long-term phenomenon. Weather is not the only natural phenomenon that is often misused as evidence of manmade climate change.
We've all read and heard about shrinking polar ice, receding mountain glaciers, endangered polar bears and a variety of other environmental phenomena that supposedly reflect the allegedly harmful effects of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Alarmists have tried to induce the public to think that simply because the Arctic ice cap has shrunk on our watch, for example, then industrialized man must have caused it. The reason they do this is because they have been unable to prove their fundamental contention in the global warming debate - that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases drive global climate - despite the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars on climate research over the last 25 years.
Here are three indisputable scientific facts about climate that are sufficient on their own to throttle any claims of manmade global warming. First, we know from studies of Antarctic ice that, over the last 650,000 years or so, warmer temperatures have preceded increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by hundreds, if not thousands of years. The ice studies indicate that the carbon-dioxide-causes-global warming theory is precisely backwards.
Second, during the 20th century, there is simply no correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperature. Not only did most of the century's temperature rise occur before most of the century's manmade greenhouse gas emissions, but during 1940-1975 global temperatures actually declined while atmospheric carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide emission levels steadily increased.
Finally, the ultimate test of a scientific theory is whether it has predictive value. We used Newton's laws of physics, for example, to land men on the moon. Unfortunately, there are no climate models that predict trends and changes in global climate with any degree of accuracy. Think about the recent failures with hurricane season predictions or even the risk of relying on what your local weatherman predicts for tomorrow's weather - and you'll start to get an idea of how far away science is from predicting global climate 10, 50 and 100 years from now.
Although none of this is rocket science or a state secret, our government is nevertheless on the verge of saddling our society with draconian energy-use and rationing laws that will harm our economy and reduce our standard of living How did we find ourselves in this position?
You may be surprised to learn that it's not only or even mostly due to the persuasiveness and persistence of environmental activists. After all, how many people really believe Al Gore and Greenpeace? Ironically, we're in crushing jaws of global warming regulation thanks to big business and other rent-seekers, including Gore, who hope to profit from new laws.
Leading the lobbying charge on Capitol Hill is the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a big business-environmental activist group coalition that is urging Congress to enact a so-called cap-and-trade bill. Under such legislation, Congress would issue permits to emit greenhouse gases (also called "carbon credits") to electric utility companies and other major emitters. The permits represent more than mere regulation since they have monetary value and are tradable among emitters. An electric utility, say, that emits more greenhouse gases than it has permits for, would be forced to purchase additional permits from another utility that had excess permits. Under cap-and-trade, Congress would issue more than one trillion dollars worth of permits over the programs first ten years - so there's a lot of money at stake. Who's set to profit from all this?
Manufacturing companies and USCAP members like Alcoa, Dow Chemical and Dupont want Congress to award them free carbon credits for actions they've taken since 1992 to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. - like moving manufacturing operations to other countries. They've not reduced their emissions so much as they've displaced them.
Other USCAP members include electric utilities like Exelon, Florida Power & Light, and NRG Energy. They use emission-free nuclear power to generate much of their electricity and anticipate having extra carbon credits that they can sell at high prices to major greenhouse gas emitters like coal burning utilities. Wall Street is also a big proponent of cap-and-trade in anticipation of investing in and facilitating the trading of carbon credits. Goldman Sachs, for example, owns part of the Chicago Climate Exchange and European Climate Exchange where carbon credits would be traded.
Many would-be climate profiteers don't care so much about cap-and-trade per se as they do any legislation that would mandate America's switch to new and more expensive forms of energy production and energy efficiency. USCAP member General Electric, for example, wants to sell wind turbines, pricey equipment for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired utilities and high-priced but more energy-efficient industrial and consumer products. Al Gore is a partner in the venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins which, as described in a New York Times Magazine cover story hopes to make billions of dollars of profits off global warming legislation.
Regular Americans who are not part of some global warming special interest group will be paying the price for all this. Expect the price of electricity and gasoline to skyrocket, as well as the prices of goods and services that are produced with energy. Remember the 2007-2008 spike in food prices caused by higher gasoline prices as well as the ethanol mandate? That's just the tip of the iceberg. Much more than mere money is at stake. The global warming mob wants to tell you where to live, what to drive, how many children you can have, what you can eat - all in the name of reducing your carbon footprint. Energy efficiency can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing when it's forced down your throat, costs you more money than it saves and robs you of your freedoms and dignity.
Action to reduce the dreaded "global" warming, of course, needs to be coordinated on a global basis, hence the need, climate alarmists intimate, for global government. "We are one" was a theme of Barack Obama's inauguration festivities - disturbingly similar to the Communist Chinese theme for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, "One World, One Dream." While such rhetoric may sound inspiring, the reality is that it is little more than a euphemism for central planning and, ultimately, "the road to serfdom" as economist Friedrich Hayek might say.
America's strength lies not in its one-ness, but in its diversity of beliefs and efforts. And it will take all our strength in the coming years to combat global warming alarmism and to keep America from falling into the totalitarian green abyss.
Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of the forthcoming book, "Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them."