Accuracy in Media

With
Lieberman-Warner coming up for a vote, it becomes all the more important to
examine the motivations behind global warming activism. Václav Klaus, President
of the Czech Republic, told a
Competitive Enterprise Institute audience last week that he believes climate
change is the ideal political issue because its dogma cannot be disproven.

 “Now I am afraid it will take centuries to
come up with a convincing proof that the planet has not been destroyed, or does
not find itself on the brink of destruction and that’s the trick of the current
environmentalism,” Klaus said at the Competitive Enterprise Institute annual dinner.
“The ambitious politicians who try to mastermind the world and their fellow
citizens have been dreaming for decades to to find such a marvelous, from
reality immunized doctrine,” he said.  

This type of climate
alarmism is not without cost, Klaus argues, and is inherently inimical to human
welfare. “If we take the reasoning of the environmentalists seriously, we find
theirs is an anti-human ideology. It sees the fundamental cause of the world’s
problems in the very expansion of homo sapiens,” writes Klaus in his book, Blue Planet In Green Shackles.

Klaus was the
recipient of this year’s CEI Julian Simon award for free market ideas. Blue Planet in Green Shackles was translated into English by CEI, and has been produced in other languages such as German,
Dutch, and Polish. It will soon enter Russian markets.

Major news coverage
of Klaus’ two speeches was limited to CSPAN and Fox News, given that the Washington Post,
Los Angeles Times, and New York Times virtually ignored his visit.

“And finally
thanks to you all for giving me such a good reason to again visit your great
country which—with all the so much-needed and in many respects more-than-justified
criticism—remains to be the most free country in the world and the inspiration
for all of us,” Klaus told the audience. He added, “I emphasize it here and now
mainly because of my growing frustration with the developments on the other
side of the Atlantic, where I have
just come from.”       

But is America about to go
the way of Europe? The Lieberman-Warner bill would impose
cap-and-trade on America’s carbon
emissions, requiring a 70% drop in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.

According to
the Heritage Foundation, American gross domestic product (GDP), a key indicator
of wealth, could drop $436 billion by 2030 as a result of the legislation.
Heritage’s new report shows that the bill will also raise household energy
costs by $447 annually and could lead to the loss of a million American jobs.

According to
the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would impose $90 billion in
private-sector mandates annually between 2012 and 2016. This exceeds the legal annual cap of $136 million
established under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA), reports the CBO. 

Klaus drew a
conceptual link between Marxism and modern-day environmentalism while at the
National Press Club. “Like their predecessors, [environmentalists] will be
certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their
idea reality,” he said. “In the past, it was in the name of the masses or of
the proletariat; this time in the name of the planet. Structurally, it is very
similar,” he said.

The Czech
President admits that his present perspective is influenced heavily by his life
under communism, but said that he “would like to stress that I do not live in
the past and do not see the future threats to society coming from the old and
old-fashioned communist ideology.” Rather, the threat comes with a new name but
similar goal: government restrictions on freedom.   

“We are
witnessing the absolutist interpretation of the cautionary principle being used
by environmentalists to justify any kind of regulatory intervention or ban,”
writes Klaus in Blue Planet in Green
Shackles
. “All they need to implement such regulations…is simple
moralizing, noble preaching about the future, and demonstrating their ‘concern’
about humankind à la Gore,” he continues. Far better, he argues, is the
cost-benefit analysis.

Critics of
cap-and-trade and other economic engineering schemes argue that the costs of
climate change alarmism could be quite dramatic.  “If we eliminate the nitrogen fertilizer,
then that will cut the world’s crop fields in half immediately,” said Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute. “Half the world will be hungry.”

Another
government-headed program, ethanol mandates, provides a disturbing prequel of
what Lieberman-Warner could entail. “What we have done in the U.S. and in
Europe is create a situation where—for a variety of reasons, but primarily
environmental—we have called for the burning of food as fuel and the
destruction of environmental habitat to make room for that food, to grow that
food,” argues CEI Fellow Iain Murray, author of The
Seven Really Inconvenient Truths
.

“Under the
mandate as passed in the energy bill last year, the United States will burn even
greater quantities of food as auto fuel in a world that is not fully fed right
now and whose food demand will be more than double in the next 40 years,” he
said.

Lieberman-Warner
may be even worse than ethanol mandates. “Yet the challenges posed by the
ethanol program are a small fraction of those posed by [Lieberman-Warner],”
write the Heritage study’s authors. They classify the bill as promising
“extraordinary perils for the American economy.” 

On a more
humorous note, Klaus’ press club jokes about Al Gore’s carbon-capping schemes
shed a more personal light on what the future might have in store for America. He said,

 
“I was the only
voice in the room to ask, ‘please, can I get [water] without ice?’ And then my
neighbors at the table started to argue ‘this is very European because in Europe they have small
refrigerators and they don’t have enough ice.’ And I said, ‘Fred, to be
consistent, you should go home this evening to throw away your big refrigerator
and to buy a new small one. That’s the only way how to follow [the]
prescriptions of Al Gore.”  




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