This week’s “Daily Journal” guest columnist is Daren Bakst, Legal and Regulatory Policy Analyst for the John Locke Foundation.
The world is about to end. It may even end the day after tomorrow. There will be tidal waves, earthquakes, and burning temperatures (or freezing temperatures, one or the other). I know how to stop this from happening, though.
If you believed me, and you thought I could stop the end from happening, you’d let me do what I wanted in order to prevent it. I could raise your taxes, keep you from buying certain cars, prevent you from living where you want, and much more.
Global warming alarmists have figured this out. Global warming is their end of the world excuse to push policies that they’d like to see implemented. North Carolinians should care because these policies, if adopted, will change their lives in drastic and negative ways.
The goal, if we think global warming is a problem, should be to develop sensible policies that reduce the temperature. That seems simple enough. There is only one catch, though, for the alarmists. We can’t reduce temperatures in any meaningful way.
Dr. Thomas Wigley, a well-known climatologist from the U.S. National Center for Scientific Research and global warming alarmist, examined the impact of the Kyoto Protocol. This treaty, which the U.S. wisely hasn’t ratified, calls on countries to reduce drastically their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), and specifically calls for the U.S. to reduce emissions by 7 percent below 1990 levels.
According to Wigley, if there were 100 percent compliance with Kyoto by countries that were original parties to the treaty (not just the countries that ratified it), including the United States, the effect on temperature would be undetectable. The temperature would be 0.0126° F lower by 2050 and anywhere from 0.18° F to 0.37° F lower by 2100. This data is outlined in greater detail in a recent John Locke Foundation study.
This puts a damper on the global warming parade. Fear not, though, alarmists have mastered the art of illusion – or possibly convolution – to scare people, including policymakers. Their goal now is to take the means that allegedly would lower temperatures, reducing CO2, and turn it into the goal. This new goal can be measured and can show reductions, albeit at a high cost. The illusion is achieved by throwing out so many statistics, arguments, and distortions on CO2 that the real goal gets lost. Nobody remembers to ask how policies to reduce CO2 will reduce temperature.
So to reduce CO2, which will prevent the end of the world, legislators and other state officials are discussing policies that will affect you. If these policies will prevent the end of the world, how can we disagree with those advocating reductions in CO2? That would be like opposing the existence of all human life and the very existence of our planet. It is pretty tough to counter that argument. Who wants to be labeled anti-Earth?
We have to support rail systems because they will encourage people to stop driving. Do you want a house with lots of land in suburbia? Too bad, you only can get a 417 square foot studio apartment downtown because we need to make the community more dense. Are your eyes set on that beautiful SUV for your family? Keep dreaming. You’ll drive an electric car that goes 0-30 miles per hour in 1.6 minutes, and you’ll like it!
All of this is possible if alarmists get their way. Rail systems, smart growth (a.k.a. Soviet-style stagnation), and limited vehicle choice are just some of the ideas that could be forced upon North Carolinians in the name of reducing CO2. For example, the state’s Climate Action Plan Advisory Group (CAPAG) is considering a multitude of options that will undermine your freedom and could form the basis for legislation.
If you weren’t concerned before with the whole global warming debate because you know it is all junk science, be concerned. Be very concerned. These CO2 reduction policies are very real possibilities and can have significant costs.
To give some perspective on how far global warming alarmists are willing to go in the name of reducing CO2 and at the expense of the economy and society, we have to look only at the impact of Kyoto. The U.S. Energy Information Administration determined in a leading 1998 study that U.S. compliance with Kyoto would mean a loss of 4.2 percent in Gross Domestic Product (or $437 billion). The National Black Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce estimated that as many as 3.2 million Americans could lose their jobs.
I’m not quite ready to hand over policymaking decisions to the global warming alarmists. Some may want to do whatever they recommend, but jobs, freedom, and the future growth of North Carolina are more important than addressing scare tactics. In North Carolina, we often hear that we need to be a leader on environmental issues. I completely agree. We should be one of the few states that stop listening to alarmists and start listening to reason.