Friday, February 1, 2008

Irrational Legislation

By Alan Caruba

I heard from Friends of the Earth, a huge environmental organization, who one would think would favor the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007 being advanced by Senate Democrats. It would impose a cap-and-trade program to force reductions of so-called greenhouse gas emissions.

FOE, however, was wailing about the way “it lavishes up to $1 trillion on industries responsible for global warming and in return asks for reduction targets well below what scientists say are necessary.” This is typical of the Greens for whom enough is never enough. It also reflects their insane hatred of the very industries that underpin the nation’s economy, i.e., jobs, exports, the whole enchilada.

This legislation is unnecessary for one reason. There is no global warming and the primary greenhouse gas the Greens are forever worrying about, carbon dioxide, constitutes barely 0.038% of the earth’s atmosphere. For the mathematically challenged, that is less than half of half a percent.

Thus there is no need to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. To do so means wrecking the economy.

Kenneth P. Green, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, recently had a commentary posted on the website of Tech Central Station titled “How Not to Address Climate Change.” You may have noticed that the Greens now routinely talk about “climate change” as opposed to “global warming.” For the record, over the past 4.5 billion years of the earth’s existence, there has not been a single day without some climate change occurring.

Green said that, “cap-and-trade schemes are fundamentally flawed, and particularly ill-suited to greenhouse gas control.” This is assuming that any real reductions could ever be achieved without returning human society to a time when horses were the primary means of transportation and the Industrial Revolution had not begun.

Even putting aside the fact the European Union has had a cap-and-trade scheme for several years during which none of the nations have ever met its reduction goal, Green correctly identifies the Lieberman-Warner Act as "an irrational policy."

The Act would require U.S. per capita emissions to fall by a total of 13.8 percent over the 2000-2012 period, plus an additional 20.2 percent from 2012 to 2020, and a further 27.6 percent from 2020 to 2030. This adds up to "about 25 to 35 times greater " than all of the emissions from 1990 to 2000. This represents a “regulatory drag on economic growth” and no growth, as you might have noticed lately, means no new jobs and the likely loss of many existing ones.

Green also notes that such schemes provide “incentives to cheat.” Lastly, it would generate “a perpetual group of rent-seekers—those raking in profits in new carbon trading” that would want more and more restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, need it be pointed out that, aside from the fact that there is no threat of global warming (the earth is actually showing clear signs of a climate cooling trend) such a program is utterly and completely useless unless every other nation on earth also reduces its greenhouse gas emissions and that, my friend, is not going to happen.

This cap-and-trade scheme involving the sale and purchase of “carbon credits” is so completely bogus that, like the financial meltdown resulting from the mortgage loan mess, it would surely cause one that would make the nation’s current financial problems look like a kindergarten picnic.

It is a market based on nothing, on “carbon credits” involving any use of energy. Our entire economy, indeed everything that passes for our lifestyle and standard of living, is based on the use of energy. What better way to destroy it? “Its benefits are non-existent”, said Green.

It is a totally irrational policy. This bill is making its way through the Senate. It is not unlike the December “energy” bill that, among other things, bans the purchase and presumably the manufacture of Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb starting in 2012. Its ethanol mandates have driven up the cost of corn around the world and has already led Brazilian ranchers and farmers to destroy a huge section the size of Rhode Island of that nation’s rainforest for more grazing and growing acreage.

We normally call such things unintended consequences, but there is nothing unintended about the Lieberman-Warner bill. Its authors and supporters know exactly what it will do. And they don't care.

Meanwhile, anyone with a wit of sense knows that humans never have and never will have the slightest “control” over the weather or the climate.

You might want to tell your senator that. Only a major wave of resistance, comparable to the way the public was able to stop the recent amnesty bill, will kill this horrid piece of legislation.


King of the Road said...

Ironic that you use the language "for the mathematically challenged...." and then refer to 0.038% as "less than half of half a percent." That would mean less than 0.25%, which it surely is, but I bet that's not what you meant.

By the way, the amount of water vapor in air at sea level is typically around a half a half a percent, I don't suppose you'd argue that that also makes no difference.

Alan Caruba said...

I stand corrected. You're right. However, when it comes to water vapor, it is generally conceded that 95% of what passes for the earth's atmosphere is composed of water vapor.

King of the Road said...

Hmm.. I think with a little research you'll find that the atmosphere (down here in the troposphere) is about 78.1% molecular Nitrogen, 20.9% molecular Oxygen, and 1% everything else. This includes water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases, principally Argon. Water vapor can, however vary up to something like 4%. About 0.25% is a reasonable average.

See for example.

Andy said...

I think his wording was fine.

If he were to have said "half of a half of a half of a half of one percent" ... then a mathematically challenged person might be even more confused.

But you and I would still know that 1/2/2/2/2 = 0.0625 which is still less than half of a half of a half of a half of a half of one percent more than 0.038%

King of the Road said...

I disagree. He was trying to emphasize the smallness in comparison to half of a percent. I would have gone with "less than a tenth of a half a percent" or "less than a half a tenth a percent" which means, of course, less than 0.05% which is a good comparison and gets the point across.