Having failed to convince the country that we should reorder one-sixth of our economy (health care) in one fell swoop, liberals in the Administration and Congress are now doubling down and moving on to the next big thing. This time it’s the transformation of everything, through climate legislation. One could almost stand agape, admiring the boldness of the overreach, were not so much prosperity at stake.
The latest attempt to force the U.S. economy to turn away from readily available, affordable fuels and leaving it to the tender mercies of untried, experimental and expensive technologies is a bipartisan effort by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). A legislative package from them, according to The Washington Post on Saturday, would individually cap how much traditional energy the main pillars of the American economy would be able to use. This would of course cripple our economy and threaten our prosperity. Any doubts about how broad and deep this effort is are dispelled by reading the following paragraph in the Post:
According to several sources familiar with the process, the lawmakers are looking at cutting the nation’s greenhouse gas output by targeting, in separate ways, three major sources of emissions: electric utilities, transportation and industry.
The reason the Senators could not act through their preferred vehicle, a “cap-and-trade” scheme that would put an across-the-economy ceiling on the use of traditional sources of fuel such as coal, oil and natural gas—above which companies using these fuels would have to pay for extra rights—is that the whole edifice of global warming is now falling apart.
It is collapsing with such rapidity that it is worth pausing from time to time to take stock.
The foundations of such edifice rest on a single assumption. This hypothesis—one that drove many people, even some reasonable ones, to contemplate upending the world as we know it — is that that traditional fuels will have cataclysmic consequences on the environment because they emit gases that make the world too hot.
The authority to turn this assumption into fact rested largely on a U.N. document - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report - which declared climate change “unequivocal” and its man-made origin “very likely.” The purpose of the IPCC report was to turn hypothesis into fact.
The reason Sens. Kerry, Graham and Lieberman had to turn away from cap-and-trade, and target industries individually, is that the idea of an iron-clad scientific consensus is now being revealed to be a bit, shall we say, exaggerated. The IPCC’s turning of hypothesis into fact now looks less like the scientific process and more like the magician you paid $50 an hour to pull flowers out of hats at your daughter’s birthday.
The first scales began to come off the global warming edifice in November, when emails from the University of East Anglia in the UK revealed how scientists at that key global research center had tried to suppress the opinion of peers who dissented from their view and hid evidence that countered the theory of man-made global warming.
Then the U.N.’s Copenhagen summit that was supposed to produce a global agreement to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol fell apart in December, with the key countries refusing to hobble their own economies for the sake of science that was less and less there.
Then, last month it started to become clear that the 2007 IPCC report was more hollow than hallowed. Its claims that half the Netherlands is below sea level was off by a factor of two. Ditto for the outlandish fear-mongering that the glaciers of the Himalayas would melt by 2035. The IPCC was forced to admit that, actually, its projections were that that would happen by 2350. Oops!
Then last Friday, the news pages of The Wall Street Journal published yet one more devastating story on the IPCC and its hapless chairman, Rajendra Pachauri. The front page story detailed how inconclusive science, political pressure and shoddy administration all led to the Cassandra-like pronouncements of the IPCC report. Imagine that: politicians putting pressure on scientists to come up with theories that would vastly add to their regulatory and taxing powers.
Things have gotten so desperate that Al Gore himself had to come out of seclusion and pen a piece for The New York Times. On Saturday he implored readers that all these cascading events didn’t amount to a hill of beans. The article was vintage Gore. Let’s say it was not restrained. Here’s Gore on what will happen if we fail to act now:
Our grandchildren would one day look back on us as a criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings that their fate was in our hands.
The former Vice President and failed presidential candidate was so exercised he even took a jab at FOX, apparently blaming it for the troubles global warming is experiencing: “Some news media organizations now present showmen masquerading as political thinkers who package hatred and divisiveness as entertainment.”
Alas for Gore, Pachauri, et al., the climate alarums are working less and less not because of FOX, but because the alarmists overreached. Even an embarrassed U.N. was forced to announce Saturday that an independent board of scientists will be appointed to review the workings of the IPCC.
Unfortunately, climategate and IPCCgate have not put a dent on the Obama Administration’s plan to (mis)use the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate CO2, and thereby the companies that power our nation. Its Administrator Lisa Jackson was out in front of Congress last week again repeating the same shibboleths on a scientific consensus on global warming. This should make us all wonder if stopping global warming really was ever the end game.
As for Sens. Kerry, Graham and Lieberman, their reaction is to slap carbon controls on individual sectors of the economy separately, instead of setting a national target through cap-and-trade. The foundations for doing cap-and-trade have been torn asunder. Our research shows that cap-and-trade would be a $1.9 trillion tax on businesses over eight years, more expensive than the Vietnam War, Hurricane Katrina or the New Deal. But taxing the different pillars of our economy individually would be just as economically suicidal.
Sen. Kerry told the Post last week about his legislative effort, “What people need to understand about this bill is this really is a jobs bill, an economic transformation for America, an energy independence bill and a health/pollution-reduction bill that has enormous benefits for the country,” Kerry said. Notice he said nothing about global warming or climate change, the reason we were supposed to take this long walk off a short pier. Notice also he didn’t say it was about handing the political class the reins of the private economy. Kerry, Graham and Lieberman want electric power to be first on the economic chopping block. Previous analysis of similarly severe carbon cuts project electricity prices will rise over 70 percent, even after adjusting for inflation. Not only is this a nightmare for household utility bills, the higher cost will hit consumers over and over since businesses must pass on their higher costs as well.
- The latest CNN poll shows that 56% of Americans say they think the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.
- If you missed the seven-and-a-half-hour health summit Thursday, Heritage has compiled a four minute highlight reel here.
- Because his ethical lapses have not “jeopardized our country in any way,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will let Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) keep his leadership post.
- Senior aides are telling The New York Times that President Obama will permanently reduce America’s nuclear arsenal by thousands of weapons.
- Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) shows how Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have increased satisfaction while bringing down health care costs in his state.