Can any one of these people save the planet?
By Larry Thornberry
With Captain Kirk, Fancy Nancy Pelosi, and John McCain trying to save it, what chance has the planet got?
By now most folks who keep up with such things have heard that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced to an astonished world that she’s “trying to save the planet.” Hardly a modest mission, even for the self-styled most powerful woman on earth.
Fewer heard the announcement that William Shatner, Captain Tiberius Kirk in the fanciful but popular Sixties TV series Star Trek, has signed on with the Sierra Club to help promote that apocalyptic outfit’s “2% Solution Campaign.” This fool’s errand calls on Americans to cut carbon emissions two percent each year by such string-saving measures as changing out our homes’ windows, using compact fluorescent light bulbs, and not exhaling.
Soon we will see television “public service announcements” where an older, plumper Captain Kirk, in civilian clothes, will nag us to live as Al Gore would have us live (as opposed to how Al Gore in fact lives). Somebody please beam this guy somewhere.
If we do all these things, plus badger our government officials to adopt Soviet-style restrictions on the use of carbon-based fuels, we could cut our carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. This, according to global warming co-religionists, would make life on Earth safe, at least until the next apocalyptic threat to our very existence that environmentalists invent.
Who can keep up with all the world-ending threats? There was the so-called population explosion, death by pesticides, acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, nuclear winter, global cooling, and now, the most audacious and successful hustle of all, global warming.
GLOBAL WARMING, a calamity-based belief system supported by sweeping speculations based on computer projections having to do with the entire Earth’s climate, one of the most complex subjects on Earth, has been so successfully marketed in the West that even the Republican candidate for President has bought into it, hook, line, and thermometer. We’ve all heard of John McCain’s calamitous cap and trade system for carbon emissions that would oblige Americans to cut way back on the use of fossil fuels before replacements for carbon-based energy are available.
“Climate change, my friend, I have to tell you with all due respect, is real,” McCain said at a town hall meeting in Sparks, Nevada, earlier this week.
Well, yes, climate change is indeed real. The climate is always changing. We’ve had alternating cool and warm periods for the life of the planet (surely people who see a photo of present day Greenland must wonder how it got that name). So McCain’s statement would be unremarkable except that what he means by it is that global warming is a threat to the planet, which it almost certainly is not.
It’s time people who have bothered to compare the apocalyptic claims of the global warming fanatics with the evidence for these fantasies to say, “No, Senator, with all due respect back at you, global warming is not real.”
In Sparks, McCain went on to say:
“Suppose I’m wrong and there’s no such thing as climate change, all we’ve done is give our kids a cleaner planet. But suppose I’m right and we do nothing. Then what kind of planet do we hand off to our kids and our grandkids?”
This is profoundly foolish on two counts. If the global warming hysterics are wrong and carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, then no matter how badly we damage the economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planet will not be a bit cleaner. What we will hand off to our kids and grandkids is a Third World economy and a planet that will almost certainly be dirtier than it is now. Rich nations always deal with real pollutants better than poor ones.
IF ON THE SLIM CHANCE greenhouse gasses are a problem, we can hardly be said to be doing nothing now. We’re proceeding apace with research to develop alternative energy sources that don’t produce greenhouse gasses, along with taking another look at nuclear power that environmentalists shouted down in the seventies. One day we’ll be far less dependent on fossil fuels, even without the foolishly accelerated schedule of ridding the planet of carbon-based fuels that the Sierra Clubs and the Al Gores of the world are insisting on.
Pelosi and Shatner have good excuses for their foolishness on this issue. Pelosi is a Democratic politician and is therefore obliged to kiss up to environmentalists and other “progressive” groups. As for Shatner/Kirk, it’s probably not too much time in space that’s caused his problem, rather too much time in the weightlessness of Hollywood.
McCain, on the other hand, has no excuse. There are no conservative interest groups pushing to hand day-to-day power over the economy to government, as the enviro groups constantly agitate for. In fact, polls and focus groups show that while many Americans say they’re concerned about global warming, it’s not at the top of most people’s agendas. And most are not interested in taking draconian measures to deal with a problem that may or may not be real. What can McCain possibly be thinking?
McCain has an opportunity to lead on this issue and make an important distinction between himself and Barack Obama at the same time. (It’s been my observation that in elections, contemporary Republicans rarely miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.) To do this he would have to frame a real energy policy that’s not centered on avoiding a phony threat manufactured by the political Left to advance its collectivist purposes.
FROM TIME TO TIME I get a fund-raising letter from McCain, which starts out with the sentence, “The choice America will face in November is very clear.” It could be damn site clearer if McCain would quit chasing after left-wing fantasies like global warming.
In his letter, McCain goes on to whoop up “long-held conservative principles of limited government, strong national defense, and individual freedom.”
McCain certainly has conservative principles correctly and economically described. But the principle of limited government is out the window if we turn over energy decisions to politicians and government bureaucrats, as McCain’s cap and trade program would do. This would be the biggest increase in government power in our history.
As to the other two principles, an energy-poor country cannot defend itself at all. And where’s individual freedom if government document-stampers tell us all when (if) we can use the air conditioner or the toaster?
Larry Thornberry is a writer living in Tampa. This column first appeared in the American Spectator.