So what if they’re wrong?
I’m talking about the climate change zealots pushing government policies that would tax, regulate and/or commoditize carbon emissions. These folks want any or all of these government strictures on the carbon emissions of American power producers, businesses and, ultimately consumers.
They’re not wrong about climate change. Since Genesis Chapter One, Earth’s climate has been changing. Ten thousand years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, Kentucky was buried under 5,000 feet of ice. And they’re probably not wrong about whether humans are contributing to the changes.
But what if they’re wrong about how much of an impact imposing an accelerated carbon clampdown on the U.S. economy would have on global climate change? What if we take U.S. carbon emissions back to the proposed pre-1990 levels – when the U.S. economy was half of current GDP – and then discover that, because China and India did nothing to cut their emissions, we still have “climate change”?
Of course, standing here in 2009 we don’t know if they will be wrong. But there is one thing that is knowable right now: Years before the climate change zealots are proven right or wrong we will know that their policies, if enacted, will have wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy and significantly diminished our global competitiveness, especially against those two emerging economic giants, China and India.
Speaking of China, its economy is one-fifth the size of the U.S. but currently has the same level of carbon emissions. It is becoming an economic giant but is already a carbon emissions behemoth. So it’s not unreasonable to project that the majority of units of production taken from the U.S. economy by cap-and-trade., et al, will be replaced with units from China. Since 1990, U.S. businesses have, mostly unheralded, done a great job of increasing production while decreasing energy consumption per dollar of GDP. Meanwhile, China’s carbon footprint is growing per unit of GDP. So by regulating carbon only in the U.S., it can be argued that global carbon emissions will actually increase.
The United States could dominate the global economy for the remainder of the 21st century by merely unleashing its entrepreneurial and scientific minds to create alternative, greener energy – multiple sources and thousands of related applications – to export and license around the world. But the unleashing needs to be done in an atmosphere of promoting innovation, not punishing consumption. Cap and trade, carbon tax and commoditizing CO2 not only punishes the marketplace, but simultaneously puts government in charge of regulating carbon. This is the same government that was supposed to regulate Bernie Maddoff, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. ’Nuff said.
I am absolutely in favor of taking action to diminish the negative impact humans have on the environment. But let’s remember that Americans aren’t the only humans with a carbon footprint. Let’s solve this problem with market solutions that create, not by government fiat that destroys.
Recently, in celebration of Earth Day, I talked about these ideas on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. In addition to my individual thoughts, I also interviewed an environmental expert, Dennis Dimick, Senior Editor for Environment for National Geographic magazine. Dennis is an honest debater and I think you’ll enjoy our conversation. Take a few minutes to listen to our thoughts and, as always, I welcome your comments, even if – especially if – you disagree with me.
For my individual comments, click here:
For my interview with Dennis Dimick, click here: