July 6, 2009
In the last week of June, the House of Representatives passed a bill intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.
The bill is a long way from becoming law. Senate Democratic leaders haven’t even introduced their own version of the legislation, and when they do a filibuster is all but certain.
But the politics of what used to be called “global warming,” and now is tellingly labeled “climate change,” isn’t limited to Capitol Hill.
As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal tells us, at the same time that the House was debating its bill, other countries were having second thoughts about their already enacted measures.
The Polish Academy of Sciences, for one, has publicly challenged the science behind man-made global warming. And only 11 percent of Czech citizens believe that human activity contributes to the measured rise in temperatures. Even New Zealand, rightly regarded as an ecological wonderland, suspended its emissions-reduction program.
Then there’s Australia. Earlier this year, the government submitted its proposal to limit CO2 emissions. Given the potential costs and the prospect of, as some Australian commentators put it, “carbon cops” knocking on people’s doors, Australian senator Steve Fielding asked the obvious question: Is this necessary?
Fielding, an engineer, was concerned that the government had accepted “one scientific explanation for climate change at face value.” So he examined the science himself, including asking the Obama administration to address his concerns about the science.
While the administration didn’t respond to his request, what Fielding learned persuaded him not to support the proposal. He wasn’t willing to risk job losses for “unconvincing green science.”
And he’s not alone. As the Journal put it, “The number of [global warming] skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling.”
Even if the “green science” were more convincing, there are good reasons to be skeptical about the approach being debated in Congress. Columnist David Brooks spoke for many when he called the bill “a morass of corporate giveaways.” No one knows what effect it will have on CO2 emissions. A similar European effort was followed by a rise in emissions.
Then there’s the elephant in the room: China. China is building two coal-fired power plants every week. It’s estimated that, within 20 years, China’s CO2 emissions will be equal to the entire world’s today. Other developing countries are following China’s lead. Even the European Union is increasing its use of coal.
As any one of these alone would overwhelm American reductions, together they make the House vote seem almost perverse. A massive transfer of wealth from ordinary Americans to favored industries in furtherance of a policy that won’t work in response to a “crisis” whose scientific basis is far from proven. What am I missing here?
Would-be technocrats whose goal is to manage and shape our society are working hand in hand with those who would profit from their efforts. They insist that the global warming debate is “over” and compare those who disagree, or even ask questions, to Holocaust deniers.
Outrageous? Sure. Surprising? Not really. It’s what you do when your argument is unconvincing.
Chuck Colson’s daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.