August 28, 2009

Stop 'emotionalizing' the cap-and-trade debate

FROM- Washington Examiner

Environmental activists who favor anti-global warming regulations like the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill now before the U.S. Senate have long claimed that government intervention is essential to save the planet from an imminent man-made catastrophe. In fact, only Waxman-Markey threatens to be a man-made catastrophe. The bill would create billions of dollars' worth of government credits to businesses that reduce carbon emissions. Businesses that exceed the required reductions could sell the credits to firms that fail to do so. The approach won't work because it would use a government mandate to create a market for which there is no consumer demand.

Since the American economy is mainly powered by energy produced from carbon fuels and will be for the foreseeable future, reducing carbon emissions requires slowing or eliminating economic growth, with the result that 2 million more Americans will become unemployed by 2012, according to an analysis by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Similarly, the Brookings Institution -- certainly no sentinel of rightward analysis -- also predicts dire economic results from Waxman-Markey.

To overcome such objections, environmental advocates project a dire future in the hope Congress will adopt measures like Waxman-Markey to assuage public fears. At least one major environmentalist leader has confessed to "emotionalizing" the anti-global warming case as a way of capturing public attention and generating support. Gerd Leipold, retiring director of Greenpeace, in an Aug. 7 interview with the BBC, conceded that Arctic ice would not all melt by 2030, contrary to his organization's prediction earlier this year.

But when pressed by the BBC reporter to defend such predictions in Greenpeace news releases and briefing materials, Leipold admitted errors but defended them as a necessary means to an end: "What we have said by and large over the last 20 years I think was wise and was rational and reasonable. ... We are confronted with a world that has unfortunately only recently woken up to it. We as a pressure group have to emotionalize issues, and we are not ashamed of emotionalizing issues." In other words, Greenpeace is engaging in propaganda.

Waxman-Markey has already passed the House, but in September, the Senate will have an opportunity to de-emotionalize the debate over the bill. And Senate members do, they should take a hard look at the pronouncements of Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups, and separate the propaganda from the facts.


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