January 22, 1998 | Commentary on Energy and Environment
Imagine. Anti-Americanism gains the upper hand in the Middle East and the United States can no longer obtain oil from the sheiks and mullahs.
The president tells the nation we're going to have to become energy independent through some sort of technological breakthrough, or radically change our way of life. Either way, be prepared for tough times.
Fine-Americans are realistic, and, like most people, ready to do whatever is necessary to survive. If we have to bite the bullet, we may grumble, but we'll do what we have to.
There's a condition attached to this, of course: The president better be right. If he is asking America to make sacrifices and drastically change their lives, it better be necessary. If it turns out he's just playing Chicken Little, warning everyone that the sky is falling without proof, there's going to be hell to pay. Especially if he knows he's wrong, and is only raising the red flag because he wants to satisfy some political constituency.
Welcome to the bizarre world of "global warming."
Late last year, the Clinton administration sent negotiators to Kyoto, Japan, with no scientific proof of "global warming" or that human activity is causing it. The negotiators submitted proposals for curbing U.S. "greenhouse gas" emissions that, according to a study by WEFA Inc., a widely respected economic forecaster, would result in energy price increases of between 50 percent and 200 percent over the next 25 years. Electricity prices could rise from 40 percent to 50 percent, according to the WEFA forecast, and the price of gasoline by 70 cents per gallon. That translates to an increase in the average family's annual electric bill of more than $250, and in the annual cost of gasoline of $200.
But that was just the beginning.
U.S. negotiators then backed down from this preposterous negotiating position, and agreed to even greater emissions reductions than they sought when the talks began-from a reduction in greenhouse gases to 1990 levels to 7 percent below 1990 levels. Add that 7 percent to the 27 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions that will occur over the next few decades without the treaty, and it turns out U.S. negotiators actually called for a reduction of about 34 percent in the level of U.S. emissions.
All this to combat a "global warming" crisis that can't be verified by the scientific community. Extensive polling has revealed nothing like the kind of consensus the administration is claiming for the idea that the world is facing a global-warming catastrophe or that human activity is responsible. More than 100 noted scientists, including the former president of the National Academy of Sciences, signed the 1995 Leipzig Declaration stating that costly actions undertaken to reduce greenhouse emissions are not justified by the available scientific evidence.
Even the scientist who first warned Vice President Al Gore about global warming, Roger Revelle, wrote shortly before his death: "The scientific basis for greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time." Responsible environmentalism is one thing-but don't you think we ought to be sure this thing is happening before we make a huge economic sacrifice for it?
Few Americans understand what's really going on. Hint: The conservative revolution has robbed liberals of a vehicle for expanding the size and power of government. But a long-term environmental crisis, even one manufactured by alarmists, could change that.
The global-warming scenario provides advocates of big government with an excuse for tapping into the lifeline of the U.S. economy for the foreseeable future. Better yet, the current president will be long gone before most of the belt-tightening begins to pinch.
The U.S. Senate should shut this one down before it goes any further.