Warm and Fuzzy Global Regulation

, Bethany Stotts, Leave a comment

With the science on climate change much less settled than its clarions say it is, it becomes all the more important to examine the motivations behind global warming activism. Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, told a Competitive Enterprise Institute audience last week that he believes climate change forms the ideal political issue because its dogma cannot be disproven.

“Now I am afraid it will take centuries to come up with a convincing proof that the planet has not been destroyed, or does not find itself on the brink of destruction and that’s the trick of the current environmentalism,” Klaus said at the CEI annual dinner. “The ambitious politicians who try to mastermind the world and their fellow citizens have been dreaming for decades to to find such a marvelous, from reality immunized doctrine,” he said.

This type of climate alarmism is not without cost, Klaus argues, and is inherently inimical to human welfare. “If we take the reasoning of the environmentalists seriously, we find theirs is an anti-human ideology. It sees the fundamental cause of the world’s problems in the very expansion of homo sapiens,” writes Klaus in his book, Blue Planet In Green Shackles.

Klaus was the recipient of this year’s CEI Julian Simon award for free market ideas. Blue Planet in Green Shackles was translated into English by CEI, and has been produced in other languages such as German, Dutch, and Polish. It will soon enter Russian markets.

“And finally thanks to you all for giving me such a good reason to again visit your great country which—with all the so much-needed and in many respects more-than-ustified criticism—remains to be the most free country in the world and the inspiration for all of us,” Klaus told the audience. He added, “I emphasize it here and now mainly because of my growing frustration with the developments on the other side of the Atlantic, where I have just come from.”

But is America about to go the way of Europe? The Lieberman-Warner bill would impose cap-and-trade on America’s carbon emissions, requiring a 70% drop in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.

According to the Heritage Foundation, American gross domestic product (GDP), a key indicator of wealth, could drop $436 billion by 2030 as a result of the legislation. Heritage’s new report shows that the bill will also raise household energy costs by $447 annually and could lead to the loss of a million American jobs.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would impose $90 billion in private-sector mandates annually between 2012 and 2016. This exceeds the legal annual cap of $136 million established under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA), reports the CBO.

Klaus drew a conceptual link between Marxism and modern-day environmentalism while at the National Press Club. “Like their predecessors, [environmentalists] will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality,” he said. “In the past, it was in the name of the masses or of the proletariat; this time in the name of the planet. Structurally, it is very similar,” he said.

The Czech President admits that his present perspective is influenced heavily by his life under communism, but said that he “would like to stress that I do not live in the past and do not see the future threats to society coming from the old and old-fashioned communist ideology.” Rather, the threat comes with a new name but similar goal: government restrictions on freedom.

“We are witnessing the absolutist interpretation of the cautionary principle being used by environmentalists to justify any kind of regulatory intervention or ban,” writes Klaus in Blue Planet in Green Shackles. “All they need to implement such regulations…is simple moralizing, noble preaching about the future, and demonstrating their ‘concern’ about humankind à la Gore,” he continues. Far better, he argues, is the cost-benefit analysis.

Critics of cap-and-trade and other economic engineering schemes argue that the costs of climate change alarmism could be quite dramatic. “If we eliminate the nitrogen fertilizer, then that will cut the world’s crop fields in half immediately,” said Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute. “Half the world will be hungry.”

On a more humorous note, Klaus’ press club jokes about Al Gore’s carbon-capping schemes shed a more personal light on what the future might have in store for America. He said,

“I was the only voice in the room to ask, ‘please, can I get [water] without ice?’ And then my neighbors at the table started to argue ‘this is very European because in Europe they have small refrigerators and they don’t have enough ice.’ And I said, ‘Fred, to be consistent, you should go home this evening to throw away your big refrigerator and to buy a new small one. That’s the only way how to follow [the] prescriptions of Al Gore.”

Bethany Stotts is a Staff Writer at Accuracy in Academia.