Freedom New Mexico
At the U.N. “summit” on climate change this week, President Obama manfully tried to argue that the United States is doing more than it ever has to combat the allegedly catastrophic effects of human-induced climate change.
Yet to judge by the response of other world leaders, it might as well have been the despised George W. Bush up there at the podium of the U.N. assembly hall.
The collective judgment seems to be that despite the one-day effort to get all the countries of the world on board for a massively coercive treaty to be negotiated in Copenhagen in December, the likelihood of a stern, enforceable treaty is rather low. Indeed, Sir David King, former scientific adviser to the U.K. government and a reliable global warming alarmist, said it would be better to postpone negotiations to next year rather than come up with a statement long on general aspirations and short on specifics.
From our perspective, of course, this is hardly an alarming development. There is little doubt that an agreement to reduce carbon emissions to reduce global warming would deter economic growth and development during a time of recession.
And this renewed determination to reduce the world’s collective carbon footprint comes at a time when there has been no warming for the last decade and the purported science behind the conviction that industry is irreversibly changing the world’s climate is being subjected to increasingly sophisticated criticism.
So if the world’s political leaders want to continue issuing statements of alarm and doing little or nothing to impose mandatory standards on industrial development, that wouldn’t be a bad outcome.
In a way, one can understand the impatience of European leaders, whose governments have already done a great deal more than the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions.
President Obama offered properly alarmist rhetoric. Unless the world confronts climate change “we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe,” he said. “We (the U.S.) understand the gravity of the climate threat,” he continued. “We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations.”
When it came to the specifics, the list was rather thin. The administration has imposed new fuel efficiency standards for automobiles. The “stimulus” bill contains “investments” in renewable energy. And the House has passed the infamous cap-and-trade bill.
However, the House-passed bill has gone nowhere in the Senate and Senate majority leader Harry Reid has said that consideration may be postponed until next year — after the Copenhagen conference and smack-dab in the middle of an election year when the appetite for bold steps that promise benefits in the distant future while imposing serious penalties on industry in the present may be considerably diminished.
So President Obama, hoping to curry favor with the “world community” at the U.N., was upstaged by China’s Hu Jintao, who boldly promised that China would establish “mandatory national targets” for greenhouse gases and increase the size of the country’s forests by 99 million acres.
It was easy for him to say. Politically, China is still a totalitarian country that doesn’t have to bother with the messy business of manufacturing consent before its government acts. And if those turn out to be empty promises — as they almost certainly will be — today’s rhetoric will be a misty memory by 2020 or 2050.
When it comes to the kinds of job-killing controls that would be embodied in any global-warming treaty, empty words and empty promises are probably the best we can hope for.