From Cancun: Leadership is the courage to say no

This article originally appeared in the National Journal’s Cancun Insider.

 

Cancun, Mexico–Ed Markey wonders, “Where do we go from here?” With any luck, COP 16 will be the last UN sponsored Climate conference, and we can all just go home, to spend time with our families and do something worthwhile with our hard-earned money. Maybe Canadians can process a bit of tar sands as well – and enjoy ever so slightly warmer Januaries, if the Earth would just warm a bit more, instead of continuing to cool and snow.

After the fears of “global cooling” passed in the 1970s, alarmists quickly made global warming the scary new crisis. That morphed into “climate change,” which John Holdren recently reconstituted as “global climate disruption” – the better to turn Hurricane Katrina, monsoons and every other major disaster or event into a product of mankind’s perverse and pernicious use of hydrocarbons.

But now the United States is on the verge of going 750 days without a hurricane making landfall. That hasn’t happened in 150 years, and 750 will stretch to nearly 1000 before the next hurricane season begins. To hear Mr. Markey tell it, however, 2010 was the most disastrous year ever – and hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and fires were virtually unknown before carbon dioxide levels reached 0.039% (390 ppm) of the Earth’s atmosphere. Perhaps he just wants to make sure we send a few billion dollars to his favorite climate crisis researchers, to see if they can find any disasters in previous decades and centuries.

The reality is, “extreme weather events” have plagued man and nature since time immemorial – and the most powerful hurricanes to strike the US and Canada in the 20th Century occurred during the 1950s and 1960s, with Hurricane Hazel being one prime example.

Mr. Markey’s assertion that Pakistan demonstrates what “extreme weather can do” to developing nations hides the real reason they are vulnerable to nature’s raw power: poverty, unsafe buildings, deficient warning systems, and substandard roads and transportation to escape coming onslaughts. He and the UN would rather blame “unprecedented global climate disruption” and demand unprecedented wealth redistribution from developed countries, as penance for emitting CO2 and causing the disruptions.

When a typhoon hits Japan, citizens simply close their storm doors and wait it out. Almost no loss of life occurs. When a typhoon hits Bangladesh, thousands die. Japan’s much higher carbon dioxide output reflects its status as a wealthy, healthy, safe society. If we truly want to help Bangladesh and similar countries, we will encourage and help them to use more fossil fuels, not less.

Rep. Markey is telling the world’s most impoverished people, “You can’t have the energy, wealth, health, clean water, safety and longer lives we enjoy, thanks to fossil fuels.” That is unethical, unconscionable and even criminal. How can anyone deny their fellow humans the best that modern technology has to offer?

The West should help poor countries modernize, gain access to the best hydrocarbon and hydroelectric electricity generation we can provide, the best seeds, the best free enterprise ideas, the best ways to build their homes and countries, and provide genuine health and opportunities to their people. Instead of trying to redistribute wealth from developed nations that Markey now wants to hamstring with climate and green energy rules, we should help create new wealth all over the world, by fostering the development of reliable, affordable, abundant, efficient energy systems: hydrocarbon, hydroelectric, nuclear and perhaps some geothermal. Wind and solar will be fine stopgaps in villages too remote to be served anytime soon by large-scale power generation systems; but these systems are expensive, land-intensive, unreliable and not ready for prime time as a dominant energy source – unless your real goal is to keep people poor.

China has invested billions in “clean energy” – primarily to sell it to gullible, guilt-ridden Americans and Europeans. But it has also built a coal-fired power plant every week for the last five years, and recently inaugurated the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. As a result, its people have enjoyed the biggest surge in economic productivity, jobs and opportunities in China’s history. Meanwhile, led by people like Ed Markey, the USA seems intent on crippling its economy and becoming a formerly developed country.

President Jimmy Carter wasted billions on the Synthetic Fuels Corporation. But Mr. Markey, President Obama and the US Environmental Protection Agency seem determined to repeat his mistake a thousand times over.

Yes, trillions in investment dollars hang in the balance. That sum includes the now defunct Chicago Climate Exchange and hundreds of companies and universities (like General Electric, Goldman Sachs and Penn State) that expected huge windfalls from already beleaguered taxpayers, in the form of more mandates, subsidies and tax breaks for green technology, more cash for climate disaster research and computer modeling, and an enormous carbon trading market. Perhaps the United States will now pull the plug on some of this garbage, start focusing on real problems, and send the money to truly deserving projects and people, instead.

Thank goodness for obstruction by Senate Republicans. Without it, our billion-dollar errors would have ballooned into trillion-dollar disasters.

The real question of the hour is this. Will this or the next Congress have the courage to do what the Senate did in 1997, voting unanimously to reject the Kyoto Accord?

One can only hope Congress will find the courage to say no to the UN, no to the negotiations in Cancun, no to climate crisis hype and hysteria. The courage, instead, to lead the world to a better tomorrow – one based on real “Hope” for the future, on actions that really will ensure better lives for billions in the developing world. THAT is the commitment that will move the process forward, and guarantee real progress for people and planet.

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About the Author: Redmond Weissenberger