No rest for the wicked

Published February 1, 2001

The failure of COP-6 at The Hague last November was not really bad news for the sophisticated U.S. environmental pressure groups that see CO2 as a pollutant rather than a plant nutrient. Any agreement would have been easy to attack, and any implementation would have increasingly failed over time. Now the alternative comes into play–a unilateral carbon control program by the United States.

An interesting look into the current strategy for this nefarious scheme can be found in a new book from the Aspen Institute, U.S. Policy and Global Environment: Memos to the President. Rest assured that everyone in the new Bush administration and the new Congress has been sent a copy of this book, making our job of setting the record straight that much more difficult.

The book is a compilation of essays by radical environmental types without an economist in sight to pick up the pieces of economic devastation. Most discouraging is the fact that Texaco has underwritten the book’s distribution.

An essay by David Victor explains why Kyoto is impossible but warns the new administration not to formally reject any agreement, since that would hurt the international cause and would work against the framework that is still viable. He rather openly talks about “pretending to go along.” His advice is to start with unilateral action and work toward binding international treaties in five to 10 years. (If nothing else, socialists are known for their patience.)

In another essay, John Holdren (who once predicted “carbon dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020”) says, “One does not have to leap to the (tax) levels of $100 or $200 per ton of emitted carbon. . . . [G]etting our toes wet with a tax of $20 per ton, as a beginning, would generate a healthy set of incentives . . . and raise about $30 billion per year initially in the U.S.” The foot-in-the-door approach has worked every time in the game of “removing little freedoms and emplacing little restrictions.”

Climate planners know that just by starting the process, they can move on to achieve their goals (including full employment for the intellectual class), and that even the Bush administration can be very useful in doing that.

Eileen Clausen, who got herself in trouble questioning Kyoto before COP-6, has an essay in the book on how to bring consensus between NGOs and business groups to get things done in the new administration. She also advocates an Internet-based strategy for consensus–something the other side (us) should consider.

The book covers biodiversity, water, and so on. In all, it’s a revealing look at the ideas, assumptions, and values of the environmental planning intellectual class.

In an effort to throw roadblocks in the path of those whose reverence for human life is less than this writer’s, we have published an open letter to President Bush on page 3 of this issue. We thank Marlo Lewis for drafting this important message and hope readers will distribute it as widely as possible.