Tag Archives: Global Warming

Global Warming Policies’ Economic Chill

By MARGO THORNING | Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Many Americans think that switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, buying environmentally friendly appliances and obeying a (100% recycled) bag of green living tips will be the extent of their contribution to curbing greenhouse gases. But the price tag to consumers could be a lot higher if some politicians have their way. In fact, U.S. households could expect a $2,900 annual hit to their family budget sooner than they think.

That’s just one figure causing concern as politicians race to address global warming. Therefore, it’s worth noting that at the same time Americans are concerned about climate change, they are also very concerned about the sluggish economy and the impact it is having on the pocketbook. It is only fair, then, to view the two issues side by side. When cooler heads prevail, the reality is clear:

There is weak public support for global-warming policies, which would end up costing the average family thousands of dollars.

First, it’s worth noting where Americans currently stand on global warming. According to Gallup, as much as 70% of the public during the late 1990s through 2000 said the environment should take priority over the economy. That number has dropped to just 49% this year.

Perhaps even more startling for some policymakers may be that “the environment barely registers as a top-of-mind concern” for the public when asked to name the nation’s biggest problem, according to Gallup’s research. Though the environment tops the list of problems Americans perceive for 25 years in the future, it still lags behind the economy and energy when taken together.

Even then, a poll from the Institute for Energy Research found that only 1 in 4 people citing the environment as their top concern rate global warming as the most serious threat.

None of this suggests the environment isn’t a concern, or that Americans are not concerned. The onslaught of scary warnings on global warming has worn down voters. Thus, many will tentatively agree when politicians ask them to support the cause. After all, a lot of people think, what’s wrong with kicking in a few bucks if it means a cleaner world?

Unfortunately, politicians are not asking for a few bucks. They’re asking that everyone give until it hurts, and then give some more.

Take, for instance, America’s Climate Security Act of 2007, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Warner. The climate would become more secure, they say, by thrusting rigid emissions rules on American business in a cap-and-trade system they liken to the free market at work.

(We are all too well aware of the “efficiency” big-government bureaucracy brings to an issue).

While the act would impose Uncle Sam further into our economy, the economic lives of average Americans would become far less secure. By requiring cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the bill would increase energy costs ranging from gasoline to electricity. Those costs are just the beginning. Higher prices mean less economic activity, which will drag on job creation nationwide, further slowing the economy.

Those costs will hit home, literally. A joint analysis undertaken by the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation concluded that passage of the Lieberman-Warner bill, which was recently killed in the Senate but could return under another name, would have caused significant economic hardship. American households would have faced income losses of as much as $2,927 per year in just a dozen years, and as much as $6,752 per year in 2030. Job losses would have ranged from 1.2 million to 1.8 million in just 12 years and by as much as 4 million by 2030.

Additional research undertaken by the Heritage Foundation confirms these concerns. That organization found that under the Lieberman-Warner scheme, the average household would pay $467 more each year for its natural gas and electricity. Heritage says the average household will spend an additional $8,870 to purchase household energy over the 2012-30 period.

No one is asking politicians to be economists. But economists are telling politicians what they should already know: Government interference with our economy can have a very high price tag for working families.

Even if politicians don’t like to look at economic data on the cost of the Lieberman-Warner bill, polling figures are already equally revealing. Lawmakers can choose to heed those facts now, or they may have to face some tough polling information of their own when their constituents start getting higher energy bills.

Thorning is senior vice president and chief economist of the American Council for Capital Formation.



London: Sarkozy seeks to moralize capitalism

Commentary by Herbert London

In a recent Le Figaro report Nicolas Sarkozy said, “At the end of the French presidency, my aim is that [Europe] will have moved towards a common immigration policy, a common defense policy, a common energy policy, and a common environment policy.”   He noted, “The citizens of all of Europe demand protection; they want Europe to protect them, not make them vulnerable.  They want it to allow them to act, not oblige them to suffer.”

President Sarkozy goes on to contend that this “protective Europe” is incompatible with “the excesses of financial capitalism.”  He maintains that France under his guidance will take initiatives “to moralize capitalism.”  As part of his vision Europe is to be seen for “community preference” and to make matters perfectly clear President Sarkozy has called on the government backed Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations bank to take the lead in protecting France from the “power of extremely aggressive sovereign funds.” 

How does one parse the ambiguous phrases?  Is European immigration policy, to cite one example, going down a path taken by France in which more than a quarter of Marseille residents are Muslim and unrest now characterizes urban life in this once peaceful city?  What does Sarkozy mean by a common environmental policy?  Are European nations about to embrace a common carbon footprint?  And if so, will such regulation be enforced by bureaucrats in Brussels?

Perhaps the most interesting and often-heard expression used by Sarkozy is “moralizing capitalism.”  For years European leaders have been decrying “the inhuman dimensions of Anglo-Saxon capitalism”—code words for the free market.  Sarkozy is merely following the rhetorical lead of his predecessors.

However, in his desire to place strict controls on sovereign investment he may be inhibiting cash-starved industries and corporations and, in the process, restricting innovation Europe needs to be competitive.  If moralizing capitalism means protective regulation that keeps union control over the labor market, stagnation is the inevitable result.  It has been demonstrated in France and elsewhere in Western Europe that if you cannot fire, you cannot hire, a condition that has led Europeans to envy the relatively low unemployment rate in the United States.

Clearly Europe has benefited from Arab capital that has gravitated north in search of investment opportunity.  This condition aimed in part as punishment for American Middle East policy, has bolstered the euro against the dollar and, to a modest degree, has had a salutary influence on European economies.

But in actuality Europe’s industries are largely moribund.  They cannot compete against Asian markets and often demand protection against the economic onslaught.  The unfunded liability due to cradle to grave security—even with recent modifications in outlook—is daunting.

As a consequence, the Sarkozy proposal to moralize capitalism—which has the ring of human decency to it—is catastrophic for a Europe that suffers from economic sclerosis.  If anything, France and Western Europe desperately require a shot of adrenalin in the form of free market initiatives.

Clearly Europeans have a preference for security, long vacations, short work weeks and reduced competition.  However, Europeans are not alone in the world.  The intrusion of other markets is a reality and the interest of competitiveness will have to be assuaged. 

While Sarkozy’s pro-American foreign policy stance is justifiably applauded, his European economic position is hopelessly predictable and doomed to fail.  Perhaps as a member of the EU in good standing, he, as the leader of France, is obliged to repeat standard European slogans.  But these are empty slogans that if enacted into policies will further weaken Europe economically and make it less likely the continent will assume the defense responsibility to which is so often gives lip-service.

Sarkozy has enjoyed a honeymoon period with American leaders, but his platitudinous economic position should offer a moment of reflection.  Are we merely hearing much of the bankrupt moralizing of the recent past—an echo of Chirac?  That is the most likely conclusion to be reached from his remarks.


 -Herb London is president of the Hudson Institute and a member of Insight’s Editorial Advisory Board.


PBS And The ‘Remarkable’ Ted Turner

By L. BRENT BOZELL | Posted Thursday, April 10, 2008 4:30 PM PT

Ted Turner was not only interviewed, but celebrated on PBS — on April Fool’s Day. The prank was apparently on PBS. It was as if Turner had a subversive mission, to prove that PBS isn’t just for smart people.

True to form, Turner walked off a cliff of rhetorical excess on “The Charlie Rose Show,” charging that global warming was going to grow so severe that in a few decades, most of humanity would be extinct.

“We’ll be eight degrees hotter in 10 — not 10, but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died, and the rest of us will be cannibals.”

Charlie Rose should have been embarrassed, but wasn’t. When Turner said during the show, “It’s been a long time since anybody caught me saying something stupid,” he should have administered a Breathalyzer test.

Instead, at show’s end, he delivered an homage to Turner’s humanitarianism. Rose was still seated, but the tone sounded like he was bowing deeply to his guest’s expansive intellect. “You’re a remarkable man,” he declared.

The global warming disaster-movie pushers always try to intimidate their opponents by insisting the finest scientific minds are all on their side. But Ted Turner is not one of the finest scientific minds in America. All you have to do is express the politically correct opinion and PBS will treat you as one of the world’s great sages.

PBS is a natural habitat for this kind of wild-eyed lunacy. The taxpayer-funded network has a well-worn reputation for providing gloomy — and wholly inaccurate — predictions from environmental extremists.

In 1990, the PBS documentary series “Race to Save the Planet” featured another one of those lesser scientific minds, actress Meryl Streep: “By the year 2000 — that’s less than 10 years away — the earth’s climate will be warmer than it’s been in over 100,000 years. If we don’t do something, there’ll be enormous calamities in a very short time.”

Doesn’t everyone remember the massive human die-off of 2000?

Al Gore went to Harvard with Erich Segal, the author of “Love Story,” so he knows that being in love with the planet Earth means never having to say you’re sorry when your doomsday pitches are massively, dreadfully wrong. But shouldn’t PBS and other media outlets be held accountable when doomsday predictions they’ve facilitated from 15 or 20 years ago fail to materialize?

Liberalism is so impressed with its own brilliance that results apparently don’t matter. There is the “enlightened” opinion, and there is the benighted opinion.

When Charlie Rose interviewed Gore in 2006, he wondered about how President Bush could be so deluded about the impending warming disaster: “But do you know anybody who has temporarily tried to have a conversation with the president about this, in a way which you would consider an enlightened conversation?” Gore said Bush is an “incurious person,” which is a patronizing way of saying he’s not stupid, he just doesn’t care as much about the planet as we do.

But can’t it be said that Ted Turner is an incurious person? What has Ted Turner ever done to display his curiosity about free-market environmentalism?

Eleven years ago, when he was still in charge of CNN, he wouldn’t let opponents speak. It was bad enough that CNN (and TBS) had a habit of airing extremely one-sided eco-panic — even with child indoctrination in cartoon form like “Captain Planet.”

Turner even had commercials opposing the Kyoto global warming treaty pulled from his airwaves. They were apparently inaccurate for predicting that U.S. approval of Kyoto would dramatically increase gas and electricity prices for the American people.

This was one gloomy scenario that Turner would not endorse. Despite its status as a prediction about the future — just like Turner’s — it was denounced as a lie in the present tense.

The media, including PBS, are supposed to follow the truth wherever it leads. They can suspect that conservatives have an axe to grind. Fine. They ought to suspect the same from liberals.

The media could make gains against their damaged credibility by simply revisiting environmental crystal-ball claims from 1968, 1978 and 1988, and answering the question: Were the doomsayers and their predictions of disaster right?

Instead, the media appear to all the world as trapped inside a hermetically sealed bubble of its own incuriosity.

The Business and Media Institute studied global warming stories on ABC, CBS and NBC in the second half of 2007, and found only 20% of stories even mentioned the mere concept that some disagree with doomsday global warming scenarios.

Skeptical scientists are routinely locked out, while Ted Turner is honored for his overwhelming gift of “enlightened conversation.”

Copyright 2008 Creators Syndicate, Inc