Thursday, August 6, 2015

"Climate - Big Government's Trojan Horse"

                      Sydney M. Williams

Thought of the Day
“Climate – Big Government’s Trojan Horse”
August 6, 2015

I rise early when at home. The outside temperature is checked. On summer mornings, if it is below 65°, the windows are opened and attic fans turned on. Fresh air courses through the house. After a couple of hours, with the summer sun rising and immersing us in its radiant heat, the windows are shut and the fans turned off. The air conditioning goes back to work…polluting the outside air. But being comfortable adds to my productivity and improves my outlook. It is one of thousands of trade-offs we make each day, like President Obama flying off on Air Force One to make a speech about excessive carbon dioxide emissions..

Growing up in rural New Hampshire, I remember old-timers saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” That was true seventy years ago and still is today. Weather is unpredictable. Before my mother went to the village she made a list, not because she was concerned about emitting greenhouse gasses, but because time and money were important. Her efforts at conservation were driven by self-interest, not in obeisance to a government mandate.

As a society’s wealth increases, so does its awareness and concern for the world around it. New York City skies that were smog-filled seventy years ago are now clear. Rivers that were filled with effluence are clean. Much of this happened before Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. This is not to say that the EPA has not been a force for good over its 45-year life. It has, but like all bureaucracies, as it aged it became bigger, more powerful and more intrusive. Its tentacles reach deep into our lives and touch, for example, every small body of water, even those too small for toy boats. Commonsense has given way to “Big Brother.”

I am not an environmentalist, but I love the environs in which I live. I recognize the responsibility of stewardship that comes with the privilege of living along the Connecticut River’s estuary. I have witnessed the changing seasons and seen the immense power of nature. When I water the garden, with the sun just appearing and the moon yet in the sky, I am as one with nature. I go so far as to assign anthropomorphic traits to the roses, peonies and irises that are the targets of my hose. If I miss a day they are resentful, but forgiving when I return the following morning.

One cannot enjoy nature without appreciating the climate within which it lies; nor can anyone who spends time outdoors not realize climate’s ever-changing nature. Change is indigenous. These thoughts occurred as I listened to President Obama’s talk in which he laid out new rules that give additional powers to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. He seemed to get emotional, which I admire, but the cynic in me said he was acting. At any rate, I resented his arrogance and didactic tone. This Plan is not about slowing the rise of the oceans or healing the planet; it is not about letting his grandchildren swim in the oceans, climb a mountain or see a glacier. This they will be able to do. The Plan is about harnessing the natural freedom of people, making them more subservient to an ever-more pervasive state. This is about power and wealth redistribution.

Mr. Obama says his proposal will create jobs. It will – in the renewable energy field. But it will cost more jobs in fossil fuels, especially coal but also in fracking. Electricity costs will rise. As laws like the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank, and as agencies like the EPA are given more powers, growth becomes victim. We are living through the longest period of substandard economic growth in my lifetime. Mr. Obama is the antithesis of Ronald Reagan. The wealthy have done well; it has been the poor and the middle class – the very people Mr. Obama claims to help – that have suffered. Ramping up growth and creating more opportunities for work is what will bring them happiness – and with it, greater appreciation for the world we live in.

In the battle over who or what is responsible for climate change, extremists on the Left have seized the podium. They have discarded civil discourse. Their goal is obvious. Climate is a Trojan Horse for government. John Steele Gordon wrote recently: “Belief in anthropogenic climate change is a heaven-sent opportunity for the Left to vastly increase government control over the economy.” There is no one, to my knowledge, that denies climate changes. “Climate change deniers” is a rallying cry for the Left. It is meant to evoke images of doltish rubes who dare to question the wisdom of their betters. The Left is adamant in declaring that the science is “settled.” In his 2014 State of the Union, President Obama said, “The science is settled. Climate change is a fact.” His words were oxymoronic. Science is never “settled.” What we know today is subject to change tomorrow. His words were an ad hominem attack on skeptics, not about climate change per se, but suggesting those who oppose his proposals are no different from “Holocaust deniers.”

Reasonable people agree that climate change is real. They agree man bears some responsibility. They disagree as to how to allocate fault: what portion is man’s and what is nature’s?  Climate has been changing since the Earth was formed billions of years ago. In the last forty years, the Left has claimed that man-caused effects on climate have left the planet cooling, warming and now just changing. Mr. Obama implied that climate change had intensified storms and worsened forest fires, which is not factually true. Using imperfect knowledge to make policy decisions regarding a large sector of the economy risks big financial dislocations. Yet that is what the President proposed. More than four trillion kilowatt hours of electricity are produced annually in the United States, with coal producing about 40% of the total. Shuttering those plants will have consequences. The Heritage Foundation estimates 500,000 jobs will be lost, along with $100 billion in lost output. According to the Administration’s own data, electricity prices will increase.

Electricity demand in the U.S. has declined in the past seven years by 2.6%, despite a population that has increased by 14 million, a GDP that has risen by $1.3 trillion and the proliferation of hand-held electronic devices. The reason: more efficient household appliances, homes, office buildings, factory floors and longer battery life. Competition breeds positive results. But, despite the decline in usage, the cost of electricity has risen more than double the rate of inflation. Last January, in my part of Connecticut, the price rose 26 percent. For this we can thank the EPA.

The United States, with 5% of the world’s population produced, in 2014, 15% of the carbon dioxide, while generating 22.5% of global GDP. We have become more environmentally friendly. We live more comfortably than most of the world. Should the rest achieve what we have, the world would be a better place. Mr. Obama, unshackle our economy. Our people, the world and the environment would be better for it…and now I need to shut the windows and turn off the fans.



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