The Right Kind Of Green
Common Sense – Chapter 5; Part 2
Despite what Al Gore probably thinks, he didn’t create the “green movement.” Back in the early 1900’s there were several types of electric cars competing with Harry Ford’s gasoline-powered Model Ts, and the car companies have been seriously experimenting with hydrogen-based fuels since the 1970s.
But while Gore didn’t invent the idea of environmental responsibility, he did, along with politicians like George W. Bush, John McCain, and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, figure out a way to use it to further his Progressive agenda.
At first glance, climate change and “going green” don’t seem like issues that relate to the battle playing out for our country’s soul. But that’s because we often look at them in a vacuum. If you back away and see the forest instead of the individual trees, you quickly realize what is really going on: businesses, economy, and personal lives can’t simply snap their fingers and get it—they need a vehicle to take them there. My contention is that climate change is that vehicle.
Not surprisingly, the conservation movement came into its own during the Progressive period. The Sierra Club was founded in 1892 and, just twenty years later, Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation of this country.” Today we have Al Gore preaching the same gospel to a different audience. But instead of trying to convince adults who may be set in their ways, he smartly appeals to the feelings and instincts of minors. During an inauguration celebration for President Obama, gore spoke to a group of thirteen- to seventeen-year-old honor students. He explained to them that current day anti-global warming sentiments are a lot like racist sentiments were decades ago. He told them, Look, there’s a lot of things you understand instinctively but your parents don’t understand those things because they’re just too trapped in old thinking.
Do these men truly believe in what they’re saying? Do they honestly believe that the environment can really be “saved” through government intervention or is the environment just a vehicle toward the Progressive ideal of total government rule?
Like Gore, Roosevelt didn’t just use words, he demanded action. He limited personal freedom and ignored states’ rights by giving government more power over water and grazing rights, creating over fifty bird preserves through executive order, and, with the stroke of a pen, establishing more than twenty national forests. It didn’t matter to him that businesses, individuals, and states were negatively impacted by each of these decisions or that their rights to those previously public areas were taken away. Roosevelt argued that, as he put it, “the greatest good for the greatest number” required such action. “The New Nationalism,” he said, “puts the national need before sectional or personal advantage.”
We hear the same arguments today. Politicians lecture us that jobs must be sacrificed and factories closed for the sake of “the greater good.” We are told we can’t drill for oil, develop nuclear power, or burn clean coal because of the environmental impacts. We are told by our president, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on seventy-two degrees at all times,”—words that eerily echo Teddy Roosevelt’s calls for us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.”
In the 1970s, Progressives used “global cooling” as their call for action. That call included, naturally, increased government control. In the 1980s, as science refuted claims of global cooling, Progressives argued for more government power and control to fight “global warming” instead. Today, desperate to explain long periods of cooler temperatures, increased ice formations at the southern polar cap, and other inconvenient “global warming” truths, Progressives now tell us that government must have the power, resources, and money to fight “climate change”—whatever direction that change might be.
We are told that humans are destroying the planet and that only scientists (the “experts”) or the very rich, very famous, or very powerful can save it. I guess maybe those people are so busy flying on their private jets attending international climate conferences and accusing us of poisoning the planet that they either don’t notice their hypocrisy or they accept it as the price for the great work they’re supposedly doing.
We don’t trust the political class because they no longer find shame in their hypocrisy.
As always, the hypocrisy is loudest in Washington. In 2007, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced with great fanfare that Congress was “going green” by replacing twelve thousand incandescent light bulbs with environmentally friendly compact fluorescent ones. Trees would also be planted and carbon offsets purchased.
What you didn’t see in her press conference was the carbon-belching Capital Power Plant that burns more than seventeen thousand tons of coal each year. The plant’s proud owner? None other than the United States Congress. Since Congress owns the power plant and Speaker Pelosi controls the House, isn’t she ultimately responsible for the multiple Clean Air Act violations that the plant’s been cited for?
Congress apparently felt it could operate the power plant guilt-free because it purchased close to ninety thousand dollars worth of carbon credit. Those credits allow an entity to emit carbon in exchange for paying another entity to offset that carbon by planting trees or sequestering CO2, thereby eliminating or reducing the same amount of carbon. This year, Nancy Pelosi’s much heralded plans for a carbon-neutral guilt-free Congress died an unceremonious death. Congress will no longer purchase carbon credits. No reason was given for the change, but perhaps Congress was embarrassed by the revelation that several of the companies hired to offset their gluttony had already reduced their carbon outputs long before they were contracted by Congress to do so. In other words, if you give someone a thousand dollars to plant ten trees, but later found out that they planted those tress five years ago, have you really done anything to help the environment or are you just helping your own conscience? In Congress’ case, it was definitely the later.
Common sense tells us that the simpletons running our government should have learned from their own failed two-year experiment with carbon credits that the system does not work. But instead they’ve come to a different conclusion. They’ve decided that while they will no longer purchase carbon credits, American businesses and corporations must start to.
In the same month that they abandoned carbon credits, Congress introduced a 648-page bill that could effectively impose the carbon-credit scheme on every American business. Yet, in all of those pages, two simple questions are not answered: Who will be taxed, and how will the money that is raised, in what one politician called “the most significant revenue-generating proposal of our time,” be spent?
What was included in the bill were explicit details of new efficiency standards—such as protocols for putting on a “slanted roof” that would require “fiberglass asphalt-shingle roofing.” There were also ten pages discussing “portable lighting,” including a section on “art work light fixtures,” and another section spelling out the details of standby power needed for hot tubs.
The hubris, arrogance, and hypocrisy of politicians has no limits. They seek to impose laws on us that they themselves cannot tolerate. It’s a return to the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality, and it’s taking us down a subtle road to tyranny.