By Debra J. Saunders
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Sen. Barbara Boxer of California delivered a speech in the Senate last week in which she linked global warming to the San Diego wildfires, Darfur, the imminent loss of the world's polar bears and even a poor 14-year-old boy who died from "an infection caused after swimming in Lake Havasu," because its water is warmer.
Forget arson. Forget genocide. Forget nature. There is no tragedy that cannot be placed at the doorstep of global-warming skeptics.
Oh, and there's no need to acknowledge that the regulations or taxes necessary to curb emissions by a substantial degree might damage economic growth. According to Boxer, laws to curb greenhouse gases -- this country would have to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half over 12 years to meet the latest international community goals -- will do good things for the American economy and create lots of jobs. It's Nostradamus science wedded to Santa Claus economics.
It is rhetoric such as Boxer's -- an odd combination of the-end-is-near hysteria and overly rosy economic scenarios -- that keep me in the agnostic-skeptic global-warming camp.
Boxer and Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that Boxer chairs, have been engaging in a running debate on global warming. Last month, Inhofe took on the Al Gore suggestion that polar bears are in peril because of global warming. Inhofe pointed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services estimates that show the polar bear population at about 20,000 to 25,000 bears -- up from the estimated 5,000 to 10,000 polar bears in the 1950s and 1960s.
Boxer rejected Inhofe's claim that there are more polar bears, selectively citing the "best-studied population" of Canada's western Hudson Bay that found a 22 percent reduction of polar bears from 1987 to 2004. Then she referred to a World Conservation Union prediction that the polar bear population will drop by 30 percent by 2050.
Global warming is supposed to be about science, yet projections now stand as fact.
Bjorn Lomborg addressed the polar bear scare in his book, "Cool It, the Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming." Of the 13 polar bear populations in Canada, the populations of 11 are stable or growing. The biggest cause of polar-bear deaths: hunters, who shoot an average of 49 polar bears in western Hudson Bay yearly.
By the way, Lomborg, a Danish professor of statistics, believes "global warming is real and manmade."
I note this because, to the global-warming crowd, it is more important that you believe in global warming than whether you curb your emissions.
Which doesn't make a lot of sense. If you believe their doomsday predictions, you would think they'd care more about results. Instead, the true believers laud Our Betters in Europe for signing onto the 1997 Kyoto global warming pact, while ignoring the fact that only two Western European countries (Sweden and the United Kingdom) are on track to meet their Kyoto goals.
They laud former President Bill Clinton because he said he supported Kyoto, and they bash President Bush because he rejected it. They don't care that Clinton never asked the Senate to ratify the treaty. Or that under Clinton, greenhouse gas emissions rose, contrary to the Kyoto goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
Ten years ago, Boxer was one of 95 senators who voted in favor of a resolution that directed the Clinton administration not to sign onto any global warming treaty that exempted developing nations, or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States." Yet that is what Kyoto did.
Boxer was right, then. Kyoto would have damaged the U.S. economy without curbing greenhouse gases to the extent activists say is needed. Today, Democrats have abandoned all reason. They buy the worst-case scenarios and sell snake-oil economics.
The air of unreality pervades the debate.
It doesn't matter what you spew if you say you believe in global warming. You don't have to sacrifice. Fighting global warming will be easy and good for the economy. This isn't science. It's fantasy.