Twilight of the running back

So ignore the political reports and check the neutral scientific positions of the American Association for the Advancement of Science or the many studies under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences. Senator Rubio, this body of red-blooded American research supports the notion that human-caused greenhouse gases are a factor in climate change.

It's strange that so many conservatives have begun to take anti-science stances on climate change, natural selection and other issues. Once, conservatism prided itself on standing for education, rationality and the scientific approach to problem-solving. But as politics has become more polarized and fundamentalism has grown (in Judaism and Islam as well as Christianity), Republican candidates discovered there is fundraising gold in shaking one's fist against science. Plus, as college has become increasingly important to income, those who couldn't or didn't attend top colleges seem to feel more resentful of those who did. Once, conservatives controlled top academia. Now that liberals control the academy, suddenly science is bad.

If you believe, as I do, that the link between human-caused greenhouse gases and climate change is proven, what should you advocate?

The president, most editorialists, Secretary of State John Kerry and the Hollywood elite call for international action. Considering the 1997 test vote on the Kyoto Protocols failed in the Senate 97-0 -- international greenhouse gas rules did not draw even one Democratic vote -- there seems no chance the United States Senate ever will ratify any treaty granting international organizations control over U.S. domestic policy-making. Obama and others who call for international treaties on greenhouse gases are wasting everyone's time. The reason the international community wants such deals is its hope that any treaty will involve billions of dollars in guilt payments from the United States, money that foreign officialdom can steal from.

Rather than continue to participate in annual international climate summits that waste public money and cause greenhouse gases as private jets from the world over converge -- for the next one the United Nations promises "bold new announcements," probably about future meaningless meetings -- the United States should pass a domestic law pricing greenhouse gas emissions. The ideal would be to tax carbon, while reducing taxes on income and capital. That would create a profit incentive for engineers and business people to make money by finding innovations. A profit incentive, not bold announcements, is what will bring the greenhouse gas issue to heel.

Smog and acid rain are declining nearly everywhere in the world, even in some parts of China, though no international treaty covers either. In both cases the leadership position was taken by the United States, which enacted domestic legislation creating a profit incentive for smog and acid rain control. The results included engineering breakthroughs (the three-stage catalytic converter) and business models (sulfur dioxide trading) that reduced these pollutants much faster, and much more cheaply, than expected.

If the United States enacted U.S.-only greenhouse gas legislation, there's a good chance breakthroughs would follow, then the rest of the world could adopt them voluntarily. Talk of treaties is a waste of everyone's time. Congress needs to act.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...