Solar Panels and Polar Bears by Bill Turner
Why is Patrick Moore arguing for nuclear power? What made Adam Werbach declare that "environmentalism is dead" and that advocates should shift to what is essentially a global call to social awareness? Who are these guys anyway, and what do they have to do with the Bush Administration's cynical decision to place polar bears on the list of threatened species? We'll come back to Moore and Werbach later, but their rhetoric of late exposes how cynical the decision about the polar bears is, and why we should be battling the stream of nonsense about global warming, or climate change, that flows from politicians these days.
First, we should look at the situation of the polar bears. The argument for placing them on the list hinges on the concept that some climate models show a catastrophic loss of habitat over the next few decades. I don't have time to unpack the statistical constructs to understand the rationale behind this decision and, like many other analysts, I'm not certain some of the constructs even make sense. The experts disagree on many points, in spite of Al Gore's protestations that the debate is settled.
As an aside, a "big oil" guy like the former Vice President has to be without shame to make the arguments he's made. In fact, this whole decision smells like undue corporate influence in Washington D.C.
But the decision about the polar bears sets up a challenging situation from the standpoint of analysis. If we take the models used at face value, we still have an overwhelming question to answer. Do human beings have the ability to alter those models? I have an answer for that question. Human driven global warming, or climate change, is bunk.
Moore agrees with me. He says that we could, as an option, try nuclear power to reduce greenhouse emissions, but he isn't at all convinced we'll make a great difference, or that greenhouse gases make such a difference. Moore was a founder of Greenpeace, an organization that has some history of advocacy against nuclear, well, anything.
But Moore and I aren't alone. More scientists and Ph.D.'s recently signed on to a dissenting view of the idea of human impact on climate change, than the number of scientists who signed on to the initial United Nations study that argued that humans were responsible, to whatever degree, for it. So why, in the face of a public shift to the contrary, would the Bush Administration oversee yet one more unpopular policy position – one that runs contrary to previously held administration positions?
A cynic could speculate that money was in it. After all, if oil prices continue to rise because of increased demand in China and the rest of the developing world, those nations dependent on imported oil might seek alternatives to oil. Adding environmental pressures to seek new energy sources might create a market for alternative energy sources. Who could fill those demands?
Would I suggest that big oil companies and other corporations are behind the global warming research? Why should I? Anyone with an internet connection could search for the names of major foundations that finance the research supporting catastrophic notions, see which corporations fund those foundations and then do the math to see who is funding what. I don't need to suggest anything. The facts are what they are, available for anyone who wants to look them up.
Werbach made a claim that environmentalism is dead. He shares no agreement with me, save stumbling across the foundational funding problem in his own way. Werbach's argument was that environmentalism was trapped in the 1970's, and that the stale advocacy needed an overhaul, like teaming with a corporation directly. A cynic might ask what a large corporation likes more than stability. Since I'm not really a cynic, I have no need for that question.
I'd be more apt to question which environmental organization is naming names of large polluters – still operating – in the United States. Environmental organizations can't often do that. It would kill program funding.
I should note that I am a different sort. I'm a pro-growth, pro-business environmentalist. I don't share Hugh Hewitt's view of this: "A variety of environmental groups orchestrated the tsunami of testimonials to the desperate condition of the polar bear because they understand—as much of the public and Congress does not—that a listing of the polar bear will have vast implications, and may in fact be a backdoor to implementation of the Kyoto protocol."
To me, the bears are nothing more than a smokescreen. Sure, the environmental throwbacks to flower power will beat this issue into the ground. I, on the other hand, will check with the cynic.
What this decision will do is create pressure for government action on "global warming," or "climate change." It will create new bureaucracies and regulations. It will place incredible burdens on business models. Now I check with the cynic. I know exactly which question he'll ask.
Which businesses do best in giant government bureaucracies and under extraordinary pressures? Would it be a small, locally owned and marginally capitalized business with a good idea, or a large multinational conglomerate with the president's ear?
Even a polar bear could answer that question.
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