We're all screwed. Soon we'll be leading frugal, monotonous, energy-efficient lives. Drastic lifestyle reductions are urgently needed to save the planet. It is a moral imperative (moral euphoria, to some) - that, and government taxes, regulations, rules and mandates. Occupying solar-powered hovels, we'll eat largely vegetarian meals in dim kitchens, car-pool in horrid electric vehicles to tedious green jobs, work and play in staggering heat and intense dust (ever-watchful for deadly storms and dying species), and shower under tepid drizzles from dwindling water supplies. Our dysfunctional government is broke and our economy has seen its best days. China is the future. And there will be plenty of bad music.
In the 1980s, right after the global cooling scare of the 1970s, scientists began scaring us about global warming (GW). In the 1990s, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) upped the ante to anthropogenic GW (AGW). By 2006, Al Gore brought us catastrophic AGW (CAGW). Today, according to Al and his apostles, we have progressed to incomprehensible CAGW (ICAGW).
For the most part, the leaders of the global warming movement are cultural elites and technocrats who, having failed to save the world through socialism, turned to environmentalism. They are from the ranks of the world's most earth-caring organizations (Friends of the Earth, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action, Environmental Defense, etc.) and, because of their ecclesiastical benevolence and dedication, have formed a global clericy to which our planet's salvation is entrusted.
This cabal has acquired immense political power through incessant planet alarms of ever-increasing magnitude and variety. It gathers privately from time to time in ritualistic séance. Under subdued lighting and the influence of whale songs, Gregorian chants and Halloween music, members tell each other climate monsters-under-the-bed stories until they are frightened to exhaustion. The most astounding stories are then expressed, publicly, through cries of wolf :
Staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land - some 10°F over much of the United States
Sea level rise of 3 to 7 feet, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter
Dust Bowls over the U.S. SW and many other heavily populated regions around the globe
Massive species loss on land and sea — 50% or more of all life
Unexpected impacts — the fearsome “unknown unknowns”
More severe hurricanes — especially in the Gulf
One of the latest "cry wolf" announcements is that the worst of these incomprehensible impacts will be “largely irreversible for 1000 years.” Holy s__t! Now we're talking LIICAGW.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that industrialized countries must spend $45 trillion over the next 40 years to be Kyoto-compliant. Make that $101 trillion to get us to 2100. And God only knows the cost of those fearsome "unknown unknowns." But a 1998 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) study found that the Kyoto treaty would cost the U.S. economy $400 billion per year - roughly $570 billion annually today. Thus, the US tab for the next 90 years would be about $51.3 trillion. That George Bush would have none of this, angered the cabal.
The anger festered and, when we (the only industrialized country smart enough to pass on the frantic planet decarbonization race) became skeptical of the very AGW hypothesis, transformed into ridicule. We are ignorant climate deniers. The Economist admonished that "America needs to build some ladders to help everyone climb out [of the denial]." And last September, former-president Bill Clinton said that such skepticism makes us look like "a joke."
A humorless President Obama wants to be the ladder builder. After all, Americans should pay their fair share. At the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, he promised that 2050 U.S. emissions will be 83% below 2005 levels. Many Americans cheered, possibly believing Mr. Obama's soaring rhetoric had a modicum of substance behind it - maybe a study showing that we can achieve his goal by tweaking our standard of living with Chevy Volts (tires fully inflated), GE Compact Fluorescents, and a few Solyndra solar panels. But a more thoughtful examination indicates Americans, especially children and grandchildren, may find the adjustment to be quite arduous. For example, to reduce 2050 emissions to 83% below 2005 levels, George Will pointed out,
"... 2050 emissions will equal those in 1910, when there were 92 million Americans. But there will be 420 million Americans in 2050, so Obama's promise means that per capita emissions then will be about what they were in 1875. That. Will. Not. Happen."
Competing with such dire realizations has troubled the cabal. Its best scientists now struggle to create climate alarms more astounding than economic reality. And, as the supply of disasters that can be attributed to man shrinks, rumor has it that future announcements of planet tragedies will have Sarah Mclachlan (cruelty to animals) music playing in the background. The incorporation of depressing music is more than symbolism. The thinking seems to be that a milieu of despair will amplify the urgency of government action and stimulate the global warming industry.
Many believe that the cabal should lighten up. The absence of warming since 1998 should help. And some have suggested that at its next monsters-under-the-bed meeting, it should watch "An Inconvenient Truth" a few times, but with banjo music for the soundtrack. Al Gore will seem more comical, LIICAGW less horrifying. But banjo music will not brighten the mood in our languishing economy. For over three years unemployment has exceeded 8%, the housing market has been in shambles, and GDP growth has been feeble at best. With our national debt over $15 trillion and annual deficits over $1 trillion, we borrow 43 cents on every dollar we spend. Oil prices are rising and we are not allowed to drill enough of our own or pump new supplies in from Canada. We can't even afford ObamaCare and the EPA is beginning to charge us for carbon.
Yet, we are seen as the climate idiots and villains, an implacable obstacle to the cabal's bold global vision. In contrast, China gets a pass. The cabal would have us pay $51 trillion to help save the planet, while China - the world's most populous country, a country with 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities and an economic furnace relentlessly stoked with as much greenhouse gas emitting coal and oil as it can find - pays nothing. With its rapidly growing economic and military power, China has been likened to the Germany of a century ago. Reprehensibly, Europe appeased Germany in the first half of the 20th century. Awarding a colossal carbon tax break to an aggressive, planet-ravaging China trumps appeasement with encouragement.
In 2005, James Fallows wrote 'Countdown to a Meltdown.' Appearing in the Atlantic, as a cover story, it was a speculative article about the American political-economic conditions that Fallows imagined would increasingly worsen through 2016, culminating in turmoil, ruin and, I'm guessing, record-breaking sales of songs ranging from 'Yesterday' to 'Taps.' It is an opinion of America no doubt cherished by all self-respecting members of the cabal.
By 2016, China had better schools, better roads and highways, and, having sent a spacecraft to Mars, better science. Fallows saw a 2016 America as a place with "an undereducated work force" and "a rundown infrastructure." We had become a stagnant, destitute country where "young people, seeking opportunity, have to wait for old people to die" and "smoking and eating junk food have become for our underemployed class what swilling vodka was for the dispossessed in Boris Yeltsin's Russia." Holy blessed s__t! This is more astounding than LIICAGW.
With "20 Harvards" to our one (we still had a Harvard, but ours was becoming an academic "theme park" by 2016), our climate alarmists should consider a visit to Chinese universities, where they would profit from entry level science and economics courses - not the soft, funny book classes, but the ones with objectivity and rigor. Better yet, a permanent move. In China, their elitist credentials will surely land the best jobs at the best companies, especially the enlightened businesses that have relocated to escape the anticipated economic blight of America.
Perhaps incessant braying accompanied by Chinese music would persuade Communist party officials of the urgent need for China to pay its fair share in thwarting climate hobgoblins. It's not clear how it will pass as ladder-building music, but it's an elegant metaphor for the discordant clash between imagined climate catastrophes and real economic imperatives. Writes P.J. O'Rourke in All the Trouble in the World, it is music that "sounds as if a truck full of wind chimes collided with a stack of empty oil drums during a birdcall contest." I'll be here, astoundingly skeptical, in America.