As President Obama heads to Copenhagen next week to meet with world leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Summit, there will undoubtedly be countless calls for tighter restrictions on all the demonized activities that supposedly cause global warming. Burning up carbon-based fuel as they fly in on their private jets, wining and dining like the elite, attendees of the Summit will spend days pontificating on the dire state of the planet—caused by the evil, greedy men who aren’t in attendance—and then push radical plans to curb any modern, productive ventures that they perceive as contributing to nebulous “climate change.”
Global warming disciples will denounce America as the chief cause of climate change because of its consumer-driven, greedy, capitalist-based economy. The country that brought about the highest standards of living the world has ever known will be denounced as the greatest danger to the world’s future. To assuage global elitists and offer penance for her sins against Mother Earth, America will be required to subscribe to a new (sub)standard of living.
What can Americans expect if President Obama agrees to drastic new global warming standards for the entire nation? California offers a cautionary tale.
In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, global warming convert-turned-zealot, signed Assembly Bill 32 into law. Schwarzenegger—the same man who introduced Humvees to the commercial market—sought to bring the Golden State into compliance with the Kyoto Treaty. The draconian measure requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to their level in 1990, a nearly 25% reduction.
A mountain of red-tape restrictions and regulations are necessary to achieve the strict reduction goals in AB 32. The first victims of the regulations are the businesses that must lower their productivity in order to comply with the law. The second victims are the employees and consumers who rely upon those businesses. But in the global warming religion, these victims are really just sacrifices for the greater good of the planet—and they’re not nearly as cute as polar bears.
Unable to remain solvent let alone profitable due to the excessive regulations and taxes, businesses are running for the state border. California faces over 12% unemployment and is projected to have a state deficit of $20 billion next year. For the first time since the Great Depression, the state issued IOU’s to placate creditors until the previous budget crisis was resolved earlier this year.
Granted, not all of California’s current problems can be attributed to AB 32 and other global warming hysteria-induced policies. But at a time when productivity is at an all-time low, real humans are being negatively impacted. As California teeters on the verge of disastrous bankruptcy, such feel-good environment laws are particularly damaging and illogical.
The rest of America is not far behind California, as the federal government and states face similar financial ruin. But even in the shadow of impending doom, the climate change hysteria continues unabated. Global warming devotees continue to preach a gospel of sacrifice in order to “save” the planet.
Americans are no strangers to sacrifice. Americans have always sacrificed for something greater than themselves. In fact, like no other people in history, Americans have sacrificed their lives so that other nations could enjoy the very freedom the environmentalism tyranny seeks to steal.
Americans know when to sacrifice, but they also understand that certain kinds of sacrifice do not lead to productivity or freedom.
In order to combat climate change, we’re told that we must cut back our energy usage. We’re scolded out of our safe SUVs into fuel-efficient shoeboxes. We’re admonished to take five minute showers or flush the toilet sparingly.
The practical effects of such rules? In California, certain kinds of televisions will be banned if they aren’t energy efficient enough. The state legislature has considered allowing the government to directly control home thermostats. And the state legislature just approved an $11 billion water bond to address the state’s water crisis.
All of these restrictions and regulations are fundamentally un-American. Not because sacrifice or frugality are bad, but because this type of sacrifice is demanded in order to cover up government’s mismanagement, or to achieve a purely political goal.
Instead of mandating lower usage of resources, government should encourage private industry to find innovative ways to replace depleted resources. California’s government has repeatedly defied attempts to produce clean nuclear energy or allow drilling off its coast. Finally taking on the state’s critical need to build more dams and reservoirs, the legislature loaded the water bond with pork; as much as half of the bond will go to non-water related projects.
The only settled science (still denied by Democrats, liberals and progressives) is that government overregulation kills creativity, productivity and prosperity. Don’t lower Americans’ standard of living, unleash their creativity. Constantly demanding that man lower his expectations and quality of life reveals a belief that man cannot or should not achieve anything greater—that he must regress.
This type of thinking would never have allowed for President Kennedy’s ambitious space program—something that even then seemed an unachievable dream. But that "skies the limit" vision enabled Americans to dream and aspire, and we achieved.
If the restrictive attitudes of global warming Chickens Littles had been shared by government leaders during our nation’s times of great discovery, development and progress, we wouldn't have the incredible prosperity we now enjoy. A nation founded on liberty, limited government and boundless opportunity brought the greatest two centuries of modernization and progress in world history. Removing oppressive government environmental regulations—and stopping the cap-and-tax bill—will help turn around America’s economy, and therefore the rest of the world.
World leaders should take to heart the old aphorism: A rising tide lifts all boats—and not just because the polar ice caps are melting.