Rich Tucker

There’s something different about this year’s presidential campaign. It’s not just the front-loaded process or the wide-open nature of the primaries. What’s different is the relentless focus on “change.”

“I spent my life changing things. I did not spend my life in politics, talking about changing things,” Republican candidate Mitt Romney said a few weeks ago. On the Democratic side, Hillary Rodman Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama have all promised to deliver “change.”

But remember, when liberals talk about change they don’t mean changes they could personally make. No, liberals are perfectly content to have Al Gore flying around the world giving speeches and collecting awards, while leaving every light burning in his Nashville mansion. There’s no need for him to “change” his behavior, because he’s buying “carbon offsets” to reduce his “carbon footprint.”

Set aside the fact that carbon offsets are a farce. In The New York Times last year, environmentalist Denis Hayes of the Bullitt Foundation compared carbon offsets to the practice in the Middle Ages of buying indulgences. “Instead of reducing their carbon footprints, people take private jets and stretch limos, and then think they can buy an indulgence to forgive their sins,” he noted. Offsets only work, to the extent they do at all, because many Third World countries -- lacking modern technology -- don’t emit much carbon.

But keep in mind that things are going to “change” in these countries. They’re going to keep getting better.

Look no further than the Tata Nano, a tiny car unveiled last week in India. It will cost just $2,500, and thus as Henry Ford’s Model T did 100 years ago in the U.S., it will make owning an automobile something that members of India’s rising middle class can afford. Think of what that means for average Indians: They’ll suddenly have the ability to visit relatives, live farther from work, shop and buy in bulk.

And while the car may be a deathtrap by Western standards (it’s made of plastic and glue instead of steel), it will get 50 miles per gallon and meets Europe’s stringent emissions standards, which are far tougher than the ones it actually has to meet to pass muster on the subcontinent. Still, many environmentalists can see only the downside.


Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for Townhall.com.