Victor Davis Hanson

Not long ago, candidate Obama promised to cool the planet and lower the rising seas. Indeed, he campaigned on passing "cap-and-trade" legislation, a radical, costly effort to reduce America's traditional carbon energy use.

The theory was that new taxes and greater regulations would make Americans pay more for fossil-fuel energy -- a good thing if it reduced our burning of coal, oil and gas. Obama was not shy in admitting that under his green plans, electricity prices would "necessarily skyrocket." His energy secretary, Steven Chu, at one point had even said, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe" -- that is, about $8-$10 per gallon. Fairly or not, the warming movement seemed to cast a tiny elite imposing costs on a poorer and supposedly less informed middle class.

But despite a Democrat-controlled House and Senate in 2009-2010, President Obama never passed into law any global warming legislation. Now the issue is deader than a doornail -- despite the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency to enact new regulations that would never pass Congress.

So what happened to the global warming craze?

Corruption within the climate-change industry explains some of the sudden turnoff. "Climategate" -- the unauthorized 2009 release of private emails from the Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom -- revealed that many of the world's top climate scientists were knee-deep in manipulating scientific evidence to support preconceived conclusions and personal agendas. Shrill warnings about everything from melting Himalayan glaciers to shrinking polar bear populations turned out not always to be supported by scientific facts.

Unfortunately, "green" during the last three years has also become synonymous with Solyndra-style crony capitalism. Common-sense ideas like more windmills, solar panels, retrofitted houses and electric cars have all been in the news lately. But the common themes were depressingly similar: few jobs created and little competitively priced energy produced, but plenty of political donors who landed hundreds of millions of dollars in low-interest loans from the government.

Of course, it didn't help that the world's most prominent green spokesman, Nobel laureate Al Gore, made tens of millions of dollars from his own advocacy. And he adopted a lifestyle of jet travel and energy-hungry homes at odds with his pleas for everyone else to cut back.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.

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