Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is increasingly frustrated. He is hot to trot. He wants action on the climate. But he seems to be getting the cold shoulder. Not so much from his fellow Republicans as from his Democratic partners across the aisle.
No one seems to be paying much mind to Graham’s feverish efforts at bi-partisanship. Or, might it be because global warming passions have cooled? Last week’s Earth Day was a tepid affair. Gone was the hot passion that stoked the fires of environmental activism in years past.
“Where are the snows of yesterday,” asked the French poet Francois Villon in the Middle Ages. Do we now think this Gallic green was really lamenting the Medieval Warming Period?
Maybe Sen. Graham’s colleagues have had their ardor chilled by the latest Gallup polls. A March poll said Americans’ concern about global warming have dipped to their lowest point since 1997. Since 2007, the saliency of the global warming issue has dropped precipitously. In that last year of economic prosperity, 41% of Americans told pollsters they were “very concerned” about global warming. Today, those who “worry a great deal” about climate change has dropped to 28% of the nation. Of eight environmental issues, Americans are most concerned about the purity of drinking water and least about global warming.
Much of this cooling has been the result of the meltdown of the economy, to be sure. But ClimateGate hasn’t helped. We learned last year, just before President Obama jetted off to a world climate summit in Copenhagen, that climate scientists had been faking their data, pulling “tricks” to make warming seem more alarming than it is. The leaked emails from climate scientists at Britain’s University of East Anglia and from some stateside institutions showed a willingness of the climate science clique to try to blackball any reputable scientist who happened to dissent from their Doomsday scenarios.
Britains’ Nigel Lawson is no climate scientist, he readily admits. But he did deal with many of the issues of how governments respond to such crises when he served as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. That’s a top post. Lord Lawson has written: An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming. In this short book, the former Secretary of State for Energy lays out a calm and carefully modulated response to climate hot air.
Will an increase over 100 years of between 4.5º C. and 7.5º C. really mean the end of civilization as we know it? Lawson asks if humans have adapted to living in Singapore (average annual temperature of 84º F) and Helsinki (average annual temperature of 41º F)? Is the gradual northerly creep of wine-producing vineyards necessarily a bad thing?
He explains how carbon dioxide must not be considered a pollutant. It is essential to life on earth.
If environmentalists really insist on a climate bill, Lord Lawson argues, then it should be a simple carbon tax. Tax gasoline. Tax heating oil. Tax electricity. This carbon tax would, of course, hit lower income folks hardest. But, he says, their carbon tax could be offset by corresponding cuts in their income tax.
I should emphasize that I do not agree with this proposal of this distinguished British writer. That’s because I think the increasing taxes on carbon would never be offset by tax cuts on lower income families. Government is simply too voracious for new revenue.
Still, I see the force of Nigel Lawson’s reasoning. The Cap and Trade Bill is really a Cap and Tax Bill. And if Lindsey Graham succeeds in passing this, it will create a huge and cumbersome new bureaucracy which itself eats up vast revenues—and—worst of all—becomes the source for untold corruption of government. You will see corporations lining up to get favored treatment from government. Cap and Tax is really Cap, Tax, and Plunder. Washington, D.C.’s famous K Street would become home to hundreds of new lobbyists, each angling for bonanzas from government for his bosses. The infamous “K Street strut” would give way to a K Street glut.
I hope Sen. Graham does not find any dance partners on the Hill. This bill is ill-timed and ill-advised. It’s time the lawmakers started listening more to those who have to live under the laws they pass.