Climate Debate Leaves One Cold

Posted: Aug 17, 2007 3:19 PM
Climate Debate Leaves One Cold

Maybe the blistering August heat is just too much.

We’re still more than a year from the next presidential election, and the cast of characters involved seems underwhelming. It’s difficult to get excited over whether or not Mitt Romney was able to convince a few thousand Iowans to eat his free food and cast a straw poll ballot for him.

On the other side of the political aisle, the candidates seem convinced that what voters want is for the U.S. to withdraw immediately from Iraq. Sen. Barack Obama, for example, seems to be saying he’ll yank our troops from Iraq so they’ll be available to invade Pakistan. Good luck getting congressional approval for that redeployment.

But this race, like our environment in a typical August, could still heat up. After all, two of the most interesting characters in the presidential race aren’t yet (officially) in the presidential race.

On the GOP side, former Sen. Fred Thompson is acting like a candidate, and the media is treating him like one. The New York Times recently assured us he’s collected himself a “trophy wife,” (do you get one at the trophy store or the wife store?), and The Washington Post has already done a front page story explaining that Mrs. Thompson used to date a deadbeat. Raise your hand if you expect the paper to do similar hard-hitting reporting on any Democratic spouses.

From the left, former candidate Al Gore may still jump into the race. Gore’s generated plenty of support with his anti-global warming crusade. We can only hope his heated rhetoric about global warming causes less damage to the environment than all the greenhouse gasses he generates while jetting around the planet to give speeches.

And global warming, apparently, is a fact. Earlier this month Newsweek featured a cover story explaining that those of us who’re skeptical of the Gore position are “well-funded naysayers who still reject the overwhelming evidence of climate change.”

Well funded, eh? Clearly the magazine’s editors haven’t seen the balance of my checking account. Our family floats more checks than there are icebergs in the North Atlantic. And the point isn’t “climate change.” Nobody doubts that the climate changes. It’s hot in August, cold in February. There are two real questions here: “Have humans caused the climate to change?” and, if one believes we have, “what are you going to do about it?”

I doubt humans have had much to do with “climate change.” The planet goes through warm periods and cold periods. It did so before mankind walked the earth, and it’ll do so long after we’re gone.

But, because their answer to the first question is different from mine, the second question really matters for true believers such as Gore and the Newsweek editors. If Gore really believes humans are damaging the earth, he should stop flying (burned jet fuel is a major source of greenhouse gasses), stop driving his car (more greenhouse gas emissions) and sell his Nashville mansion (which sucked up nearly 221,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2006, more than 20 times the national average).

As for Newsweek, it needs to shut down production immediately. After all, here’s a publication that depends on paper for its very existence. Who knows how many thousands of trees (which could have been absorbing carbon dioxide from the air) were cut down to print the global-warming issue? Those magazines had to be printed (using electricity) shipped to distributors (burning diesel fuel) and sold to customers (who might otherwise have invested the $5.95 in something useful, such as carbon offsets).

Every single edition Newsweek puts out from now on is just further proof that the magazine’s editors don’t really believe what they publicly profess to believe about global warming. In the end, “climate change” will prove to be nothing more than a Washington cliché, something politicians exploit to try to get ahead.

And speaking of clichés, we really need a new one for when somebody leaves a job. Karl Rove is just the latest political figure to announce he needs to step down “for the sake of my family.” But nobody’s ever explained how giving up a steady income can help a family. Many of us would love to spend all day at home with the wife and children. We don’t because we need a paycheck to keep the checking account from drying up entirely.

It’s unlikely anyone’s ever going to be honest enough to say “I’m resigning so I can write a tell-all book” or “I’m leaving so I can cash in on my connections by starting my own consulting firm.” But the next president ought to insist that anyone who leaves his (or her) administration give a plausible excuse for doing so.

Any such excuse wouldn’t necessarily have to be more honest than the current cliché, but it would at least be more interesting. That would be, as they say, “good enough for government work.”

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