A Light Dawns in Europe

Even Euro-voters don't want to sacrifice their economies on a green altar.

America-bashing is as old as America itself.  The Tories did it then.  Michael Moore does it now.  Over the last two weeks, a recent UN conference on "climate change" regaled us with the same jealously-ridden blather that we have come to expect.

This particular conference received more press than most, even in the U.S., but the correspondence was worldwide: from "US leads 'wrecking crew' at Bali" to outrageous accusations like "Bali Exposes US, Canada And Australian Climate Racism, Climate Terrorism, Climate Criminals And Climate Genocide," the United States has been pelted with fury by the rest of the world.

And this haranguing appears to have had the desired effect.  According to CNN-Money,

Developing countries, such as China and India, as well as developed countries like the United States, will face a new level of accountability and pressure to reduce emissions under the next global climate-change pact. For the first time in the history of climate change talks, the United States has come to the table collaborative in negotiating a viable solution.

Apparently, this was such a shocking event that there are even theories that the American negotiators disobeyed Bush's orders to them.

Insiders in Washington are speculating that the US delegation to the U.N. climate talks in Bali went against the wishes of the Bush Administration as negotiations drew to a close last weekend.

So, perhaps, the United States gets sucked into the global warming morass.

We could dwell on the obvious hypocrisy of placing the conference at an over-the-top luxurious resort about a million miles from anywhere else, thereby resulting in millions of tons of carbon emissions by delegates jetting first-class to get there.  Or, we could consider the news that China now exceeds the United States in carbon output, yet comes in for a fraction of the opprobrium.

But, really, the most telling response can be found right in the heart of the global-warming-hysteria movement, Europe itself.  We have here a quote from the German head of government:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opposed European Union (EU) plans to cut pollution from new cars, saying it was "not economically favourable".

Hmm.  Ya think?  It may have taken a while, but finally, finally, somebody in Europe has realized what's crystal clear to anyone with a brain: reducing carbon emissions destroys your economy.

Carbon emissions are almost directly linked to the strength of your economy.  If your economy is doing great, emissions go up - because you are consuming more energy, and producing more useful goods to make people's lives better.  If you are in a recession and everyone is starving, as happened in Eastern Europe and Russia in the early 90s, your pollution of all types will fall, because nobody can afford to use any energy or do any polluting.

Germany has rightly realized that this is not what the German people want.  Sure, they'd like clean air and green trees, and so on - but not at the cost of everything else they enjoy.  And they are certain that the air will still be clear and the trees green notwithstanding their primal, gluttonous, non-EU-blessed ways.

Let us hope that this light will spread across Europe, and across the world, as voters take a long hard look at the facts about what they're being asked to sacrifice, and for what result.

Kermit Frosch is a guest writer for Scragged.com.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Kermit Frosch or other articles on Environment.
Reader Comments

Carbon emission reduction will become an industry in itself which the SMART nations will rush to innovate within.  Instead of racing to the back of the innovation line the way the Bush administration has been doing, we in the US should be leading the innovation in this area.

You know, this type of conservative position that this piece occupies is like so many other conservative impulses in the past:  it is on the wrong side of history every time.  From slavery to racism to restricted political suffrage to sexism to basic environmental protections of water and air quality, conservatives throw themselves against the oncoming wall of progressive social change generation after generation, and they get knocked down every time, forced eventually to adopt the new progressively achieved norm and then start opposing the next wave of needed change.  If conservative impulses had always won the day in history, this planet would have been a smoldering radioactive lump of rock long ago.

December 22, 2007 9:30 AM

To ecoslakker:

You have a profound misunderstanding of history, my friend.  Racism?  Slavery?  The old south was filled nothing but Democrats throughout the 19th and early 20th century.  All thirteen southern states had nothing but Democrat governors and senators for the 60 year period covering the Civil War through the roaring twenties.  It was the Republican parties that drove slavery away.  Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.  The same partisan endorsements were true through the 60s and 70s.  Segregation and the Jim Crowe laws were promoted by the Southern Democrats.  Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd... any of those names ring a bell?  Thurmond later switched sides in the 60s, but only after he was told to clean up his act by the Republican Party.

Please define "basic environment protection" for me.  I hear that phrase from people like you all the time.  What does it mean?  Who is responsible for it?  Who pays?  How much is "basic"?

If carbon cleanup is such a viable market (waiting to belch forth profit) than why can't it sustain itself?  Why must bureaucrats mandate that it be so?

Do yourself a favor: swallow the public-school, revisitionist propaganda that you love so much, and try studying history as it actually occured.  And pick up a book on economics while you're at it.

December 22, 2007 9:53 AM

You are making quite a controversial claim.  You are basically saying that countries should, in essence, strive to pollute as much as they can because in doing so they will be producing as much as possible.  Assuming that is the case, why is producing the most some kind of lofty goal?  China is producing far more than any other country in the world and they have vast surplus inventory because of it.  They have the same problem with labor.  China is currently producing 10 times the number of engineers that the US is (China is doing about 550,000 per year; the US is doing about 50,000).  But that is....bad.  There aren't enough jobs for them all so half of them go hungry or run hot-dog stands downtown.  Setting aside other assertions you are making, I don't think 'producing the most' is the best goal a country can have.  Where am I going wrong?

December 22, 2007 7:20 PM

A previous reader said: "If conservative impulses had always won the day in history, this planet would have been a smoldering radioactive lump of rock long ago".

The worst decades of this 20th century were the 60s and 70s.  Both were lead by liberal policies and marches.

One of the best decades of the 20th century was the 80s thanks to Reagan's conservative agendas in scaling back government and cutting taxes.

Limiting government hands responsiblity and privilege back to the people where it belongs.  That, and only that, is where you see real economic bursts in a nation.

December 23, 2007 12:23 PM

The worst part of the 20th century surrounded the Great Depression.  After that, the World Wars.  But I agree that the sexual revolution set us back a long ways.

December 23, 2007 1:49 PM

Are the negogiators suppose to be "under the orders" of Bush or the executive branch at all?  Bush wishes lots of things.  Is it illegal that the negogitators did not follow his wishes?  In bad taste even?  I say - not really.

December 23, 2007 5:10 PM

If you had to walk to work instead of driving, or even worse take a bus, would your life really be that much worse off? Would your "comfortable" lifestyle fall apart at the seams? I didn't think so.

Now for the other side of the coin that you conviniently ignored, to quote you: Let us hope that this light will spread across Europe, and across the world, as voters take a long hard look at the facts about what they're being asked to sacrifice, and for what result.

Let's consider that statement for a moment. I presume "What they're being asked to sacrifice," refers to things like driving 5 litre hum-vees at 100KM/h doing 10km to the gallon if that, when you could just as easily drive something that gets far better KPG at the exact same speed without the 250% increase in CO2 emissions. Now I know what you're going to say; "wah wah, but we have to give that up to reduce some CO2 level no one cares about and my economy, MY ECONOMY!"

Question: Would you rather have a hum-vee to drive, or a road to drive on?

As the CO2 collects over the next 20 years or so the rain that falls is going to become more and more acidic, until it eventually eats away the road surface itself and probably a large chunk of your car, your house and your skin.

You talk about sacrifices, but I would bet you wouldn't stop driving your car if it meant you donated the money you spend on fuel to a starving 3rd world town which would in all probability save the lives of everyone in it, would you? Of course not, you have to be "comfortable" or life obviously isn't worth living.

December 23, 2007 6:18 PM

And if my post doesn't appear, I'll just know it was moderated to only show things that support the authors view, just like most of the US media.

December 23, 2007 6:19 PM

Adam said "As the CO2 collects over the next 20 years or so the rain that falls is going to become more and more..........blah, blah, blah..........and your skin"

Really, what data is that based on?  Gore's movie?  that's the only place I've seen it presented.  Conventional science books and research centers have never claimed that.  That is only a silly assertion by Gore.

If you were around in the 70s, you probably believed Newsweek's stint on the coming ice age.  The earth was cooling dramatically, they said.  Pollution caused increased cooling, they said.

It seems "they" need to make up their mind on all this humans-killing-the-climate nonsense.

Read this: www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse

(if you can keep up with the math)

December 23, 2007 9:35 PM

Junkscience made some interesting points.  The math isn't that bad.

Let's see if I got what they're saying:

Earth's atmosphere doesn't work like a greenhouse, so the terms "greenhouse effect" and "greenhouse gas" are misleading.  Here's how it works:

The sun's heat comes to earth as short-wave radiation, some of which is reflected by light-colored things like ice, and some of which is absorbed by dark colored things like asphalt.

Solar energy which is absorbed is re-radiated back to space, but heat waves are much longer wavelength than the incoming solar energy.  The atmosphere passes high-frequency inbound solar energy more easily than it passes outbound low-frequency heat waves.  

As junkscience puts it, "Greenhouse gases are generally transparent to incoming solar radiation (they let most solar radiation through) and opaque to Earth's radiation (they absorb and transfer the Earth's infrared radiation by a variety of means)."  The difference in absorption makes the earth warmer than it would be without the atmosphere.  The earth's temperature is determined by the balance between these two effects.

Heat waves are reflected by different gases than reflect inbound solar energy.  The alarmists worry about increases in the gases that trap outbound heat, that's why they shriek about "global warming."  They claim that Carbon Dioxide, which we create when we burn oil and coal, will trap more heat, so we should limit the amount of CO2 we generate.  This is misleading because, as junkscience puts it,

The most important players on the greenhouse stage are water vapor and clouds. Carbon dioxide has been increased to about 0.038% of the atmosphere (possibly from about 0.028% pre-Industrial Revolution) while water in its various forms ranges from 0% to 4% of the atmosphere and its properties vary by what form it is in and even at what altitude it is found in the atmosphere.

In simple terms the bulk of Earth's greenhouse effect is due to water vapor by virtue of its abundance. Water accounts for about 90% of the Earth's greenhouse effect -- perhaps 70% is due to water vapor and about 20% due to clouds (mostly water droplets), some estimates put water as high as 95% of Earth's total tropospheric greenhouse effect.

The remaining portion comes from carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, ozone and miscellaneous other "minor greenhouse gases." As an example of the relative importance of water it should be noted that changes in the relative humidity on the order of 1.3-4% are equivalent to the effect of doubling CO2.

There's another thing Al Gore won't tell you - CO2 absorbs different energy frequencies from water vapor.  There is a limit to the amount of heat that can be trapped by CO2 because, once there's enough CO2 to block those frequencies, adding more CO2 won't block any more energy.  It's like insulating your house - once you insulate the kitchen, adding more insulation there won't keep any more heat in the house, you have to insulate the other rooms, too.

Junkscience explains this rather well, but you'll have to go there to read it.

Thus, there's a limit to the amount of heat that CO2 can trap no matter how much we put in the air.

December 24, 2007 3:57 PM
To Paul W.,

You confuse partisanship with ideology. The fact that the old south was full of Democrats, and that it as a Republican who fought to abolish slavery does not mean today's political affiliations apply. Abolishing slavery was a progressive position; fighting against civil rights is a conservative position, no matter the party. Moreover, if you insist on forcibly associating ideology with a certain party, ask yourself, where did all those racist democrats in the deep south go? They certainly went to the Republicans, and not by coincidence. The Reagan administration that you so cherish is the same one who used racism as one of its key strategies to win the south, from pandering to racist fears, clad in an aura of "states' rights", to opposing the abolition of apartheid (less than 20 years ago, for heaven's sake!).
So, don't associate progressive or conservative positions with either party, as these associations can change, and there are plenty of examples to that effect.

As far as the article itself, it's not only ill-informed, but it read the atmosphere in Europe wrongly. Most western European countries are way ahead of us in terms of environmental policy. They have better transportation, they are better at recycling water, and overall they use much less CO2 per capita than we do. Moreover, pointing this out is not "America bashing", it's stating the obvious. Taken in a positive light, this means we can learn from each other's mistakes, we from Europeans and they from us. And lastly, when the ONLY criteria for doing things is the economy, we end up with dehumanized policies. But somehow I suspect that conservatives, and maybe the author of the piece, would see things in a more humane way if it were something that affected an issue dear to them, say like individual rights to bear arms or abortion or the death penalty, or immigration; then they would argue against using economic impact as the only determining factor. Go figure.

To the owners of the blog, if you are a conservative blog, why did you feel the need to copy source code used by the NYT? Maybe it's all a joke, but not a very good one.
January 8, 2008 1:57 PM
Robert, the economic impact of abortion, bearing arms, the death penalty and immigration ALL favors the conservative viewpoint.

Aborting 3m babies per year will end up - in the end - bankrupting Social Security (not that conservatives really wanted Social Security either; funny how liberal policies end up destroying other liberal policies). Abortion has also contributed to a destruction of the family because it allows men and women to avoid their problems where - at one time - unwanted pregnancies would drive couples together. Destruction in the family has contributed to all manner of economic crises'. Freakonomics discusses this more at length.

As a short summary on the other ones...

The right to bear arms PREVENTS gun violence if it is properly implemented. Thus, a great deal of human life would be saved, helping the economy. Funerals are expensive and widows do not live in luxury.

The death penalty helps clear prisons. How much does it cost to house murderers and rapists for decades versus the cost of a few thousands volts of electricty?

Illegal immigration is destroying so much from the middle and lower-middle class economy, it's almost comical if you don't see it. From health care to low-income jobs, everyone's getting hammered - everyone except the upper class, that is. The rich are benefiting because of the influx of cheaper labor. I talk about this with friends of mine in the construction industry routinely. They'll make your ears bleed.

What does "way ahead" mean with transportation? Europe has cheaper, more-widely-used trains? So? American would rather drive. It's not as if there is some technology limitation. Why do you and your ilk associate "way ahead" with some particular ideological agenda?

How have eco-friendly processes bettered European lives? Be specific. Are they getting more for less? Are they living longer because of it? Have their education standards or employment rates improved? "Feeling good" is not the same as "being better".

Europe has certainly implemented eco regulations faster (as they did in the 70s when the gas scare happened and again when Newsweek said the world was getting colder) Their bureaucrats have higher stacks of paper than ours do. Is that being "way ahead"?

I take it you think their health care is better too because they get to stand in line (for free!) for months on end.

PS. On the Republican/Democrat slavery issue, you need to read a lot more history. When the Republicans inducted former segrationists like Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott, they were specifically told to drop the racism and clean up their act. Yes, there were LOTs of differences between then and now on myriad issues, but civil rights at its core is a conservative position. The KKK and other so-called Christian or right-wing hate groups do not represent conservatism. Read some of Thomas Sowell's books. Since you hate economics, they might be hard for you to stomach.
January 8, 2008 2:59 PM
This article is ridiculous. The people involved should go sit in a room full of carbon emissions.
February 13, 2008 8:02 PM

All Trolls should "should go sit in a room full of carbon emissions."

August 11, 2016 2:01 PM

All Trolls "should go sit in a room full of carbon emissions."

August 11, 2016 2:02 PM
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