Sunday, April 19, 2009

Throwing Green Fuel On An Economic Fire

With the decision of the Obama EPA to declare carbon dioxide a green house gas that threatens public health, Obama has set us squarely on the road to economic chaos.

A sea change, in the long run of far more import than the mountain of debt Obama has placed us under, occurred on Friday. On that day, Obama's EPA:

. . . issued a proposed finding ... that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare.

"This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations. Fortunately, it follows President (Barack) Obama's call for a low carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

"This pollution problem has a solution -- one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country's dependence on foreign oil.

"As the proposed endangerment finding states, 'In both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem. The greenhouse gases that are responsible for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act,'" she added.

This finiding comes as ever more evidence mounts that antrhopogenic global warming is a canard. Objective evidence - as opposed to computer models - shows quite plainly that we are getting cooler. [Update: See this from Big Lizards, discussing the current global cooling trend in the context of continuing denial by the greenies] Indeed, the EPA's decision came on the same day that the British Antarctic Survey released word that actual testing of sea ice in Antarctica, home to 80% of the world's ice, shows that it has significantly expanded over the past thirty years. Indeed, as author Dr. Richard North points out in his blog EU Referendum today:

. . . [W]e are no longer seeing a warming trend and, over the last seven years there has in fact been a distinct cooling trend. With the climate models sharply diverging from reality and an ominous quiet sun, there is now real, observable evidence to suggests that we are going to have severe global stress on crop production.

And to add a real bit of irony to that thought, any student of 7th grade science can tell you, carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas necessary for life. We breathe and exhale the stuff. Plants have to have it for photosynthesis. Not surprisingly, recent tests confirm that plants, including agricultural crops, thrive in environments with higher carbon dioxide concentrations, showing significant expansion in crop yields. This would all be comical if the the stakes in getting this issue right were not near existential.

At any rate, in another bit of irony, on the same day the Obama EPA announced its new finding, Rasmussen released a poll showing that belief in man made global warming, as opposed to natural planetary trends, is down to 34% among Americans.

Regardless, we now face with absolute certainty the reality that the left is going to use the canard of saving the planet through reducing carbon emissions as the lever to vastly expand intrusion into our lives and drive upwards the costs of energy exponentially. Those costs, both direct and indirect, will be paid to the penny by individual Americans. For example, this from the WSJ:

American Electric Power, a utility giant with 5.2 million customers in states from Texas to Michigan to Virginia, is already considering what coal plants would have to be shuttered and how high rates would have to go to comply with either a regulatory or legislative mandates to curb carbon dioxide. AEP spokesman Pat Hemlepp said rate increases stretch from 25% to 50% and beyond, depending on the climate change strategy that finally emerges from Washington.

[Update: According to this post at Hot Air, estimates now are that the cap and trade policies of Obama are estimated to cost each family in America nearly $4,000 annually. If that is correct, it will work untold mischief on our economy and be an absolute disaster for the lower class and lower middle class]

This is all part of the Obama / radical left plan to take our economy off coal and oil and into green energy that, at the moment, does not exist in the real world. Yet according to the left's dogma, not only will we enter this brave new world of green energy, but it will create "millions of new green jobs." This from Dominic Lawson today, writing in the London Times:

. . . Barack Obama . . . recently defended a vast package of subsidies for renewable energy on the grounds that it would “create millions of additional jobs and entire new industries”.
. . .
There is a . . . serious misconception behind the idea that ploughing subsidies into the “green economy” is a sure-fire way of boosting domestic employment. At best it will move people from one economic activity to another. . . .

The key to a successful, wealth-generating economy is productivity. Saving energy is what businesses have done already, because it lowers their production costs. The problem with any form of subsidy is that it makes the consumer (through hidden taxes) pay to keep inherently uneconomic businesses “profitable”.

And that payment portends to be severe if the left has their way. The odious Henry Waxman (D-Cal.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, plans to mandate a massive twenty percent reduction in carbon emissions and, at least equally if not more ominously, to give a true skeleton key to the courthouse to the radical left.

The left long ago discovered its most effective blueprint - resorting to courts to get what it could not through the ballot box. (And as an aside, it is the activist wing of the Supreme Court that in essence paved the way for this EPA ruling in a decision two years ago.) This has already cost us untold billions, if not trillions, over the past near four decades since the Clean Air Act and other environmental legislation was passed, most of which gave standing to individuals to bring law suits to enforce the provisions of the acts. This is not to suggest that the Clean Air Act was unnecessary or that it has not done some good. That said, its abuse by the left has been wide ranging, making the cure itself more insidious than the harm it was designed to overcome. Now with carbon listed as a dangerous gas, the potential for lawsuits to vastly slow down and increase costs to every aspect of our economy has grown exponentially. And yet Waxman would grow it even more to unprecedented / economy busting / insane levels. This from the Washington Times:

Self-proclaimed victims of global warming or those who "expect to suffer" from it - from beachfront property owners to asthmatics - for the first time would be able to sue the federal government or private businesses over greenhouse gas emissions under a little-noticed provision slipped into the House climate bill.

Environmentalists say the measure was narrowly crafted to give citizens the unusual standing to sue the U.S. government as a way to force action on curbing emissions. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sees a new cottage industry for lawyers.

"You could be spawning lawsuits at almost any place [climate-change modeling] computers place at harm's risk," said Bill Kovacs, energy lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

. . . The measure sets grounds for anyone "who has suffered, or reasonably expects to suffer, a harm attributable, in whole or in part," to government inaction to file a "citizen suit." The term "harm" is broadly defined as "any effect of air pollution (including climate change), currently occurring or at risk of occurring."

It would allow citizens to seek up to $75,000 in damages from the government each year, but would cap the total amount paid out each year at $1.5 million, committee staff said. It is unclear whether the provision would actually cap damages at $75,000 per person, because the U.S. law referenced does not establish payouts by the government.

Coming on top of the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, all of this really does have the potential to bring our economy to its knees. In fact, is widely believed that the Great Depression of the 1930's was made far worse when our government actually raised taxes in the face of declining revenues and engaged in protectionism, setting off a trade war. That seems precisely what this portends. This will add a massive hidden tax within our economy, it will surely drive more production overseas, and it will hurt our remaining domestic production by making it less competitive with goods from the giants of Asia, India and China, both of whom refuse to join us in this madness. With that in mind, there is this:

Obama’s energy secretary, Steven Chu, had some soothing words for US manufacturing companies that complained that the new policy will make them even less competitive with Chinese exporters . . . [Chu] suggested that America might have to introduce some sort of “carbon-intensive” tariff on Chinese goods. One of China’s envoys, Li Gao, immediately retorted that such a carbon tariff would be a “disaster”, since it could lead to global trade war.

If our economy rebounds in full before massive inflation kicks in, then we can eventually pay off the mountain of debt Obama has just saddled us with - though it may be in the lifetime of our grandchildren. Up until Thursday last, we could maintain a realistic hope of that outcome. The chance of that outcome is fast diminishing. What we are looking at is something that will make us pine for the days of the Jimmy Carter economy. Perhaps summing up the likely future best is Dr. Richard North:

In the end, there are going to be two groups of people in this world: the greenies and the people who shoot greenies. It's kill or be killed, and the greenies will be the death of us all if this madness continues.

Update: Thanks to Vinny, author of the blog Vinny's Rants, for pointing out this from a CNS News article excerpted at Michelle Malkin's site on the green jobs canard:

Every “green job” created with government money in Spain over the last eight years came at the cost of 2.2 regular jobs, and only one in 10 of the newly created green jobs became a permanent job, says a new study released this month. The study draws parallels with the green jobs programs of the Obama administration.

President Obama, in fact, has used Spain’s green initiative as a blueprint for how the United States should use federal funds to stimulate the economy. Obama’s economic stimulus package,which Congress passed in February, allocates billions of dollars to the green jobs industry.

But the author of the study, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, said the United States should expect results similar to those in Spain:

“Spain’s experience (cited by President Obama as a model) reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created,” wrote Calzada in his report: Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources.

This just gets worse and worse.


Ex-Dissident said...

OMG, I can't believe you are back. You realize that your readers were thinking of starting up a best of GW reposts. You inspired a whole group of people to start using the soap box in their effort to defend our republic. It's so good to see you posting.

2nd. There was an excellent article at WSJ about how costly the green jobs have been; apparently it cost Spain more than 2 jobs to create each 1 green job. Furthermore, these green jobs were temporary jobs.

3rd. There are many other stories I can produce to add support for your post, but instead I just want to reiterate: It's good to have you back.

GW said...

HI Vinny. Its great to be back, and thanks so much for the kind words. I cant tell you how much I appreciate it. I ran into some real health problems that now are apparently resolved - with a vengance if my stress test on Friday was accurate.

Do you happen to have a site to the WSJ article? I'd love to read that one but am having trouble finding it.

Thanks Vinny.

Ex-Dissident said...

I thought that I read this at opinionjournal but perhaps it was on Michelle Malkin's site. The link above goes there.
BTW, if you were in NYC I could have found you a good cardiologist.

Ex-Dissident said...
here it is. If the link doesn't work, google "green joblessness wsj"

Ex-Dissident said...

I am not sure why my link pasting is getting screwed up. It used to work in the past. On the above link, for some reason the last letter "l" is missing and it should be end in html instead of htm.