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Adventures in Global Warming

This is one scary fairy tale

Once upon a time there was a very mean witch who lived in a sunny and prosperous country which she called Amerika (I don’t know why she always spelled it with a ‘k’, but that’s another story…)

She was very angry and very depressed because the vast majority of the citizens of this fair country seemed to be quite happy.  And happy is to a wicked witch what oil is to water.  (Two other favourite topics we’ll return to at a later time…)

To continue.  The people lived happy lives with loving families (about 2.3 children on average) in comfortable large houses on leafy green streets in peaceful low-crime neighborhoods that they called suburbs.  (Clearly they didn’t live in Europe.) 

They commuted to work in large safe vehicles (she pejoratively labelled them ‘gas guzzlers’).  They took vacations by flying all over the place in big shiny jet planes.  And they seemed to be having so much fun that just about everyone else in the world wanted to come live with them — either legally or illegally. 

The more these innocent free-loving people seemed to be having fun, the madder the wicked witch became.

Then one day, the wicked witch had a marvellous idea!  She could stop these happy souls from having so much fun almost overnight.  Why, she could make their lives downright miserable.  And better still, she could make them even feel guilty over how they were living their lives.  Wow.

She called this great idea “global cooling.”  Unfortunately, the era was 1975, and the people just laughed her silly thoughts away.  Except for Time Magazine, of course.  Years went by and she was very depressed indeed.  Then, one chilly winter day, she came upon an even better idea to kill off the people’s joy.  She called her new idea “global warming.”  And it stuck.

Soon, every wacky politician and populist journalist were knocking on her…

Opps.  Wait a minute.  I forgot.  This article is supposed to be a fair and balanced analysis of the phenomena known as “global warming”, and it’s economic impact on society. Hmmm…

OK.  Here goes. 

First, the definitions on how we play this game.  The debate over global-warming is done by majority rule.  Everyone who believes in global warming caused by humans (it’s our fault, folks), raise your hands.  OK, as Chairman, I count 110% hands up.  Now, comrades, what should we do about it?  I know.  Let’s create a treaty among friends.  Majority rules.

We’ll hold an expensive meeting of all the rich honest countries and poor corrupt countries on some wealthy overcrowded island where food and oil is imported.  We’ll meet in Kyoto, Japan.  Then, we’ll all agree that global warming is our collective fault and the biggest countries causing global warming will have to slash their economies to cut back their emissions of carbon dioxide. 

We’ll also agree never ever to mention the dirty phrase “global cooling” and the fact that we were all dead wrong 25 years ago.  We’re right this time for sure.  Since God is dead, it’s totally our responsibility to manipulate the environment on this planet.  We’ve done a good job in water conservation, ocean fish preservation, elimination of malaria and helping the poor people in Africa break out of poverty.  We’ll simply use the same tried-and-true collectivist tactics to handle global warming.  Damn it. We broke it and we’re gonna fix it!

Since the majority of us believe in the slogan “to each according to his needs”, we’ll create a way of allowing those good countries which don’t pollute to sell their spare air to those bad countries which do.  We’ll exempt the biggest polluters – they’re dirt poor you know– (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil), and we’ll blame the most aggressive supporter of clean air & clean water, that shifty fat cat Uncle Sam.  Then, we’ll spend lots of money on hiring out-of-work scientists to write us made-as-instructed reports proving that global warming is happening — and that people are the prime cause. 

Next, we’ll enlist the media — they don’t know anything about science anyway – and we’ll use them to smear the tens of thousands of other honest scientists who might object to the questionable science being produced on demand.  If we chant the mantra “global warming, global warming” long enough, soon everyone will have read about it in the papers – and you know the papers never lie. 

Eventually, if we’re really lucky, we’ll convert our cause into a cult religion.  “Global Warming is the Opiate of the People”.  You can work wonders with guilt.

We’ll pass lots of non-binding resolutions (so the EU countries and our other friends don’t have to met their reduction goals). Then we’ll call on the United Nations — where we are solidly in control, brother — to create an upright honest, respectable Intergovernmental Panel to produce a series of action-item reports, just like we did with the food-for-oil program that worked so well in Iraq.

Finally, we’ll make up long-range 50 and 100-year weather forecasts on which to base all our new laws and spending, putting aside the fact that we can’t even do accurate 7-day weather forecasts anywhere on the planet yet.

Then we can get filthy rich off of all the wasted human energy, junk science, and corrupt politicians, by creating artificial markets in “emissions trading”.  We’ll have power, prestige, rock music, and guilt-ridden masses obeying our every rule. 

Of course, we’ll still be flying around in our private jets going to important global warming meetings and using our chauffer-driven limousines to transport us on the diamond lanes (2 people or more, please), and producing pseudo-scientific emotional-manipulating movies showing monster tidal waves and parched deserts.  If we play our cards right, we might even get an award or two along the way, maybe even a Noble Peace Prize…

Meanwhile, we’ll be able to ignore or suppress the growing number of climatologists, astrophysicists and meteorologists who are saying pesky things like global warming is mostly caused by the sun’s periodic heating up, that lots of other planets and moons are getting hotter too, and that the earth has gone through over 30 cold-hot cycles with some much hotter than today.

Since it will take at least a decade — maybe two or three if we’re lucky – to prove us wrong, we can make lots of cash in the meantime. 

So, now is the time to stock up on alternative-energy fuels that don’t burn carbon.  Solar panel technology looks good.  And nuclear energy looks great (damn, who let the nukes in here to play?). 

For a while we can make money on ethanol — until we take up so much of it for fuel that our food prices go through the roof and the country gets wise to the fact that it takes more energy to make ethanol that you can get from it.  So ethanol production plants, ethanol pipelines, ethanol storage tanks look like good get-rich-quick investments.

And since we have over 1000 years of coal left, investments in new expensive coal burning plants that bury their exhaust gases back underground look promising.  As long as oil stays above $60 per barrel.  New $3 per gallon gasoline taxes should make sure that the high prices are here to stay.  We’ll need lots new laws of course.  And lots more jails to hold the new global warming criminals.

The bottom line:  Global Warming is going to take one heck of a whack out of our economy.  It’s going to line the pockets of those insiders who can figure out how to play the game, or force other people (us) to pay for it.  It’s going to drive inflation up and decrease the economy’s efficiency the way taxes always do.   Global Warming will put America in its place, and bring back that old-time religion of fear and guilt.  (But will it save the planet?)

Isn’t it all just wonderful, comrade?

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Mr. Easton teaches University economics and is passionate about technology and entrepreneurship. He is rosy about the long-term future: ‚??The glass isn‚??t half full, it‚??s overflowing!‚?Ě

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