Last week EcoWorld posted a lengthy explanation as to why we endorse John McCain for President. We were so careful and so reasoned that some commenters actually thought we’d endorsed Obama. We tried to acknowlege Obama’s strengths, and we criticized McCain’s weaknesses, and from it all emerged a tepid endorsement of McCain. But not tepid whatsoever is our fear of what an Obama Presidency could do to the United States.
For years our commitment to free market and property rights based environmentalism has led us to publish countless reports on how adhering to these principles creates wealth, ownership, stewardship, and equitable and efficient allocation of resources. All you have to do to see what the opposite extreme yields is consider the example of the Soviet Union, where an inefficient, utterly corrupt, centrally planned economic system created the filthiest industries on earth, an environmental mess that will take additional decades to clean up. And our opposition to Obama, from a free-market environmentalist perspective, is based on our concern that he will be a rubber stamp for an extreme environmentalist agenda – which we believe has become one of the most misguided and malthusian, misanthropic, destructive ideologies in history.
|Arizona Senator John McCain|
The difference between McCain and Obama isn’t absolute, but their preferences are clear. Obama, along with his environmentalist mainstream supporters, believes we live on a planet in crisis, a place where the environment is on the verge of imminent collapse, and resources are stretched to the breaking point.
This crisis mentality and fearmongering is a powerful propaganda tool, and a man with Obama’s charisma, combined with his inexperience, is going to give the environmentalists a blank check.
What will these environmentalists do with their power? Given the weapons at their disposal, such as the flawed and ominous Supreme Court ruling that CO2 is a “pollutant,” there is little they can’t do. As noted by the Wall Street Journal in their October 20th editorial “Obama’s Carbon Ultimatum,” one of Obama’s key advisors has stated “the Environmental Protection Agency ‘would initiate those rulemakings’ that classify carbon as a dangerous pollutant under current clean air laws. That move would impose new regulation and taxes across the entire economy, something that is usually the purview of Congress.”
In another editorial by Forbe’s Claudia Rosset on October 22nd entitled “The Commissars of Climate Change,” she states “America’s top politicians, not entirely averse to finding ever-new ways to control and plunder the electorate, are still chugging the climate-change Kool-Aid. Once this starts, where does it stop? Carbon is the basis of life itself; carbon dioxide is exhaled with every breath. Regulating and taxing such matters is a road map to state meddling in every aspect of daily life.”
This is not a misplaced fear. Environmentalist lawsuits and environmentalist influenced legislation have already tied our industries up in knots, enforcing regulations that often go well beyond what is in the interests of environmental protection. In many parts of the country, they have perpetuated the myth that open space is threatened, creating artificial scarcity and making housing unaffordable. They have made it virtually impossible to extract resources, build roads, collect and convey water, or do anything else that requires so much as a scratch in the ground – and the exhorbitant costs any such development incurs is mostly spent paying government fees and settling lawsuits.
Ultimately the choice between Obama and McCain is a choice between a malthusian, crisis-oriented world view that will lead to rationing, high prices, and crippling regulations, and a supply-oriented, business-friendly world view that will encourage innovation and enable ongoing prosperity. A recent book by Michael Shellenberger entitled “Breakthrough: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility” illustrates this choice in important ways. The premise of this book is that prosperity creates the wealth that makes all socially desirable outcomes more possible; a wealthy society can afford to clean up the environment and an impoverished one cannot.
While we can’t look to McCain, or pretty much any politician today, for honest skepticism regarding global warming, this should not be cause for celebration, nor a reason to be indifferent to who wins the election. Hopefully McCain’s embracement of the global warming alarmist hype is just a political calculation. Even if it isn’t, it is very, very unlikely McCain will move as aggressively as Obama will, because the environmentalists who are pushing global warming panic are not McCain’s base – they have been his political enemy for years. But even if global warming is real, severe, and the result of anthropogenic CO2, there is nothing we can do about it. The idea we are going to eliminate or sequester 30 gigatons of CO2 emissions per year (and rising) is totally, completely, absolutely ridiculous. Read “Cool It” by Bjorn Lomborg to better understand that the money we might spend to reduce CO2 emissions by insignificant amounts would fund massive investments in other far more worthwhile and far less futile projects, from eliminating Malaria to ending water scarcity.
The debate over environmental issues has been waged on the terms of the environmentalists, and this must be changed. It is not extreme to question the role of anthropogenic CO2 in causing allegedly dangerous global warming, it is moderate and necessary. Similarly, calling the current mainstream environmentalist agenda “socialist” is not extreme, it is accurate. The Democratic party is controlled by environmentalists, who abuse their nonprofit status, public sector unions, who abuse their ability to collect dues from the taxpayer supported government workforce, and trial lawyers, who benefit from every regulation or crisis that ever created a case in a courtroom. These are extremely powerful, often also positive, but nonetheless essentially parasitic forces from an economic perspective; they would not survive unless there was a private sector creating profits for them to live on. That fact should not be lost on anyone who votes on November 4th, 2008. Vote for McCain/Palin.