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       Tuesday, April 25, 2006

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Reducing Emissions Without Signing Treaties

If it was proposed that the United States reduce the following pollutants (based on 1970 levels)...
  • Carbon monoxide by half
  • Particulate emissions by 80%
  • Sulfur dioxide emissions by half
  • and virtually eliminate lead emissions

...would you consider that a reasonable proposal and ask the government to sign it? If we didn't sign it, would you consider it proof that we don't care about the environment? Do you believe that the free market or our own legislation couldn't possibly do this without an international treaty?

You'd be surprised. That's exactly what we have done, all without the Kyoto Protocol. The Wall St. Journal covered
the "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators", which is published annually around Earth Day and it has its own web site as well.

The WSJ reminds us that the dire predictions of today are coming from the same people and groups that have a poor track record.
This year, for example, Vanity Fair has inaugurated an "Earth Issue," comprising 246 glossy, non-recycled pages of fashion ads, celebrity worship and environmental apocalypse. Highlights include computer-generated images of New York City underwater and the Washington mall as one big reflecting pool. The magazine also includes a breathless essay by U.S. environmental conscience-in-chief Al Gore. The message is that we are headed for an environmental catastrophe of the first order, and only drastic changes to the way we live can possibly prevent it.

If arguments were won through the use of italics, Mr. Gore would prevail in a knockout. But as Mr. Hayward notes in his "Index," the environmental movement as a whole has developed a credibility problem since the first Earth Day 36 years ago. In the 1970s, prominent greens were issuing dire predictions about mass starvation, overpopulation and--of all things--global cooling. Since then, population-growth estimates have come way down, biotechnology advances have found ways to feed more people than the doomsayers believed possible, and the global-cooling crisis has become the global-warming crisis without missing a beat.

The democratic process, the free market and scientific advancement really don't get enough credit in all of this. Treaties from on high that try to micromanage the process are a type of environmental socialism that has been shown not to work so many times in other ares of human behavior.

Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.



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posted by Doug at 10:25 AM  

2 Comments:

David Jeffery said...

This argument cuts both ways Doug.

If the US has been so successful at cutting those emissions, why are you so afraid of the US ratifying a treaty that provides for much more modest reductions in carbon dioxide emissions?

And Kyoto is not micro-management or 'environmental socialism'. It sets some targets for emissions reductions - it's entirely up to each country how to meet those targets. Indeed, they don't even have to meet the targets themselves, they can do it by investing in emission reduction technologies in other countries.

6:14 PM  
Doug said...

Kyoto was heavily unbalanced against the United States and not against other equally high-end polluters. The market and more local political pressures have done quite well at getting the job done. We don't need a treaty that gives us the short end of the stick.

We're likely doing better that other countries in our category of polluters. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

7:50 PM  

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