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U.S. citizens have a right to discuss global warming and climate policy even if they are not scientists. Snowe and Rockefeller imply that speech about global warming and climate policy is illegitimate unless conducted within the pages of scientific journals such as Science or Nature, or unless it uncritically parrots the editorial policies of such journals.
This kind of elitism — the notion that the lay public should just defer to its betters and never question the pronouncements of scientific experts — may have its aficionados in the Royal Society, but it has no place except parody in American politics.
Presumably, Snowe and Rockefeller have no problem with EPA and other government agencies providing untold millions of dollars annually to environmental activist groups who campaign for Kyoto and other energy-suppression schemes. However, groups with a free-market orientation like CEI typically do not seek or accept government support as a matter of principle. If we don’t raise money from the private sector, we cease to operate — which would suit the government-funded alarmist crowd just fine. Snowe and Rockefeller’s attack on ExxonMobil’s funding of CEI is simply an attempt to drive the market out of the marketplace of ideas.p> Scapegoat Skeptics br> Why are Snowe, Rockefeller, the Royal Society, and a host of other alarmists up in arms over ExxonMobil’s support for groups challenging the alarmist spin on climate science? /p>
It may have something to do with the need for scapegoats. Snowe and Rockefeller’s chief complaint is that ExxonMobil’s funding of groups like CEI has “made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.” This is a veiled swipe at President Bush for his decision to withdraw the United States from participation in the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that Snowe and Rockefeller evidently admire as a step towards a “truly global solution to what is undeniably a global problem.”
With a few exceptions like Great Britain, European countries are having trouble meeting their Kyoto targets. For example, Kyoto aims to reduce European Union (EU) emissions by 8% below 1990 levels during 2008-2012. However, even with European gasoline prices exceeding $6.00 a gallon, EU transport sector emissions are 24% above 1990 levels.
Some European nations may be able, with the help of accounting gimmickry, to barely comply with the first phase (2008-2012) Kyoto targets. But there is no way Europe will be able to meet more stringent targets in the next phase unless European firms can find a vast new supply of low-cost emission reduction credits. Such a supply will materialize only if key developing countries like China and India agree to participate. However, there is no hope of China and India ever participating unless, in Snowe and Rockefeller’s words, “the United States officially reengage[s] and demonstrate[s] leadership on the issue of climate change” — i.e., unless the United States joins the Kyoto club.
Why doesn’t the United States “reengage”? In Snowe and Rockefeller’s opinion, it’s because ExxonMobil, through its “front groups,” has exerted “relentless pressure on the media.” This has “confused the public and given cover to a few senior elected and appointed government officials whose positions and opinions enable them to damage U.S. credibility abroad.”
In other words, the tail wags the dog. The chain of causality runs as follows. ExxonMobil funded CEI. CEI puts pressure on the media. Due to that pressure, the Bush administration keeps America out of Kyoto. Because America does not join, neither do China and India. Without China and India, Kyoto collapses. Therefore, CEI is responsible for killing Kyoto. Quick somebody put that in our next fund-raising letter!
In effect, Snowe and Rockefeller suggest that when CEI says “jump,” the White House says “How high?” They also appear to believe that China’s leaders are just waiting for Bush to give the word and then they’ll agree to stop building coal-fired power plants. This is all so ridiculous it’s funny.
Unfortunately, the hunt for scapegoats is never funny. As it becomes clearer that the Kyoto Protocol is doomed, the need within green political circles to blame domestic enemies for the failure of this unsustainable treaty will only become more pressing. Expect congressional subpoenas, show trial hearings, and harassment suits by state attorneys general to punish climate skeptics and silence free market voices in the marketplace of ideas.
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