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It was time, I supposed, to send an email out to everyone I know requesting information about their painting habits. Who, I began to wonder, would be able to get out of paying out this $20? I imagined dropping the brochure in the mail with a note: Actually, I’m completely uninterested in the alleviation of suffering, I’d like to trudge outside for my morning constitutional and I’d really rather stay home on my vacation and watch the Project Runway marathon.
No, really, I understand and even believe the group’s mission (“advocating for your right to use energy as you see fit”) is worthwhile. Energy fuels our standard of living. At the Competitive Enterprise Institute booth they had a satellite picture of a pitch black North Korea next to a well-lit South Korea. None of us want to immigrate to the Kim Jong-Il Worker’s Paradise. Still, the quiz reminded me of the buttons I sometimes saw at anti-war protests that stacked the word War atop Education with the box next to the latter checked.
Ostensibly this distillation appeared brilliant to the wearer and her compatriots. To those outside the tribe, though? Not so much, probably.
ALAS, MUCH OF THE CONFERENCE EXUDED a certain (perhaps unavoidable) insularity that was difficult for a skeptical layman to muscle some substantive understanding out of. By the end of the first day, I had sat through so many panels attempting to make sense out of a relentless parade of graphs, panels and lengthy, inscrutable equations — Yr =Yyr â€” 1 + 2XTyr + yr+ 1…take that Al Gore! — I felt like a junior high student dropped into a post-graduate quantum physics class.
When I think of moments at the conference that grabbed me, few had anything to do with a mess of plotlines on a PowerPoint slide. Instead, it was Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute’s presentation explaining how when alternative fuels are mandated “the chainsaws will not be far behind,” clearing land for crops and wiping out hundreds of species global warming never would have touched. Or of civil rights icon and Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality Roy Innis eloquently bemoaning ideological environmentalists’ “selfish esoteric passions for a pristine environment” while “minority groups bear the brunt of the cost of compromise between environmental and energy needs.” (This is, incidentally, the subject of Innis’s new book Energy Keepers Energy Killers: The New Civil Rights Battle.)
Then there was Marc Morano regaling a crowd with stories of victories against all odds in the political trenches, filmmaker Ann McElhinney offering the pithy rejoinder “Forget about Republicans in your bedrooms, these guys want to get into every room of the house and change all the light bulbs,” and Lord Monckton comparing the good intentions of past collectivist, coercive movements, from Mao’s “Great Leap Backward” to the devastating, deadly ban on DDT wisely, finally lifted by the World Health Organization in 2006 to the current statist demands of global warming hysterics.
“Somebody has got to stick to the science and it might as well be us,” Lord Monckton said. But will they realize that so much of winning the political argument is how you frame it?
BAST IS ALREADY PLANNING Heartland’s next step. There’s going to be a speaker’s bureau and another convention this time next year in London. The group has already distributed 500,000 copies of its 25-page booklet debunking the existence of anything approaching a scientific consensus on climate change. More will be printed, he vowed. Supremely confident, Bast believes a corner has been turned and the invasive regulations both parties’ candidates are now trumpeting will not gain traction.
“The political debate is a farce, a puppet show,” Bast said with a wave of his hand. “They’ll all posture as the great savior of humanity. One will promise to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and the other will jump in and say, ‘No, I’ll cut 90 percent by 2040.’ They have no power to deliver. No politician is going to pursue policies sure to raise gas prices another one or two dollars a gallon.”
And if they try, Bast is certain skeptics will have made enough inroads to make the case to the American people that the doomsday scenarios are all hot air. The man can seem more than a tad over-optimistic at times, especially when five minutes after I speak with him I meet a man whose own wife will hardly speak to him, so disappointed is she that he came to the “deniers’ conference.” Would Chicken Little have gotten so much press if she had shouted, “The sky is…probably going to stay just about where it is”? We’ll presumably find out soon enough.
American Spectator Contributing Editor Shawn Macomber is writing a book on the Global Class War.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?