Kyoto Kiddies
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If children didn’t exist, the left would have to invent them. Case in point is Environmental Defense’s new television ads, in conjunction with the Ad Council, sounding the global warming alarm. Filled with little skulls full of mush who probably don’t know the difference between a polar ice cap and Pokemon, they implore us grownups to preserve the planet for them by combating climate change.

The ads have received a fair amount of media attention and uncritical coverage (but I repeat myself), leading to a lot of self-satisfied backslapping by Environmental Defense. An email I received from the group the other day was titled, “Global Warming Ads Get Rave Reviews.” “Nothing short of remarkable.” the email reads. “That describes the media’s reaction to the launch of our powerful new TV spots to wake up America on global warming.” It also boasts, “Time magazine devoted its April 3 issue cover to global warming and gave generous coverage to our Fight Global Warming work” — as if you needed any further proof that the line between mainstream journalism and liberal advocacy is now so blurred as to be non-existent.

The email continues, “The overwhelmingly favorable response means that global warming has finally arrived as a mainstream American issue. Global warming is no longer a matter of political or scientific debate.” This is in keeping with the Time magazine issue that declares in the table of contents that “The debate is over.” If you had a dime for every time environmental alarmists and the media (but I repeat myself again) declared the debate over global warming is over, you could afford Laurie David’s Tudor mansion along with its high electricity bills.

Of course, the debate is far from over. Just recently, over sixty scientists urged the Canadian government to review the science of climate change as it relates to Canada’s position on the Kyoto protocol. The letter stated:

Observational evidence does not support today’s computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future. Yet this is precisely what the United Nations did in creating and promoting Kyoto and still does in the alarmist forecasts on which Canada’s climate policies are based. Even if the climate models were realistic, the environmental impact of Canada delaying implementation of Kyoto or other greenhouse-gas reduction schemes, pending completion of consultations, would be insignificant. Directing your government to convene balanced, open hearings as soon as possible would be a most prudent and responsible course of action.

While Environmental Defense may succeed in stifling debate on the science of global warming, it is going to have a much harder time doing so on global warming policy. One policy Environmental Defense promotes is a “cap-and trade” system in which the total amount of greenhouse gases that companies can emit is restricted by the federal government. Companies that do a better job of limiting their greenhouse gas emissions under the cap can earn credits that they can trade with companies that do not do as well as limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Defense points to the successful cap-and-trade system employed to limit sulfur dioxide, the main cause of acid rain. However, technologies like smokestack scrubbers and low-sulfur coal were already in development when the sulfur dioxide system was established. As of yet, there are no such technologies available for a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide.

We can also look to how well the cap-and-trade system of the Kyoto Protocol is working by looking at Europe, which ratified the agreement in late 2004. Most of the major nations in the European Union will fall far short of the 8 percent cut (based on 1990 levels) in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. A recent study by the International Council for Capital Formation found compliance with Kyoto would result in substantial job losses and reductions in GDP for the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Italy. Last year British PM Tony Blair admitted that Kyoto wouldn’t work: “The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem. Some people have signed Kyoto, some people haven’t signed Kyoto, right? That is a disagreement. It’s there. It’s not going to be resolved.” If this is the effect cap-and-trade is having on Europe, one can only imagine how dismal its economic impact would be on the U.S., the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The environmental movement may have duped much of the American public that global warming is a major crisis. But they will have a much harder time convincing us that we must sacrifice economic growth to combat it. Environmental Defense will have to find even cuter looking kids for their commercials.

David Hogberg is a senior research analyst at the Capital Research Center. He also hosts his own website, Hog Haven.

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