Deja Vu All Over Again

Deja Vu All Over Again

November 30, 1997

History doesn’t repeat itself, but the machinations of big-government politicians are vexingly repetitious. Perhaps nothing better illustrates the plus ca change, plus ca meme chose character of statist politics than the crusade for a global climate treaty.

Back in the 1970s, President Carter and other Malthusian prognosticators warned that mankind was exhausting the resources on which civilization depends. To save us from our "fuelish" ways, politicians and bureaucrats restricted people’s access to affordable energy through price controls, rationing, and auto fuel economy mandates. The results were dismal – stagflation, gas lines, "malaise," and thousands killed on America’s highways.

Today, of course, we know the energy depletion scare was a myth. Far from the world running out of fossil fuels, with oil prices soaring to $100 per barrel or more, as Carter-era Cassandras prophesied, proven reserves now exceed 500 years, with oil selling for about $10 a barrel. Further increases in supply are expected as extraction technologies improve.

That, however, is precisely what drives today’s Malthuseans up the wall. The problem now, they contend, is "cheap" energy – a world awash in fossil fuels. But their "solution" remains unchanged – put energy markets under political management, impose rationing, tighten fuel economy mandates.

Throughout the 1980s, the UN’s "global governance" crowd, blaming Western capitalism for Third World poverty, called for massive wealth transfers from nations of the industrial "North" to countries of the non-industrial "South." This socialist scam lives on in climate change diplomacy. Developing countries are demanding reparations for whatever losses they may suffer from global warming. And under President Clinton’s emissions trading proposal, U.S. firms wishing to use more energy than their allotted quota would have to purchase the rights from countries like China, Mexico, and Iran.

But we need not delve into "ancient" history to put the climate treaty in perspective. In 1993-94, Clinton tried to frighten Americans with a bogus health care "crisis." Today he attempts to scare them with an imaginary climate crisis. Then, the solution was ClintonCare – a Rube Goldberg morass dressed up in the rhetoric of markets, flexibility, and innovation. Now, the solution is ClimateCare – an even more audacious power grab decked out in the same deceptive rhetoric.

When Americans realized that the health care system wasn’t broken, and saw that ClintonCare was a plan to bureaucratize one-seventh of the economy, they retaliated at the polls, demoting the President’s party in Congress to minority status for the first time in forty years.

This suggests that the climate treaty is eminently defeatable. To begin with, the climate isn’t broken. According to NOAA, the U.S. has experienced no significant warming trend over the past 100 years!

More importantly, the climate treaty is a transparent attempt to replace self-government and economic liberty with "global goverance" and central planning. Americans don’t relish the rule of unaccountable bureaucrats here at home. How hard should it be to persuade them to reject this lastest UN-inspired assault on their prosperity, freedom and sovereignty?