Air(wave) Pollution

Air(wave) Pollution

Horner Op-Ed in Tech Central Station
March 05, 2002

The vast majority of "environmentalist" groups are anti-growth groups with the same ultimate axe to grind. After all, economic or population growth means more earthly space touched by humans. That's why technological or physical developments that would yield affordable energy or greater harvests from fewer acres are routine targets of environmentalists' attacks. So we are treated to campaigns opposing resource extraction from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). These campaigns routinely show not the actual, unremarkable desolation under which lies the largest oil field discovered in forty years, but footage of the scenic Brooks Mountain range well over 100 miles away from any possible exploration. That is, to put it mildly, deceptive. But, as columnist Jonah Goldberg has asked, would the greens be so agitated if it were saffron hauled from under ANWR tundra? Now, however, one of the chief environmental alarm groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) outdoes itself and its allies in terms of deception and dishonesty. Few proponents of campaign finance "reform" legislation talk about the loophole allowing unregulated contributions of up to twenty grand to "independent" groups. Such advocates may continue to do the routine bidding of other, erstwhile recipients of the very political cash - campaign committees. Obvious adjuncts of the Democratic Party are poised to serve as conduits for circumventing the "reform" bill's restrictions on contributions and speech. Among these are the green pressure groups. NRDC is currently airing an example of what this loophole promises to deliver. Through March 8 on Washington, DC's AM news station, WTOP, the group is airing dishonest ads promoting legislation suppressing carbon dioxide (CO2). This current hobbyhorse of Senator Jim Jeffords (S. 556) puts into legislative form the provisions of the Kyoto protocol suppressing CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide is, of course, the naturally occurring gas known as human breath or the necessary catalyst for photosynthesis. It is also produced by combusting carbon-based fuels (oil and gas). Fresh off aggressive buys in Ohio and New Hampshire, designed to intimidate key Republican Senators George Voinovich and Bob Smith, for a mere $30,000 NRDC secured 2 weeks of DC drive-time radio ads. These spots anguish over carbon dioxide, which they call a "pollutant." This is a surprise to anyone familiar with environmental laws, or elementary school science; it is no surprise to followers of green scare campaigns. NRDC pants that this "pollutant" is "dangerous to everyone's health, especially children and seniors." Having established the untrue premise -- what we all learned as children as plant food used to produce oxygen is in reality quite sinister -- they then take the huge leap of dishonesty. "The American Lung Association says air pollution increases both asthma attacks and deaths due to heart and lung disease." The implication that CO2 is in any way responsible for these ailments is staggering in its dishonesty and cynicism. NRDC urges your support for legislation "keeping [CO2] out of the air we breathe." That's right, that air you inhale is dangerously fouled by... that air you exhale. Consider that NRDC has on its staff, as "Senior Fellow for Climate Change," one John Podesta, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff. You may not know of Podesta's more recent capacity: Senior Energy Advisor to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. In fact, the trade publication Inside EPA reports that Podesta is the chief architect of the energy bill that Daschle now foists on the Senate. Nearly half of Daschle's bill is premised on the alarmist claim that CO2 is air pollution. The reason for all of this of course is that without calling CO2 a pollutant or responsible for "global warming" (the only alleged effect of CO2 per its detractors), there is simply no basis short of increasing energy taxes to limit access to affordable energy. All sound rather political? Certainly, given the NRDC/Daschle combined effort, it is the sort of activity that one presumes campaign finance "reform" would tackle, while prohibiting certain speech. Instead, however, this is precisely the sort of activity that McCain-Feingold aggressively encourages. This only makes what is a rotten piece of legislation even worse. Reform would be welcome, all right, but of the truth-in-advertising laws.