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Horner Op-Ed in Tech Central Station
September 11 brought to the fore numerous realities that in our comfort we had sublimated, including the frivolity of numerous erstwhile “serious” pursuits. Only a truly rich and seemingly safe world would spend tremendous sums of human and financial capital to indulge such hypothetical risks as “man-made global warming.” The US even signed a treaty promising a near-immediate one-fifth reduction in carbon dioxide emissions - the intentional product of employing fossil fuels to produce energy. This was a sure sign of a society removed from critical thought. Then September’s attacks reminded us there are real, serious threats in the world requiring our attention, unpolluted by such chicanery. At least temporarily, this threw a curve at the environmental pressure green groups, who risked certain backlash if they did not curb their rhetoric at such a moment. Yet, a sober and focused world threatens oblivion for those subsisting on scaring the populace into believing Volvos are evil weather machines. Therefore, with the help of an old refuge -- “polling data” -- they are again finding their voice. During their rhetorical hiatus, green groups engaged “a ton of pollsters and linguists,” according to the publication Inside EPA. Environmentalists are seeking a new language to communicate the bottom line of “causes and solutions” of global warming, “moving away from issuing dire predictions”. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, National Environmental Trust and Environmental Defense, among others, are designing a new pitch for this mother-of-all-scares. Their message, in sum, is “It’s the fossil fuels, stupid!” Using a $1 million grant from the Turner Foundation - as in CNN founder Ted Turner - these professional worriers hired “Democratic pollsters” to divine the new vernacular. NRDC now even boasts former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta as a Senior Fellow for their “Climate Action Center.” And you thought this was about science. “An Excellent Job of Alarming People” So, what did they come up with?
One party bragged to Inside EPA that the research “tells us that we are winning… that we’ve done an excellent job of alarming people.” Those who were successfully alarmed apparently just don’t realize it. They feel slightly guilty at their comforts, but cringe at Al Gore’s “central organizing principles” and his equating failure to recycle aluminum cans with the Holocaust, as a Democratic National Committee memo so wonderfully put it. Recast the blather, however, with visual terms and squishy talk about “sustainability” and you’ve got the more palatable “Al Gore for Dummies.” Here is a preview of what we can now expect: It seems we live in cognitive dissonance, and need only to be reminded in the appropriate terms of our true knowledge. To unleash our inner environmentalist, the green groups will lecture on “individual consumption” (from their foundation-funded, taxpayer subsidized perch, of course). Only upon such awakening will you accept the global energy cop -- called the Kyoto Protocol -- telling more prosperous (i.e., energy-generating) nations how productive they can be or else. And on a parallel track, they will promote Sen. Jim Jeffords’ (I-VT) proposed carbon cap-and-trade legislation -- in effect implementing Kyoto, though tying only the United States’ hands. The good news here is that we can now engage on one of the two true battlegrounds: lifestyle (the other being population). The second prong is shifting to “local, state and regional initiatives that center more on actual activities rather than gaining press time,” according to Inside EPA. This means enacting a bunch of mindless sate and local regulations cornering Washington into seeking “uniformity.” Certainly, much is at stake, most fundamentally affordable energy. That is the engine for our economy and enabler of our lifestyle, both the envy of the world. We must preserve our comforts, even if this prosperity occasionally seduces us into well-intentioned agreement with inane policies. In the end, we tend to remember that the greatest gift we can leave the next generation is a world wealthier than we found it.