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Now that Al Gore has won an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, he's headed to Capitol Hill today to perform before an even more important crowd: lawmakers who could pass legislation that would make energy unaffordable for many Americans.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Gore never considers the obvious moral objection to his agenda—its potentially catastrophic impacts on the world's poor. Stabilizing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is not even remotely possible unless China, India, and other developing countries restrict their use of carbon-based energy.
Carbon dioxide, which Gore demagogically calls "global warming pollution" (it's plant food, after all), is the inescapable byproduct of most of the energy that fuels the world's economy.
The Kyoto Protocol's advocates view the treaty as just a "first step" in a long march toward a de-carbonized future. But the global economy is moving in exactly the opposite direction. Demand for fossil energy is growing, especially in developing countries.
The real inconvenient truth is that nobody knows how to meet current, much less future, global energy needs with low- and non-emitting technologies.
Even in wealthy countries like the United States, energy taxes or their regulatory equivalent can inflict hardship on low-income households. A Kyoto-style system would make energy even more costly for consumers.
Many U.S. politicians professed outrage in 2005 when gasoline prices spiked above $3 a gallon. Consumers pay twice as much for gasoline in some European countries, due to heavy motor fuel taxes. Yet from 1990 to 2004, EU transport sector CO2 emissions increased almost 26 percent and are projected under current policies to be 35 percent above 1990 levels in 2010.
How much higher than European-level gasoline prices does Gore think Americans should have to pay? He should at least admit that the pursuit of carbon stabilization has the potential to do more harm than good.
Gore calls global warming a "moral issue," notwithstanding the fact that his own energy consumption at home turns out to be 20 times higher than the average American household, a fact recently unearthed by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. There is nothing moral about putting an energy-starved world on an energy diet.