Another One Bites the Dust

Otherwise quite-sound South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has weighed in on the political “global warming” sweepstakes with an op-ed in today’s Washington Post. To his credit, he flatly states that “conservatives must respond to climate change with innovation, not regulation.”

Indeed. But remove that line and the rest of the op-ed does a tremendous disservice to the anti-regulatory cause, fostering as it does needless climate alarmism, even adopting talking points straight from an Al Gore seminar. “For the past 20 years, I have seen the ever-so-gradual effects of rising sea levels at our farm on the South Carolina coast.” Really? Sea levels rise 8 inches per century during the current inter-glacial period (10,000+ years), an historical rate that hasn’t increased even according to the UN IPCC, and a pace which actually slowed down during the second half of the 20th Century. He must have quite an eye.

Further, he engages in the breathless confusion or conflation of “[t]he real ‘inconvenient truth’ about climate change is that some people are losing their rights and freedoms because of the actions of others—in either the quality of the air they breathe, the geography they hold dear ([NB: see sea level discussion, above], the insurance costs they bear or the future environment of the children they love”. Leave for now the tiresome invocation of children in these debates to distract from substantive discussion, and the obvious use of “climate change” by insurance companies to raise rates, including on equally faulty models as those used to project climate calamity. In truth, “climate change”—involving non-pollutant greenhouse gases water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane—is simply not an issue about “air quality”. If the matter is so serious, then it deserves attention to the facts. Speaking of facts, one also senses a bit of the abused-Republican syndrome in the unacceptable “The fact is, I’m a conservative and a conservationist — and that’s okay.” Please, enough of the Poor Man’s Shuffle on these matters; wealthier is healthier, and the pro-growth agenda has proven to be better for the planet than statism.

Gov. Sanford also disappoints in his common but still flawed inherently implicit perspective that we must start innovating, that we are not already. This is absurd, and demonstrable in the US’s relative carbon dioxide (CO2) performance relative to the rest of the world since the issue gained currency in the late ’90s. Nowhere, however, does he acknowledge that the efforts, “[f]rom light bulbs to automobiles”, nothing ever proposed would under any scenario have a detectable impact on climate. This is the critical argument to make.

Climate change is now quite clearly a purely political issue. So, when will a politician emerge possessing the temerity to stake out a position daring to state the truth about the US and climate change, that our rate of increase of CO2 emissions is among the best and maybe even the very best in the developed world over recent years (when considering “Europe” as a whole—the EU-15—as does the Kyoto Protocol), possibly even since Kyoto was agreed in 1997? That we far surpass our moral hectors the Europeans on this matter over which they are so noisy and even quite often remarkably nasty?

Now, that would be worthy of attention and interest but, to date, we have only seen signs that the Republican presidential primaries in 2008 will be the race to the bottom that the statists and alarmists hope for.