A "green" economy vs. a productive economy, or how America became a third-world country with first-world feelings of moral superiority
As I say, this reaction to the Gospel of Gore is not just political -- not just a recognition and response to the economic consequences of embracing environmentalism as a religion. It is also a response to mounting evidence that Al Gore was, to put it bluntly, wrong. As Strassel notes,
The collapse of the "consensus" [over the idea that climate change was primarily man-made] has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.
So: countries in the rest of the world, bowing to scientific evidence and economic reality, adjust their policies to make their economies more productive, hence more competitive.
The United States, led by leftist ideologues who are suspicious of American power, and who regard "excessive" prosperity with alarm, have framed legislation that will systemically handicap American industry and make the necessities of life more expensive for American citizens.
The up side? Americans, or at least American Leftists, will be able to luxuriate in the knowledge that they have sacrificed something for an "ideal," even if it is only the spurious ideal of environmental purity.
It won't, in the overwhelming number of cases, involve any sacrifice for them personally, of course. Just as Congress has its own health care provisions that are different from, and vastly better than, what they are proposing to provide for the mere citizens of the country, so, too, the onerous restrictions mandated by this legislation will not touch people who have insulated themselves from the strictures they impose on an increasingly docile public. It will cost you a lot more to travel to New York for a night out on the town with your wife, but if you are Barack Obama and the public is picking up the tab for the date, you go by government jet, surrounded by a cocoon of secret service vehicles greedily gobbling up their quota of fossil fuel. It would be instructive to keep tabs on the "carbon footprint" of members of Congress and other government officials -- and to discover how the restrictions they have imposed on the rest of us affect them personally.
Today, dirigiste politicians celebrate the advent of America's embrace of a "green economy." But a green economy bears roughly the same relation to a productive economy as fool's gold does to the 24-carat variety. Sooner or later, the country will wake up to this fact. The longer it takes, the less pretty will be the response, because the more serious will be the effect on the country's economy.
The U.S. Senate now has an opportunity to restore sanity by scuttling this legislative monstrosity. Let's see how many senators have the wisdom, and the courage, to stand up against the sirocco of left wing demagoguery that will be filling the airwaves and cyberspace in the weeks to come.