As the high priests of gaseous emission gather in Copenhagen to determine how much they would like to tax and regulate the economically productive countries of the earth, Obama’s squadrons at home are preparing to tax and regulate the second half of your breathing cycle.
That’s right, folks: any day now, The Wall Street Journal reports, the Obama administration is expected to “declare carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant.”
Well, isn’t that just too bad?
Carbon Dioxide is a trace gas. There just ain’t that much of it around. It accounts for about .038 percent of the atmosphere, which high school science will have told you is mostly nitrogen (78 percent) and oxygen (21 percent). Nevertheless, carbon doxide, though trace, is essential. It is a critical component of the carbon cycle. You remember our friend the carbon cycle: “All life is based on the element carbon.”
Plants use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide to carbon-based sugar molecules. You eat the plants and absorb the carbon. Every breath you take releases a bit of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The fuel you burn to keep warm or drive your car also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The plants thank you: they couldn’t live without it.
The Obama administration doesn’t thank you, though. It believes carbon dioxide is a “dangerous pollutant.” The Environmental Protection Agency may be about to issue an “endangerment” finding about carbon dioxide. Spotted Owls, certain whales, now the atmosphere as a whole. They take a broad view of their mandate at the EPA. If it issues such an endangerment finding, that could (as the WSJ reports)
pave the way for the government to require businesses that emit carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to make costly changes in machinery to reduce emissions — even if Congress doesn’t pass pending climate-change legislation. EPA action to regulate emissions could affect the U.S. economy more directly, and more quickly, than any global deal inked in the Danish capital, where no binding agreement is expected.
What does that mean for you? More government intrusion in the economy, i.e., more government intrusion into your life. Here’s part of of what it could mean: “top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project,” as U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue put it.
The irony is that such action won’t do much if anything to repristinate the environment. Their many effect will be to make it more expensive to conduct business. That is, like so much that Obama has done or wants to do, it will make the United States poorer and less competitive.
I am waiting for the day when Al Gore or some other government spokesman decide that the act of breathing — or exhaling, anyway — is itself an infraction of the law against excess carbon emissions. Who will shut up first, Al Gore or his critics? Humans fond of breathing, Unite! You have nothing to lose but these blowhards.