Saturday, June 22, 2024

JOSEPH C. PHILLIPS: Walking the Global Warming Walk

April 12, 2007 by  
Filed under Weekly Columns

( The other day while returning home from a morning of running errands, my fourth grade son lamented that we were harming the environment by driving. I offered to pull the car over and let him walk home lest he cause any more damage. He thought about it a moment, then responded that since I was going that way anyway he may as well keep riding. My son is no fool.

Don’t misunderstand. I may have my doubts about manmade global warming, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the environment. I love clean water and fresh air as much as anyone. Nor does it mean I am not open to information. I am educating myself everyday. I also recognize, however, that there are trade offs in life and I am honest in admitting that there is a price I am just not willing to pay. One of the primary reasons I am a skeptic is that those preaching impending doom the loudest don’t seem honest about the sacrifices they are willing to make.

Put aside the fact that for believers in manmade global warming alternative energy sources do not include nuclear power or that those that question the global warming dogma are shouted down and threatened with Nuremberg type tribunals; Put aside as well that I am old enough to remember the global cooling hysteria of the 1970’s. The truth is that like my fourth grader, devotees of manmade global warming are great at talking the talk but when it comes to actually getting out of the car and walking the no-carbon-footprint walk, they prefer gestures like government control of industry and inventing a new market where one can purchase (and trade) environmental salvation through carbon credits.

Former vice president Al Gore, for instance, one of the chief priests of the new global warming religion, is using electricity as if, well, as if it were truly going out of style. While working tirelessly to warn all of us about the coming Armageddon, he is consuming 20 times the electricity of the average American home. In his defense, he claims that because he is purchasing carbon credits (from a company he owns) he is actually carbon neutral. Nice work if you can get it! Next time you are pulled over for driving while under the influence, calmly inform the officer that while you don’t deny drinking like a fish you took the precaution of purchasing blood alcohol credits so your level is actually less than the breathalyzer test indicated. In less tony neighborhoods, this is known as a street con.

If you want to know the real costs of a carbon neutral lifestyle, take a gander at a young couple from New York City in the midst of a year long experiment to live a carbon neutral life. They do not use elevators, burn beeswax candles instead of light bulbs, eat mashed carrots with homemade vinegar, purchase no new clothing and most unfortunately, for my tastes anyway, use no toilet paper. In short, they are living a pre-industrial lifestyle. Other than this young couple, I am aware of no one willing to follow them back to the 19th century. And even this couple hasn’t gone all the way. They still use a computer, which runs on electricity and plan to publish a book, which will no doubt be made of paper.

I don’t mind my son lecturing me about global warming even while he and his brothers leave every light in the house burning. In the long run, we all benefit from the conversation. However, if the doomsayers are correct the cost of reversing the evil of global warming is much higher than the most ardent among them is willing to pay. It is certainly higher than I am willing to pay. I am putting the listening world on notice: I don’t care how hot it gets; I am not giving up toilet paper!

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