When European politicians picked a target date for greenhouse gas emissions in the Kyoto accord, American environmentalists applauded despite the motivation - economic harm for the US with little to Europe, since Germany simply had to scuttle Soviet-era factories they acquired in the re-merger with East Germany and France switched to more nuclear power in order to try and meet their CO2 targets.
Anyone unemployed. losing a house or watching their 401K stagnate now sees why claims about creating a 'green' economic engine that could be created quickly were regarded with derision in some corners and concern in some others. Greenhouse gas emissions are down, to 6,633m metric tons - 1995 levels - and Standard&Poor’s just cut its outlook on US sovereign debt from “stable” to “negative”, due to rising deficits brought on by continued spending despite no valid expectation the revenue curve will meet obligations. We have less manufacturing, less fuel usage, less everything.
Picking on manufacturing has been the default pastime of activists who regard industry as the enemy of nature. But sending manufacturing to friendlier countries has done nothing for emissions or climate change - China now just leads the world in both manufacturing and pollution and is an economic powerhouse - and current EPA rules, much less more aggressive ones such as in California, are so onerous to business we can basically never recover in the current political climate.
Republican are going to make political hay with the news about lower emissions, of course, and try to strip the EPA of the ability to regular carbon emissions - problem solved, they will claim, no more need to regulate - and that isn't really a solution, but certainly the cultural vilification of business, including by Republicans who passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and made it downright dangerous to run a public company, further driving up the salaries of CEOs, along with increasing the costs to do business in the US at all, needs to stop. Net government debt will exceed 70 per cent of GDP - there is no way that can be a good thing and the belief that the government can reallocate wealth to fix things has been proven wrong in every country that has tried.
America is getting beat by foreign countries (not just places like Bermuda either, but places like Ireland) and it hasn't helped the atmosphere one bit. Certainly we need to find better sources of energy so that people everywhere can enjoy a better life - I am not a big believer in mitigation efforts by rich countries and populations that already have great lives and want to prevent poor countries from having better lives also - but the responsibility for future energy technology does not need to fall solely on American scientists or the American economy.
As Earth Day approaches, look for exaggerated claims about how bad things are with the environment and Doomsday Clocks and similar nonsense - in reality, we could actually do with a little more in the way of greenhouse gas emissions in 2011.
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