Note: I wrote this seven years ago, and sold it to a website that has since gone defunct. I think I'm safe reprinting it here...
The Kyoto Accord is a very progressive treaty. It has style and flair, and all the really au courant scientists are talking about it. Global warming is, by far, today’s most fashionable worldwide environmental crisis. It is all the rage. We as a nation cannot afford to let pass this opportunity to remain at the forefront of environmental trends.
In the sixties, it was the “population explosion” that captured the imagination of cutting-edge alarmists. I have seen the clips of learned men in loud clothing and long hair, with their dire predictions of imminent catastrophe. Movies like “Soylent Green” really seemed to stir the pot (so to speak). Paul Erlich had the solution, and became an overnight sensation with racy predictions that in the 1970’s hundreds of millions of people would starve to death—65 million dead in the US alone. Alas, the years have not been kind to Erlich’s predictions, and the chic-left lost a fashion statement. (The book has been a solution of sorts. To those who have suffered a table with one leg too short, it is indispensable. The book could have found even more use, if Erlich had predicted a “great toilet paper shortage.” It should be noted that Rachel Carson wrote an interesting book during the same decade. Silent Spring was, perhaps, not as prescient, but was every bit as useful.)
In the seventies, curiously, there was wild speculation of “global cooling” and of a coming ice age. This never panned out as a frightening global disaster, since, I suppose, the image of Raquel Welch in “One Million Years B.C.” was still fresh in the American male psyche. Being a Neanderthal just didn’t seem so bad after all. Scratch another promising global disaster.
I may date myself when I recall the “acid rain” Armageddon of the eighties. Every scientist with a beaker to spare was pushing this one, and even pop-culture got into the act, raising awareness while they entertained. I remember a particularly poignant episode of “Diff’rent Strokes” when Kimberly Drummond rinsed her hair in rain water, only to watch in horror as her hair turned green! Those were heady times to be a hip, intellectual environmentalist. Unfortunately, that fad didn’t have staying power, and the trendy leftist was forced to consider the “animal rights” movement as a more effective outlet for his altruism.
Sadly, it seemed that mainstream environmentalism just wasn’t “cool” anymore. Enter Global Warming; the designer disaster of a new generation. Gone are the risky predictions of previous manufactured disasters; the payoff on this one is so far in the future it doesn’t matter if it never happens. The statistics that once had to be cooked to show a causal connection are a thing of the past; Global warming began in the 19th century, just when the nasty industrialists were really beginning to hit their stride (a 2 degree increase in 150 years can’t be a fluke). And this is a catastrophe that doesn’t need any real villains; we are all to blame for this one, from the hairspray wielding teen in California to the flatulent bovines of Calcutta.
The scientists who study global warming have brought crisis-mongering into the 21st century, melding the technology of today with the superstitions of our forefathers. It’s inspiring to see an accord between the rent-seeking whores of the laboratory and the fur-eschewing Gaia-worshippers of the “rainbow warrior.” Global Warming is the most promising prospective cataclysm in 50 years. It certainly won’t become a relic of alarmism like the disappearing-fossil-fuel thing, or the ozone-layer-is-almost-gone thing. If it does, well, that depletion-of-the-rain-forest thing looks like a real winner! (Did you know that the rain forests are the lungs of the earth? And we are cutting them down at a rate of a million acres a day! Or something like that….)
An added benefit of the Kyoto accord is that it offers a wonderful opportunity to control the behavior of people, groups and corporations. While these opportunities generally occur every time congress meets, the Kyoto agreement was to be beyond such formalities as congressional approval.
Unfortunately, hide-bound reactionaries have forced a debate on constitutional grounds. Debate or no debate, there really is no choice, is there? After all, what’s good enough for Japan and Britain and Uganda is good enough for the USA. Well, not Uganda. We need to give countries like them a chance to catch up –industrially speaking – before we can implement Kyoto and cripple their economies, too. Besides, we’ll need to purchase a few “pollution permits” before this is all through, and what better way to get the permits we need than to give a few stunted economies an unlimited supply? See?
This accord won’t be a total economic disaster. It probably won’t stop much pollution either, but what it will do is redistribute some of our wealth into the coffers of countries who really could use a handout. And that’s important.
So let’s sign the Kyoto Accord. All the cool countries are doing it, and it’ll make us feel like we’re doing something about a global problem of epidemic proportions. And let’s squelch all that talk of economic disaster right here and now; Kyoto won’t cost that many jobs. After all, bureaucrats need work, too.