Earth Day was yesterday and the annual commemoration, which was initiated in 1970, has taken on the status of almost a holy day for some folks. Like most established observances in society these days, however, the day is now more a commercial cause (concerts, festivals, sales, etc.) than a day of actual service.
I was a freshman in college that first Earth Day, and I remember taking to the fields and byways for a few hours of actual service. Of course, it was easy to find points of service in those days, as we did have some serious environmental problems; the trash and pollution were very visible.
The Clean Air Act was passed in the ’60s and significantly muscled up in 1970; the Environmental Protection Agency was established that same year. To the consternation of many, the trajectory for growth in environmental regulation, legislation and oversight, however, has been almost vertical ever since, and it's grown into a quasi-religion for some.
There is no question that we in the U.S. live in a much cleaner environment today. Americans are much more aware of their personal role in a cleaner environment today, and most responsibly act to do their small part.
Yet the protestations and alarmism by special interests continue to gather steam. In his never-ending push for a carbon tax, President Obama recently asserted that global warming is a greater threat than terrorism, but Americans aren’t buying it. In fact, Americans’ concern regarding global warming has essentially stayed flat since 1989, Gallup reports.
“Even as global warming has received greater attention as an environmental problem from politicians and the media in recent years, Americans' worry about it is no higher now than when Gallup first asked about it in 1989,” Gallup reports.
Similarly, a beefmagazine.com poll conducted a few weeks ago found that the vast majority of readers (77%) believed terrorism to be the biggest threat, while 14% believe climate change is, and 9% don’t think either issue warrants the top choice.
Of course, consumers aren’t stupid; nor do they particularly trust the prospect of an over-reaching government bureaucracy. They've heard the steady string of outlandish predictions of calamity come and go, and they've also witnessed the hypocrisy of some of the movement’s biggest disciples, who preach, "Do as I say, not as I do."
- Recently, for instance, President Obama invoked eldest daughter Malia’s asthma attack as a toddler as perhaps caused by global warming. Did the president, a lifelong habitual smoker, stop to consider the potential role of his tobacco habit in his daughter’s episode? Today, Malia appears to be an attractive, athletic girl of 16 and reportedly doesn’t use an inhaler. Thus, the fact that she had a breathing episode at four years old to raise hysteria regarding global warming seems lame to me.
- Then there’s environmental poster boy and jet-setter Leonardo DiCaprio, who I consider a great actor but not much of a spokesman for the cause. The recent hack of Sony internal documents found that the high-living DiCaprio had taken six private jet trips in six weeks at Sony expense (apparently one’s carbon footprint doesn’t count if it’s on someone else’s dime).
- And DiCaprio recently made news with his plan to convert his private island in Belize into a “green” resort destination for the well-heeled. In keeping with the green motif, I assume those guests will be biking and swimming to DiCaprio's funhouse.
- Few environmental celebrities can compete with Prince Charles, who London's Daily Mail calls, “the prince of double standards.” The latest in a long string of groaners was when he implored his wasteful subjects to save energy by turning out their lights, only to board a helicopter for an 80-mile flight to take in the horse races at Ascot a couple of days later. In 2007, he famously flew 20 of his staff members to New York to collect an award for his environmental awareness.
Of course, it’s not about the environment at all; it’s about politics, power and profit. Patrick Moore, co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace turned skeptic, lists four reasons that climate change has become “a powerful political force.”
• It’s universal; we’re told everything on Earth is threatened.
• It invokes the two most powerful human motivators: fear and guilt. We fear driving our car will kill our grandchildren, and we feel guilty for doing it.
• There is a powerful convergence of interests among key elites that support the climate “narrative.” Environmentalists spread fear and raise donations; politicians appear to be saving the Earth from doom; the media has a field day with sensation and conflict; science institutions raise billions in grants, create whole new departments, and stoke a feeding frenzy of scary scenarios; business wants to look green, and get huge public subsidies for projects that would otherwise be economic losers, such as wind farms and solar arrays.
• The Left sees climate change as a perfect means to redistribute wealth from industrial countries to the developing world and the UN bureaucracy.
Yes, the full-court press is on in the environmental arena. President Obama is pressing hard - and running out of time - to get something substantial agreed on regarding cuts in CO2 emissions. By executive order, he's committed the U.S. to reducing carbon emissions by up to 28% by 2025, though China and India, the first- and third-largest emitters, respectively, refuse to follow suit. It isn't likely that the U.S. Congress - with concerns about the policy and the potential economic impact - will endorse such a policy. Nor do everyday Americans seem to share the president's urgency. Maybe there's hope for us.
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