Last week I posted a blog about former congressman Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina, and his efforts at promoting a carbon tax to deal with the issues of climate change. He wants to create solutions to the problem of global warming that fit with the ideologies of conservative voters. In his efforts to make the carbon tax a revenue-neutral effort, he even proposed a reduction in personal income tax. Although I have my doubts that a price on carbon will be a major contributor toward solving the problems of global warming—especially the way he proposes it—I very much applaud Inglis’s efforts to find solutions to the problems while looking at it from the Republican point of view. As Inglis was quoted as saying, “there are a lot of Republicans in foxholes on this hill, ducking as the fire gets intense.”
Soon after his proposal received attention, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) which is also a right-wing think tank hosted a bipartisan meeting looking into just how to put a price on carbon that might help to reduce emissions. Well, it didn’t take long for a number of Republicans to come out with their gloves on and attack Inglis’s efforts and that of the AEI.
One of the best criticisms of the whole thing (and when I say best, I mean dumbest) came from Joseph Bast, the president of the Heartland Institute, a think tank dedicated to denying that global warming is real or that it has anything to do with human activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels. I have to give you his quote in its entirety because it’s so ludicrous that all I can do is laugh when I read it.
Bast said that “Carbon dioxide is not a negative externality, it is a measure of energy use, and energy—as Julian Simon and others have pointed out—is the ‘master resource,’ the single most important input into our economy, the source of prosperity, innovation, and opportunity. The emerging consensus of scientists and economists is that CO2’s effects are either too small to be noticeable or will produce net benefits, not harms.”
I seriously can’t believe that anyone with any reasonable education would listen to this guy. Carbon dioxide is not a negative externality? It’s a measure of energy use? And energy is the source of prosperity, innovation, and economy? That carbon dioxide might produce net benefits? He’s trying to make it sound like those who spew out carbon dioxide are the good guys, and those who spew out the most are the real heroes in today’s society.
So using that rationale, I came up with my own Bastism. (Or maybe Bastardism is more correct?) “Toxic waste is a marker of manufacture, and manufacturing is good for the economy. It creates products we want and jobs to make those products. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with toxic waste when it’s a measure of something that our economy needs.”
Unlike the absolutely incorrect viewpoint of Joseph Bast, the negative byproducts of energy use from the combustion of fossil fuels are precisely the problem. As you can see from his quote, Bast completely misleads or even downright lies by suggesting that the growing opinion among scientists is carbon dioxide isn’t that big a deal.
Perhaps that’s the case among the scientists he manages to round up for his annual “Global Warming Isn’t Real” conferences, but I challenge him to find any national academy of science anywhere around the world that has made such a claim that carbon dioxide isn’t a big deal. He won’t find such a group because they’ve all made claims that are exactly the opposite: global warming is real and that our human activities are the main culprit.
You can find outliers in any profession so of course Bast can round up a few who support his distorted perception of reality. Perhaps he found more this year than last year, explaining “the emerging consensus” he refers to. But he’s sticking his head in the sand, just like the Republicans who feel that Inglis and his efforts are ridiculous.
It’s funny how even the concept of a bipartisan effort is so distasteful to so many in this day and age. I would hope that for the issues that really matter—and I would put the fate of the planet’s future health at the top of the list—that both Democrats and Republicans could try to find some common ground. But so many staunch ideologues refuse to even give the idea merit.
When the Founding Fathers came up with the concept of the United States of America, I don’t believe this was what they had in mind.