Nobody doubts there is a warming trend in the global
environment. The major difference between global warming alarmists and climate
cycle theorists is the purveyor of change: man or nature. As a member of the
latter camp, I don’t subscribe to the belief that man and his SUVs will destroy
the planet or, as Ted Turner said this week, “make cannibals of us
all.” I do believe, however, that the recent uptick in global temperatures
provides a good excuse to revolutionize corporate and social interactions with
That is not a typo — a conservative just advocated
increased corporate responsibility. There is a catch to this proposal — no
government intervention. The market has already solved the problem of corporate
responsibility without so much as lifting a finger of the invisible hand. Take
a look at the myriad advertisements on television and in your favorite magazine
or newspaper. Witness the oil companies and conglomerates preaching their
dedication to becoming green. The United States didn’t sign Kyoto, yet the
market has led corporate America to lead the charge for decreased emissions.
An editorial last winter by The Wall Street Journal included
a table of CO2 emissions changes in three five-year periods from 1990-2004
comparing the European Union and the United States. In the first period,
1990-1995, the U.S. increased emissions by 6.4 percent while the EU decreased
by 2.2 percent. The following five years — during which Kyoto broke onto the
international scene — the U.S. further increased emissions by 10.1 percent
while the EU increased emissions by a mere 2.2 percent. The amazing thing is
what happened in the final period, after Kyoto was signed by much of the world,
save the U.S. Between 2000 and 2004, the United States had cut back its
increase in emissions to a scant 2.1 percent while European emissions increased
4.5 percent. Currently, a revised Kyoto is being proposed due to the
signatories not coming close to meeting the treaty’s required cuts in CO2
emissions at the expense of several percentage points of their GDPs.
Meanwhile, two exemptions from Kyoto stand to replace the
United States as the “Principate of Pollution” — China and India.
This being the case, any feeble attempt by government — including the state of
Wisconsin and its “Safe Climate Act” — would have a negligible
effect on global pollution while sending unfriendly signals to the state’s
business community. Instead of restrictions and penalties, perhaps allowing
some things could help advance toward cleaner air. Allowing the development of
new nuclear power plants, with a total 20-50 percent increase in output, could
decrease emissions by 15 percent, according to Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon. No
taxes, no penalties and fewer restrictions — put them together and you get the
same result as the “Safe Climate Act” claims.
Some things belong under the government’s authority —
transportation and defense come to mind. But the rampant inefficiencies
government is known for can only exacerbate our increasing energy usage.
Personal and corporate conservation needs no prodding — high energy prices
provide all the incentive in the world to cut back. Whether you think Earth is
getting hotter because of us or because of natural cycles, the common ground is
that green is becoming the new red, white and blue. The key to making a
difference is by setting a positive example for others to follow.
Jeremy Wick ([email protected]) is a senior majoring
in economics and history and is a member of the College Republicans Executive