At issue | Feb. 9 Los Angeles Times editorial, "GOP trots out same old discredited line on climate" and local commentary by Henry Riekert, "Extreme weather is Mother Nature's warning"
A commentary and an editorial, printed on the same day, essentially said the same thing: We must dramatically reduce carbon emissions. The angle that each column takes makes it clear why climate activists have made no progress toward dramatic change.
The Los Angeles Times editorial, in particular, is disingenuous. Republicans in Congress are trying to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from establishing carbon emission limits under the federal Clean Air Act. The Times claims that conservatives are against the Clean Air Act.
The paper ignores the fact that the Clean Air Act of 1970 and major amendments in 1990 were passed under Republican presidents with the near-unanimous support of congressional Republicans.
The Times goes on to claim that the EPA's 2009 finding that greenhouse gases threaten human health is not controversial. It is controversial for many reasons, one of which is that the 2009 report was based on a single person's judgment — EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Jackson is the same person who is supporting the new emissions limits by hyping the benefits that green jobs will have on the economy. Is that really within the scope of her job, or is she simply a puppet for President Barack Obama's agenda?
The column by Henry Riekert of Nicholasville fills in the blank left by the Times column, explaining why severe weather is caused by burning coal. He fails to explain severe weather events that occurred when carbon emissions were negligible.
Is it possible that population growth, increased urbanization and a 24-hour news cycle simply make naturally occurring events more prominent? Riekert is using Al Gore tactics.
Gore, who supports the folly of corn-based ethanol for political gain, also used the devastation of Hurricane Katrina for political gain. The Katrina catastrophe occurred because the city sits below sea level. People had been concerned about such an event for decades, long before the hysteria of global warming.
Acknowledging a few facts and answering some common-sense questions would greatly help in achieving a compromise toward activists' goals.
They must recognize that we have been on the "green" kick for decades. Our per-capita energy usage has been flat for 40 years, despite the emergence of SUVs, larger homes and electronics.
Also, our CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP have been cut by 44 percent in the last 30 years. This represents progression to a level that is 66 percent lower than the rest of the world, indicating our incredible efficiency of promoting prosperity.
Obama's Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said in 2008 that he wants gas prices to reach European levels, which were $7 to $9 per gallon. Recall that soaring energy prices in 2008 allowed McDonald's to increase its profit by 80 percent from 2007 as people sought cheap food. Are we ready to trade in healthy produce trucked from afar for the comparatively cheap food of McDonald's?
Some would claim this trumps greenhouse gases as a human health threat.
We are a "try before you buy" nation, and there are no demonstration projects to prove the benefit of a low-carbon economy.
Aside from carbon dioxide emissions, we all know how dirty coal is. Climate activists may be surprised to find broad agreement to consider small-scale projects such as a wind farm or nuclear facility near Lexington.
We do, after all, have one of the largest carbon footprints in the nation, so it would be an ideal test bed.
Only by engaging residents in such a project will we truly learn about the risks, benefits and popular opinion regarding the goals of climate activists.