Global Warming The Rest of the Story

Jim Blasingame

Al Gore is right; global warming is real. And the evidence is overwhelming: 12,000 years ago Kentucky wasn’t covered in bluegrass, but a receding, 5,000 feet thick glacier.

It turns out that, over ten millennia before human ingenuity created fossil fuel-burning devices that expel hydrocarbons as waste, the earth actually began warming all by itself.

Nevertheless, by 1997 the 20th century debate over whether humans contribute to global warming culminated in an international conference in Kyoto, Japan. During this gathering of predisposed politicians and scientists, it was resolved that hydrocarbon emissions from various human activities are causing irreparable damage to Earth's atmosphere and environment. The fruit of this confab was the Kyoto Accords which, in a nutshell, imposed severe and retroactive restrictions on emissions for signatory countries and their businesses.

But the devil is in the compliance details which, you may not be surprised to learn, is not the same for all countries. In fact, compliance by a developed country like the U.S. would mean a reduction of current emissions to pre-1990 levels, while China and India, for example, as so-called “emerging economies,” would have to make no adjustments – as in, zero – in emission levels.

To put into perspective the economic impact of Kyoto-like restrictions, the U.S. gross domestic product in 1990 was about $6 trillion, while 2007 U.S. output will be double that at almost $13 trillion. Requiring America's businesses to roll back emissions to pre-1990 levels would be like telling a family with three teenagers to cut back their water usage to the levels when the parents were newlyweds.

Here are two things the Kyoto crowd won’t tell you:

1. The marketplace has been doing quite a lot to reduce emissions when compared with economic growth. Efficiencies and the evolution of our economy have resulted in less crude oil used today per dollar of GDP than in 1990. This is why when gas prices hit an all time high recently, the economy didn’t go in the tank.

2. The U.S. judicial system would permit any foreign competitor to sue an American company for full compliance to the 21st century version of Kyoto, while the chances of a U.S. company having the same success in any foreign court would be like a fight between bluegrass and a glacier.

There are many reasons why we should be pursuing efficiencies, conservation and alternative fuels. But we should not wreck the U.S. economy in the process. Imposing a roll-back of carbon emissions to pre-1990 levels, without allowing for the economic growth factor, would make American businesses – small and large – virtually incapable of competing in the global economy.

And remember: No U.S. president has ever been presented the opportunity to sign the Kyoto Accords into law.

Write this on a rock... Global warming may not be junk science, but mandating that the U.S. reduce carbon emission to pre-1990 levels is junk policy.

Jim Blasingame, small business expert and host of The Small Business Advocate Show
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