Tuesday, August 22, 2006
8:44 AM on Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Global-warming foes fight the cures
By Deroy Murdock
Scripp Howard News Service
If Al Gore is right and global warming is genuine, grave and the fault
of mankind, why do he and so many environmentalists oppose measures that
would reduce those pesky carbon-dioxide emissions? Power sources that
could cut atmospheric CO2 rarely seem good enough to satisfy the greens.
Unlike oil and coal, nuclear power does not generate CO2. It may be the
most practical, atmosphere-friendly power source now available. And yet
the former vice president seems unimpressed.
"I'm skeptical about it playing a much larger role," he said in London's
Guardian newspaper May 31. "I don't think it's going to be a silver
True, nuclear plants produce radioactive waste that must be stored
somewhere. Despite an impressive safety record in America, where nuclear
power meets 20 percent of energy demand - and even more so in France,
where 75 percent of power is nuclear - the potential remains for
catastrophic accidents or sabotage. But, as Gore and his pals should
understand, life involves tradeoffs between low-risk options and
clear-and-present dangers. If global warming truly is the unfolding
horror show that environmentalists say it is, then why do they consider
atomic energy even more dangerous?
Indeed, Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar Chris Horner wonders
why environmentalists reject alternatives to fossil fuels if they agree
with David King, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's science adviser,
that global warming is "the greatest threat facing mankind" and is
"worse than terrorism."
"It is hypocritical that Kyotophile greens almost unanimously still
oppose nuclear power and that (the Kyoto treaty's) own terms exclude
greenhouse-gas-free nukes from its permissible sources of gaining
Tcredits,' " Horner writes in his forthcoming Regnery book, "The
Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism."
Green groups are almost comically conflicted on this issue. "Climate
change is the greatest threat of all," Tony Juniper of Friends of the
Earth U.K. told The Guardian March 3. But then FOE's Web site declares:
"Nuclear power ... cannot be part of the solution to climate change."
So, apparently, some threats are greater than "the greatest threat of
Greenpeace Executive Director Stephen Tindale believes that global
warming "will claim hundreds of thousands of lives." Nevertheless, the
group's Web site says, "Greenpeace is campaigning to end nuclear power."
How about hydroelectric? Letting water run through dams, spin turbines
and generate juice is carbon-friendly. And yet environmentalists want
fewer, not more, dams. The latest ecological craze is to breach dams so
fish can swim freely. In San Francisco on Monday, PacificCorp began
relicensing hearings that could prompt the demolition of
power-generating dams on the Klamath River to give salmon a fin up.
Well, what of wind power? Here, too, liberals offer double-talk. A
proposed 130-turbine wind farm off Cape Cod blew into a buzz saw when
global-warming foe Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., moaned that it would
ruin the ocean view from his Hyannis Port compound.
Amazingly enough, tree huggers even object to using trees to absorb CO2.
Naturally, trees inhale CO2 and exhale oxygen. What could be more benign
Yet, after pondering the idea of planting tree farms to consume CO2,
ecocrats balked. In November 2000, United Nations and European Union
officials involved in the Kyoto treaty process said such tree farms
would "destroy the environmental integrity of the agreement." At
negotiations in Milan, Italy, in December 2003, Horner writes, "those
expressing the greatest fear of increased carbon dioxide concentrations
quirkishly demanded a limit on what kind of trees be permitted to soak
up the menacing precursor of photosynthesis as part of its cruel
infliction of more and more oxygen on the unsuspecting planet."
At the November 2002 World Environment Summit in Johannesburg, South
Africa, Friends of the Earth International and the World Rainforest
Movement issued a news release that insisted: "Genetically modified
trees must be banned from the Kyoto Protocol." Thus, even crossbreeding
trees, so they neutralize more CO2 than usual, is scarier than global
Environmentalists seem to think that conservation, ethanol and perhaps
attractive-but-costly solar power can halt global warming in its tracks.
That's dubious. If this supposed problem truly is the imminent planetary
death sentence that global warmers say it is, they should grow up and
fight CO2, not the tools to lasso it.
New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps
Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research
Foundation in Arlington, Va.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
School of Forest Resources and Conservation, UF
P.O. Box 110410
Gainesville, FL 32611-0410
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