- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 21, 2010

You’ve got to hand it to Al Gore; he’s willing to adapt his scaremongering theology to keep it kicking. His 2006 agitprop film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” sold millions on the unproven theory that human-induced “global warming” threatens to wreak catastrophe on the Earth. Absent evidence of actual warming, Mr. Gore’s acolytes have since been forced to edit and re-edit the title of the feared phenomenon from “global warming” to “climate change” to the current “global climate disruption.”

Amidst all the desperate rebranding, Mr. Gore’s followers have succeeded in re-engineering the public’s perception of energy use from a symbol of progress to an indicator of iniquity. Initiatives are rippling outward across the world, inducing humans to reduce their energy consumption - and in some cases, spend big bucks - to avoid carbon shame. Carbon is a component of carbon dioxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency has defined as a greenhouse gas. Never mind that it’s a critical ingredient of Earth’s atmosphere and to life on this planet.

Earlier this month, the World Bank announced the creation of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund, in which Norway pays Guyana $30 million for “limiting greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.” The payout could reach $250 million by 2015 to fund “urgent action to avert climate catastrophe with Guyana’s sustainable development,” according to Ashni Singh, Guyana’s minister of finance.

In return for its money, Norway receives “ecosystem services.” Because the Scandinavian nation is located more than 5,000 miles from Guyana and receives no tangible benefit from this deal, Norwegians presumably can be comforted in the knowledge that their krones are preserving South American forests, thereby granting them absolution of guilt arising from damage they might wreak on their own forests. No carbon shame for them.

In nearby Britain, the embarrassment of carbon-dioxide production has become a business expense. A Carbon Reduction Commitment took effect in April, requiring large companies to measure, report and pay for carbon-dioxide emissions. Failure to comply can result in daily fines of tens of thousands of pounds.

The British Environment Agency announced late last month that only about 2,800 of the estimated 5,000 businesses affected by the new requirement had registered before the Oct. 1 deadline. An agency spokesman said, “We will not be naming and shaming people” - yet. By the end of the year, a table listing companies according to their success at cutting energy use is to be made public. The fear of shame, not to mention stiff penalties, has spurred a flurry of last-minute registrations.

Closer to home, utilities in the Sacramento, Calif., and Puget Sound areas are studying the impact of peer pressure on energy consumption by including information in monthly bills that compares customers’ electricity use with that of their neighbors. Not surprisingly, carbon shame works: Customers - wanting to avoid a reputation as the neighborhood energy glutton - cut back their consumption between 1.2 percent and 2.1 percent.

Such are the faces of environmental demagoguery in the 21st century. In this supposedly sophisticated era, the green craze is marshaling the dubious theory of “global climate disruption” to scare the world’s most advanced nations into wasting billions and winding the hands of progress backward.