The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is ready to unleash its first wave of carbon-dioxide regulations. Some members of Congress want to tax hydrocarbon use and carbon-dioxide emissions. Moreover, United Nations climate alarmists are trying to devise a new treaty to regulate energy use at the international level. Even one of these government actions would send shock waves through the economy. If all three are imposed (or worse, imposed in conjunction with Obamacare and other tax increases on job and wealth creators) the impacts will be devastating.
This climate crisis threatens our energy use, economy, jobs, living standards, health and welfare. The actions are being justified by assertions that they will stabilize the Earth's climate, prevent global-warming disasters and raise hundreds of billions of dollars to cover "essential" government spending.
Our planet's climate has never been stable and never will be. Despite rising carbon-dioxide levels, average global temperatures have not risen for 16 years. There is no empirical evidence to support assertions and computer models that claim carbon dioxide drives climate change or to suggest that greenhouse gases have supplanted the complex natural forces that have produced big and little ice ages, floods and droughts, and stormy and quiescent periods throughout Earth's history.
These inconvenient truths are irrelevant to anti-hydrocarbon campaigners, who are using "dangerous man-made climate change" as the best pretext yet devised to control energy use and economies. They simply hypothesize, model and assert that every observed weather phenomenon is due to human carbon-dioxide emissions. Whether it's warmer or colder, wetter or drier, more ice or less, more storms or fewer storms, "It's exactly what we predicted," climate alarmists say.
This is not science. It is political science, rooted in an ideological loathing of fossil fuels, economic growth and humanity itself.
The consequences for average workers and families will be dire.
These actions are intended to increase the cost of the hydrocarbon energy that powers our economy. Yet raising the cost of transportation fuels, electricity, lighting, heating and air conditioning will raise the price of food, materials and equipment. This will severely impact the bottom line for factories, utilities, offices, farms, shops, airlines, shippers, hospitals, schools, churches, charities and government offices. The poorest families may get rebates for their increased energy costs, but institutions will not. They will be forced to reduce wages, hours and benefits, hire fewer full-time employees, lay off people, outsource operations to countries where energy costs are lower or even close their doors.
Taxes paid by companies and employees will dwindle. Instead of paying taxes, newly jobless workers will collect unemployment and welfare benefits from shrinking government coffers. Charities will have much less money, even if deductions for donations remain in the U.S. tax code.
Unemployment will bring reduced nutrition, increased stress and higher rates of heart attack and stroke, spousal and child abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and premature death. The social, economic and health care costs will further "fundamentally transform" America, as President Obama says he is determined to do.
Even if Congress legislates carbon taxes, nothing suggests that EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will refrain from imposing EPA's anti-hydrocarbon rules on top of them or that the White House and Senate will reject any new U.N. treaty. There is no hint that the Interior Department will cease using the Endangered Species Act and other laws to shut down oil and gas drilling while ignoring the growing slaughter of eagles and whooping cranes by wind turbines. The Energy and Defense departments, the EPA and Congress are unlikely to stop spending more in borrowed funds to subsidize corn ethanol and Navy biofuel schemes.
These anti-hydrocarbon policies also mean the U.S. Treasury will be deprived of hundreds of billions of dollars in lease bonuses, royalties, taxes and other revenues that it would realize from the development of our nation's vast oil, natural gas and coal deposits. Instead, the United States will be forced to pay billions more for imported oil, often from unethical, environmentally reckless countries.
New hydrocarbon energy restrictions and "green" energy demands will deprive developing-nation families and communities of abundant, reliable, affordable energy; obstruct economic and human rights progress; and keep entire nations impoverished. They will kill millions more from lung infections (from burning wood and dung), intestinal diseases (from contaminated water), malnutrition and diseases of poverty and eco-imperialism.
Those countries will receive far less foreign aid from increasingly cash-strapped Western nations. Little good will come of the Green Climate Fund cash the United Nation says industrialized nations should transfer to kleptocratic rulers in poor countries as reparations for supposedly causing climate change.
For every nation, this coerced energy and economic deprivation will make it increasingly difficult to adapt to future climate changes that nature inevitably will bring our way. So much for the modern era. Mankind ought to have the wealth and technology to adapt far more easily than our ancestors were able to do.
Climate alarmists are doing everything in their power to avoid discussing these issues and to vilify anyone who brings them up. However, we need to have this debate, and we need to have it now -- especially in Congress and our state legislatures -- before destructive decisions are imposed on us and our children.
Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death" (Merril Press, 2012).