EDITORIAL: The wasted hour

Critics of carbon dioxide light a path to poverty

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”Earth Hour” ticked away while we slept through Saturday night, the bright idea of environmentalists who want to shame the rest of us into turning off the lights. Anyone who stayed up for it wasted the hour. The stunt is an extension of the hype surrounding global warming, preaching the message that individuals can “make a difference” and alter temperatures in the cosmos. They could better spend their time celebrating the human industry that keeps the lights burning.

Earth Hour fans claim that millions of homes and businesses in 152 countries went dark for an hour last year. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flicked off his lights to show support for Earth Hour “in solidarity with the men, women and children, 20 percent of all humanity, who live with no access to electricity. Turning off our lights is a symbol of our commitment to sustainable energy for all.” Symbol is all it is; sitting in the dark in Seattle lights no lamps in Sudan. Shouldn’t we get credit for the power outages that strike city and suburb with every snowflake that falls?

Mr. Ban and many liberals presume the fossil fuels that light and heat modern civilization release greenhouse gases that warm the planet and threaten the harmony of the ecosphere. Carbon dioxide, the villain in the minds of the greens, is what feeds the plants that provide the oxygen we breathe. It is the symbol of the Industrial Revolution liberals want to reverse.

Earth Hour and the equally goofy Earth Day are meant to introduce the holy grail of environmentalism, a carbon dioxide tax. California already has one in the form of a cap-and-trade scheme, in which large businesses purchase allowances at auction to offset the volume of their emissions. It’s quite a cash cow. The state has reaped more than $400 million from power companies and oil refineries since the scheme began in November, and the state will collect billions more as smaller businesses gradually fall under the shadow of the law. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom last week proposed using some of the loot to create a “Green Infrastructure Bank,” a state-owned piggy bank to offer low-interest loans to businesses that join the lust for green.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California’s senior man on Capitol Hill, is eager to spread the tax nationwide. He has introduced a bill to require emitters to purchase carbon dioxide “pollution” permits costing between $15 and $35 a ton. The levy would cover about 7,000 facilities across the country. Green guru Al Gore has thrown his weight behind a carbon dioxide tax, but the White House’s view is still evolving.

Such a tax would send shock waves through the American economy. The U.S. Energy Information Agency has estimated that a $25 per ton carbon dioxide tax would ultimately reduce the income of a family of four by $1,900, raise its energy bill by $500 a year and increase the cost of gasoline by 50 cents a gallon. The resulting economic slowdown would throw a million Americans out of work. With much of the nation shivering during a frigid spring, it’s conclusive proof that global warming has been taking a holiday. The rationale behind this onerous scheme becomes clear. Americans who kept their lights and heaters on throughout the weekend didn’t miss a thing.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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