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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

THE DOUBLE MEANING OF GREEN

“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.”
-Stephen R. Covey

Something I tried to say in my global warming essay series of a few years back was that there are a lot of reasons why people have bought into climate change alarmism. For some it is a genuine belief based on what they've heard. For others it is merely a politically useful scheme to lever the world's governments leftward. For still others, its a substitute for religious faith, a way to deal with the guilt and disquiet they feel about the world. And for some, its a way to make money.

Take this news story from the Telegraph, by Christopher Booker:
The essence of the scam is that a handful of Chinese and Indian firms are deliberately producing large quantities of an incredibly powerful "greenhouse gas" which we in the West – including UK taxpayers – then pay them billions of dollars to destroy.

The key to this scam, designed to curb global warming, is a scheme known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and administered by the UN. It enables firms and governments in the developed world to buy "credits" which allow them to continue emitting greenhouse gases. These are sold to them, through well-rewarded brokers, from firms in developing countries that can show they have nominally reduced their emissions.
See, the entire concept of carbon credit trading and paying countries as a way of dealing with your pollution isn't just a massive wealth distribution scheme cooked up by the academic left, its a way to get rich. Big companies like BP aren't interested in cap and trade legislation because they're so very environmentally concerned but because it would severely damage competition and would present another market to trade in and get even richer. How does this particular scheme make people rich?
The way the racket works is that Chinese and Indian firms are permitted to carry on producing a refrigerant gas known as HCF-22 until 2030. But a by-product of this process is HCF-23, which is supposed to be 11,700 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. By destroying the HCF-23, the firms can claim Certified Emission Reduction credits worth billions of dollars when sold to the West (while much of the useful HCF-22 is sold onto the international black market).

Last year, destruction of CFCs accounted for more than half the CDM credits issued, in a market that will eventually, it is estimated, be worth $17 billion. Of the 1,390 CDM projects so far approved, less than 1 per cent accounts for 36 per cent of the total value.
Basically, these companies produce coolants which have a byproduct in their creation which they then destroy. They get not only the money for sales of their refrigerant product, but billions of dollars of carbon credits to sell. Its win/win. And for the life of me I can't see how this is a scam. to me it looks more like a natural consequence of a foolish law.

After all, if you're going to pay people to destroy something, they have to first have that to destroy, and any enterprising person is going to get that stuff. Because one of the most well-established laws of economics is that if you pay people to do something, they'll do it.

Yet this is a perfect example of the kind of thinking which is behind most alarmist schemes. They have long term goals (save the planet, create an overarching one world regulatory government, shove nations into deeper socialism, destroy wealth inequality between nations, etc), but they do not consider long term consequences of their actions.

By demanding the entire world reduce its emissions below a certain level, they do not consider that this will require the whole world to grind its self to 19th century technology and civilization. By demanding that people not pollute as much, they effectively require greater disease, poverty, shorter life expectancies, and misery.

And by continually crying wolf where there is no wolf, they make people less inclined to care about the environment.

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