George Will has an excellent column about the hype surrounding global warming and argues that Bush should reintroduce the Kyoto Protocols onto the Senate floor. Kyoto was shot down by the Senate in 1997 on a 95-0 vote, and for good reason. It’s a worthless, pointless, and destructive treaty that penalizes productive nations while giving serial polluters like China a free pass. It won’t do anything to mitigate climate change, but it would destroy the US economy — which is precisely why the Senate Democrats would never actually sign the thing. It’s one thing to sit around and carp about how not signing Kyoto has made the US an “international pariah” in the shameful words of Sen. Kerry, but it’s another thing to actually sign the thing and have to live with the consequences.
Even if one accepts that the Earth is warming (which is undeniable) and that human CO2 emissions are to blame (which is hardly the slam-dunk case that the global warming faithful make it out to be) and that there’s any action we can do to mitigate it (which is even more doubtful), Kyoto still isn’t the right response. The pace of technological change will eventually drive further and further increases in energy efficiency — inefficiency is economically wasteful, and free markets seek to reduce external costs like inefficiency. Indeed, already there have been some interesting experiments with emissions-trading markets that may provide a better allocation of resources.
A better solution would be a program to develop environmentally sustainable nuclear energy production which would have a profound effect on carbon emissions — but anti-nuclear hysteria remains an seemingly intractable barrier to that.
The Democrats want to use global warming as an excuse to advance their policy agenda of higher taxes and more government control — not to actually do anything to reduce carbon emissions. They wouldn’t ratify Kyoto now just as they didn’t in 1997. All they’re doing by trying to beat this particular dead horse is increasing global warming by spewing massive amounts of hot air.