If an emission falls and there’s no bureaucrat to mandate it...


Yesterday’s Washington Post coverage wrapping up its assessment of the Bali coverage and, one hopes, ending its recent run of ill-informed global warming activism, came and went without them running a letter I had sent in response to said string of items.

The long and the short of it is found in George Will’s comment, also yesterday but in an entirely unrelated context. “Today’s liberalism, combining tolerance and statism, cares less what happens than that it be mandatory.” So here it is FWIW:

To the Editors,The preference for rhetoric over substance is widespread in Washington, but the Post is increasingly aggressive in its claims that the U.S. is “doing nothing” about greenhouse gas emissions or climate change, sitting on the sidelines, refusing to act, and otherwise falling behind in comparison with some subset of the rest of the world. Yet nowhere in its recent series of editorials, news articles and human interest stories covering the topic has the Post actually noted comparative U.S. and EU greenhouse gas emissions performance — Europe, the self-proclaimed “world leader”, being the most likely party in comparison to which we are not acting. It seems the Post believes that if an emission drops and no bureaucrat was around to mandate it, it didn’t really drop.


Disappointed though the Post may be in all things Bush Administration, imagine how this malaise could be improved by acknowledging actual comparative performance, figures for which are publicly available. Under any relevant modern baseline, e.g., the year Europe made its Kyoto promise (1997) or thereafter, U.S. emissions have risen far more slowly than those of its noisiest antagonists. For example, International Energy Agency data show that over the past 7 years (2000-2006), the annual rate of increase for U.S. CO2 emissions is approximately one-third of the EU’s rate of increase. Indeed, over the same period even the smaller EU-15 economy has increased its CO2 emissions in actual volume greater than the U.S. by more than 20%, even while the U.S. economy and population also grew more rapidly. At minimum the Post can acknowledge performance, before trying to explain it away. In truth, mandates are not everything any more than Europe’s rhetoric amounts to policy.


Subscribe to National Review