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A Modest Sacrifice for the Climate

By David Warren

Which 88 per cent of the economy would my reader most like to kiss goodbye?

I ask this question only as a practical matter, after reading the summary of a Japanese study on the economic implications of the "global warming" fraud. Noting the goal, "seriously" stated by the Group of Eight, to cut world CO2 emissions in half by the year 2050, a couple of techies in Japan (Norichika Kanie of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Yasuaki Hijioka at the National Institute for Environmental Studies) sat down with their calculators, and coolly worked out what emissions reductions will be required to meet this goal, on an equal per capita basis, around the planet.

The 88 per cent is the figure for North America. The Europeans get off relatively easily: they only have to shut down 83 per cent of their economy; the Japanese 85 per cent. Only 35 per cent of the Chinese economy will have to go. And good news for India, much of which is still living in the Arcadian low-carbon past. The Indians get to gun their carbon emissions by 137 per cent over the next four decades.

With the insouciance of a charming zombie, Mr. Kanie added that he did not think the goal out of reach. "I think it is a matter of changing lifestyle and not necessarily in an austere way," he said. "For example, I often ride my bike instead of driving a car." He thought the government should provide more bicycle infrastructure.

Thank you for that suggestion, Mr. Kanie. After an incident I witnessed on the street the other day, I myself wish to be rid of cars. And after another incident on the street the day after, I would also like to be rid of bicycles: so I can go Mr Kanie one better.

And let me add a brilliant suggestion, all of my own. I have often thought that the world's food consumption -- and all the extravagantly CO2-emitting factory and transport infrastructure that supports it -- could be reduced by more than half, if we would just stop eating on odd-numbered days. I say "more than half" because, as I recall in Lent, people's appetites decline with reduced food consumption, so they'll tend to eat less on the even-numbered days, too. The scheme would also eliminate over a billion people now living at subsistence levels.

There could be problems with enforcement. But there were problems with the gun-control registry, and only rightwing people opposed that.

There could be ethical problems, too, but these will hardly phase the professional ethicists in our universities and med schools today, who can justify abortion, euthanasia, and human cloning without even waking up in the morning. All they have to do is create a (quantified) "quality of life" test that everyone below a certain calorie-intake level will be sure to flunk. Think of it like an employee buy-out, from the company's point of view. At first there is a net increase in CO2 "costs" as people die and their corpses decay. But later, after they have finished decaying, there are substantial and permanent net savings on the CO2 account. "Short term pain for long term gain."

Um, perhaps in light of recent letters to the editor I should mention that I am being facetious. I am personally opposed to killing people as a way to solve problems; or at least, I'm opposed to killing them wantonly. It's a Catholic thing. On the other hand, I don't have an advanced degree in ethics, so what is my opinion worth?

And the global warming hysteria is one area of public policy entirely in the hands of experts. Only fully-qualified eco-scientists, and then, only those in the employ of the United Nations and the various national environmental bureaucracies, are consulted on the issue. ("The science is settled.") These are the sages of today, and fools of tomorrow.

There is a vast and growing literature of extremely well-qualified skeptics, who doubt the very premise behind the international hysteria -- that fluctuations in human-caused CO2 emissions have anything much to do with either global or regional temperature trends. Most have noticed that the trends coincide much better with solar cycles, beyond human control. But, by definition, these skeptics are not in the pay of the environmental bureaucracies, or at least, do not remain in their pay for long.

"Hoy-day, what a sweep of vanity comes this way!" quoth the sage, Apemantus. "We make ourselves fools to disport ourselves; and spend our flatteries to toast those men, upon whose age we void it up again, with poisonous spite and envy."

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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