If anyone is looking for evidence that government unions use their immense influence to support the growth of an authoritarian state, look no further than their unequivocal support for global warming “mitigation,” and all attendant agencies and laws to support that goal.
In 2006 California’s union-controlled legislature passed AB32, the “Global Warming Solutions Act,” a measure that was touted as a trailblazing breakthrough in the dire challenge to avoid catastrophic climate change. The premise behind AB32 is that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant, and that eliminating CO2 emissions is necessary to prevent the planet’s climate from overheating, with all the apocalyptic consequences; rising oceans inundating coastal regions, epic droughts cascading through the world’s fragile forests and killing them, extreme storms, acidic oceans, collapsing agriculture – the end of life as we know it.
Maybe that’s true – and maybe not – but how it’s being managed is a corrupt, misanthropic, epic scam.
If anyone is looking for evidence that government unions and crony capitalists work together – contrary to the conventional wisdom that presents the appearance that they are in conflict – again look no further than their shared support for global warming mitigation, expressed in the legislative mandate to reduce CO2 emissions. AB 32 implements this by forcing industrial entities to purchase permits to emit progressively smaller quantities of CO2, via an auction process that is expected to raise $20 billion per year to finance renewable energy investments.
Think about how government unions will benefit from all this money:
- Transit workers will claim a share because they will be getting cars off the road.
- Firefighters will claim more fires are because of global warming and demand more funds – when in reality most severe wildfires are the result of decades of forest mismanagement and unwarranted wildfire suppression.
- Cities will qualify for proceeds when they zone extremely high density housing.
- Code enforcement officers will declare that the percentage of their jobs oriented towards conservation and energy/water efficiency qualifies them for a share of the proceeds.
- Teachers will declare that the percentage of their curricula oriented towards climate education qualifies them for a share of the proceeds.
- More generally, municipalities will collect more property tax as restrictive zoning elevates the cost of housing.
Think about how crony corporations and corrupt financial special interests benefit from this money:
- Wall Street traders will set up new subsidiaries to traffic in carbon emission auctions and take a cut.
- “Green” entrepreneurs will manufacture devices calculated to save energy and water – despite the fact that the shortages are contrived.
- Producers of energy and water will sell at higher prices since competitive development of these resources is restricted.
- Utilities whose profits are “decoupled” from the quantity of energy and water they deliver will increase revenue and hence their profit margins which are pegged to revenue, without having to increase services.
- Manufacturers of noncompetitive products with no natural demand – high speed rail is a perfect example – are enriched via hundreds of billions of investment for their supposedly greener and cleaner solutions.
- More generally, artificial scarcity causes asset bubbles which benefits wealthy investors and pension funds, but impoverishes ordinary workers.
Even if CO2 is a threat to life on earth, there is an alternative that merits discussion:
Instead of investing in “green” energy infrastructure and embedded surveillance systems to micro-manage energy consumption, California should be investing in natural gas and 5th generation nuclear power stations, desalination plants along the coast, liquid natural gas terminals, efficiency upgrades to existing high-voltage transmission lines, run-off harvesting and aquifer storage systems, upgraded aqueducts, comprehensive waste-water treatment and aquifer recharge, offshore drilling for oil and gas, widened roads and freeways, more airport runways, and buses for mass transit. These steps will result in energy, water and transportation costing everyone in California less. This will benefit businesses and consumers, and make California a magnet for investors and entrepreneurs all over the world.
And even if CO2 is a threat to life on earth, vigorous debate on that topic should be encouraged, not outlawed.
If you are an informed skeptic – something the axis of government unions and powerful financial special interests are trying to outlaw – it becomes tiresome to recite the litany of legitimate reasons that debate regarding the actual impact of anthropogenic CO2 is of critical importance. The primacy of solar cycles, the multi-decadal oscillations of ocean currents, the dubious role of water vapor as a positive feedback mechanism, the improbability of positive climate feedback in general, the uncertain role (and diversity) of aerosols, the poorly understood impact of land use changes, the failure of the ice caps to melt on schedule, the failure of climate models to account for an actual cooling of the troposphere, the fact that just the annual fluctuations in natural sources of CO2 emissions eclipse estimated human CO2 emissions by an order of magnitude. And let’s not forget – California only is responsible for 1.7% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Does any of this matter to the California Air Resources Board?
Apparently not. Nor does it matter to California’s legislature, which recently stopped just short of passing Senate Bill 1161, the Orwellian California Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act of 2016. SB 1161 would have authorized prosecutors to sue fossil fuel companies, think tanks and others that have “deceived or misled the public on the risks of climate change.”
What California’s legislature ran up against, of course, was the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps they believe time is on their side. After all, even the Scalia court ruled in 2007 that CO2 is pollution, in one of the most frightening inversions of reality in U.S. history. Imagine what a court packed with Clinton appointees will come up with.
The failure to deploy clean fossil fuel solutions in the developing world, much less here in California, condemns billions of humans to further decades of poverty, misery, and unchecked population growth. Cheap energy equals prosperity equals population stabilization. Until a few years ago that hopeful process was inexorable. But in recent years, somewhere on the shores of Africa, cost-effective industrial development ran into global warming’s global mafia and was stopped in its tracks.
The consolidation of power inherent in government suppression of energy development and micromanagement of energy consumption is not only a recipe for a corporate union police state in America. It is a recipe for systemic oppression of emerging societies across the world. At the very least, the debate must continue.
* * *
Ed Ring is the president of the California Policy Center.