Monday, November 30, 2015

We've Been Down This Path Before

What will likely be the most-expensive conference in human history gets underway today in Paris.  The Global Climate Summit--or COP21 as it is known for short--aims to craft a global treaty to limit the production of carbon emissions across all nations for an indeterminate amount of time.  I don't mean that the conference itself will be the most-expensive--although providing enhanced security for hundreds of world leaders in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks (which Bernie Sanders says are directly related to global warming) will certainly be expensive.  And I doubt that all of those dignitaries hiked or biked to Paris and they aren't camping out in Paris parks and bathing in the River Seine.

The real expense will come in the decades after the conference ends with a flurry of "holy pictures" and handshaking, as First World nations move away from the economies they built upon cheaper forms of energy like coal and oil and to less reliable "renewable" energies.  Those world leaders will all agree that the added expense is a "small price to pay in order to save the Earth"  from a fate that nobody can really guarantee is going to be cataclysmic.

Here in the US, a proposed treaty deal would mean that "small price to pay" would be felt at the gas pump--as $2 a gallon will be will seem as unbelievable to future drivers as 25-cent gas seems to us--and at the car dealership--as more emissions controls and even higher fuel-economy standards make cars more expensive to purchase and operate.

That "small price to pay" will be felt in your monthly heating and electricity bill--as cheaper coal-fired power plants are shut down and replaced by wind and solar arrays that produce less energy at a higher per-unit cost.  And energy costs have a ripple effect throughout the--especially in manufacturing--where the production of steel requires huge amounts of electricity--as does powering any large plant.

That "small price to pay" will add up at the grocery store too--as production, harvesting and shipment of foodstuffs becomes more expensive.  Less use of carbon-based fertilizers and pesticides will reduce yields in the field and put the reliability of some crops in doubt due to blight or infestation.

And that "small price to pay" will be felt on your local, state and federal tax bills as well.  All levels of governments have their own energy costs to cover--and they purchase many of the same privately-produced products as we do at home.  Add to that the additional cost to fuel vehicles and aircraft, power buildings and computer systems and that there will be more citizens that will  need energy assistance to keep their own heat and lights on.  And that is before the US government drops billions on subsidizing the construction and operation of alternative energy production here--and in developing countries around the world who haven't even been able to develop reliable power grids using cheaper coal, oil and natural gas.

Another "small price to pay" will be "retributions" to island and coastal nations affected by the predicted three foot rise in ocean levels by the end of the century--even though these countries (including places like Florida) were built up on land that everyone knew had sat under the ocean for centuries before the most recent cycle of Ice Ages lowered sea levels.

And let's not forget that all of this "global climate control success" is predicated on every single country living up to its treaty requirements--and we know that no nation would ever lie about upholding the terms of a treaty--even if it is hurting its people.  I think the final signing ceremony should be moved to a rail car in Versailles, France--just like the previous most-expensive treaty in human history was.

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