Monday, February 1, 2010

Do-Nothingism from NFIB

Previously I gave an overview of how the Grand Forks Herald handles the issue of climate change. Overall, there is a decent supply of good information which is unfortunately roughly equaled by grasping-at-straws denial of science and fearmongering advocating of ignoring climate change. The January 31, 2010 Op-Ed section had a very typical example of the latter with a column by Bonnie Staiger, North Dakota state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

At least there was also a column on the same page by Bismarck teacher Jim Kambeitz that gives a substantial argument for moving toward clean energy that counters the do-nothing pushed by Staiger. That really frees me up here to just point out how weak and vacuous the very commonly pushed case made by Staiger is.

On one hand Staiger's column is like a weak 9th grade writing assignment. The summary is, 'we say cap-and-trade will be very costly, and our survey says many people believe this, therefore cap-and-trade will be very costly and it should not be done.' But only calling it a poor high school freshman paper does not describe it well enough.

It is obviously carefully crafted. There is no mention of "climate" or "environment", a tendency I will expand upon further in the future. Reading only what Staiger says with lies of cap-and-trade legislation meaning only taxes, regulations, rationing, and destroyed jobs, it may make one wonder why their survey did not show greater numbers opposing it. Did Staiger's NFIB and the NAM get their money's worth out of their media campaign to oppose climate legislation where they pushed the same message?

They would probably be pleased since I suspect many of those in the cited survey probably think energy and carbon-pricing legislation is like Staiger describes it rather than what it really is. But then the small business survey cited said 53% of respondents were not even familiar with the cap-and-trade legislation under consideration by Congress. It seems reasonable to me that the perspective of "small businesses" or any group for that matter should be informed by more than a NFIB-sponsored paragraph before it should be granted much weight.

Staiger does try to slide in 3 almost arguments: cap-and-trade will destroy jobs and GDP, cap-and-trade does not work, and that the US should know its place and follow China and India.

The cited estimates by the NFIB buddies at NAM are based on dubious assumptions. The 2.4 million jobs Staiger says are destroyed are actually the claimed difference between employment in the baseline and the NAM worst-case scenario. It is a relatively minor quibble, but dishonesty like that is annoying. Do couples who decide not to have children kill people?

That the European Emission Trading System failed and hurt the EU economy is a common claim, but is not accurate. In fact, the early adopters and leaders can provide some good experience for us followers to learn from.

Speaking of America as followers, we reach the even more common assertion that we better not do anything if China and India are not doing it too. Personal opinion can judge Staiger's notion America is not a leader, but the suggestion America's carbon emissions are dwarfed by China and India is unfortunately wrong as shown by recent statistics. Both China and the US each currently account for about 20% of global CO2 emissions (meaning that China puts out about 1/4 as much CO2 per person as the US), while India accounts for about 5% of global emissions (meaning their per person rate is about 1/15th of the US).

It rarely seems to occur to the likes of Staiger that China and India may be using American inaction to justify their own inaction nor that the developing world are actually taking steps to dial back carbon emissions. But then the likes of Staiger in the trying to hang on to the 19th century world of fossil fuels rarely seem to recognize that China is driving hard to dominate the 21st century and clean energy. Fortunately some people like Senator Lindsey Graham favor getting America in on the future.

In that paragraph surrendering American leadership in the world, Staiger implies that limiting carbon emissions would have a "beneficial effect on the planet". Whoa! So what is the NFIB view on climate change? Yeah, yeah, the head-in-the-ground stance on cap-and-trade is clear. But does NFIB consider human-driven climate change to be a threat that needs to be dealt with in some other manner? Or was the mention of the denial tainted American Farm Bureau an indication that the NFIB also has decided to pretend human activities are not adversely affecting climate?  I will not hold my breath for an answer.  It looks like NFIB is very carefully in effective denying climate science without explicitly doing so.

No comments:

Post a Comment