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Warming Willies By: Walter Williams
The Washington Times | Friday, September 28, 2007


Despite increasing evidence that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a significant greenhouse gas and contributor to climate change, politicians and others who wish to control our lives must maintain that it is.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Rep. John Dingell, Michigan Democrat, wants a 50-cents-a-gallon tax on gasoline. We've heard such calls before, but there's a new twist. Mr. Dingell also wants to eliminate the mortgage tax deduction on what he calls "McMansions," homes that are 3,000 square feet and larger. That's because larger homes use more energy.

One might wonder about Mr. Dingell's magnanimity in increasing taxes for only homes 3,000 feet or larger. The average U.S. home is around 2,300 square feet, compared with Europe's average of 1,000 square feet. So why doesn't Mr. Dingell call for disallowing mortgage deductions on houses more than 1,000 square feet? The reason is there would be too much political resistance, since more Americans own homes under 3,000 square feet than larger than 3,000. The full agenda is to start out with 3,000 square feet and later lower it in increments.

Our buying into global warming hysteria will allow politicians to do just about anything, upon which they can muster a majority vote, in the name of fighting climate change as a means to raise taxes.

In addition to excuses to raise taxes, members of Congress use climate change hysteria to funnel money into their districts. Rep. David L. Hobson, Ohio Republican, secured $500,000 for a geothermal demonstration project. Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, got $500,000 for a fuel-cell project by Superprotonic, a Pasadena company started by Caltech scientists. Money for similar boondoggles is being called for by members of both parties.

There are many ways to reduce CO2 emissions, and being 71 years of age I know many of them. Al Gore might even consider me carbon neutral and possibly having carbon credits because my carbon offsets were made in advance. For example, for the first 15 years of my life, I didn't use energy-consuming refrigerators; we had an icebox. For two decades, I listened to radio instead of watching television and walked or used public transportation to most places. And for more than half my life I didn't use energy-consuming things such as computers, clothes dryers, air conditioning and microwave ovens. Of course, my standard of living was much lower.

The bottom line is, serious efforts to reduce CO2 will lead to lower living standards through higher costs of living. And it will be all for naught because there is little or no relationship between man-made CO2 emissions and climate change.

There's an excellent booklet available from the National Center for Policy Analysis (ncpa.org) titled "A Global Warming Primer." Some of its highlights are:

-- "Over long periods of time, there is no close relationship between CO2 levels and temperature."

-- "Humans contribute approximately 3.4 percent of annual CO2 levels" compared to 96.6 percent by nature.

-- "There was an explosion of life forms 550 million years ago (Cambrian Period) when CO2 levels were 18 times higher than today. During the Jurassic Period, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, CO2 levels were as much as 9 times higher than today."

What about public school teachers frightening little children with tales of cute polar bears dying because of global warming? The primer says: "Polar bear numbers increased dramatically from around 5,000 in 1950 to as many as 25,000 today, higher than any time in the 20th century." The primer gives detailed sources for all its findings and supplies us with information we can use to stop politicians and their environmental extremists from doing a rope-a-dope on us.


Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., and a syndicated columnist.


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