Al Gore has had a busy week. First, the former vice president’s renewable energy investments received some serious backing from the taxpayer as $3.4 billion stimulus package would be allocated for smart grid investment. $560 million went to Silver Spring Networks, a company Gore’s venture capitalist firm invested in, that makes hardware and software to improve efficiency in the nation’s electricity grid. That’s not the only way Gore is profiting from the global warming debate. On November 3rd he published his new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, which details the need for more wind, solar and biofuels, improved energy efficiency and the use of offsets and trees to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere – among other things.
Gore stresses that the cost of doing nothing is much higher than any dire economic projections that would result from capping greenhouse gas emissions, or as Gore likes to call it, “global warming pollution.” To gain support, Gore paints pictures of rising sea levels that will swallow up islands and devastate the global economy. But this “opportunity cost” of doing nothing must be discounted by the actual effect the “doing something” will have. Doing something like cap-and-trade, does not mitigate climate change entirely, if at all, and therefore the (negative) opportunity foregone (i.e., the expected climate change) is not the full benefit.
We have to look at how much climate change Waxman-Markey is expected to mitigate. As Heritage analyst David Kreutzer says, “We need to look at the cost of these proposals in light of what difference these proposals make. None of the proposals will entirely eliminate predicted climate change regardless of the assumptions, models, computers or theories used.”
He has conducted interviews with Katie Couric, Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, which features a sketch of Colbert debating himself on the issue of global warming. (The skeptic Colbert cites The Heritage Foundation’s numbers on the costs of cap and trade. You can check it out here beginning at the 9:00 mark.)
Al Gore writes in his new book that “that we have at our fingertips all of the tools that we need to solve the climate crisis. The only missing ingredient would be collective will.”
One of the problems is that we do not have the technology at our fingertips for a green revolution – at least not a cost acceptable to most energy consumers in the United States. Laurie Williams and Allen Zabel, two EPA lawyers opposed to cap and trade, write: “The biggest obstacle to this revolution is that uncontrolled fossil fuel energy remains much cheaper than clean energy. Cap-and-trade alone will not create confidence that clean energy will become profitable within a known time frame and so will not ignite the huge shift in investment needed to begin the clean-energy revolution. In recent interviews, even the economists who thought up cap-and-trade have said they don’t believe it’s an appropriate tool for climate change.”
Furthermore, collective will is an ingredient that should be left out of the recipe for a healthy economy. It’s not collective will that the right amount of food from all over the world is stocked in your local grocery store. It’s spontaneous order. It’s not controlled by any one person or collective will; it’s a great number of people who have never met but their interests coincide.
Even so, what the government purports to do isn’t collective will; it’s the decision of few that affective the lives of many and the decisions are being made with taxpayer money. While Gore does not officially wear a political hat anymore, he is still very much involved: Despite suffering one of history’s worst political fates, Gore has by no means given up on politicians. Behind the scenes, he takes calls from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and strategizes with Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry, sponsors of the Senate climate bill.”
The “collective will” of our government promises nothing for our children but an economy with less opportunity.