Monday, July 7, 2008

Environmentalism - the Art of Compulsory Conservation

The world is a dirty, disgusting place. I become increasingly aware of that daily. My childish naivete yields to an increasing realization that it is more and more difficult to find any honor, any integrity, any transparency. I have become more suspicious and cynical. I feel that I've had to. You can't trust anything. And so, when I read this story from the Wall Street Journal about Richard Sandor, the so-called "Father of Carbon Credits", I felt that my suspicions about the Enviro-Banshees were at least partially confirmed.

Let me explain how it works, for those of you who (like me) didn't really quite get how this shell game operates. With the government's assistance, or better yet at the insistence of foreign powers (See Kyoto Treaty), arbitrary caps are set on how much carbon (in the form of CO2, especially) can be emitted by a particular company. If they fail to meet those standards, then they must buy additional carbon credits to avoid penalty - ultimately from Dr. Sandor and his cronies at the Chicago Climate Exchange. If a company does well and emits less than the standard, then they have some "carbon credits" which they can sell to a needy company to bring them into compliance. Either way, the Chicago Climate Exchange makes lots of money - either through the creation and subsequent direct sale of this new arbitrary and previously worthless currency, or through fees on the carbon trades between companies. It gets better. The caps get progressively lowered so that fewer and fewer companies are able to win, requiring them to go groveling with greater frequency to the economists, politicians, and academics at the Exchange, kissing the ring and begging enviro-indulgences. And it doesn't end in Chicago - the same bunch of mega-rich All Stars have identical trading centers across the world. Quite a racket, eh? They appear to be off to a champion start. The Exchange was opened in 2003. Dr. Richard Sandor made an estimated $260 million last year alone.

Biography of Dr. Richard Sandor:

Dr. Sandor is a recent convert to the worship of Mother Gaia, but appears to have always gravitated toward green of a different sort, at least generally. He was one of the original proponents of applying the futures market concept to interest rates. He was also instrumental in a past environmental "cap and trade" futures trading scheme similar to today's carbon trading, but during the last much over-heralded Apocalypse of the Universe, the Acid Rain scare of the 1980s.
Now I am not claiming to have any sort of special knowledge about the environment. I will tell you that as someone who is trained to read and interpret scientific studies as part of my job, I believe that there appear to be some serious flaws in the methods, results, and conclusions of those studies. The thing that bothers me about the scenario I describe above, however, is that it simply looks bad. Allow me to explain.
If a doctor accepts a pen or a dinner from a pharmaceutical representative, he is increasingly accused of being in the tank, or at least of questionable, if not unethical conduct. This is because people are very suspicious of doctors and drug companies right now. Part of that is medicine's fault for not being more critical and discerning when dealing with our partners in healthcare, the pharmaceutical companies. Part of it is the fault of over-zealous attorneys who exaggerate the problem in order to personally profit. And part of it is simply misinformation and ignorance on the part of those who make the accusations. What is the end result? I have to consider carefully how what I do with respect to pharmaceutical reps will look to the public.

I believe that there are those well-meaning souls who truly believe with every fiber of their being that our planet is perched on the edge of ruin because of man-made pollution. I respect that. I disagree, but I don't condemn them for their beliefs. But in the same way a physician has to be wary of the image he presents to the public, the growing and strengthening environmental movement should use extreme caution before making bedfellows of the kinds of people I now find are at the heart of the movement to mandate cap and trade for all industries. They, along with the ultimate self-servers, Albert Gore, Inc., are causing the environmental "Movement" to appear less of a cause and more of a cash cow for a few wealthy industrialists and Technocrats.

It is clear to me that until assurances can be made that we are not all simply being duped by Sandor's pals into funding their (and their great grandchildrens') retirements in the name of Environmental Protection, it is my duty as a responsible American and taxpayer to be resistant to the idea of making these carbon limits mandatory.