The proposed Cap and Trade legislation is claimed to be for the environment, yet we find ourselves again reinforcing battle lines in what is really a war for more dollars out of our pockets. If the root cause of climate change is seen as a consequence of a domineering market economy, extending the reach of that market through carbon trading seems to offer more of the same. No one is denying climate change. But this legislation is not about climate change. It is about who pays and who gets paid.
Becoming apparent to voters is that the Oregon Legislature is trying to control a non-pollutant in the forlorn hope that reducing the state's minuscule carbon dioxide emissions will have a beneficial affect on our planet's complex, ever-changing climate. This in spite of the fact that by the state's own estimate, reducing our CO2 emissions will have a negligible affect worldwide.
Constructing climate change as the defining, most serious problem facing humanity conditions people to think of it as something to restrict. Issues such as unsustainable energy, poverty, hazardous weather, food insecurity, hyper-consumption, tropical deforestation, biodiversity loss are woven together using the narrative of climate change. Climate change is not something to be “solved.” The evidence shows change in the climate has been happening for a long, long time, and atmospheric CO2 concentration has risen and fallen in the past with absolutely no help at all from humankind.
Policy discourse is heavily influenced by the way climate change is represented in the media, by campaigning organizations, by advertisers, by green energy vendors and other vested interests. Consider the pejorative phrase "climate chaos" that has been adopted by many climate change campaigners; although it's ironic, as science has revealed that the functioning of the atmosphere is in fact naturally chaotic. Nature has always been in a continuous state of disturbance and fluctuation. Change and turmoil, more than constancy and balance, is the rule. Predominant media messages about climate change use an inflated language, terms such as “catastrophe,” “chaos” and “havoc.” Its tone is often urgent.
For the legislature to act as if taxing energy now will make any difference in atmospheric temperatures in 100 years is a bit of a stretch. We do not know for sure what the effects of Cap and Trade will be in 50 or 100 or 200 years hence. What we do know is that if this legislation passes, state agency's budgets will be inflated. Additional energy costs will be incurred by everyone.
Voices opposed to costly measures of dubious benefit designed to “help us” are becoming more vocal. People are coming to their own conclusions. The trends are positive. Climate realism is on an upswing. Many climatological scientists aren't worried by climate change. Neither should we be.
Someday, politicians, journalists, bureaucrats, educators and ordinary citizens will notice that predictions of doom and gloom about climate are flexible and that it is nonsense to say the science is settled and that the only way to protect the planet and survive is to hand over millions of dollars to the state of Oregon so it can pretend to control temperatures, sea levels and storm activity — forever. This legislation is not about the "health" of the planet. It is about who pays and who gets paid.
Lastly and most significantly, this legislation should not be brought up in the so-called legislative "short session." That is not what the short session was passed for in 2010. Passing a comprehensive, costly carbon tax bill alleged to affect the entire planet is not "tweaking the state's budget."
Richard Wisner is a resident of Siletz.