(HOST) As lawmakers prepare to respond to warnings about Global Warning, commentator John McClaughry has some warnings of his own – about remembering the laws of unintended consequences.
(MCCLAUGHRY) The recent report of the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change calls upon the Governor, the legislature and all Vermonters to make sweeping changes in the way we live. The report declares that Vermont is at "grave risk", and that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is "the major challenge facing Vermonters in years to come."
This alarming pronouncement reflects a deeply ingrained Green Theology that unshakably believes that selfish, greedy consumption-crazed humankind is turning the planet into a steaming hothouse, to avert which our governments must force us to make painful and costly sacrifices.
If Vermonters were the primary cause of the planet’s ills, it might make some sense to force us to mend our ways. But we aren’t. In fact, Vermont is already the greenest of the 50 American states. We are the invisibly tiny tail on the global carbon dioxide dog.
In the name of fighting greenhouse gas emissions, the climate change report urges high-density development centers surrounded by CO2-absorbing pastoral landscapes and connected by public bus and rail transportation.
To suppress greenhouse gas emissions by private vehicles, the report favors penalty taxes on low miles-per-gallon cars, vans and trucks, and a percentage-based sales tax to make motor fuel more expensive.
The report urges that state government assess itself a carbon offset fee for having a "carbon footprint". Thus not only would taxpayers pay for the state highway crews to plow the roads, but they would also pay additional taxes to the state to subsidize favored renewable energy producers.
The report advocates creation of a public/private partnership to be called the Vermont Climate Collaborative. This centralized super-government would "insure coordination of efforts and development of cross-cutting initiatives to address climate change."
There are, admittedly, some things in the report well worth doing, but throughout the report one looks in vain for any candid discussion of the costs that would be imposed on Vermonters. We are only told that the costs of not doing all this will be even greater. Maybe, or maybe not.
Environmentalists insist that the greatest challenge facing Vermont is human-caused Global Warming. A far more serious challenge will be the capture of public policy by a green political movement, regardless of what it might cost the taxpayers, and regardless of how their Green Regime might overpower our local communities and diminish our freedoms.
John McClaughry is president of the Ethan Allan Institute, a Vermont policy, research and education organization.