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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Copenhagen talks should consider conservative ideas on global warming

The debate over climate change has recently been thrust back on to the world stage at the global climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. The summit and its 15,000 delegates and 98 world leaders will attempt to cut global carbon emissions in half. Most conservatives do not dispute climate change is in fact happening, they simply disagree on the solutions that need to come about from the climate change debate.

For too long the left has dominated the debate over global warming and has marginalized the majority of Americans who disagree with spending billions of tax-payer dollars in order to fund an unprecedented globalist movement. According to a recent Pew research poll, only 37 percent of Americans believe global warming is man-made. With the left continually and rancorously belittling the other 63 percent as being uneducated simpletons, it's time to set a few things straight.

Climate change is real. Most conservatives don't dispute that. Man-made climate change is another story. The earth's temperatures have been fluctuating for thousands of years, far before man even walked the planet. Even the most stalwart global warming academics and experts will concede this point. The truth is even though global climate change exists, man can only do a little to affect the will of Mother Nature. The global climate summit in Copenhagen will attempt to cut CO2 emissions in half. This will no doubt cost billions of dollars and destroy thousands of jobs in an already weak economy. What's more is that it will stifle the growth of emerging third world countries that rely on burning fossil fuels as a means to expand their economies.

All of this to what end? So we can satisfy the fears of global warming alarmists who lack proven science in claims that the earth is warming so rapidly that it will lead to floods, famine and an assortment of other doomsday global disasters in the near future? Even if you think we need to cut carbon emissions, surely there are other cheaper, less harmful ways to do it.

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Perhaps one alternative to reduce carbon emissions is to reduce the number of coal plants in America. The left has proposed that we cap and tax these emissions. However, according to the Heritage Foundation this will cost the average American family $3000 a year by skyrocketing energy costs such as electric, heating and gasoline bills. Some on the left see this as justifiable because in the end we are saving the world anyway. Yet many American families see it differently, especially the poor who will share the burden just as much as the rich. Not only will it cost more, but an estimated 1.9 million people will lose their jobs by the year 2012 even after the new so called ""green jobs"" are created. How do we reduce the number of coal plants in America without raising energy prices?

One answer is nuclear power. There can be some benefits to decreasing CO2 omissions, and nuclear power is a proven safe alternative with no CO2 emissions and little waste. France has the cleanest air in all of Europe along with the cheapest electricity prices because most of their energy comes from nuclear power. Removing barriers to entry so nuclear power can compete with coal plants will allow for cheaper energy prices, cleaner air and won't cost millions of jobs. Wind and solar power also have potential to be well used by not only cutting carbon emissions but also by securing energy independence.

The Copenhagen summit will likely come out with a plan to cut emissions and in the process cut jobs. With unemployment at 10.2 percent, our nation cannot afford more job losses or increases in cost of living. Although the environmental lobby has become the new power player in Washington, we cannot allow them to dictate our standard of living in the name of a not fully understood science. Global warming may be real, but the causes behind it are still up for debate. The left cannot continue to marginalize those who want to have this debate as they have been doing for years now.

Conservatives like me care about the environment just as much as any liberal environmentalist. I've spent hundreds of nights camping, days hiking, probably years fishing, and I can say that taking care of this planet is of the utmost importance. However we must be careful in the manner we go about doing this as to not destroy our economy in the process.

Matt Payne is a sophomore intending to major in Chinese and economics. Please send all responses to opinion@dailycardinal.com. 

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