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The Bankrupt World of Carbon Currency: It's Closer Than You Think
Volume 4, Number 2: 10 January 2001

The World ran Mad, and each distempered Brain,
Did Strange and different Frenzies entertain.

Nearly two decades ago, our father borrowed this 300-year-old couplet from Mrs. Aphra Behn (1) to introduce the second chapter of his first self-published book (2) - Carbon Dioxide: Friend or Foe? - wherein he took issue with what he called the "establishment viewpoint" of an impending CO2-induced catastrophic climate change.  Why did he use this verse?  He says the ditty "had a nice ring to it," but we know he values message more than meter; and the message of those words rings as true today as it ever did.

Consider the most recent climate-related Frenzy: the gaggle of governmental functionaries that met at The Hague in November 2000 to hammer out details that, if enacted, would have put real bite into the currently toothless Kyoto Protocol.  The expectations for the conference were high; but they were not met, as it ended in vitriolic squabbling over arcane minutia related to carbon accounting, carbon credits and carbon trading (3).  We take little pleasure in the debacle, however, for the regulatory beast will never die.  Like Arnold - "I'll be back" - in the Terminator series, so will the Protocol discussions return; and when some mutually disagreeable action plan is finally agreed upon, according to a staff-produced report in the 2 December 2000 issue of Britain's New Scientist magazine (4), its ultimate approval will "herald a new world in which carbon becomes a major international currency."

What planet are these folks from, you ask?  Ours, unfortunately.  But isn't it absolutely insane that anyone, much less the supposedly thoughtful and deliberative representatives of the world's community of nations, should have gone so far off the beaten path of prudence as to attempt to forge an entire new world order based on so flimsy a foundation as a theoretical prediction of a catastrophic man-induced increase in planetary temperature for which there is no real-world precedent or compelling evidence of any kind?  Of course it is.  Then again, maybe it's not insane crazy.  Maybe it's like a fox crazy.

That the latter is true is clearly evident.  Speaking of the future as if it were already here (4), New Scientist bluntly proclaims "the gold standard is dead, long live the 'carbon standard'."  And in its lead editorial (5), the magazine observes that American interests were represented at The Hague by "Harvard Business School types, hot for investment in carbon trading and fuel cells."  Yes, it makes sense, alright.  If there's a buck to be made, someone will make it, and the truth be damned if it stands in the way.  Although death and taxes reign supreme in the world of the inevitable, running a close third is the inescapable fact you can buy anything you want if you've got the money.

In our Editorial of 23 August 2000, we foresaw just this development, when we described how the U.S. State Department was dangling tax-credit carrots in front of companies for planting carbon-eating trees and musing of crop subsidies to farmers for using no-till methods of depositing carbon in the new-world "soil bank," all in support of the Clinton-Gore administration's attempt to make the Kyoto Protocol more palatable to various groups, including the U.S. Senate, which to that point in time had firmly opposed the protocol's regressively restrictive provisions.

Has the tactic worked?  Like a charm.  New Scientist reports, for example, that one-time climate skeptic Idaho Senator Larry Craig has suddenly seen the global-warming light - of green, that is, as in carbon currency, the coin of the realm of the coming new-world economic order - and that the American Farm Bureau has signaled its willingness to do an about face on the issue as well (6).  And all it took was the oh-so-sweet smell of a billion-plus dollars a year for America's farmers.

So here's how the carbon entrepreneurs' battle plan is programmed to play out.  At the next round of climate negotiations some months down the road, the United States will gain a major victory over the climate hard-liners of Europe, who don't like our forest and soil-bank carbon sinks.  Presented with a document that gives U.S. farmers a piece of the action (The Harvard business suits can't have it all!), the U.S. Senate will ratify the deal with great fanfare, pontificating about how their solidarity against the first incarnation of the Kyoto Protocol led to the new much-improved version, whereupon the American people will begin their long day's journey into night -- as in freezing in the dark, like when there's no electricity from coal-fired power plants to illuminate your home, which also lacks the heating oil to warm it.

Is the world running mad?  You bet it is!  And it's running on the basest of principles: greed.  Shame on all of us for hastening a day on which we will yet look back in anger, and sadness too; for those of us who push for adoption of the carbon currency of the new world order and those of us who watch in silence as it actually happens are equally responsible.  Will our moral bankruptcy lead to economic disaster as well?  Very likely.  And when it arrives, we will have only ourselves to blame for it.

Dr. Craig D. Idso
Dr. Keith E. Idso
Vice President

References and Footnotes
1. Mrs. Aphra Behn.  1688.  A Poem to Sir Roger L'Estrange on his third Part of the History of the Times, Relating to the Death of Sir Edmund Bury-Godfrey.

2. Idso, S.B.  1982.  Carbon Dioxide: Friend or Foe? An Inquiry into the Climatic and Agricultural Consequences of the Rapidly Rising CO2 Content of Earth's Atmosphere.  IBR Press, Tempe, AZ.

3. Anon.  2000.  A broken pact.  New Scientist 168 (No. 2267): 4-5.

4. Anon.  2000.  Why the world must stop and count its carbon.  New Scientist 168
(No. 2267): 6.

5. Anon.  2000.  Time to come clean.  New Scientist 168 (No. 2267): 3.

6. Anon.  2000.  Glad to be green?  New Scientist 168 (No. 2267): 6.