18 October 2009

Smoot, Hawley and Inhofe

Many remember, or have been taught about, the harm done to the global economy by the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930--the Smoot-Hawley Bill. (Or, maybe if you are from Oregon, the Hawley-Smoot Bill.) The names of Senator Smoot and Representative Hawley have lived on in infamy. In fact, the Tariff Act of 1930 has lived on and is still a basic part of U.S. trade law. Both Smoot and Hawley, and Herbert Hoover who refused to veto their ill-conceived bill, were defeated in the elections of 1932. Of course by then it was too late.

How then will Jim Inhofe, Senator of Oklahoma, be remembered? He has played a major and visible role in the stubborn refusal of the U.S. Congress to make any commitment to serious action against greenhouse gas emissions. He calls climate change a "hoax". And he has been reelected by the people of Oklahoma.

J. Wayne Leonard, the Chairman and CEO of Entergy Corporation, recently said at a conference with lawmakers that we are making a choice whether to risk extinction or to pass comprehensive climate change legislation.

He said it in engineer-speak: "We are virtually certain that climate change is occurring, and occurring because of man's activities. We're virtually certain the probability distribution curve is all bad. There’s no good things that's going to come of this. But what's uncertain is exactly which one of those things are going to occur and in what timeframe. In the probability distribution curve is about a 50% probability that about half of all species will become extinct or be subject to extinction over this period of time. What we will never know on an ex ante basis is whether or not man will be one of those casualties or not." Watch his remarks on YouTube.

He said we are cheating our children, and we are doing it with our eyes open. Why are so many in our Congress willing to roll those dice?

As children we learned about Smoot-Hawley, but by then the Great Depression was over. Our children and our children's children will learn about Senator Inhofe, but they may have to live in the consequences of our inaction for centuries to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment