National Opinions

Can Obama make good on his pledge to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by mid-century? NO!

Barack Obama doesn't have a mandate for his global warming policies. He doesn't even have a mandate from his most fervent supporters.

Last month, President-elect Obama promised to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 -- approximately a 16 percent cut -- and then to cut them an additional 80 percent by 2050.

That's a 68 percent cut from today's levels and would mean trimming U.S. carbon emissions to roughly where they were in 1905.

Think about 1905 for a minute.

There were just 77,988 registered vehicles in the United States, compared to more than 250 million today -- or just one vehicle for every 3,200 now.

Less than 10 percent of the country had electricity, fewer than five percent of households had electric clothes washers, only a handful of Americans had dishwashers and no one had air conditioning.

Life expectancy was only 47 years, about 30 years shorter than today -- although it may have seemed a whole lot longer than that.

Reducing America's greenhouse gases to 1905 levels, even including the substantial energy efficiency gains already made and those projected for the future, would be very costly and require a wrenching transformation of our way of life.

But don't take my word for it.

Barrack Obama suggested as much himself, saying, "under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket ... whatever the industry was, they would have to retro-fit their operations. That will cost money ... (and) they will pass that ... on to the consumers."

Obama's America wouldn't just welcome your tired, your poor, your huddled masses: It would create them.

It's highly doubtful Americans are willing to make this sacrifice.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, a cap to reduce carbon emissions by 15 percent below 1998 levels -- a cut of 19 percent below what they are right now -- would hurt the poor the most.

Price increases, the CBO concluded "would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would." As a percentage of income, the poorest fifth would pay nearly double what the wealthiest fifth would pay for electricity.

David A. Ridenour is vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank.

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