Optimist Bradley vs Pessimist Gore
Jude Wanniski
December 21, 1999


Memo To: Bill Bradley
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Global Warming

I watched your Meet the Press debate with Al Gore on Sunday and while I thought you did okay, you are not going to get anywhere with him by debating his health care plan versus yours. If he can keep you arguing about such minutiae, you will lose. Part of the problem was Tim Russert, asking itsy bitsy questions, but the entire press corps has gone to sleep in trying to get at the differences between you. The biggest issue of all is your optimism versus his pessimism, which would show up if you had a serious debate about his hobby horse, Global Warming. Hey, he wants to shut down the world economy to keep temperatures from rising. Mankind is the culprit. We are driving too many cars and burning too many fossil fuels and maybe breathing too much, all that carbon dioxide cooking the atmosphere via the Greenhouse effect. Now you don't believe all that crap, I hope. It comes from the same noodleheads who persuaded Jimmy Carter a generation ago that the World would run out of liquid petroleum and natural gas in 1999, sometime around next week. I remember you once believed that yourself. Remember your 1978 campaign for the Senate? At least in the primary, you thought we would have to build solar panels from Hoboken to Hawaii to squeeze some energy out of the sun or we would all freeze in the dark. Here we are at the edge of the new millennium and the experts tell us we have forty years worth of PROVEN reserves of petroleum, and maybe another millennium's worth of natural gas.

You see how far off the "experts" can be? Well, on Global Warming the noodleheads who advise Al Gore are the same noodleheads who got Jimmy Carter excited back in 1980. It wasn't the earth running out of oil that was sending the price of gold and oil and other commodities through the roof, Bill. It was the Federal Reserve, throwing liquidity into the banking system as if there would be no tomorrow, on the advice of Fred Bergsten and Milton Friedman. My recommendation is that you assign some smart person on your campaign staff to due some work on this topic. If you are interested, I will even put you in touch with a few of my experts, who will explain to you how silly it is to think that mankind is cooking the planet. The earth may be getting warmer, but the heat required to do that would have to come from sources other than little old us. You should read the relevant sections of Gregg Easterbrook's book, A Moment on the Earth, which I used to calculate that of every linear mile of carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere every year, all of mankind contributes three-eighths of one inch of it. That's breathing, autos, industrial plant, everything. I also continue to point out that if you took all the petroleum we have consumed from day one, and put it in one place, Lake Tahoe, it would only fill one fifth of that alpine lake on the California/Nevada border. You could have a lot of fun with that, Bill, more fun than tangling with Al over Medicare.

As a reminder of how Jimmy Carter got snookered, you might read a column published today by the von Mises Institute by William Anderson, a very smart supply-side professor of economics at North Greenville College in South Carolina. It's titled, "The Other Y2K Problem."