I’ve followed the twists and turns of the climate change debate since I was a graduate student at Stanford University 40 years ago. The academic rage in those days was “global winter” — humans were triggering a new ice age by putting so much particulate matter and pollutants in the atmosphere.
How things have changed! Now we’re instructed by our betters that, because we are releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, we must worry about global warming — or whatever the climate alarmists are calling it these days. (Any movement that has to keep changing its name every few years to reboot its credibility makes me suspicious.)
Perhaps because they realize they are losing the argument, the climate change crowd has started stigmatizing anyone who disagrees with them as “climate deniers.” They’re even pressuring the federal government to arrest and prosecute those of us who question their “science” and their conclusions. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has asked the FBI to look into going after “climate deniers” under the Racketeering and Corrupt Practices Act (RICO).
If the Department of Justice is drawing up an enemies list of those who question the global warming narrative, I insist on being in the Top 10 since I question everything. I question the scientific credentials of anyone who refers to carbon dioxide as “pollution,” as the EPA now does. As everyone who took high school biology knows, photosynthesis — the process on which all life depends — requires CO2. As levels of this key plant nutrient in the atmosphere rise, plants will grow faster and food production will increase.
I also question whether “global warming” is, in fact, occurring. While carbon dioxide levels are increasing, the earth has consistently failed to warm as much as climate models have projected. Indeed, the past 19 years have shown no rise in global temperatures. The science is not settled, whatever the climate alarmists say.
Is human activity causing change in the climate? That’s another open question. We know from the geological record that our planet has often been hotter and colder than it is today. The Jurassic era was so warm and humid that even the polar regions had a temperate climate. The ice ages of the Pleistocene, the last of which ended a mere 11,700 years ago, saw average temperatures up to 10 degrees Centigrade colder than they are today. Much of North America was blanketed with ice.
Scientists aren’t sure what caused these wild swings in temperature from age to age. Was it changes in the earth’s orbit or shifts in solar radiation, changes in the composition of the atmosphere or shifting ocean currents? One thing is certain, however: humans had nothing to do with it!
Even assuming that the planet is warming, I question whether there is much we can do about it. Most of the proposals involve drastically reducing CO2 emissions. But if we ban the combustion of fossil fuels, what do we replace them with? Wind? Solar? Geothermal? Biofuels? Such so-called “renewable energy” is harder to “collect” and therefore more expensive. It’s also less portable, less reliable, less controllable, less scalable, and less versatile than fossil fuels.
If the government insists that we switch to renewables, we will see a sharp decline in our standard of living. Americans would survive such a drastic restructuring, although we would no longer have the world’s largest economy. Those who live in less-developed countries will not be so fortunate. Hundreds of millions of people would find that they have virtually no access to energy. Without fuel for their tractors, they will be forced out of the cash economy and back to subsistence farming. For some, the shift to renewables would literally be a death sentence. Pope Francis, who frequently reminds us of the Church’s “preferential option for the poor,” would be horrified.
Finally, I question whether some of the leading global warming activists are really as upset by the prospect of a degree or two of warming over the next century as they pretend to be. A warmer planet would be beneficial to humanity. Vast tracts of land in Canada and Siberia could be brought under cultivation. Ice-free ports in the Arctic Ocean would shorten shipping times and reduce transportation costs.
I suspect that some have hyped the “threat” of climate as a fundraising ploy. At that, it has been stunningly successful. Indeed, the Obama administration, acting without congressional approval, just transferred $500 million into a U.N. green slush fund.
Of course, if “climate changers” really believed what they were saying, they would emigrate en masse to Canada. Instead, just like the rest of us, they move in the opposite direction when they retire: south … to warmer climes. Go figure!
STEVEN MOSHER is member of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter and the president of the Population Research Institute.