Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
At the “virtual world summit” President Biden announced that he’s committing this country to cut CO2 emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2030. Just trying to reach this ambitious goal will require severely damaging the economy in order to achieve something that won’t stop the alleged catastrophic effects of a rise in temperature that may or may not happen.
If you thought last year’s debacle wrought by self-proclaimed “experts” was bad, just wait until these proposed policies tear through the economy. Once more, the party that “follows the science” will wreak havoc by mistaking a dubious hypothesis for a scientific fact.
As the Wall Street Journal writes, previous such policies have done little to stop what are in fact relatively slight increases in global temperatures. For one obvious thing, whatever suicidal Western nations do, China and India, the world’s first and third biggest emitters, will undo. Even “climate czar” John Kerry admitted that whatever reductions in emissions we accomplish, it will have little impact on warming unless China and India reduce theirs––something both countries refuse to do, having made it clear that they will not follow the West into economic suicide.
But didn’t China sign the Paris Accord? Yet under that “parchment barrier,” China is not obligated even to start reducing its emissions until 2030, the same year our emissions are supposed to be drastically reduced. Can nobody in the current administration calculate the huge economic advantage that will accrue to China in ten years? Meanwhile, the communist regime continues to build dirty coal-fired energy plants. And, does anybody believe China’s empty promises, given their record of violating the terms of every agreement it signs with the West, such as WTO and WHO?
Furthermore, that’s just one roadblock. The policies necessary to reduce emissions by the Paris Accord’s 26-28% that Biden and the green lobby want, will be devastating to the economy. As the Journal reports, replacing carbon-based energy with so-called “renewables” would alone ruin the economy, while only lowering global temperatures by a scant 0.17% Celsius, nowhere near the 1.5 degrees that will supposedly stop the predicted global catastrophe. In any case, most of the reduction that occurred during the Obama years was due to natural gas replacing coal––a dividend of the fracking revolution, not Obama’s onerous regulations. So, of course, Biden has banned fracking on public lands, stopped the Keystone pipeline, and continued the animus against nuclear power.
The basic fact that the green progressives, which apparently now include Joe Biden, ignore is that we can’t build enough wind-towers or install enough solar panels to replace carbon-based energy. Transitioning automobiles to electric power is also a fantasy. We’ve had electric cars for years, and they still aren’t profitable without government subsidies and bribes. There aren’t enough high-speed charging stations, nor an electrical grid that could handle the extra electricity necessary to replace natural gas and gasoline.
Even worse, the costly side-effects of switching to electric cars are rarely acknowledged by their promoters. As Kevin Grieve writes on Townhall,
Ironically, in classic socialist fashion, these cars are subsidized with “other people’s money” via the federal $7500 car tax credit. Never mind the strip mining, toxic chemical leaching, and massive water consumption of rare metal lithium extraction for non-recycled car batteries. Ignore the fact that if your electric generation source comes from coal-burning power plants, which is about 20% of the US grid, you have damaged the environment far more significantly than any gas-powered vehicle. And you still need to account for the mini toxic hazard that will have been created when it comes time to dispose of these carcinogenic, half-ton batteries.
But the real scandal is that the catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is getting pretty wobbly, calling into question the whole pretext for Biden’s exorbitant program. Numerous scientists are retreating from the predictions of a climate apocalypse. Zeke Hausfather, Glen Peters, Justin Ritchie, Hadi Dowlatabadi, Roger Pielke Jr., David Wallace-Wells, and Steven Kooninc are some of the scientists who are “backing away from a worst-case scenario peddled to the public for years as ‘business as usual,’” as the Journal’s Holman Jenkins Jr. recently wrote. It seems the “science” is not so “settled” after all. Yet despite this advice from people doing actual science and casting a skeptical eye on a hypothesis, the Biden cabal is hell-bent on going down the “Green New Deal” road and destroying our economy.
So what’s really going on? Grubby self-interest, for one thing. Global warming has been a gold-mine for “climate science” researchers, electric car manufacturers, “green energy” subsidies and consultants, globe-trotting EU and UN functionaries, “renewable energy” businesses, and the global warming lobby comprising grant-hounds, grifters, celebrities, and carnival acts like Greta Thunberg. All of this climate advocacy generates billions of dollars a year. How else did Al Gore become a multi-millionaire who can afford to use private, carbon-spewing jets to attend climate-change confabs?
But there’s a more sinister force at work. For decades the Left has made common cause with the environmental movement as a tool for discrediting and weakening the free-market economies of the West. That’s why at global protests the hammer-and-sickle flies next to Greenpeace flags: both outfits are protesting against the liberal democratic, free-market order that kicked communism into the dustbin of history. As Andrew Dobson writes, the political environmentalists represent a “challenge to the political, social and scientific consensus that has dominated the last two or three hundred years of public life.” The creator and manager of this consensus has been the West, and for the last century especially the United States. Green crises like global warming provide opportunities for countries like Germany, as vain about its environmental purity as it is about its pacifism, to criticize the U.S. and damage its prestige.
Environmentalism, then, is a bludgeon for weakening and dividing the U.S. The powerful myths of nature going back to the ancient Greeks predispose many people to take seriously claims that our way of life and consumption are destroying the earth, a sermon preached in school curricula, government programs, and movies like Avatar and Pocahontas. These assumptions are best epitomized in the Charter of the Global Greens, a network of Green political parties. First comes the Mother Nature rhetoric: “We acknowledge that human beings are part of the natural world and we respect the specific value of all forms including non-human species,” which supposedly include lethal viruses and bacteria. But dastardly capitalists and industrialists are causing “extreme deterioration in the environment,” as well as fomenting “injustice, racism, poverty, ignorance, corruption, crime and violence, armed conflict and the search for maximum short-term profit [that] are causing widespread human suffering.”
Such talk is music to the Left’s ears. No matter that actual communist and socialist regimes have been some of the worst polluters in history, or that free-market capitalism has lifted billions across the globe from extreme poverty. Catastrophic global warming is the mother of all “crises” that “shouldn’t go to waste.” Addressing global warming exacts huge costs, both in taxpayer money and the thousands of regulations that erode profits, drive up prices for consumers, and make large-scale infrastructure projects more expensive.
More important, it demonizes the democratic-capitalist order, leaving many people, particularly the callow young, vulnerable to the siren song of socialism and radical climate policies like the Green New Deal. Just as Marxism benefitted from the crisis of capitalism in the 1930s, so too today the costs and trade-offs of making the U.S. the freest, richest, most well-fed, leisured, and entertained people in human history can be manipulated and exaggerated to sell promises of a better political and social order that will deliver the same high standards of living without destroying the planet.
That, of course, is a delusion. Actually following through on Biden’s climate policies, which require a massive increase in federal power, redistribution of wealth, and onerous regulations, will further move the country toward socialism, while doing nothing to address the “crisis” that is the pretext for such a fundamental transformation. And, like all collectivist economic regimes, it will devastate our economy.
For our geopolitical rivals, such an outcome is devoutly to be wished.