The last two weeks the international climate-change hustlers met in Dubai for the UN’s COP 28 annual conclave that features apocalyptic prophecies, pie-in-the-sky policies, incontinent virtue-signaling, and international grifting.
Don’t expect this CO2-spewing confab to be any more useful than the last 27 COPs. It is, however, like them replete with shameless hypocrisy and embarrassing contradictions. The 400,000 attendees included a record-setting 97,000 “official delegates,” who mostly hectored hoi polloi for their selfish addiction to fossil fuels, and morally preen themselves for their own saintly concern about anthropogenic, catastrophic global warming, the harbinger of capitalism’s end times. Even more unseemly, the attendees likely set a record for CO2 emissions, surpassing Glasgow’s 103,500 tons set in 2021. According to the Daily Mail, this is “roughly what 8,000 Brits produce in a year.”
The embarrassment came from some remarks made by this year’s President, Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber, the UAE’s environment minister and CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). Repeating what climate “deniers”––the Orwellian word for real scientists–– have been saying for years, Al-Jaber last month commented on the Paris Accord’s’ goal to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030: “‘There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5,’ Al-Jaber said at an online event on Nov. 21, “adding a pointed barb to the hosts that it would be impossible to stop burning fossil fuels and sustain economic development, ‘unless you want to take the world back into caves.’”
The warmist faithful, already disgruntled that the CEO of an oil company is presiding over their congregation, were further incensed that earlier ADNOC, as reported by the BBC, had announced that it “may drill 42% more by 2030, according to analysts considered the international gold standard in oil market intelligence,” and “had already clearly stated plans to boost its production capacity by 7% over the next four years.”
Such heresy at the green synod, of course, drew a rebuke from the UN’s high priest, Secretary-General António Guterres. “The 1.5C limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels,” Guterres said. “Not reduce, not abate. Phase out, with a clear timeframe . . . . The science is clear.”
Here we have the tell that exposes the weakness of the “climate change” hypothesis. So does the phrase itself, which replaced “global warming” after the “pause” in temperature increases a few decades ago complicated the simplistic claim that large increases of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2, as had occurred during the same period, automatically raised global temperatures. In fact, the science is not “clear,” nor is it “settled,” another go-to warmist cliché that has fallen victim to more recent challenges like theoretical physicist Steven Koonin’s 2021 Unsettled.
But science is seldom “settled” or “clear,” particularly when it comes to a natural phenomenon as complex as global climate, which affects the earth’s 196 million square miles, and unfolds over multiple millions of years. Such investigations and conclusions require relentless skepticism, or as Karl Popper defined the scientific method, “bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.”
The warmist true believers, however, have relied on specious arguments from authority, with Oz-like commands to skeptics and taxpayers to “pay no attention to the man behind the green curtain”; and ad hominem smears like “denier,” a despicable evocation of Holocaust denial. Such unscientific tactics and fallacies usually bespeak a porous argument.
Meanwhile, for decades many revisionists have been exposing those holes. A recent challenge to “climate change” orthodoxy is laid out in S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery’s revised and updated book Unstoppable: “The earth is warming but physical evidence from around the world tells us that human-emitted CO2 (carbon dioxide) has played only a minor role. Instead, the mild warming seems to be part of a natural 1,500-year [later revised to 2,500 years] climate cycle (plus or minus 500 years) that goes back at least one million years.”
Moreover, rather than warmer climate being an apocalyptic anomaly, “The Earth continually warms and cools. The cycle is undeniable, ancient, often abrupt, and global. It is also unstoppable. Isotopes in the ice and sediment cores, ancient tree rings, and stalagmites tell us it is linked to small changes in the irradiation of the sun.” These cycles also are empirically confirmed by the historical record of the last 2,000 years, which documents alternating cycles like the Roman Warming, the Medieval Warming, and the Little Ice Age that ended in 1850, the beginning of the Modern Warming we are now living through.
In addition to research that challenges the “climate change” hypothesis, much of the proposed policies like “net-zero” carbon emissions do not pass the common-sense smell test. For example, no matter how much the West degrades its economy by making fossil fuels more expensive, China––which already emits as much CO2 as the U.S. and Europe combined––will continue to rely on coal-fired power plants.
According to Global Energy Monitor, “The latest briefing from Global Energy Monitor (GEM) and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) shows that in 2023, China has continued a coal power plant permitting spree that started in 2022. The first half of 2023 saw 52 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power permitted, maintaining the previous rhythm of permitting two coal power plants per week. One gigawatt is the equivalent of one large coal power plant. . . . Coal power plant commissioning also doubled year-on-year, with 17.1 GW added to the grid in the first half of 2023.”
Then there’s the glut of EVs on the market, despite the billions in bribes, er, government funded subsidies for buyers. What deters consumers in addition to EV’s high costs is the dearth of both electricity generated by “renewable” solar and wind energy; and of the transmission lines to deliver it to EV charging stations. Currently there are nowhere near the number of charging stations needed to meet the demand today, let alone the numbers that would be needed if gas-fueled automobiles were phased out in a few decades, as several states have mandated.
Moreover, as the Daily Telegraph reported in August, “To be a practicable method of supplying electricity, wind and solar power need a low cost, large scale storage technology that will store surplus energy when available and deliver it when needed. The problem is that no such technology exists. But without mass-scale storage, more wind and solar power will lead to major blackouts and intolerable price spikes alternating with price crashes.”
In other words, the technologies needed to replace fossil fuels––still comprising 80% of global energy use–– like transmission lines and batteries to store energy for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, are nowhere near becoming a reality by 2030 or 2050. Worse yet, the tab for financing all this infrastructure runs into the multiple trillions of dollars. According to Barclays, “Estimates for just how much the green transition will cost vary greatly, ranging from a total of $100trn to $300trn between now and 2050. To put it in context, current annual global GDP is about $100trn.”
The current policies to replace cheap and abundant fossil fuels, then, with “renewable” energy like wind and solar, is an expensive pipe-dream unlikely to be realized for many decades. The Wall Street Journal’s Bjorn Lomborg points out that the “International Energy Agency estimates that in 2040 fossil fuels will still meet three-quarters of world energy needs, even if the Paris agreement is fully implemented. The U.N. body responsible for the accord estimates that if every country fulfills every pledge by 2030, CO2 emissions will be cut by 60 billion tons by 2030. That’s less than 1% of what is needed to keep temperature rises below 2.7 degrees. And achieving even that fraction would be vastly expensive—reducing world-wide growth $1 trillion to $2 trillion each year by 2030.”
Nor will “green jobs” materialize to offset these exorbitant costs, as Joe Biden at the start of his administration promised with his pledge of “10 million jobs” created by the shift to renewable energy. RealClear Policy exposed this delusion. Authors Brent Orrell and Mason Bishop remind us that Barack Obama made the same specious claims about these “new green jobs”:
“In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) put millions of grant dollars in the hands of community colleges and other training programs to prepare workers for wind, solar, and other green jobs. There were high-profile green failures like the $528 million federal taxpayer loss on Solyndra, but evidence also demonstrates that wind and solar training programs fell woefully short of providing high-paying and sustainable employment that might be seen as reasonable replacements for other energy-intensive industries and occupations.” To paraphrase Obama himself, green “shovel-ready jobs” also “weren’t as shovel-ready as we thought.”
These are just a small sample of the problems with the shaky, incomplete “clear science” justifying expensive and dubious policy prescriptions. There’s also the shady computer models used to fill the gaps in the empirical evidence supporting the “global warming” hypothesis. Atmospheric scientist John Christy, in testimony before the House Science Committee hearings in March 2017, said “the U.N. climate models have failed badly.”
The Washington Examiner continues, “Christy compared the average model projections since 1979 to the most reliable observations — those made by satellites and weather balloons over the vast tropics. The result? In the upper levels of the lower atmosphere, the models predicted seven times as much warming as has been observed. Overprediction also occurred at all other levels. Christy recently concluded that, on average, the projected heating by the models is three times what has been observed.” As the old programmers’ saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.”
The revisionists and the costs of net-zero carbon policies to national economies and consumers are having an effect. The Wall Street Journal surveyed the political pushback against net-zero carbon policies in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, and even the deep-green EU Parliament: “The common denominator is reality. European countries, like the U.S., are discovering that no matter how hard they push on the net-zero string, costs never come down, green jobs never materialize to replace industrial employment, and the subsidy bill never declines.”
But the “climate change” lobby and government policies remain a potent threat to our economy and national security. It is one of those “crises” that Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said “you don’t ever want . . . to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things you would otherwise avoid.” This has been the technocratic progressives’ modus operandi since Woodrow Wilson, for the “crisis,” real or invented, justifies the expanding regulatory state and its escalating interference with, and intrusive control of states, local government, civil society, and families.
In other words, the expansion of tyrannical power at the expense of our freedom––exactly what the Constitution was designed to prevent.