Every so often the truth seeps out that significantly reducing global greenhouse gas emissions will require enormous sacrifices, meaning profound losses of welfare on people’s part. Bear that in mind when you hear politicians’ promises of “net zero by X date” or “50 or 80 percent carbon dioxide reductions by year X.”
In the Western world, the energy cuts and lifestyle changes required to hit net zero will mean going back to early-1800s levels of emissions. This will force enormously negative economic growth and giving up modern conveniences (and the freedoms they have created) that people in developed countries have come to take for granted over the past century.
For people in developing countries the news is even worse. They will have to be kept from developing, which will consign even more generations to premature deaths and abject penury due to energy poverty and food privation.
Oh well, climate alarmists whisper (usually in secret), you’ve got break a few eggs to make an omelet.
Socialist writer Naomi Klein has written at least two books calling on us to overthrow capitalism and restrict free choice in order to fight climate change.
In 2015, Christiana Figueres, then the executive secretary of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, acknowledged the goal of the organization’s climate efforts is not really to save the world from an ecological catastrophe. The true goal is to put global elites in control of the world economy, directing producers’ and consumers’ choices to goals chosen by those same elites.
“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” Figueres said when discussing the Paris climate agreement then being developed. “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”
In 2019, Saikat Chakrabarti, New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff at the time, said the Green New Deal (GND) is not about fighting climate change but instead about remaking the economy, contrary to what many people supposed.
“The interesting thing about the Green New Deal, is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all,” Chakrabarti reportedly told Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate director, Sam Ricketts. “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”
Because the underlying goal of leading climate alarmists, if not their unthinking minions protesting in the streets and at schools, is really about imposing socialism on masses who have repeatedly rejected and overthrown it in the past, the leaders ignore the environmental destruction wrought in socialist countries in the past and present. They also disregard the vast academic literature showing authoritarian regimes or “coercive environmentalism,” in the words of one recent book, have consistently caused more environmental harm than people making free choices in liberal democracies with at least somewhat capitalist economies. The environment is just one more egg that must be broken in making the socialist omelet.
As far back as 2011, NASA’s James Hansen referred to the people of the United States as “barbarians” compared to China, whom he praised as enlightened. He ignored the fact that China, already by then the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, was increasing its emissions while U.S. emissions were declining. Hansen joined other climate scolds in blaming democracy for failing to come to grips with the climate crisis, and he said Chinese-style authoritarianism was the world’s “best hope” for fighting climate change.
Climate scientist Pat Michaels quotes Hansen as saying the United States is a “fossil-money-‘democracy’ that now rules the roost” and makes it impossible to legislate effectively on climate change.
“Unlike us, the Chinese are enlightened, unfettered by pesky elections,” wrote Michaels in conveying the view of Hansen and others who have openly longed for eco-czars to take over the world.
A recent report from Deutsche Bank picked up on this theme. The author of the report, titled “Climate neutrality: Are we ready for an honest discussion?” writes if the world is serious about fighting climate change, “[a] certain degree of eco-dictatorship will be necessary.” He explains why:
Global energy demand is likely to rise further in the coming years, driven mainly by population growth (the world’s population grows by 80m people each year) and the desire for prosperity. Fossil fuels will remain the most important source of energy for now. …
If we really want to achieve climate neutrality, we need to change our behavior in all … areas of life. This is simply because there are no adequate cost-effective technologies yet to allow us to maintain our living standards in a carbon-neutral way. … I know that “eco-dictatorship” is a nasty word. But we may have to ask ourselves the question whether and to what extent we may be willing to accept some kind of eco-dictatorship (in the form of regulatory law) in order to move towards climate neutrality.
The belief in the desirability of an eco-dictatorship is so great that many environmentalists, who normally align with liberals on social and cultural issues, are even willing to turn a blind eye to slavery. A recent column in Forbes noted the leaders of major environmental organizations are loathe to critique China’s use of slave labor and oppression of religious and cultural minorities to produce the millions of solar panels they believe are necessary to bring about a green energy Nirvana.
In fact, they are pushing for more solar panels and more wind turbines even at the cost of environmental quality. Thousands of square miles of wildlife habitat are being destroyed and millions of animals killed as solar and wind industrial facilities cover over formerly wild ecosystems. In addition, millions of acres of land and thousands of rivers and waters are being befouled, and people sickened and enslaved, in the process of mining, refining, manufacturing, and waste disposal of the chemicals, minerals, and materials necessary to make wind turbines, solar panels, and high-tech batteries.
These activities are undertaken almost exclusively in countries like China and the Congo, where environmental and labor standards are much lower than in the developed countries, if such standards exist or are enforced at all. So much for climate alarmists’ oft-voiced concerns for environmental justice and thinking globally.
Fortunately, for now, we in the United States and the people of Europe and some other countries around the globe live in democracies. As a result, we can choose whether to forego progress, freedom, and democratic rule in favor of a “benign” eco-dictatorship supposedly acting for our own good.
Let’s hope these free people make the right choices in the coming elections. If not, we will lose our freedom, our prosperity, and environmental quality. The climate won’t care either way.
To paraphrase Fox News’ slogan: I report, you decide.
SOURCES: Global Warming Policy Foundation; Deutsche Bank; Bloomberg News (behind paywall); Forbes; PRI; Environmental Politics
IN THIS ISSUE …
GREAT BARRIER REEF SETTING RECORDS … CARBON OFFSET DEAL EXPOSES CON GAME … NEW STUDY CONFIRMS GREENING BENEFITS OF CO2
GREAT BARRIER REEF SETTING RECORDS
With new research showing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is setting records for extent, the United Nations World Heritage Committee rejected calls to list the GBR as “in danger.” Environmentalists had claimed climate change warming the oceans was resulting in significant bleaching of the GBR and other reef systems. As with other reefs around the globe, however, data show the GBR’s coral have significantly recovered and on the whole have expanded after significant, repeated, bleaching events in the past decade.
The annual data on coral cover and extent for the GBR, produced by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and released on July 19, showed the amount of coral on the reef is at a record high.
The above data series, which started in 1985, is taken from the AIMS yearly long-term monitoring of the reef. Source: Peter Ridd.
Even as the Earth has warmed over the past century, the GBR’s coral growth rates have increased, the AIMS data shows.
AIMS’ GBR survey determined there was “minimal impact” from recent bleaching, with hard coral across 85 per cent of the reefs expanding year-over-year. Seventy-five of the 127 reefs surveyed showed no indication of bleaching.
The Australian‘s coverage of AIMS report notes,
In the reef’s northern region, hard coral coverage increased to 27 per cent—near its recorded high of 30 per cent in 1988—from its lowest level of 14 per cent in the 2018-19 survey report, with the central region at 26 per cent, up from its low of 12 per cent in 2018-19. The southern region was found to have 39 per cent hard coral coverage—up from 23 per cent in 2019.
Anything above 30 per cent is considered high coverage.
SOURCES: Global Warming Policy Foundation; The Australian (behind paywall); The Guardian; Climate Realism
CARBON OFFSET DEAL EXPOSES CON GAME
Working through the United Nations’ Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), Norway recently paid $17 million to Gabon to offset the Scandinavian country’s carbon dioxide emissions. Gabon’s forests sequester more carbon dioxide annually than the country emits. Gabon showed CAFI it has reduced deforestation in the country in recent years, lowering its carbon emissions in 2016 and 2017 compared to previous decades. This qualified Gabon for carbon offset payments under the program.
Steve Milloy, founder and publisher of JunkScience.com and a member of The Heartland Institute’s board of directors, says Norway’s deal shows carbon offsets are a scam, in no way helping slow climate change. Milloy writes,
A basic problem with carbon offsets is that purchasers are buying them for emissions being emitted now, but CO2 storage that would only happen much later because trees take a long time to grow. There is no offset that removes CO2 from the atmosphere as quickly as it is emitted.
Another offset problem is that the calculations of how much carbon is stored by various offset methods are just guesstimates that have never been verified or validated. Although the basic lifecycle of carbon is well understood, the actual quantities are not.
In addition, if Gabon later decides to allow some logging for development reasons or a wildfire strikes its forests, any carbon stored in them will be released, and other countries will have no recourse.
Of course, if Norway has really discovered a way to continue emitting while successfully offsetting its CO2 emissions, a net zero if you will, it has offered a much less expensive way of doing so than other countries and world leaders are proposing, Milloy points out. Norway is paying the equivalent of $5 per ton to offset its emissions in its deal with Gabon. The Biden administration, by contrast, proposes spending trillions of dollars to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions, and former Vice-President Al Gore suggests the world spend $90 trillion to reengineer cities so cars are no longer required. If Norway and the U.N. are right, these enormous costs and the economic and personal sacrifices they would entail are unnecessary. As Milloy writes,
The U.S. consumption of energy produces about 5 billion tons pf CO2 per year. So at $5 per ton, the entire U.S. energy-related CO2 footprint could be offset Norway-style for “mere” $25 billion. … If global energy-related emissions are on the order of 40 billion tons, then for a “mere” $200 billion in CO2 offsets we could dispense with the supposed need to “decarbonize” our global economy.
I leave it to discerning readers to decide for themselves whether Norway’s payoff to Gabon will in fact reduce carbon dioxide significantly. In any case, I cannot see leftists embracing this approach. I’m not usually a betting man, but I’m willing to wager that world leaders such as President Joe Biden, the European Parliament and Commission, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and Hoesung Lee,, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, won’t want to follow Norway’s example and spend a mere $5 per ton on climate dispensations. Every policy and proposal they suggest requires spending vastly more than $5 per ton to reduce CO2 emissions.
After all, what they are really all about is not fighting climate change but remaking society in a socialist image, and you can’t do that on the cheap.
SOURCES: Real Clear Energy; BBC
NEW STUDY CONFIRMS GREENING BENEFITS OF CO2
A study published in the Journal of Land Management, Food, and Environment shows the rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration produced in part by human greenhouse gas emissions over the past century is benefitting plant life.
According to the study, data from around the world indicate the following:
The increase of the atmospheric CO2 concentration by about 100 ppm [parts per million] during the last 100 years led to increased plant growth worldwide. The global vegetation cover increased by 11-14 percent, which is attributed by 70 percent to the increased atmospheric CO2 content. Since 1982 the global tree population has increased by 7.1 percent. The increase of the CO2 content in the air … resulted in the yield increases of selected crops from 10 [percent] to more than 30 percent.
This research by a team from universities and research institutes in Germany confirms what previous studies, many summarized in Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts, have consistently shown: higher carbon dioxide levels boost plant growth, improve photosynthesis, and enable plants to use water more efficiently. This benefits agriculture and wild ecosystems alike.
The authors wisely recommend, “The CO2 induced yield increases should be used to secure the world’s food supply and improve the income situation in poorer countries.” I couldn’t agree more.
SOURCES: No Tricks Zone; KalteSonne; United States Department of Agriculture; Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change
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