Heartland Institute Experts React to Obama’s Climate Change Speech

President Barack Obama today delivered a speech laying out his energy and environment agenda for his second term – a plan that includes tighter regulations on power plants, mandates to increase vehicle mileage, and increased subsidies for solar and wind projects on federal lands.

The following statements from energy and environment policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“The president’s restrictions are unnecessary, futile, and economically punishing. The restrictions are unnecessary because global temperatures have remained flat for the past 15 years, proving alarmist climate models predict far too much warming and have no basis in reality. Moreover, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are already falling dramatically without the punitive measures the president is proposing.

“The restrictions are futile because new growth in Chinese emissions will render all U.S. carbon dioxide cuts moot within a few short months. And even if Chinese emissions growth did not wipe out U.S. cuts, those U.S. cuts would have no measurable impact on global temperatures. The restrictions are economically punishing because they will drive up energy prices throughout the U.S. economy, which will stifle job creation and additionally drive existing businesses and jobs overseas.

“In short, the president’s restrictions are economically ruinous while providing no appreciable benefit.”

James M. Taylor, J.D.
Senior Fellow for Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“With clear evidence that the planet has not warmed in the past 15 years while carbon dioxide has increased, we know reducing emissions of CO2 will have only one impact: to increase the cost of American energy. Obviously this is Mr. Obama’s intent, and while it will thrill his anti-capitalist environmental supporters, it will hopefully wake up the general public to the fact that he does not have their best interests at heart in creating more radical environmental regulations.”

Jay Lehr, Ph.D.
Science Director
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“In discussing the rationale for his climate change and energy plan, President Obama claims that carbon dioxide, or CO2, ’causes climate change and threatens public health’ and that ‘cutting carbon pollution will help keep our air and water clean and protect our kids.’ Unfortunately, President Obama’s statements could not be further from the truth. Far from being a ‘pollutant,’ carbon dioxide is the elixir of life.”

Craig D. Idso, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Environment
The Heartland Institute
Co-editor, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change
[email protected]

“Today, President Obama showcased his inability to learn from what works and what doesn’t work.

“Europeans engaged early on in the carbon emissions ruse and, as a result, have seen their energy costs increase dramatically. They found their emission reduction plans have done little to lower carbon but have been devastating to their economy. They’ve now backed away from their carbon trading scheme and are importing American coal and wood to fuel their needs for electricity. It hasn’t worked for Europe.

“Once again, he wants to throw money at more green energy projects when the nearly $100 billion he’s allocated through his stimulus bill has produced an embarrassing number of failures and near failures (more than 50) while lining the pockets of his friends and donors. This is a plan that has proven it doesn’t work. Yet he wants to keep throwing good money after bad.

“The United States is the only developed country to actually lower carbon emissions. We’ve done it – not through extreme policies – but through private enterprise embracing our abundant natural gas. Encouraging extraction in the U.S. and approving liquified natural gas export terminals would encourage reduced carbon emissions and help our economy. The fact that this is not Obama’s plan exposes his true motives – which are not really about carbon emission reductions, but rather furthering America’s declining international status.

“What President Obama outlined today emphasizes what we know doesn’t work while ignoring what does.”

Marita Noon
Executive Director
Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy
[email protected]

“The fear of carbon dioxide causing significant global warming (or climate change, which has been ongoing for hundreds of millions of years) is built on long-range forecasts from climate models that have never been validated – that is, made scientifically meaningful. The models are failing miserably. Contrary to dire forecasts, there has been no warming of the atmosphere in over a decade and no warming of the Earth’s surface for over 15 years. The models cannot even describe the natural causes of climate change. The government’s studies of the impacts of climate change are based on these models, which are failing.

“The fear instilled from the use of dire forecasts that are not scientifically meaningful has led to the scientifically ridiculous notion that carbon and carbon dioxide are pollutants. All life on the planet is carbon-based. Is life a pollutant? When humans breathe, on average, they increase the carbon dioxide concentration of the air they use by 100 times. The carbon dioxide concentration of air they inhale is about 4 parts per 10,000, while the carbon dioxide concentration of the air they exhale is about 400 parts per 10,000. Is breathing polluting?

“Unfortunately, government studies ignore the tremendous benefits of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Green plants need carbon dioxide to create food for themselves, which, directly or indirectly, becomes food for all life, including humans. We have thousands of studies showing that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide enhances growth of virtually all plants and food crops, either directly by aiding in creating more food, or indirectly by making the plants more resistant to stress, such as drought.

“Any policy built on models that have not been validated, and scientifically ridiculous notions such as carbon is a pollutant, is doomed for failure. Unlike politicians, Nature is not fooled by human models and foolish notions. We can only hope that the folly of this policy becomes evident before its specific programs squander too many precious resources.”

Kenneth Haapala
Executive Vice President
Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
[email protected]

“Webster’s defines the word charlatan as ‘one making showy pretenses to knowledge or ability.’ While we do not expect the president to possess a science degree, his audacity in proselytizing on a subject such as climate change that he knows so little about is a reflection of his arrogance. Clearly, should our country be forced to pursue the goals that he has set regarding curbs on carbon emissions, the economic impact will be no less devastating on our economy than it has been for many European nations. The underlying science is unsubstantiated and the economic effects from the implementation of the proposed policy would be pernicious.”

Paul Crovo
Energy Analyst, Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“Politicians seem to me like magicians at times. Their remarks often appear like gibbering nonsense to my ears. But their words are like a wizard’s incantation in mystic runes delivering with great talent a message not meant for my ears, but for ears that find in them a silken truth beyond reason.

“Terminology like Domino Sugar’s very silly ‘carbon free sugar’ mesh seamlessly with this statement about ‘pollution’ from seemingly oxygen-free carbon dioxide (i.e. ‘carbon’). I think if I were to repeat these bizarre flourishes of language often enough to myself, maybe the nonsensical antiscientific blurry edges of this terminology might come into focus and I too might be able to hear the mystical message.

“But if I do not trust the meaning of language for well-defined, straightforward, physical things like carbon, sucrose, or oxygen, how can I trust usage of subtler physical notions like ‘energy,’ or open questions like what climate means (let alone climate change)? How can I even know what is meant by ‘moral’ or ‘action’ when I do not trust the basic understanding of physical things by the authors of this?

“Are these terms also code for something else, or just empty, sweet, and soft runes for bedazzled ears like the word ‘science’ has sadly become?

“But what I am sure of is that no matter how these questions are answered, it will cost a lot of money if given half a chance.”

Christopher Essex
Professor and Associate Chair
Department of Applied Mathematics
University of Western Ontario
[email protected]

“President Obama’s climate policy speech is best understood as the audacity of deceit. It has no basis in climate science and asserts that the Earth is subject to ‘carbon pollution.’

“Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth insofar as it is vital for all plant life, from a blade of grass to a giant redwood, but most essential to the growth of the crops that are the basis of feeding humanity and the livestock it depends upon as a food source.

“The Earth and all living things on it would benefit from more carbon dioxide, but the president is asserting the very opposite of this while vilifying CO2 and the business and industrial sectors that produce it in the process of manufacturing everything a society requires. It is also produced by seven billion humans who exhale CO2 with every breath.”

Alan Caruba
Founder, The National Anxiety Center
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 29-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.