Obama’s Climate Obsession

Published June 26, 2013

The bond market suffered a mini-crash following President Obama’s ill-considered words all but firing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during a television interview with Charlie Rose.

Unemployment has been stuck over 7.5 percent for more than 50 months, the entirety of the Obama presidency.

The U.S. is being sucked into an ancient sectarian war in Syria, arming Sunni Muslims who will one day turn their weapons and training against us and Israel, our only true ally in the region.

And Barack Obama is focused on… climate change.

In a speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday, Obama laid out his new “climate action plan,” which regurgitates every radical and ridiculous environmentalist talking point of the past several years.

This despite the fact that while carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have continued to increase (to about 400 parts per million, or about 0.04 percent of the air we breathe), the global average temperature increase “over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) — a value very close to zero,” a trend that climate models have utterly failed to predict.

The fundamental flaw in the president’s thinking is shown by the 21 instances in his plan of the term “carbon pollution,” trying to confuse carbon dioxide, also known as plant food, with real pollutants and poisons such as mercury, arsenic, and lead — each of which the plan mentions as analogous to carbon in a hyperbole so obvious that nobody who doesn’t work for the Sierra Club could possibly buy it.

One wonders what planet Obama lives on when he says “climate change is no longer a distant threat — we are already feeling its impacts across the country and the world.”

Name one, Mr. President, at least one that is well supported by peer-reviewed science.

Does anybody actually believe that man-made climate change is responsible for “floods, heat waves, and droughts” or other severe weather events? Nobody who didn’t vote for Algore.

And does anybody really care? Not according to a Pew Research Center poll earlier this year in which
“dealing with global warming” came in last out of 21 policy priorities, even lower than “dealing with global trade.”

The White House put out a “tweet” on Saturday saying “We owe it to our kids to do something about climate change.” As Greg Pollowitz asks, based on paltry “retweets” and views of the video linked in the message, “Do Obamatons even care about the issue?”

But this isn’t actually about climate. Instead this is about the most radical of environmentalist attacks on coal and transportation in order to sacrifice the American economy, along with jobs and perhaps even lives, at the altar of “clean energy,” renewables, and ever-larger government.

As George Will put it memorably, “today’s ‘green left’ is the old ‘red left’ revised.”

Daniel Schrag, a key climate adviser to Obama, offered the true mindset behind the president’s new push: “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

This war will involve directing the EPA to create federal standards for power plant emissions of carbon that will inevitably lead to the closure of low-cost power plants — in addition to the nearly 300 that have already closed this year.

To be sure, one reason that many coal-fired plants have closed is the development of massive domestic natural gas resources allowed by advances in drilling technology, particularly the combination of fracking and horizontal drilling. But this happened through market forces and rational asset allocation, not top-down government planning, which has never, in the United States, the former Soviet Union, or anywhere else, produced good results.

Not all parts of the country that have coal-fired plants also have easy access to natural gas pipelines. Therefore, the plants that Obama forces to close will result in substantially higher electricity bills — including for some of the poorest areas of Appalachia, which will also suffer increased unemployment from the shuttering of coal mines (offset somewhat by the export of coal to Asia).

In the meantime, coal state politicians, including Democrats, are fuming. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) said that Obama’s war on coal is “a war on Kentucky jobs and our economy.” Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says, “It’s unreasonable. What they’re doing has never been done.” But then, they’ve never before seen a president whose stated goal is to “fundamentallytransform the United States of America.” He means it.

Other aspects of the president’s plan include:

  • Infrastructure spending disguised as “preparation for climate change”
  • Doubling renewable electricity generation
  • $8 billion in loan guarantees for “advanced fossil energy projects”
  • Increasing fuel economy standards
  • “Reducing energy bills for American families and businesses”

Some thoughts on these:

Helping cities build infrastructure is not the role of the federal government. And even if it could be justified as such, the “stimulus” proved that “shovel-ready” jobs really aren’t. Rather billions of dollars get funneled to the administration’s political allies to allow them to buy votes with bike paths and buying cocaine for monkeys.

Utility-scale renewable electricity generation typically requires expensive conventional backup systems since the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow, except when President Obama is talking. That’s why, as the Energy Information Agency notes, “generation from renewable resources grows in response to federal tax credits, state-level policies, and federal requirements to use more biomass-based transportation fuels.” In short, nobody builds large-scale renewable systems because theywant to, but because they are convinced (with other people’s money) or coerced to do so.

It takes a remarkably short memory (not to mention remarkable chutzpah) for the president who wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on “green” boondoggles such as Solyndra and Fisker to return with a proud offer to risk another $8 billion.

Calls for increasing CAFE standards even beyond the current improbable requirement of an average performance equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 assume the availability of affordable technology that may be asked to repeal certain rules of chemistry and physics, or else cause car makers to produce lighter, less safe vehicles. Yes, Obama is willing to risk your life for his green agenda.

As for reducing energy bills, Obama’s plan will do exactly the opposite as he forces the nation away from efficient, high-density energy sources into inefficient, low-density sources invested in by Al Gore, George Kaiser, and other Democratic Obama-supporting associates. When it comes to crony capitalism, Republicans have nothing on these guys.

Other aspects of the plan include such feel-good (read “expensive, unaccountable, and probably permanent”) items as “supporting communities as they prepare for climate impacts” and promoting “resilience” in buildings, transportation, and health care.

No Obama plan would be complete without billions of dollars to fund “research” and agencies whose work product will be used to justify further spending, in a vicious cycle of junk science being used to incinerate Americans’ wealth and freedom. Thus, the president’s FY2014 budget includes nearly $3 billion for just those purposes.

And no Obama plan would be complete without aiming to subject U.S. sovereignty to competitors and rent-seekers in other countries and the United Nations: “As a key part of this effort, we are also working intensively to forge global responses to climate change through a number of important international negotiations, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

Combining the big-spending with the globalist, we have this gem: “We have fulfilled our joint developed country commitment from the Copenhagen Accord to provide approximately $30 billion of climate assistance to developing countries over FY 2010 — FY 2012. The United States contributed approximately $7.5 billion to this effort over the three year period. Going forward, we will seek to build on this progress…”

Yes, the United States of America is being run by a man who believes that transferring $25 from every man, woman, and child in America to third world countries in the name of “climate assistance” is progress — and is just the beginning. What could that money have bought in the U.S., particularly if left in the hands of the productive private sector? But then we have a leader (and I use that term very loosely for a man who has less leadership ability than any Little League coach) who believes that profits are inherently ill-gotten and serve only to facilitate redistribution of wealth.

It is one thing for a president to have an agenda, to try to sell it to the American people, to pass bills in Congress and act through the legislative process. It is another thing entirely — it is tyranny — to go around the lawmakers in order to implement massive, multi-billion-dollar-impact regulations through executive agency rule making.

But this is the crew that is willing to make recess appointments of union thugs to the NLRB when the Senate is not in recess. This is the crew that has subverted the integrity of the Department of Justice, the IRS, the EPA, even the FDA, and for whom its statist ends always and everywhere justify the means.

Policies designed to increase the price of the most efficient high-use fuels, particularly coal and diesel, will raise the cost of everything Americans buy. But that’s just the most obvious part of the damage new EPA regulations will cause.

As author Paul Driessen puts it, “Fuel, compliance and business costs will soar. Companies will be forced to outsource work to other countries, reduce workforces, shift people to part-time status or close their doors. Poor and minority families will be unable to heat and cool their homes properly, pay their rent or mortgage, buy clothing and medicine, take vacations, pay their bills, give to charity, and save for college and retirement.” Driessen argues further that by increasing unemployment, EPA rules and regulations actually harm the health of Americans, causing depression, heart attacks, suicides, and “declining overall life expectancy.”

Congress does have a tool to fight the coming draconian regulations through the Congressional Review Act, though it has historically had little success through this route. Much will depend on the results of the 2014 elections, which will take place before the EPA can finalize and implement new rules.

In his Tuesday speech, the president coughed up one morsel of alarmist gristle after another:

  • “Our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind.” Of course, he has no idea whether that is true, or whether impacts would be positive or negative.
  • “Ice in the Arctic shrank…faster than most models predicted it would.” Of course, he doesn’t mention that over the past six months, the Arctic sea ice extent has expanded rapidly and is now above the average for the past decade at this time of the year, nor that Antarctica — which holds 90 percent of the world’s ice (that is not a typo) — has been gaining ice for decades.
  • “2012 was the warmest year in our history.” Of course, he doesn’t mention that that bit of data is an artifact of government data manipulation: the government added new weather stations that didn’t exist during the hotter years of the 1930s and in fact 2012 was likely not in the top 10 warmest years.
  • “97 percent of scientists…have acknowledged that the planet is warming and human activity is contributing.” Of course, he doesn’t mention that the 97 percent number has been demonstrated to be afabrication: According to research into the study with the 97 percent claim, it is “obviously littered with falsely classified papers making its conclusions baseless and its promotion by those in the media misleading.”

The insightful (and very funny) Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute suggests that “the word on the street… is that this is a rather clumsy, ham-fisted effort to give a sop to the green movement because (Obama) plans to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which is of course a no-brainer.”

I disagree. This is a president who has said for years that he intended to bankrupt the coal power industry, and that his plan will cause electricity prices to “necessarily skyrocket.” He is a radical (environmentalist, socialist, you name it) in his heart, motivated far more by ideology than pragmatism or even politics. He is blissfully unfettered by concern for the rule of law or the Constitution.

During his Tuesday speech, Obama said, “The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project can go forward.” He will search the various reports that reach his desk to find one that agrees with his pre-determined conclusion to avoid permitting Keystone XL.

It comes down to this: Carbon generally, and carbon dioxide specifically, are not pollution. CO2 is plant food. It is a weak greenhouse gas with declining (logarithmic) impact on climate as concentrations increase. One study argues that the first 20 parts per million of atmospheric CO2 “accounts for over half of the heating effect to the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm, by which time carbon dioxide is tuckered out as a greenhouse gas.”

While Barack Obama may not know this, his advisers do. But when the alarmist cult’s goal is fundamental transformation of the country and the destruction of one of the most important fuel sources of the past century, who cares about the facts?

Even the Economist magazine, which had bought into climate alarmist hype, is now cooling its rhetoric. Yet Barack Obama, in his desire to leave what the suck-ups at Time magazine suggest would be an “impressive legacy on climate change,” is plowing ahead with his anti-capitalist, anti-consumer, anti-democratic crusade against the American economy, consumers and jobs.

But at least there’s nothing else important going on in the world.

[First Published by The American Spectator]