‘Tis the Season for Global Warming Scaremongering

Published December 30, 2008

‘Twas once again the season for global warming scaremongering this month. New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel’s latest foray into the fabulous world of global warming make-believe (“State’s plan to curb global warming tepid,” December 26, Asbury Park Press) would make even Pinocchio blush.

Tittel claimed global warming is causing increased drought conditions in New Jersey. He did not offer any supporting data or evidence. And little wonder: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) precipitation records for New Jersey show there has been no increase in drought conditions in the state.

According to NCDC records, New Jersey is receiving an average of 6 inches more rain per year than it did a century ago. Moreover, in each of the past six years—and eight of the past nine—New Jersey has seen more precipitation than the twentieth century average. In no way can that be characterized as a drought. The increase in precipitation has been true for all four seasons, with the greatest occurring in the usual autumn drought season.

Tittel also claims global warming is simultaneously causing both more droughts and more floods. His flood claims are just as false as his drought claims.

Although reliable long-term flood data specific to the state of New Jersey are difficult to come by, scientists have such data for the nation as a whole. These data show increased precipitation in the United States, but in a moderate, benign manner. Scientists report in Geophysical Research Letters, a leading climate science journal, that a moderate increase in precipitation for the United States has meant “the conterminous U.S. is getting wetter, but less extreme.”

After failing to back up his science claims, Tittel makes similarly dubious economic claims. He asserts that a government ban on the use of inexpensive coal electricity, forcing people to pay higher electric bills for more-expensive alternative power, is somehow good for the economy and good for our wallets. That is simply crazy talk.

Forcing people to pay more money for goods and services is never good for the economy. It means more money for those who produce alternative fuels, but much less money for consumers overall. It means people have less money to spend on food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, and durable consumer goods. All of these sectors of the economy contract, as does our standard of living, as consumers must spend more money for the same amount of electricity.

Tittel claims “by Sierra Club estimates” a $3.2 billion investment in global warming projects would create 57,000 new jobs. That’s like having the CEO of Citibank tell us “by banking industry estimates” a $700 billion handout to the banking industry would create 57,000 new banking jobs.

The money spent on combating fictitious manmade global warming would surely result in job losses as all sectors of the economy except alternative energy are forced to slow their growth or contract altogether.

It is easy for environmental activists to make self-serving claims about global warming science and economics if nobody checks the facts. New Jersey should trust the facts, not Sierra Club fantasies.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute.