The Leaflet: The Social Benefits of Fossil Fuels

Published October 12, 2018

The  Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change  (NIPCC), in conjunction with The Heartland Institute, has released the  Summary for Policymakers  of the forthcoming  Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels, the fifth volume in the  Climate Change Reconsidered  series. In this new volume, 117 scientists, economists, and other experts address and refute the claim by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the impacts of climate change on human well-being and the natural environment justify dramatic reductions in the use of fossil fuels.  

Part I of the summary provides the reader with a foundation in environmental economics and climate science. Part II presents the benefits to humanity of fossil fuels, addressing human prosperity, environmental benefits, and human health benefits. Part III presents the social costs of fossil fuels, reviewing the literature on the “social cost” of carbon dioxide, cost-benefit analyses, and integrated assessment models, and then produces its own cost-benefit analysis for global warming, fossil fuels, and emission mitigation programs. 

“Access to affordable, plentiful, and reliable energy is closely associated with key measures of global human development including per-capita GDP, consumption expenditure, urbanization rate, life expectancy at birth, and the adult literacy rate,” the summary states. “Scholars have closely examined the connection between the cost and availability of reliable energy (from fossil fuels and other sources) and economic growth, typically measured as per-capita GDP. This research reveals a positive relationship between low energy prices and human prosperity.” 

“A similar level of human prosperity is not possible by relying on alternative fuels such as solar and wind power,” the summary continues. “Wind and solar power are intermittent and unreliable, much more expensive than fossil fuels, cannot be deployed without the use of fossil fuels to build them and to provide back-up power, cannot power most modes of transportation, and cannot increase dispatchable capacity sufficiently to meet more than a small part of the rising demand for electricity.”  

“IPCC and national governments around the world claim the negative impacts of global warming on human health and security, occurring now or likely to occur in the future, more than offset the benefits that come from the use of fossil fuels,” the report concludes. “This claim lacks any scientific or economic basis. Nearly all the impacts of fossil fuel use on human well-being are net positive (benefits minus costs) or are simply unknown. The alleged negative human health impacts due to air pollution are greatly exaggerated by researchers who violate the scientific method and rely too heavily on epidemiological studies finding weak relative risks. The alleged negative impacts on human security due to climate change depend on tenuous chains of causality that find little support in the peer-reviewed literature.” 

The higher energy costs guaranteed by a switch from fossil fuels to expensive “renewable” electricity sources, such as wind or solar, would lead to slower economic growth, as affordable energy is the key to productivity growth and the production of virtually all goods and services. Therefore, elected officials and agency regulators at all levels of government should repeal subsidies, taxes, and regulations aimed directly at reducing the use of fossil fuels. 


What We’re Working On 

Budget & Tax 
Two New Regulatory Reform Ideas for West Virginia 
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans analyzes two regulatory reform ideas for West Virginia that would reduce out-of-control bureaucracy. The REINS Act would pair perfectly with the Housecleaning Bill to give West Virginia the tools needed to limit the scope and power of government. Other states should also consider these measures, and many more, to rein in government overreach, wrote Glans.  

Health Care 
Nurse Practitioners Can Ease America’s Primary Care Shortage 
In this opinion piece, Government Relations Manager Charlie Katebi discusses how expanding the role of nurse practitioners (NP) can make a big difference in the lives of millions of Americans who are struggling to attain primary care. “Relaxing state restrictions on NPs would dramatically expand access to high-quality primary care. Since NPs require fewer years of training to practice than physicians, they can readily deploy to underserved areas with the greatest health care needs,” wrote Katebi. 

Time for Georgia to Make the Special Needs Scholarship Program Universal 
This Research & Commentary by Policy Analyst Tim Benson looks at a new EdChoice report on the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship voucher program, which has generated cumulative net savings to state and local budgets of $150 million over the life of the program. This equates to $7,300 saved per voucher student. Benson says the fiscal prudency of voucher programs, along with their documented ability to offer families improved access to high-quality schools that meet their children’s unique needs and circumstances, should lead Georgia to universalize the program and make it available to every single Georgia student.  

Energy & Environment 
The Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus: A Leftist Betrayal of Republican Voters 
This Policy Brief by Senior Fellow for Environment and Energy Policy James Taylor takes a look at the Climate Solutions Caucus, which purports to seek reasonable approaches for dealing with an alleged global warming crisis and to promote “economically viable” options to restrict carbon dioxide. The organization that gave birth to the Caucus, the Citizens Climate Lobby, promotes costly carbon-dioxide taxes that will, Taylor says, raise energy prices, punish U.S. consumers, and stifle the national economy. Such carbon-dioxide taxes directly contradict the values of the voters who nominated and elected Republican members of Congress.  

From Our Free-Market Friends 
The Badger Institute released a new book titled Federal Grant$tanding, which examines the $750 billion system of federal grants to state and local governments. The book explains how these “federal grants are depriving us of our money, liberty and trust in governmentand what we can do about it. The Badger Institute urges states to push back against these grants rather than blindly accepting the federal money. 


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