Climate Change

Summary

Yes, the climate is changing, and human activity is having a significant impact. But the “solutions” being proposed to solve the problem are more symbolism than substance, and they act as a regressive tax on the poorest of the poor.

Satellite image of ship tracks, clouds created by the exhaust of ship smokestacks. Source: Wikipedia

President Trump’s ham-handed withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords is a major diplomatic embarrassment, but it isn’t going to have any impact on the climate. Indeed, this situation illustrates the overriding problem with climate discussions that are usually more about politics than science.

All too often, the political battle focuses on whether or not the climate is changing (which it is) or whether human beings are having a significant impact (which we are.) I’m often asked whether I believe in it or not, even though the antecedent of what “it” actually is presents a constantly moving target. For instance, you can believe, as I do, that the climate is changing, that humanity is significantly contributing to the change, and that we ought to be taking steps to mitigate the consequences of that change, yet still be labeled a “denier” if you ask questions that don’t fall in lockstep with political orthodoxy.

Such questions include: just how much of this climate change is manmade, and how much is natural variation? What should be the target temperature for the earth’s climate, especially since cold kills far more people than warmth? And, most importantly, are any of the solutions being proposed to fight climate change actually going to do anything?

It’s that last question that ought to be keeping everyone up at night, because every proposed fix for rising global temperatures will cost trillions of dollars and do absolutely nothing, and the scientific consensus for that fact stands at 100%.

If you doubt that, look no further than the testimony of Gina McCarthy, who appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2016 and was forced to admit that the Obama administration’s plans to fight climate change would slow the rise of global temperatures by an immeasurably tiny 1/100 of a degree, a measurement indistinguishable from statistical noise. When asked why taxpayers should shoulder the staggering costs of a plan when it doesn’t actually accomplish anything, McCarthy responded that “the value of this rule is not measured in that way.”

It isn’t? Shouldn’t the value of a rule to fight climate change be measured in how much it fights climate change?

Using thus approach, the Atlanta Falcons could claim to be this year’s Super Bowl champs, because they determined that football games should not be measured in points. Imagine telling the IRS that you don’t actually owe any taxes, because the value of your taxes “is not measured in that way.” What everyone overlooks is that the “solutions” being used to fight it don’t actually do anything, and they cost an awful lot of money to (not) do it. And that money is collected in the form of higher energy prices, which have a disproportionately painful effect on developing nations and the poorest of the poor.

Better solutions involve carbon sequestration, which can be accomplished by agricultural practices, and renewable energy, which will produce a great deal of additional benefits beyond its impact on the climate. As a congressman, I’m going to recognize the scientific reality of climate change, as well as the scientific and economic consequences of empty symbolic gestures that do nothing to solve the problem and do a great deal to keep people mired in poverty.