By David Rothbard and Craig Rucker
Waning interest and credibility forced organizers to replace climate change with sustainable development as “the world’s most urgent problem” during the UN’s June 2012 Rio+20 Conference. However, climate alarmism is again taking center stage this week at the COP-18 confab in Doha, Qatar.
The agenda remains the same: slash or end hydrocarbon use, transfer wealth, and control energy use, economic growth and lives. The strategies likewise remain unchanged: treaties, laws, regulations and higher taxes for hydrocarbon energy – with control placed in the hands of unelected, unaccountable elites who claim they are saving Planet Earth from ecological collapse.
Previous events in Bali, Copenhagen, Durban and Rio de Janeiro lavished billions of dollars on proposals and discussions that led mostly to promises of more meetings in five-star venues like Doha. With the Kyoto Protocol set to expire, Qatar’s atmosphere is rife with grim determination to forge new international agreements, in the face of hard realities that portend still more failure for global governance stalwarts.
The United States never ratified Kyoto, isn’t bound by its dictates, and has limited economic and political stature to play a lead role in forging a new agreement, regardless of what President Obama might want. Canada, Japan and New Zealand have rejected participation in a new treaty. The European Union is drowning in debt, struggling under soaring renewable energy costs that threaten families, jobs, companies and entire industries, and little inclined to shackle its economy further.
China, Brazil, India, Indonesia and other emerging markets are loathe to sign any treaty that would limit the fossil fuels they need to grow their economies and lift more millions out of poverty. They say industrialized nations must agree to further greenhouse gas reductions, before they will consider doing so, and insist that holding developing countries to developed nation standards would be inequitable.
Poor countries increasingly understand that CO2 emission restrictions will prevent them from developing and subject them to control by environmental zealots and UN regulators. People in those countries are beginning to realize that massive wealth transfers from Formerly Rich Countries – for climate change mitigation, reparation and adaptation – are increasingly unlikely. If “Green Climate Fund” pledges ever do materialize, they will mostly end up in another unaccountable UN slush fund for bureaucrats, autocrats and kleptocrats, with only pennies trickling down to ordinary people.
On the scientific front, contrary to incessant claims that Earth is warming uncontrollably, average planetary temperatures have not risen in 16 years, even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have crept upward to 391 parts per million (0.0391 percent). Temperatures may “remain well above the long-term average,” as some insist – but humanity also suffered through a 500-year Little Ice Age and a “coming ice age scare” during the 1940-1975 cooling period.
And while global warming alarmists continue to say 2010 or the U.S. summer of 2012 was “the hottest on record,” actual data reveal that there is only a few hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit difference between these and other alleged “hottest years,” such as 2005. The 1930s still reign supreme as the hottest in American history.
Arctic sea ice reductions during 2012 were caused by many factors, including ocean currents and enormous long-lasting storms that NASA finally conceded broke up huge sections of the polar ice cap, during a very cold summer. Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice continues to expand, setting new records. The rate of sea level rise has not been accelerating and may actually be decreasing, according to recent studies.
Even with Hurricane Sandy, November 2012 marks the quietest long-term hurricane period since the Civil War, with only one major hurricane strike on the U.S. mainland in seven years. Large tornadoes have also fallen in frequency since the 1950s, and the 2012 season was the quietest on record; only twelve tornadoes touched down in the United States in July 2012, says NOAA, shattering the July 1960 record low of 42.
Climate change computer models predict every imaginable scenario – warmer and colder, wetter and drier, more snow or less snow in winter – so that human-caused disaster believers can always claim to be right. And almost nothing stops politicians and climate alarmists from saying Sandy was “unprecedented” and “proof that climate change is real,” no matter what history actually shows us.
Devastating hurricanes have struck New York, New Jersey and Canada’s Maritime Provinces many times over the centuries. Newfoundland’s deadliest hurricane killed 4,000 people in 1775, while category 1 to 3 ‘canes hit the provinces in 1866, 1873, 1886, 1893, 1939, 1959, 1963 and 2003. New York City was hammered by major storms in 1693, 1788, 1821, 1893, 1938 (the “Long Island Express”), 1944 and 1954.
Climate change is natural, normal, cyclical, frequent, unpredictable, and sometimes catastrophic – as the Little Ice Age certainly was for European agriculture and civilization.
Nor are we “running out” of oil and gas – the other rationale for irrational attacks on hydrocarbons. Thanks to new discoveries, technologies and techniques (like hydraulic fracturing), the world still has many decades of traditional energy. We need to develop it, not lock it up, to help people realize their dreams for a better tomorrow, and bring prosperity to families, communities and nations the world over.
These realities won’t stop the alarmists. There is simply too much money and power at stake. Tens of billions of dollars are transferred annually from taxpayers and energy users to activists, Mann-made global warming scientists, regulators, carbon tax “investors,” and renewable energy and carbon capture subsidy seekers – all of whom have every reason to promote climate scares and attack anyone who voices skepticism about CO2-driven climate change catastrophes.
Nor will scientific or economic reality stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is poised to impose a raft of economy-strangling, job-killing carbon dioxide regulations – or a Congress and White House that are desperate for new sources of revenue, to pay for stimulus and entitlement programs.
The real danger is not climate change. If we have the economic and technological resources, we can adapt to almost any changes Mother Nature might throw at us – short of another glacial period that buries much of the world under a mile of ice.
The real danger is policies, laws, regulations, restrictions and taxes imposed in the name of preventing global warming cataclysms that exist only in computer models, Hollywood horror movies, and UN and environmentalist press releases. Those political reactions will perpetuate and exacerbate poverty, disease, unemployment, and economic stagnation.
They will subsidize renewable energy programs that turn precious food into expensive fuel for cars, destroy wildlife and habitats, and leave the pursuit of happiness and human rights progress in the hands of pressure groups, politicians and bureaucrats who are convinced that mankind is a “cancer on the Earth.”
That is neither just nor sustainable. It is the reason the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow is in Doha. We want the United Nations to return to its founding principles, get serious about poverty alleviation and economic betterment for people everywhere – and implement constructive and sustained solutions to the real problems that continue to confront civilization, wildlife and the environment.
Craig Rucker is CFACT’s executive director.
Self-Educated American recommends Milton Friedman’s, Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition.