Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Climate change two-step
Opposing climate change “is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.”
— Xi Jinping at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
In its coverage, The New York Times described President Xi’s speech as “galvanizing.” It is also a perfect example of the fraud that is the current fashionable yawping about climate change.
This is not to say that climate change doesn’t exist. It does. It has. It will. At more than one point in its past, Earth was a sweltering planetary jungle. At least twice it was an iceball. In none of these cases were humans responsible; they hadn’t come along yet. But the current iteration is America’s fault because discussion on climate change today is more of the same tired, bash-our-country howling that one has come to expect from the left on every topic one might imagine.
A few figures first, based on data from the Energy Information Agency: contrary to what one might hear, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined by 861 million metric tons, or 14%, from 2005 to 2017. The recession might have helped, but 2019’s energy-related CO2 emissions will be about 13% lower than 2005 levels, at about 5,287 million metric tons, despite robust economic growth. True, this is a 3.8% overall increase from the magic year of 1990, when we were still recovering from fear of being frozen to death in the looming ice age, but the trend is in the right direction and our overall reductions lead the world.4
This is in dramatic contrast to president Xi’s China, which produced 6,263 million metric tons of CO2 in 2005 but by 2017 was cranking out a world-leading 10,877 million metric tons, a 29% increase. This figure represents a 454% increase over 1990. India’s increase in CO2 production since 1990 is similar, at 405%. And its growth from 1,210 million metric tons in 2005 to 2,454 million metric tons in 2017 is a 49% increase, nearly double China’s.
The above illustrates one fatal problem with the Paris Climate Accord: It tags human-produced CO2 as the sole culprit in a warming climate, and then does nothing to address two of the largest economies in which CO2 production is increasing the most rapidly, while calling for draconian, productivity-destroying, monstrously expensive controls on emissions in a country already leading the field on overall reductions. For this reason alone, President Donald Trump was right to give the whole thing the heave-ho: One’s actions should match one’s goals, lest people become suspicious that other, unstated and possibly nefarious ends are being served by one’s proposals.
Dealing with climate change also requires that to which progressives give lip service but is actually anathema to them: compromise. Much of the reduction in U.S. CO2 emissions since 2005 has been due to the replacement of coal with natural gas, and much of that gas is obtained through fracking. Which is a problem for the American left since they regard the process as an invention of the devil, and the pipeline infrastructure required to transfer the stuff as Beelzebub’s Jackstraws. Just ask Gov. Jared Polis. But without both, CO2 production would skyrocket, since to maintain a stable baseload, the U.S. would have to return to burning coal. Lots of it. So in this relatively limited area, there is a stark contrast between what one has declared the greater good — reducing climate change — and popular proposals to eliminate fracking and pipelines.
Yep, making adult decisions is hard.
As much hair-pulling as that choice creates, it’s minor in comparison to other choices ahead. According to the Energy Information Agency, fossil fuels account for about 80% of U.S. energy use. Renewables are at 11.4% and growing, but more than 40% of that involves combustion of biofuels, so represents zero change in CO2 production. Hydropower is 23%, but the environmentalist community wants to breach dams, not build them. That leaves nuclear power, the great Satan of most of the green community. Without a rapid buildup of nuclear power plants to counteract elimination of fossil fuels, there will be insufficient baseload power to provide the 45% of U.S. energy consumption used for industrial and commercial purposes. And without that, the country’s economy will collapse.
At that point, those too poor to relocate to a more congenial location will achieve the desideratum of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others of her ilk: We will be truly equal — equally poor, equally jobless and equally miserable.
And the planet’s climate will merrily continue to change.
Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He lived in Summit County as recently as 2015. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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