It used to be called global warming and now it’s mostly called climate change, but it’s still a near apocalypse frowning on the horizon, according to a recent government report. A biggie, it says, will be shrinkage of the economy through the rest of this century. What should we do?
Be reasonable, for one thing, and that includes finding out more about the report, a 1,656-page offering of worst-case scenarios from the 60-member National Climate Assessment committee. It enlisted 300 scientists and others together for research, and 18 federal agencies reviewed its findings. Admittedly, that’s a lot of bureaucrats playing with a lot of words, leading to fear of mishmash having its way, but we do get interesting views of what unabated climate treachery could do.
The seas will continue to rise. More wildfires will come our way. Crops won’t bloom like they used to. Because of cows having fewer plants to chew, dairy products will decrease. Weather will behave fiercely. Blackouts will keep electricity at bay. Faced with flooding, infrastructure won’t hold up. Premature deaths will increase in the Midwest. Mental health will be affected.
The report’s preventive answer is to do something significant about lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Minus that, it warns, we will have to spend enormous sums of money adjusting to these calamities, and that’s why the economy will find its way to a ditch getting ever deeper.
Right off, however, we have a counter-assessment that the report’s estimates of the cost of all of this won’t be overwhelming relative to GDP growth. According to analyses in the Wall Street Journal, even small growth will compensate for the damage and adjustments, and I myself would add that, whatever the trepidations, government interventions deserve as much examination as the climate itself.
President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, for instance, was political power misused, a constitutionally questionable, crushingly expensive, unilaterally enacted scheme in which states could have their own laws destroyed as global warming got off very nearly scot-free.
Part of the problem was wanting to replace coal with heavily subsidized solar and wind power even though they are technologically unprepared for the task before them. They provide energy intermittently, when the sun shines and wind blows. Energy is needed around the clock.
Still, the United States leads all other countries in the world in reduced CO2 emissions, and guess why. Free enterprise has been replacing use of coal, which has lots of CO2, with use of natural gas, which is far cheaper and has far less CO2. The market said hot-diggity-dog and no government guidance was necessary. The thing is, it takes the whole world to reduce global warming and most of it is not trying.
Despite all the crying, screaming and despair when President Donald Trump announced he was pulling out of the international Paris Accord, only four or five of the 196 nations that signed the international agreement have done much of anything. Even if they did, the goals are so insignificant that little would be accomplished. Well, it’s a start, some say, and yes, it’s a start to evasive fraud as worldwide CO2 emissions have gone up by half in recent decades.
If you believe meaningful, definitive CO2 diminishment crucial to human flourishing, you also must believe in a carbon tax and in accompanying tax reductions to keep the economy purring (and the rioters at home). And, if you believe in then maintaining an industrialized society, you’ve got to subscribe to nuclear power because renewables are nowhere near ready and natural gas does in fact emit CO2.
Nuclear power, foolishly being pushed aside in Germany, which is consequently suffering, is getting safer and killed no one by way of radiation at Fukushima, for instance. While these plants are expensive, research and standardization could turn that around. Among those advocating nuclear power are pioneering climate change activist James Hanson, the Union of Concerned Scientists and researchers at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University. Nations dispensing with nuclear plants are paying the price.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at email@example.com.