“Hot Talk, Cold Science” and The Dangers of Centralized Planning in the Name of Climate Change
When former President Barack Obama says “We are nowhere near where we need to be” in terms of climate change, he’s not talking about reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The stated goals of the U.N. Paris Agreement that Obama, and other world leaders, embrace are properly viewed as a proxy for a larger agenda aimed at dismantling American independence and freedom.
After all, the U.S. already leads the world in reducing Co2 emissions thanks in large part to hydraulic fracturing that accelerated during Donald Trump’s presidency. Forbes reports on the emissions reductions that occurred much to the consternation of the news media and its cheerleading for U.N. directives that raise energy costs without impacting climate.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration has collected data that shows how innovative drilling techniques has unleashed natural gas, which in turn has been driving down emissions. This trendline has continued into the Biden presidency in part because natural gas has replaced coal and in part because of COVID-19 restrictions on travel and other activities.
So, if Obama isn’t talking about emissions, what did he actually mean while addressing the U.N’s latest climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland earlier this month? The answer comes in the form of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that President Biden signed into law on Monday, and other anti-energy initiatives, ostensibly advanced in the name of climate change. The directives and mandates included in the legislation make it evident that what Obama really meant during his talk at the U.N. is that centralized planners in Europe and America are “nowhere near” where they would like to be as it relates to implementing coercive policy measures.
The climate change agenda initiated under Obama and reloaded under Biden is built around an anti-carbon mindset that seeks to replace fossil fuels with expensive, unreliable forms of energy that will raise household and transportation costs for the average citizens “Lunch Bucket Joe” claims to represent. The American Energy Alliance, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit group that favors free market policies in the energy sector, details the taxpayer-funded “subsidies and slush funds” for favored special interests now in motion in a recent analysis of the infrastructure bill.
But the problem here is not just with the economics of what Team Biden has wrought, but with the science of climate change. A good source here is the late Fred Singer, an American physicist, who was also a professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, and a research fellow with the Independent Institute, a public policy research organization based in Oakland, California. The institute has just released an updated version of Singer’s book “Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate that exposes how the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has peddled “misinformation and alarmist” rhetoric that does not hold up under scientific scrutiny.
Singer, and his co-authors, document how the IPCC has had to “walk back” several alarmist claims. The book notes, for instance, that the U.N. panel was finally forced to concede that -- counter to its projections -- a 15-year period “of no significant warming since 1998 despite a 7 percent rise in atmospheric Co2 levels.” Singer viewed the IPCC as a political rather than scientific organization that “deliberately and repeatedly” hid “uncertainty,” and “the absence of critical data” while evading “evidence that questions or contradicts its apocalyptic prediction.” The end result, he wrote, is a “terrible crime against science” and “the adoption of unnecessary and very costly public policies, and grave damage to the reputation and credibility of science.”
That part about “unnecessary and very costly public policies” is applicable to the Biden climate change agenda and the impact it will have on American energy consumers.
Tom Pyle, president of American Energy Alliance, puts it very well in a press statement.
“Spending with no return is the theme of this bill,” Pyle said. “Tens of billions for rail, which few Americans choose, let alone use. It seems Congress insists on repeating and expanding the fantastically expensive built train boondoggle in California. Expanding mass transit in our large cities, which forces people together, in an era of pandemic and physical distancing is mindboggling. Even the spending on actual highways, a mere 10% or so of the total bill, is likely to net only a limited gain.
“This infrastructure bill does nothing to fix the actual problems facing America today and those which voters are most concerned about: the supply chain crisis and rocketing inflation. That this wasteful and unnecessary legislation has consumed the attention of Congress for half the year is an indictment of the institution. We can only hope that wasted time and wasted money are the only consequences of this legislation.”
So then, what are the prospects for economic renewal and the restoration of sensible energy policies? If Obama is expressing frustration at the rate of progress made toward government control over energy use, this would suggest there is time to reverse course. That was the message Rob Bradley, CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research, delivered while addressing the Heartland Institute’s most recent international climate change conference held in Las Vegas this past October.
With an eye toward history, Bradley told audience members that the U.S. “has been in a very strange, negative energy situation before and come back.” He pointed to the centralized planning that occurred under President Wilson during World War I that gave the federal government power to impose price controls on oil products leading to “Gasless Sundays, Heatless Mondays, Meatless Tuesdays, Wheatless Wednesdays and Lightless Nights” as they were described at the time. These polices were reenacted on a larger scale during World War II, Bradley said when “ration books” were dispersed restricting the acquisition of simple items like coffee and more vital items like gasoline.
“The end of the climate crusade will be to have energy rationing and maybe even carbon rationing,” Bradley warned, where “people who get the big allotments such as during World War II are the politicians and the bureaucrats…and then at the bottom are the forgotten men and women.”
But over time, Bradley does see free market energy policies winning out.
“We have a very solid worldview, and we need to keep in mind we have the moral high ground,” he said. “We need to be proud of each other for going against the mainstream and I think there’s reason for optimism. Classical liberalism, which you can also call small L libertarianism or the science of liberty, it is a worldview that really makes sense, it hangs together, you have to study it a little more than the other side.”
With government intervention, the simple answer is to pass a law, Bradley explained. “Well, it takes a lot more understanding to appreciate the free market and why doing the easy thing with government has unintended consequences and negative intended consequences,” he said.
Singer’s book provides a roadmap for a future administration devoted to free market energy policies. He credited Trump for withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, which Singer said, “lacked any scientific justification” and is “unfairly biased against American interests.” But Singer also made the observation that Trump should have gone a step further to withdraw the U.S. from the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. Since he didn’t, Biden was able to simply re-enter the U.N. agreement only a few months after the U.S. was officially out. There’s a lesson in that.
Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter with both the Commonwealth Foundation and the Heritage Foundation.