Budget proposal requests millions for 'climate crisis'
While the Biden administration’s small business budget references environmental initiatives more than 20 times, it makes no mention of inflation’s impact on businesses—a contrast that Republican lawmakers say shows a disconnect between the White House and American voters.
The Small Business Administration’s 2023 budget proposal, which the White House in March submitted to Congress for approval, lists the “climate crisis” as an agency priority, requesting $10 million toward environmental initiatives such as the replacement of federal government vehicles with zero-emission cars. The request, meanwhile, makes no mention of rising consumer prices, which in March hit a four-decade high of 8.5 percent—even as recent polling shows inflation is a top concern for business owners. Four out of five small business owners say their companies have “suffered” from inflation, according to an April Goldman Sachs report.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, said the budget is “out of touch with America and reality.”
“The president and his SBA administrator are more focused on appeasing climate activists than helping Americans on Main Street,” Ernst told the Free Beacon. “They need to get a clue.”
The Small Business Administration told the Free Beacon that while inflation is not explicitly mentioned in the budget, the agency’s proposed funding for domestic production and global supply chain programs will help small businesses struggling with rising prices.
“We remain committed to advocating for all our entrepreneurs, including supporting several initiatives in the FY22 budget dedicated to lowering costs for Americans,” an agency spokesman told the Free Beacon.
The White House in recent months has blamed rising prices on global supply chain shortages and the war in Ukraine. Some economists, however, have warned that the Biden administration’s record spending has been the main driver of surging inflation. President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which Congress passed last year, cost an estimated $3.5 trillion. The Small Business Administration, through its Paycheck Protection Program, has forgiven $714 billion in loans to businesses that maintained their staff amid the pandemic.
“This inflation is caused by trillions of newly ‘minted’ dollars flowing through the economy and government-created supply shortages from overregulation and restrictions on society the past two years,” Joel Griffith, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who focuses on financial regulations, told the Free Beacon.
Congress will review the Small Business Administration’s proposed budget as it prepares to draft appropriations packages later this year. Several Republicans on the House Small Business Committee, including Beth Van Duyne (Texas), Byron Donalds (Fla.), Dan Meuser (Pa.), and Blaine Luetkemeyer (Mo.), told the Free Beacon the administration is putting left-wing policies above pressing economic concerns.
The budget “does just the opposite of addressing inflation: more reckless spending on policies straight from the Democrats’ radical and extreme agenda,” Luetkemeyer told the Free Beacon.
A Gallup poll in March found that climate change is the top issue for only 2 percent of Americans. Inflation and increased cost of living, meanwhile, are the top concern for 17 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), also a member of the Small Business Committee, said the Small Business Administration’s priorities are misaligned.
“Every small business owner I talk to is being hammered by inflation, and that’s on top of supply chain delays and a labor shortage,” Rubio told the Free Beacon. “But no one in the Biden Administration seems concerned about the fate of small businesses because they’re too busy pushing some radical, woke nonsense that won’t help anyone on Main Street.”
Fighting climate change is at the center of President Joe Biden’s administration, because, Biden claims, “[Climate change is] the number one issue facing humanity.”
Biden’s solution, as outlined at the time and subsequently on multiple White House fact sheets, is to use a “whole of government approach,” achieving a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, and being net-zero emissions for the nation as a whole by 2050.
Although Biden’s goals are clearly stated, his energy and climate policies have been inconsistent.
Energy is the lifeblood of the economy. The actions taken by former President Donald Trump to achieve energy independence delivered low prices, created jobs and kept the economy humming, until the pandemic hit. Biden’s policies have done just the opposite with the result that his and the Democrats’ electoral prospects in the coming elections are falling almost as fast as the average American’s energy, food, and fuel prices are rising.
As one of his first acts in office, Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline partnership with Canada. This may have been the first time in history a president used his first day in office to kill thousands of American jobs and disrupt critical infrastructure. It also told our allies, especially Canada, the United States can’t be trusted to keep its word.
In the following days, Biden implemented a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. A federal court soon declared Biden’s moratorium illegal, ordering the administration to resume lease sales as the law demanded. For months, the Biden administration thumbed its nose at the court’s ruling and refused to resume leasing, only doing so months later under threat of court sanctions.
Despite rescinding federal approval of Keystone XL and supporting or leading efforts to block other pipelines, Biden waived sanctions the Trump administration had imposed on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline. This odd “pipelines for thee but not for me” action undermines U.S. interests, especially our efforts to expand U.S. liquefied natural gas exports to reduce Russia’s geopolitical influence in Europe.
Biden’s approval of the Russian pipeline is directly at odds with his domestic efforts to fight climate change. It makes no difference to the Earth whether natural gas comes from Russia or the United States, but it makes a huge difference to the people of those respective countries.
Since then, Biden has proposed methane emission restrictions that would make it harder and more expensive to develop, store, and transport oil and natural gas in the United States, and increasing the fees and royalty rate oil and gas producers must pay the federal government.
As high oil and gas prices have begun to hammer average citizens’ pocketbooks—and, more importantly to Democrats, poll numbers—Biden went hat in hand to Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, pleading with them to open up the spigots and release more oil into world markets to moderate prices. In less than four years, Trump broke OPEC’s stranglehold over U.S. energy markets. In less than a year, Biden has made us once again beholden to hostile foreign powers for a growing portion of our energy needs. And the effect on the climate is likely zero at best.
As noted by Forbes, there are multiple ironies in Biden’s begging OPEC for oil, not the least of which is the “Biden Administration asked OPEC to pump more oil, undermining its COP26 messaging of reducing fossil fuel consumption.” Getting oil from OPEC increases emissions relative to producing it in the United States, because OPEC’s is produced under laxer environmental rules and enforcement, and must be shipped thousands of miles.
After OPEC predictably refused Biden’s request to shore up Democrats’ election prospects by putting more oil on the market to moderate prices at the pump, Biden decided on a desperate course of action: releasing oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
The SPR was established in 1975 after oil supplies were interrupted during the 1973-1974 oil embargo, to mitigate future supply disruptions in cases of international crisis or war. The SPR was not instituted as a plaything for presidents to use to manipulate energy markets or elections, but that’s what Biden did. Biden’s SPR release did little or nothing to reverse high gas prices or prevent climate change, but it did leave the United States with fewer reserves to draw on should a true emergency such as a war or large-scale natural disaster disrupt supplies.
Biden’s policies have been a contradictory mishmash of domestic energy restrictions which harm Americans, and foreign energy promotion benefitting international competitors. The climate is unimpressed.
If there is one bright spot in Biden’s bipolar energy policies, it is that, should 2022 be anything like 2021, it is likely Biden is a one-term president and Democrats are a one-term party in power.
The bipartisan infrastructure agreement contains billions of dollars to remedy supposed racial injustice and combat climate change.
The Washington Free Beacon obtained a Messaging Document circulating among Senate offices to rally support. Much of the document, which is aimed at winning over skeptical GOP lawmakers, appears to be taken word-for-word from a Biden administration fact sheet posted on the White House website on Wednesday.
Much of the highlighted spending aims to remedy discriminatory policies of the past. Part of the $110 billion earmarked for rebuilding roads and bridges is dedicated to fixing allegedly racist projects that “divided” black communities.The proposal specifically names highways such as I-81 in Syracuse, New York, that would be rebuilt around black communities, rather than through them. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg previously said that “there is racism physically built into some of our highways.”
Thousands of public school buses, according to the document, would be replaced with “zero emission vehicles” as part of a $7.5 billion effort to “modernize” the country’s transportation. These new buses “will benefit communities of color since these households are twice as likely to take public transportation,” according to the document.
The proposal advanced in the Senate Tuesday night with a vote of 67-32. Every Democrat voted “yes,” as did 17 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). With two-thirds support, the deal is expected to pass the Senate without a GOP filibuster although it faces steep obstacles in the House.
While the bill has the support of McConnell, not all Republicans are on board. Former president Donald Trump lashed out against Republicans who supported the deal, calling Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah), who led negotiations between the two parties, a “SUPER RINO.”
“This will be a victory for the Biden administration and Democrats, and will be heavily used in the 2022 election,” said Trump. “It is a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish, and dumb.”
House Democrats, who hold a slim majority, can only afford losing a few votes. Already, Democrats like Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) said “the votes of Congressional Progressive Caucus members are not guaranteed on any bipartisan package until we examine the details.”
The document boasts of the “largest investment in clean energy in history,” which includes building a new “clean, 21st century electric grid” and billions of dollars “for supply chains for clean energy technologies.” The Department of Energy would also be tasked with creating a “digital climate solutions report, including potential for use of artificial intelligence as a climate solution.”
Residents along Amtrak’s Acela corridor will enjoy $6 billion for track maintenance, as part of the “largest federal investment in public transit in history.” Another $60 billion will be given for general passenger and foreign rail funding.
The document also proposes a variety of other ambitious initiatives, including the replacement of “all of the nation’s lead pipes.”
“Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water,” the messaging document says. “The deal’s $55 billion investment represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines. … It will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines.”
A separate document obtained by the Free Beacon explains how the government will finance the new spending. Most of the sources of revenue appear to be from a variety of accounting tricks, such as the $2.9 billion “from extending available interest rate smooth options for defined benefit pension plans.” Those who support the plan expect another $28 billion to come from “applying information reporting requirements to cryptocurrency.”
The largest portion of funding comes from the “repurposing of certain unused COVID relief dollars,” totaling $205 billion. Another $53 billion comes from “certain states returning unused enhanced federal [unemployment insurance] supplement.”
Several of the Biden administration’s key climate goals — particularly steps to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the power and transportation sectors — are likely to be held hostage by China. A shift away from fossil fuels to renewables to produce electricity, and the deployment of more electrical vehicles on America’s roadways, depends upon batteries. Since China currently controls the entire life cycle of battery development, the Biden administration needs a strategy to mitigate China’s dominant position. While the president’s special envoy for climate, John Kerry, hopes to approach climate as a “critical standalone issue,” the fact is that geopolitics will shape the choices President Joe Biden will have to make. The Biden administration will not be able to “compartmentalize” its climate policies from the overall U.S.-Chinese relationship. China’s strength in the new green industries presents a strategic challenge.
Energy storage has been called the “glue” of a low-carbon economy, enabling the greater use of intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. The World Economic Forum argues that batteries are a critical factor in reaching the Paris Agreement goal of limiting rising temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius. By 2030, it stated, batteries could enable 30 percent of the required reductions in carbon emissions in the transport and power sectors.
Batteries and Bottlenecks
The battery supply chain is complex, but it can be reduced to four key elements: mining the critical minerals, processing them, assembling the battery parts, and recycling.
Under its “Go Out” investment strategy, China has spent the last two decades solidifying control over the main critical minerals for battery cells — lithium, cobalt, and graphite. Beijing now controls some 70 percent of the world’s lithium supplies, much of which is located in South America. More than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt reserves are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and China has secured control over 10 of the country’s 18 major mining operations, or more than half its production. Beijing is also the world’s largest consumer of cobalt, with more than 80 percent of its consumption being used by the rechargeable battery industry. Graphite is the largest component by volume in advanced batteries, but spherical graphite, the kind that makes up the anode in electrical vehicle batteries, must be refined from naturally occurring flake graphite. And China produces 100 percent of the world’s spherical graphite.BECOME A MEMBER
Second, China has developed the largest minerals processing industry in the world. After these critical minerals are mined from the earth, they must be separated, processed, refined, and combined. This process is dirty and environmentally unfriendly. Lithium-ion batteries contain hazardous chemicals, such as toxic lithium salts and transition metals, that can damage the environment and leach into water sources. This is likely a key reason why few processing facilities are located in North America. The critical minerals the United States does mine are often shipped back to China for refining.
According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Beijing also controls 59 percent of global lithium processing, 65 percent of nickel processing, and 82 percent of cobalt processing. And an important aside is that China produces roughly 90 percent of the magnets needed for the motors of electrical vehicles.
As early as 2008, China announced billions of dollars in infrastructure investments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by far the world’s largest cobalt producer, in exchange for mining rights. The partnership continues to flourish. In January of this year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo formally joined China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative. The Chinese mining company Tianqi Lithium has acquired stakes in major mines in Chile and Australia, giving it effective control over nearly half the current global production of lithium. China controls even more market share in the refining and processing parts of the mineral supply chain. Together, these state-backed investments have given Chinese battery makers like Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) an advantage over Japanese and American competitors.
Third, once these minerals are processed, they are packed into battery cells, which are combined into modules and which, in turn, are wrapped into battery packs. This process takes place in dedicated battery factories called “gigafactories.” Like the rest of the battery supply chain, very few of these specialized factories are located in North America. About 136 of the 181 lithium-ion battery gigafactorieseither planned or under construction worldwide are, or will be, located in China. Just 10 are planned for the United States. An important step in the right direction is General Motor’s consideration of building a second battery factory in the United States — it already has a new facility online in Ohio — but the United States needs to do more.
Finally, once batteries have reached the end of their life cycle, the critical minerals in each cell can be reused. But China dominates the battery recycling industry as well. This is partially because China has built infrastructure to recycle lithium-ion batteries for consumer electronics. In 2019, around 70 percent of lithium-ion batteries were recycled in China and South Korea. And because China is by far the world’s largest electric vehicle market, it will remain a key contributor to lithium battery waste — thus allowing Beijing to recycle at scale.
China has been strategic about building up its recycling capabilities, requiring manufacturers of electric vehicles to be responsible for setting up facilities to collect and recycle spent batteries. As a part of this initiative, automakers were required to establish a maintenance service network to allow consumers to repair or exchange old batteries.. Going forward, recycling will only become more important. By 2030, 11 million metric tons of lithium-ion batteries are expected to reach the end of their service lives. Eventually, a robust recycling process could offer a way for countries to mitigate some Chinese-controlled bottlenecks in the supply chain. But taking advantage of this will require environmentally friendly recycling facilities in the United States.
Commanding Heights: Technology and Leverage
China’s dominance across this supply chain should come as no surprise. As in other key economic and technology sectors such as flexible manufacturing, solar panels, and wind turbines, China has achieved dominance by careful planning and investments — as well as unfair practices such as those that led to the dominance of China’s solar panel manufacturing industry. (And it’s worth noting that this issue became one of the most contentious issues between the European Union and China as well.) In addition, many pointed to China’s massive intellectual property theft as a key contributor to its dominance in these key sectors.
Because China takes a strategic national approach, it has been particularly good at identifying key foundational sectors or platforms to grow or control, thereby increasing its economic and geostrategic power. For example, it has used its dominance in financial technologies across Asia to increase the power of its surveillance state by collecting the data associated with payments. It has prioritized 5G, and, with state financing and other forms of support, it has built out its network and is far ahead of the United States in land stations. Notably, this 5G infrastructure will have direct relevance to China’s ability to develop autonomous vehicles, since self-driving vehicles and other platforms, like drones, depend upon the fast connectivity 5G networks provide. (And autonomous vehicles are closely related to the electrical vehicle industry.)
Beijing’s “Made in China 2025 plan,” announced some six years ago, called for major advances in semiconductor fabrication and provided more than $150 billion to support that goal. Some recent reports suggest that China aims to produce some 70 percent of its domestic chip needs within China by 2025 and to reach parity with international technologies five years later. As Jonathan Ward has pointed out, “the mastery of advanced technologies and the creation of a powerful industrial base for civilian and military purposes” are essential pieces of China’s global strategy and activities. While the United States now increasingly recognizes this reality — with legislation such as the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act (CHIPS for America Act), as well as executive branch attention by both Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden — there remains a far gap between strategy development, desired outcomes, and actual implementation.
Advanced energy is another key platform. Thus, it is not surprising that the “Made in China 2025” plan also included “new energy vehicles” and “new energy” as one of its 10 areas of focus. Beijing considers advanced batteries and electric vehicles a key strategic sector worthy of extensive industrial planning. One report noted that, in the science and technology sector alone, the Chinese Communist Party has issued as many as 100 plans. Several of these, including its 2011 strategic emerging industries plan, focused on key strategic sectors, including the “new energy automobile industry.” In 2017, General Secretary Xi Jinping released an Outline of the National Strategy for Innovation-Driven Development that includes differentiated strategies to produce “modern energy technologies.” And China is using its “One Belt One Road” framework to make strategic investments around the world and vertically integrate its supply chain for battery production.
The Chinese Communist Party has recognized that pressure to address climate change will prompt a shift toward renewable energy around the world. With a regulatory push across Europe, some expertsanticipate that, by 2040, about 70 percent of all vehicles sold in Europe across different segments will be electric. Others believe that the global electric vehicle market — about $250 billion today — will grow to almost $1 trillion by 2027.
China has positioned itself well for this transition. On the one hand, China will have the benefit of cheap fossil fuels. China will not even begin to reduce its own carbon emissions for another 40 years, until 2060. It continues to build coal plants around the world. (In 2016 alone, Chinese development banks invested $6.5 billion in coal infrastructure overseas, mostly in neighboring developing countries). On the other hand, the Chinese Communist Party has positioned itself at the center of a global energy revolution.
If anyone has doubts about the determination with which this might unfold, China’s automobile market was virtually nonexistent until the early 1990s but surpassed the United States in 2009 to become the world’s largest.
Rewiring the global energy economy around China would provide Beijing with massive economic benefits. Experts have pointed out that China’s focus on energy security and technological self-reliance are key factors informing Beijing’s aim to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Chinese ministries have estimated that achieving this goal could lead to over RMB 100 trillion ($14.7 trillion) in investments over the next 30 years.
As a result, China has made significant advances in energy storage, leading Europe’s top automakers to move most of their research and development operations to China. Since 2018, the largest European carmakers (BMW, Daimler, FCA, Groupe PSA, Renault, Volkswagen, and Chinese-owned Volvo) have chosen Chinese partners for 41 cooperation projects. And European carmakers have also directly invested in their own research and development centers in China, establishing nine such centers since 2018.
Whatever the real intentions behind General Secretary Xi’s effort to put China at the center of an “an ecological civilization,” it is shortsighted and ahistorical to think that China will not use this leverage. It has done so in the past. In 2010, a Chinese fishing boat rammed two Japanese coast guard vessels in the contested waters of the East China Sea. When Tokyo arrested the fishing boat’s captain, the Chinese Communist Party retaliated by placing an embargo on rare earth sales to Japan.
More recently, in June 2019, Chinese state-controlled media threatened disruption of rare earth supplies to the United States — this time targeting U.S. defense contractors. The threat noted that “military equipment firms in the United States will likely have their supply of Chinese rare earths restricted.” This past February, China threatened to use export controls to cut off U.S. access to the equipment used for processing rare earths, a ban that would be as devastating as cutting off production of rare earths themselves. And Australia is feeling such pressure as China has restricted imports of Aussie beef, wine, and barley — and reduced the flow of Chinese students to Aussie universities — unless Australia submits to a list of 14 politicaldemands by Beijing.
This behavior is consistent with China’s use of “sharp power” — diplomatic, economic, or technological coercion — to pursue its policy objectives. This fall, China passed its first unified export control law, allowing the Chinese Communist Party to control the export of items including very broadly defined “dual-use goods” to specific foreign entities. As the Merics institute has pointed out, any exports that fall under “overall national security” — and the law appears intentionally vague — could be prevented, thus allowing Beijing to retaliate against countries or companies for policy disagreements or geopolitical reasons. Given Beijing’s designation of the electric vehicle and battery sectors as strategic industries, the Chinese Communist Party could potentially weaponize key bottlenecks in the supply chain against the United States.
For much of 21st century, the United States was dependent upon the Middle East for oil. As the Biden administration seeks to shift to renewables and reduce carbon emissions through the deployment of more electric vehicles, it should not trade one dependency for another. As one expert group put it, the modern-day arms race revolves around super-sized lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities and the mineral supply chains to support them.
Any successful effort to “position America to be the global leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles and their input materials,” as Biden has stated, cannot be based on a dependency on the United States’ most serious competitor. Rather, the United States should understand that American efforts will be contested — even if they are intended to help the “global good” of reduced carbon emissions. It is highly unlikely that Beijing, which has been working for years to “seize the commanding heights” in critical technologies such as batteries, will easily watch as its advantages melt away. In the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party, the battery race means that China and the United States are locked in a battle over market share and access to scarce resources.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has already reminded U.S. leaders that U.S.-Chinese cooperation in specific areas is interrelated and subject to the overall U.S.-Chinese relationship. Maintaining dominance in battery production — particularly as the world increasingly relies on batteries — provides Beijing with valuable geopolitical leverage. While the Biden administration would like to compartmentalize climate change and geopolitics, the likelihood of China not doing so is high.
Moreover, as Biden seeks to build technology alliances with Europe and other allies to counter China, China’s efforts will constrain his leverage. With European electric vehicle manufacturers dependent upon China, it is hard to imagine that the Chinese Communist Party will not use these dependencies to ask for concessions in other domains.
To avoid a potentially debilitating dependence on China, then, the United States should treat clean energy technologies as a competitive space.
The Biden administration cannot afford to start from scratch and should build on the work of its predecessor. As it begins its new supply chain review, of which advanced batteries are one part, it should keep in mind the lessons of the Obama era battery initiative. In 2009, the Obama administration announced $2.4 billion in funding to produce next-generation hybrid electric vehicles and advanced battery components. One goal at the time, was to “end our addiction to foreign oil” through a plan that “positions American manufacturers on the cutting edge of innovation and solving our energy challenges.” As part of this, the Department of Energy offered up to $1.5 billion in grants to U.S.-based manufacturers to produce these batteries and their components. So what happened to these efforts and others like it over the past decade? Without setting forth what went right and what went wrong, it is hard to see how new initiatives can make progress.
How will Biden’s current efforts to use green technology to stimulate the economy differ from past failed efforts? Despite a string of incentives in the stimulus act in 2009, the solar supply chain largely moved to China after that country’s government invested heavily in the industry.
In addition to specifying lessons learned from past efforts, any future policy initiatives should take advantage of existing recent efforts. For example, Ellen Lord, the former undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, devoted significant time to identifying investment priorities, including the battery network. Since it takes five to seven years from the start of planning a battery-manufacturing plant and setting up a pilot production line to reach full operational capacity of a gigawatt factory that can produce several gigawatt-hours per year, the administration needs to concentrate some of its efforts on existing facilities, while encouraging new investments by U.S.- and foreign-owned suppliers.
The Biden team will also need to make choices, and fight for them internally. If the United States is to increase its processing of minerals for batteries in the United States, it will need to overcome the fact that such processing facilities are environmentally challenging. That tradeoff is worth it.
The new administration can make progress on its climate goals, but doing so will require a serious dose of climate realism, as well as a concomitant commitment to competitive policies to achieve U.S. independence from China in battery technology and manufacturing.
The following is adapted from John H. Cochrane’s remarks at the European Central Bank’s Conference on Monetary Policy: Bridging Science and Practice. His full presentation about the challenges facing central banks is here.
Central banks are rushing headlong into climate policy. This is a mistake. It will destroy central banks’ independence, their ability to fulfill their main missions to control inflation and stem financial crises, and people’s faith in their impartiality and technical competence. And it won’t help the climate.
In making this argument, I do not claim that climate change is fake or unimportant. None of the following comments reflect any argument with scientific fact. (I favor a uniform carbon tax in return for essentially no regulation, but this essay is not about carbon policy.)
The question is whether the European Central Bank (ECB), other central banks, or international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the Bank for International Settlements, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development should appoint themselves to take on climate policy—or other important social, environmental, or political causes—without a clear mandate to do so from politically accountable leaders.
The Western world faces a crisis of trust in our institutions, a crisis fed by a not-inaccurate perception that the elites who run such institutions don’t know what they are doing, are politicized, and are going beyond the authority granted by accountable representatives.
Trust and independence must be earned by evident competence and institutional restraint. Yet central banks, not obviously competent to target inflation with interest rates; floundering to stop financial crisis by means other than wanton bailouts; and still not addressing obvious risks lying ahead; now want to be trusted to determine and implement their own climate change policy? (And next, likely, taking on inequality and social justice?)
We don’t want the agency that delivers drinking water to make a list of socially and environmentally favored businesses and start turning off the water to disfavored companies. Nor should central banks. They should provide liquidity, period.
But a popular movement wants all institutions of society to jump into the social and political goals of the moment, regardless of boring legalities. Those constraints, of course, are essential for a functioning democratic society, for functioning independent technocratic institutions, and incidentally for making durable progress on those same important social and political goals.
It’s Not About Risk
The European Central Bank and other institutions are not just embarking on climate policy in general. They are embarking on the enforcement of one particular set of climate policies—policies to force banks and private companies to defund fossil fuel industries, even while alternatives are not available at scale, and to provide subsidized funding to an ill-defined set of “green” projects.
Let me quote from ECB executive board member Isabel Schnabel’s recent speech. I don’t mean to pick on her, but she expresses the climate agenda very well, and her speech bears the ECB imprimatur. She recommends that
[f]irst, as prudential supervisor, we have an obligation to protect the safety and soundness of the banking sector. This includes making sure that banks properly assess the risks from carbon-intensive exposures. . . .
Let me point out the unclothed emperor: climate change does not pose any financial risk at the one-, five-, or even ten-year horizon at which one can conceivably assess the risk to bank assets. Repeating the contrary in speeches does not make it so.
Risk means variance, unforeseen events. We know exactly where the climate is going in the next five to ten years. Hurricanes and floods, though influenced by climate change, are well modeled for the next five to ten years. Advanced economies and financial systems are remarkably impervious to weather. Relative market demand for fossil vs. alternative energy is as easy or hard to forecast as anything else in the economy. Exxon bonds are factually safer, financially, than Tesla bonds, and easier to value. The main risk to fossil fuel companies is that regulators will destroy them, as the ECB proposes to do, a risk regulators themselves control. And political risk is a standard part of bond valuation.
That banks are risky because of exposure to carbon-emitting companies; that carbon-emitting company debt is financially risky because of unexpected changes in climate, in ways that conventional risk measures do not capture; that banks need to be regulated away from that exposure because of risk to the financial system—all this is nonsense. (And even if it were not nonsense, regulating bank liabilities away from short term debt and towards more equity would be a more effective solution to the financialproblem.)
Next, we contemplate a pervasive regime essentially of shame, boycott, divest, and sanction
[to] link the eligibility of securities . . . as collateral in our refinancing operations to the disclosure regime of the issuing firms.
We know where “disclosure” leads. Now all companies that issue debt will be pressured to cut off disparaged investments and make whatever “green” investments the ECB is blessing.
Last, the ECB is urged to print money directly to fund green projects:
We should also consider reassessing the benchmark allocation of our private asset purchase programs. In the presence of market failures . . . the market by itself is not achieving efficient outcomes.
Now you may say, “Climate is a crisis. Central banks must pitch in and help the cause. They should just tell banks to stop lending to the evil fossil fuel companies, and print money and hand it out to worthy green projects.”
But central banks are not allowed to do this, and for very good reasons. A central bank in a democracy is not an all-purpose do-good agency, with authority to subsidize what it decides to be worthy, defund what it dislikes, and force banks and companies to do the same. A central bank, whose leaders do not regularly face voters, lives by an iron contract: freedom and independence so long as it stays within its limited and mandated powers.
The ECB in particular lives by a particularly delineated and limited mandate. For very good reasons, the ECB was not set up to decide which industries or regions need subsidizing and which should be scaled back, to direct bank investment across Europe, to set the price of bonds, or to print money to subsidize direct lending. These are intensely political acts. In a democracy, only elected representatives can take or commission such intensely political activities. If I take out the words “green,” the EU member states, and EU voters, would properly react with shock and outrage at this proposal. If the ECB bought different countries’ bonds at different prices and in different quantities to reward those making greater progress on “green” policy implementation, there would likely be an outcry.
That’s why this movement goes through the convolutions of pretending that defunding fossil fuels and subsidizing green projects—however desirable—has something to do with systemic risk, which it patently does not.
That’s why one must pretend to diagnose “market failures” to justify buying bonds at too high prices. By what objective measure are green bonds “mispriced” and markets “failing”? Why only green bonds? The ECB does not scan all asset markets for “mispriced” securities to buy and sell after determining the “right” prices.
Here are two interpretations of the ECB’s proposal:
One: we looked evenhandedly at all the risks to the financial system, and the most important financialrisk we came up with just happens to be climate.
Two: we want to get involved with climate policy. How can we shoehorn that desire into our limited mandate to pay attention to financial stability?
Who Gets the Green Light?
How should we judge the proposal? I think it’s pretty obvious that the latter interpretation is true—or at least that the vast majority of people reading the proposal will interpret it as such. Feeding this perception is the central omission of this speech: any concrete description of just how carbon sins will be measured.
At face value, “carbon emitting” does not mean just fossil fuel companies but cement manufacturers, aluminum producers, construction, agriculture, transport, and everything else. Will the carbon risk and defunding project really extend that far, in any sort of honest quantitative way? Or is “carbon emitting” just code for hounding the politically unpopular fossil fuel companies?
In the disclosure and bond buying project, who will decide what is a green project? Already, cost-benefit analysis—euros spent per ton of carbon, per degrees of temperature reduced, per euros of GDP increased—is lacking. By what process will the ECB avoid past follies such as switchgrass biofuel, corn ethanol, and high-speed trains to nowhere? How will it allow politically unpopular projects such as nuclear power, carbon capture, natural gas via fracking, residential zoning reform, and geoengineering ventures—which all, undeniably, scientifically, lower carbon and global temperatures—as well as adaptation projects that undeniably, scientifically, lower the impact on GDP? Well, clearly it won’t. The ECB is embarking on one specific kind of green policy, popular at the cocktail parties at Davos, but having little to do with cost-benefit analysis or science of climate policy.
In sum, where is the analysis for this program? I challenge the ECB to calculate how many degrees this bond buying plan would lower global temperatures, and how much it would raise GDP by the year 2100, in any transparent, verifiable, and credible way. Never mind the costs for now: where are the benefits?
And how would the ECB resist political pressure to subsidize all sorts of boondoggles? If the central bank does not have and disclose neutral technical competence at making this sort of calculation, the project will be perceived as simply made-up numbers to advance a political cause. All of the central bank’s activities will then be tainted by association.
This will end badly. Not because these policies are wrong, but because they are intensely political, and they make a mockery of the central bank’s limited mandates. If this continues, the next ECB presidential appointment will be all about climate policy: who gets the subsidized green lending, who is defunded, what the next set of causes is to be, and not interest rates and financial stability. Board appointments will become champions for each country’s desired subsidies. Countries and industries that lose out will object. This is exactly the sort of institutional aggrandizement that prompted Brexit.
If the ECB crosses this second Rubicon—buying sovereign and corporate debt was the first—be ready for more. The IMF is already pushing redistribution. The US Federal Reserve, though it has so far stayed away from climate policy, is rushing into “inclusive” employment and racial justice. There are many problems in the world. Once you start trying to shape climate policy, and so obviously break all the rules to do it, how can you resist the clamor to defund, disclose, and subsidize the rest? How will you resist demands to take up regional development, prop up dying industries, subsidize politicians’ pet projects, and all the other sins that the ECB is explicitly enjoined from committing?
A central bank that so blatantly breaks its mandates must lose its independence, its authority, and people’s trust in its objectivity and technical competence to fight inflation and deflation, regulate banks, and stop financial crises.
A Narrow Role, and Essential
Working for a central bank is a bit boring. One may feel a longing to do something that feels more important, that helps the world in its big causes. One may feel longing for the approval of the Davos smart set. Why does Greta Thunberg get all the attention? But a central bank is not the Gates Foundation, which can spend its money any way it likes. This is taxpayers’ money, and regulations use force to transfer wealth between very unwilling people. A central bank is a government agency, and central bankers are public servants, just like the people who run the DMV.
Central banks must be competent, trusted, narrow, independent, and boring. A good strategy review will refocus central banks on their core narrow mission and let the other institutions of society address big political causes. Boring as that may be.
While we must steward the planet God has gifted to us, there is no empirical basis for apocalyptic predictions of impending doom.
The “Climate Clock” looms ten stories above Manhattan’s Union Square so all passersby can track the precise moment the world passes its supposed tipping-point toward irreversible, apocalyptic environmental demise. This clock has that moment of doom pegged at a little more than seven years from today. One of the men who created the clock, artist Gan Golan, said his motivation for the project was the birth of his daughter two years ago:
What we did in the next few years would determine the world my daughter would live in, that all of us would live in, and I felt that timeline needed to be understood by everyone, everywhere.
As a result, Golan and a friend constructed a massive digital alarm clock on the side of a building in one of the busiest places in the world to track just how little time we have. Last year, they even made a smaller climate clock for Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg; one she could hold in her hand during her famed appearance at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.
“This is arguably the most important number in the world,” the team explained to The New York Times, adding, “You can’t argue with science, you just have to reckon with it.” And that is where the problem lies with the environmental doom and gloom — you can absolutely argue with science. That is precisely what the scientific method is: the careful, relentless discipline of skepticism and discovery. It’s testing and questioning what others claim is beyond debate.
Nine leading climate scientists from Germany, France, Finland, and Ireland have, indeed, questioned whether anyone can reliably determine how much time remains between now and an irreversible trajectory toward environmental ruin.
Drawing from 36 different meta-analyses on the question, involving more than 4,600 individual studies spanning the last 45 years, their findings were recently published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. They conclude that the empirical data doesn’t allow scientists to establish ecological thresholds or tipping points. As natural bio-systems are dynamic, ever-evolving, and adapting over the long-term, determining longevity timeframes is currently impossible.
These scholars write that frankly, “we lack systematic quantitative evidence as to whether empirical data allow definitions of such thresholds” and “our results thus question the pervasive presence of threshold concepts” in environmental politics and policy. Their findings also reinforced the contention that “global change biology needs to abandon the general expectation that system properties allow defining thresholds as a way to manage nature under global change.”
Professor José M. Montoya, one of the nine authors and an ecologist at the Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station in France, told the French National Center for Scientific Research “many ecologists have long had this intuition” that setting reliable, empirically situated tipping-points “was difficult to verify until now for lack of sufficient computing power to carry out a wide-ranging analysis.” But that has now changed.
So no, there is no reliable science behind the new seven-years-to-the-point-of-no-return countdown of the Climate Clock in Union Square, nor for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s infamous “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t act now” scare, or Thunberg’s just-10-years-til-inevitable-doom drum pounding. Such claims simply do not — and cannot — be firmly grounded in any scientific knowledge we currently possess.
Evidence for this conclusion, however, goes beyond the aforementioned conclusive new study. 2020 saw the publication of two extremely important books from leading, mainstream environmental-climate scholars on what science says about the earth’s future.
The first is Michael Shellenberger, a Time magazine “Hero of the environment” who explains in his book “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All” that nearly every piece of scare data presented by the likes of AOC, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Thunberg is not only incorrect but tells a story that is the opposite of the scientific truth. Not only is the world not going to end due to climate change, but in many important ways, the environment is getting markedly better.
As Shellenberger explains, environmental improvements are coming from technology and industry, not the do-goodism of Greenpeace and other activists. Certainly no conservative, Shellenberger wrote “Apocalypse Never” precisely because he was “getting fed up with the exaggeration, alarmism, and extremism that are the enemy of a positive, humanistic, and rational environmentalism.” Shellenberger is both pro-people and pro-technology, explaining counter-intuitively that the scientific “evidence is overwhelming that our high-energy civilization is better for people and nature than the low-energy civilization that climate alarmists would return us to.”
Another major environmentalist voice challenging hysteria is Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center think tank, listed by the UK’s liberal Guardian newspaper as one of the 50 people who could save the planet. In his book “False Alarm,” he explains how “climate change panic” is not only unfounded, it’s also wasting trillions of dollars globally, hurting the poor, and failing to fix the very problems it warns us about. Lomborg explains:
‘The rhetoric on climate change has become more extreme and less moored to the actual science’ at the very time that ‘climate scientists have painstakingly increased knowledge about climate change, and we have more — and more reliable — data than ever before.’
So, what science genuinely telling us? “Science shows us that fears of a climate apocalypse are unfounded.” Lomborg explains, admitting that while “global warming is real … it is not the end of the world.” “It is a manageable problem” he adds. He is dismayed that we live in a world “where almost half the population believes climate change will extinguish humanity” and do so under the mistaken assumption that science concludes this. It doesn’t, and he is vexed this mantra parades under the banner of enlightenment.
It’s imperative we properly steward this beautiful planet God has gifted to us. It was the second command He gave to humanity, after the charge to populate it with generation after generation of new people. But hysteria is not what is called for in this work. Shellenberger, Lomborg, and these nine other international ecologists tell us that not only is there no empirical basis for the apocalyptic prognostications so needlessly disturbing the dreams of the world’s young people.
Harvard researchers publicly walked back Monday a key finding in a highly touted but hotly contested paper linking air pollution exposure to deaths from the novel coronavirus, slashing the estimated mortality rate in half.
The preliminary study by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health made a splash when the results were announced April 7 in The New York Times, prompting alarm on the left as Democrats sought to connect COVID-19 deaths to the Trump administration’s regulatory pushback.
A few weeks later, however, its researchers quietly backtracked from their finding that people who live for decades in areas with slightly more particulate matter in the air are 15% more likely to die from the coronavirus, lowering the figure to 8%. The press release was revised Monday.
“This article was updated on May 4, 2020, based on an updated analysis from the researchers using data through April 22,” reads a footnote on the Harvard press release.
The revision came after weeks of criticism over the study’s modeling and analysis. Tony Cox, a University of Colorado Denver mathematics professor and chairman of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, said the model used to derive the 8% figure had “no basis in reality.”
“The model has not been validated and its assumptions are unrealistic,” said Mr. Cox, who heads the advanced analytics consulting firm Cox Associates. “In layman’s terms, it assumes an unrealistic effect of fine particulate matter on deaths, and then with that assumption built into the model, it uses data to estimate how big that unrealistic effect is. They’re making an assumption that has no basis in reality.”
JunkScience’s Steve Milloy said the Harvard paper is “not just junk science, it’s scientific fraud.”
They want to fix a false problem with solutions that don’t work!
One of the pillars of the internationalist world view that is solemnly proclaimed by the establishment is the dogma of climate change – what it is and how to fix it.
This view is accepted aa a fixture by such institutions as the United Nations and many national governments, including until recently, the United States government. We can thank President Trump for rejecting this nonsense. He withdrew the USA from the Paris Accord (which was negotiated by the Obama Administration, but never submitted to the Senate and therefore not ratified by the USA).
Most Democrat presidential candidates want to eliminate fossil fuels in 10 years although the entire world depends on fossil fuels for survival, and there is no comparable substitute for fossil fuels. Windmills are not only inconsistent, but they also create new environmental hazards. Solar panels seem to have a place for supplementary energy production, but they are not transportable or suitable for transportation.
Even their statement of the problem is out of date. Nobody can look at the violent weather we have been experiencing and doubt that the climate is changing. But when has it ever not been changing? As far back as records go there have been changes in the climate. Remember the Ice Age?
Yesterday the scientists were telling us that there is global warming and the polar ice cap is melting. If that were true, battery-driven cars wouldn’t help us much. The first thing to do would be to move all the seaside structures to higher ground (as Andrew Yang has recommended). But we see large numbers of people who won’t even move their towns away from flood plains after being flooded out every other year. How are we going to move New York City or Los Angeles inland?
Luckily. more recent data are showing that the ice cap isn’t melting anymore. Not only that, but after the Club of Rome’s first two reports (1972 & 1976) scared us all with the idea that pollution is the common enemy of all mankind but was controllable by human carbon emissions, the more sober climatologists have begun to assert that human intervention is vastly overrated. In fact, humans can’t change the weather; that’s just common sense. (In 1996, The Club of Rome admitted that “pollution” was actually used in their early reports as merely an intellectual construct aimed at uniting nations to rally to their cause).
It is true that air, water and food pollution are dramatically affected by human waste and therefore controllable by humans. But most of the damage in today’s world is done by the thickening of the world’s ozone layer (between the sun and the earth’s surface) which in turn is exacerbated by increased emissions of carbon dioxide. These emissions apparently are affected by the burning of fossil fuels like coal and petroleum products such as gasoline and fuel oil.
The most prolific producers of these pollutants are developing nations which were not even included in the Paris Accords’ quotas. It was basically an agreement by which the USA would pay for as much of the world pollution as India and China wanted cleaned up. Every Democrat running for the presidency vows to reinstate the Paris Accord.
The actual situation in the USA and the world was summarized in a press release from the UN’s International Energy Agency (IEA) as follows:
In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that the U.S. decrease in emissions was the largest total of any country, at 140 million tons. It also noted that over the last 20 years, U.S. emissions have decreased nearly one gigaton (1 billion metric tons).
Globally, emissions flatlined in 2019. After two years of growth, global emissions remained unchanged at 33 gigatons in 2019, even as the world economy grew by 2.9 percent.” (Fox News story, 2/11/2019)
The distribution of global activity is in the IEA release:
“A significant decrease in emissions in advanced economies in 2019 offset continued growth elsewhere. Emission in the European Union fell by 160 million tons, or five percent, driven by reductions in the power sector. For the first time ever, natural gas produced more electricity than coal and wind-powered electricity nearly caught up with coal-fired electricity. Japan’s emissions fell by 45 million tons, or around 4 percent, as output from newly restarted nuclear reactors upticked this year. Emissions in most of the rest of the world grew by nearly 400 million tons in 2019, with almost 80 percent coming from countries in Asia where coal-fired power generation continued to rise.” (IEA, 2/11/2019)
Thus, not only is the USA already doing its part to alleviate the effects of ozone pollution, but so are many other countries. The “existential crisis” of which Bernie Sanders so often speaks does not exist.
This is not to say that nothing more should be done about ozone pollution. The old saying applies: “Because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you should so nothing.” We can and should do what we can to affect this problem. But our efforts are necessarily limited. For example, we can’t stop volcanoes from releasing more pollution in a day than humans can in weeks if not years. Our ancestors successfully adapted to continuous, sometimes drastic, weather changes. So can we.
I have argued elsewhere that a new set of ethical standards with respect to the world around us should be formed. Traditional Western religion teaches us that all other creatures exist for use by humans. I believe that modern science has given us another view of the complexities of the world. We must learn to treat this world with more respect and more consideration.
Appreciation for the beauty and brilliance of the world God has given us is a good first step. Crying WOLF! WOLF! is not.
The global debate over climate change entered into a new and more dangerous stage this past week. Two American corporate icons, Microsoft and BlackRock, have committed themselves to resisting what they perceive as the unacceptable risks of global warming. Microsoft has announced that it will be “carbon negative by 2030,” and that by 2050 it will have removed from the environment all of its carbon emissions dating back to its founding. It has also pledged one billion dollars to a climate innovation fund to deal with global warming—peanuts for a firm with over $125 billion in annual revenues.
Not to be outdone, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with over $7 trillion in assets under management, has proudly declared through its Chairman and CEO Larry Fink that it will “place sustainability at the center of our investment approach, including: making sustainability integral to portfolio construction and risk management; existing investments that present a high sustainability-related risk, such as thermal coal producers; launching new investment products that screen for fossil fuels. . . .”
To Fink, there is no real conflict for his company between its social responsibility and its financial performance, as he is convinced that “incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment analysis and decision-making. . . can provide better risk-adjusted returns for investors.” Ironically, if that point were true, he would have no need to depart from traditional investment standards, as all firms would flock to the new BlackRock standard.
These powerful initiatives are driven by the proposition that climate change poses the greatest threat to humankind society has ever faced. Without any documentation or meaningful argument, Microsoft and Blackrock accept that the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere will result in elevated global temperatures. In making these statements, both companies write as if all the “world’s climate experts” within the “scientific community” speak with one voice in concluding that the release of greenhouse gases since the beginning of the industrial revolution is the source of this alleged mortal peril.
However, a close reading of these two corporate statements shows the dangers of consensus thinking around climate change, which can lead to lazy and incomplete arguments. The first issue concerns the supposed magnitude of the risk. It is clear that carbon dioxide levels have increased over time, especially over the past seventy or so years. But it is important to remember that the increase in temperatures began before the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 350 parts per million in 1987, a level which has, without justification, been posited as the tipping point for climate catastrophe. Notably, this means that much of the temperature increase over the past five decades took place in low carbon dioxide environments.
The Microsoft statement claims that “the average temperature on the planet has risen by 1 degree Celsius during the past 50 years and that carbon dioxide emissions have been a primary driver of this.” Yet that is at odds with a report from the NASA Earth Observatory which concluded “the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8 Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming [0.53°C] has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.” Indeed, the situation is even more complex because of the high degree of annual variability. As a result, much turns on the choice of the first and last year of the desirable interval. One recent study reported a decline of 0.16 Celsius between April 2018 and May 2019.
In any event, the explanation that carbon dioxide emissions are the sole driver of climate change is surely contestable, given that a complete account must also take into consideration population increases, solar flares, ocean currents and volcanic activity, among a vast array of other factors. The graphs included in Microsoft’s announcement duly record the huge increases in carbon dioxide emissions over the last 30 years, but those trends only weakly correlate to the modest temperature increases over that interval, including a sharp decline that extends as late as May 2019.
Thus the graph below for the 41 years from 1978 to May 2019 shows a net increase of just under 0.8 degrees centigrade. It is of course possible to present other data sets that might be susceptible to alternative interpretations, but either way, there is no rock-solid scientific consensus of the sort that Microsoft and BlackRock posit.
Microsoft and Blackrock’s presentations also suffer from other key defects. These corporate pledges assume that their proposed changes in carbon policy will reduce the increase in global temperatures, perhaps by as much as 1 degree Celsius. But what is missing from these projections is any estimate about either the financial costs of these innovations or their net impact on global temperature. If the sources of temperature changes are multi-causal, why should anyone believe that the ingenious efforts of companies like Microsoft to cleanse their supply chains of excess carbon dioxide will have more than a trivial effect on global temperatures, even if such actions are imitated by other firms?
And moreover, these effects could be totally undone if China or India decides to boost coal production in ways that more than offset any small reductions in carbon outputs by American firms. Thus, it is possible to spend billions of dollars on potential mitigation with little or nothing to show for it.
To make matters worse, there are better targets for intervention. The greatest causes of carbon dioxide emission in the past two years were the huge forest fires in Northern California and Australia. The recent California fires released about 68 million tons of carbon dioxide, or roughly the level of emissions needed to provide electricity for the state for an entire year. Taking effective steps to stop these consistent fires would dwarf anything that Microsoft can do through its supply chains or BlackRock through its sustainable investment policy. Nonetheless, A-list celebrities regularly champion the causes of global warming without once thinking about the dangerous management strategies adopted by the modern environmental movement that have contributed to such fires, a movement which opposes the removal of dead wood or the use of controlled burns to reduce fire risk. It would be far better for Microsoft and BlackRock to lobby for government reforms in forest management, a topic on which they remain silent.
Even supposing, however wrongly, that all the temperature increases and observed fires were exclusively attributable to carbon dioxide, the case for massive corporate intervention is still weak. BlackRock’s Larry Fink suggests with a straight face that the market for municipal bonds and home mortgages will collapse “if lenders can’t estimate the impact of climate risk over such a long timeline, and if there is no viable market for flood or fire insurance in impacted areas.”
Get real. These risks will exist whether or not Blackrock’s policies are implemented, and no matter what the carbon dioxide levels are. And the view that there should always be a viable market for flood or fire insurance ignores the huge moral hazard that is created when subsidized insurance is provided to persons who build too close to combustible forests or on coastal properties in hurricane zones.
Worse still, the fears that drive both BlackRock and Microsoft have not yet been observed over the past decade. Markets are supposed to price long-term risk into capital assets, but there is no sign that real estate, agricultural, insurance, or financial markets price this alleged climate risk in. Why is this, when our ability to forecast has never been better given the available quantitative estimates of climate-related risk?
One explanation is a recent study from climate scientists Giuseppe Formetta and Luc Feyen which concluded that: “Results show a clear decreasing trend in both human and economic vulnerability, with global average mortality and economic loss rates that have dropped by 6.5 and nearly 5 times, respectively from 1980-1989 to 2007-2016. We further show a clearly negative relationship between vulnerability and wealth, which is strongest at the lowest income levels.” The study’s abundant graphs all show the same downward projections, whether one looks at floods, heat, cold or wind related damages. In other words, the historical decline of these various risks also have to be priced into any long-term financial instrument.
A similar attack on the BlackRock-Microsoft position was also launched by Marlo Lewis, whose thesis is contained in his title: “Warmest Decade – Climate Crisis Still a No Show.” In stark contrast to the data-free presentations of both companies, Lewis tracks the key worldwide indicators of long-term global health—life expectancy, crop yields, per capita income, and climate related deaths. His data tells the same story as the study—everything is better today than it has ever been. The increases in societal wealth accumulation have inured to the benefit of all, rich and poor alike.
The cavalier attitude toward any contrary scientific evidence has led Microsoft and BlackRock to endorse proposals that will do little, if anything, to stop global warming, but which will, if widely followed, reduce the ability of societies around the world to deal with global warming or any other climate calamity, should one occur. There are real social and human costs to following BlackRock and Microsoft’s lead.
The Glacier National Park is set to replace signs predicting glaciers would disappear by 2020 due to climate change. The glaciers remain.
The signs were posted in the Montana park a decade ago because, at the time, climate change forecasts predicted the glaciers would be completely melted by 2020. The U.S. Geological Survey told the park in 2017 that the glaciers were not melting as fast as predicted due to changes in the forecast model, but park spokeswoman Gina Kurzmen said the park was unable to change the signs until now due to budget constraints. Kurzmen told CNN the park changed one sign last year but is still waiting on budget authorization to update two other signs.
The new signs will still warn visitors that the glaciers are disappearing but won’t offer an expected deadline this time.
“When they will completely disappear depends on how and when we act. One thing is consistent: the glaciers in the park are shrinking,” the new signs will say.
This isn’t the first climate change prediction to not come to fruition. A report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute documented more than 50 years of what it calls “notably wild predictions from notable people in government and science.” One prediction, reported by the Associated Press in 1989, claimed rising seas would “obliterate” nations by the year 2000. Just a few years earlier, headlines were warning about another ice age.
A first in human history: Anxious about their future on a hotter planet and angry at world leaders for failing to arrest the crisis, masses of young people poured into the streets on every continent on Friday for a day of global climate protests. Organizers estimated the turnout to be around four million in thousands of cities and towns worldwide. (Somini Sengupta, New York Times, September 20, 2019) (Below: Youth March for Climate Change (New York City, Sept.20, 2019)
What is the motivating force which could impel such an amazing reaction of youngsters all over the world (except China)? Clearly, the threat of extinction is taken so seriously by so many youths that they felt compelled to participate in this effort. What has convinced so many in so many places simultaneously?
Apparently, it is the vision of the planet earth being baked into destruction by the sun’s rays. This vision seems to have originated from the speculations of climate scientists as interpreted and simplified by activists. Cold, neutral, formulaic science has never elicited such emotional reactions. Those ideas had to be interpreted and simplified by propagandists. Eventually, the vision emerged with its dramatic impact and its ability to inspire visceral fear. It is this vision which has motivated a youthful passion which thirsts for a cause to believe in.
In that sense, climate change advocacy demonstrates many of the same characteristics as religion. It is an unquestioning belief in an unseen event; it inspires an ethic requiring sacrifice to achieve; and it thrives on communal events. Thus, it meets the traditional characteristics of religion: creed, code, and cult.
This phenomenon also raises the question, “Why are these folks (young and old) so open to a new religion?” Why are they not dedicated to the traditional religions of their elders? Or, more concretely, why has the Western world witnessed such a precipitous decline of traditional religious practice in recent generations?
The answer to these questions lies in the disconnect between the common life experience of our modern culture and the world view of traditional religions. As one way of approaching this topic, we might look at the differences in the epistemology (the way of understanding) between what religion teaches us compared to that of our everyday life.
Traditionally, religion proclaims that another invisible world exists in addition to this visible world. The invisible world is better than this world. This vision has brought comfort and peace to many millions of people through the ages. It has served as a reason for us to behave in certain ways which are conducive to the common good and it has given us hope to reach heaven and eternal peace when we die.
Common life experience in the 21st century exhibits a quite different vision. First of all, we live in a world of constant discovery. While many aspects of this world are invisible, such as thoughts and emotions and happiness, it is also true that our science is based on the presumption that all reality is ultimately physical, even if it is too small to be seen (atoms), too large to be understood (the universe), or discoverable only through its effect on things that can be measured (neutrons). As a culture, we have come to believe that all reality is knowable, even if we don’t yet know it. We keep learning new things all the time, only to discover more things we don’t know. Nevertheless, the thrill of learning is one of our cultural goals.
It is the task of the theologians to conceptualize and explain the spiritual dimensions of our human experience and the connections between our life experience and our traditional beliefs. It appears that today’s theologians are asleep at the switch. Our culture cries out for an ethic which takes the world we live in much more seriously than does traditional religion. To achieve that ethic, a new vision must be developed – one which understands the beauty of the universe, the world we live in, the body we have been given, and the ways in which this visible world must be treated in order for us to achieve happiness and satisfaction in our interactions with this world, our community and ourselves.
In such a vision, we see technology as an extension of our body – machines to take us farther and faster than our legs could carry us, to make our minds more agile, our imaginations more original, our views more expansive. We see our love extended to other races and places beyond our natural limits, our talents challenged by new plateaus, and our world enriched by the newness of our life on earth. This is a vision which will allow us to seek the transcendent meaning of life as the sum of all the good and evil we can see with our sharpened insights and to find our personal path to virtue, happiness and holiness.
As our lives are enriched by the colors and textures of this world which God has provided for us, we are also confronted with new responsibilities and obligations. which have been ignored in the past, to maintain that world. Some examples: while the absolute need for cheap and plentiful energy is granted, how do we justify digging coal at the risk of black lung disease for the miners? How do we justify burying nuclear waste which will take 3000 years to dissipate? How do we preserve our planet’s suitability for human life? How do we balance the harm of nuclear weapons against the cost in human life? What do we owe to trees and wildlife? And, what are the ethical norms by which we are to measure such answers?
Religion, like life itself, must evolve to meet the very real spiritual needs of real people. If organized religions fail in this fundamental obligation, people will substitute whatever they can find in order to satisfy the primal need we all share for spiritual nourishment – even if it is as flimsy as climate change.
An ambiguous, unverifiable crisis that only the state has the means or authority to combat is a blank check to power.
I am not a scientist. I have no scientific background beyond what I’ve picked up from reading things written by and about actual scientists. So I am, therefore, in no position to critique any scientific theory as a theory.
That said, I am a skeptic when it comes to climate change. To be clear, I don’t doubt that the climate changes — obviously it does. I don’t doubt that human activity has an effect on this change. What that effect is, and to what extent it influences the entire system, I don’t know. As a scientific concept, I have no opinion on climate change.
But it isn’t just a scientific concept. It is a political issue, and that is what I am skeptical of.
You see, I can’t judge from what I don’t know (e.g., climate science), but I can judge from what I do know. I know something of history, something of philosophy, and something of human nature. I can observe what people are doing at the moment and listen to what they actually say.
Doing so, I note that the vast majority of people, including the cause’s most vehement advocates, are no more qualified to judge it scientifically than I am. Does anyone really believe that any of those people marching in Washington have the knowledge and ability to interpret data from a global climate survey? Have they sunk the necessary hours of study and objective research into this subject to be able to say what they say with any certainty, assuming they could ever be certain?
Of course they haven’t. They are going entirely off of what certain experts have told them — namely, a specific selection of experts who have come to their attention because the media has elevated them and political groups have championed and funded them. These climate change apologists are in no position to critically examine these expert claims.
Now, if there is, for instance, a genuine international crisis (e.g., Venezuela), then people have resources to verify it. They can read testimonies and see photos and video of the event, and in the last resort, they can go there to see for themselves. If it is a question of domestic policy, people can consider their own experience and knowledge to judge which approach to, say, taxation seems to be the best.
People cannot do this with climate change. The signs of the crisis come down to weather and to intensely complex reams of data that require specialized knowledge to interpret. The latter is out of reach for almost everyone. The former could be used to justify just about any theory since it is a proverb for unpredictability and changeableness.
If you tell people the earth is getting warmer, they will remember all those hot summer days and snowless winters they experienced and say that warming is very likely. If you tell them it is getting cooler, they will remember the mild summer days and bitter winter nights and say cooling is also very likely.
The fact is, the average voter has no way to adequately judge the question of climate change. Yet he is assured that it is an existential crisis that must be dealt with immediately and by any means necessary. Politicians and media activists are thus urging him to favor certain actions to combat a crisis that he has no way to verify. Worse, this message tends to be directed toward impressionable young people — that is, those with the highest emotions and the least ability to examine these claims.
That is an extremely dangerous state of affairs for a representative government.
This ties in with the fact that climate change activists and experts do not act like they are talking about science. As I say, I am no expert, but I do know enough of the subject to know that in science you have to take everything into account, especially anything that seems to tell against your theory. Science is never exactly “settled” because new instruments or new techniques could always present new observations that don’t fit with the common view. This is what happened with the heliocentric theory, Newtonian physics, genetics, and with every other major scientific breakthrough.
So when I see scientists and media personalities talking about “climate change denial,” as if it were a mental illness, accusing those who are skeptical of their theories of being in the pay of oil companies or otherwise arguing in bad faith (overlooking their own government grants and celebrity status in the process, I might add), and inflatingthe numbers of those who agree with them, it looks highly suspicious. This is not how responsible scientists or politicians behave.
Then there is the proposed solution. There never seems to be a technical solution — for instance, if the Earth’s atmosphere is being flooded with carbon dioxide, perhaps we could find a way to release quantities of a gas that might dilute the greenhouse effect. Much less is there a question of whether a warmer climate might have a net-positive effect, or at least be a manageable problem. No, it’s all certain doom within our lifetime unless we adopt tighter state control. More recently, climate change advocates have been openly calling for socialism as the panacea to the Earth’s ills.
In other words, the proposed solution to what we are told is an existential crisis is, conveniently, to give more power to the very same people who are informing us that this crisis exists.
Finally, since the average voter cannot verify that the crisis exists, he also could never say when the crisis was over. The same people who tell you it exists, who assure you that everyone who denies it is simply ignorant or evil, are also the only ones who could tell you when or if the crisis were ever solved and what must be done to solve it. An ambiguous, unverifiable crisis that only the state has the means or authority to combat is a blank check to power.
So, simply put, I am a climate change skeptic because the people advocating it do not act as if it were a verified scientific conclusion. They act as if it were a political expedient at best and a pseudo religion at worst. They tarnish and dismiss anyone who opposes them, fill impressionable young people with images of immanent doom caused by their political and social enemies, and use this cause to justify grabbing more and more power.
While I may not be able to say what the climate is doing, I can say what climate activists are doing, and from that, I can judge that they should be kept as far away from positions of power as humanly possible. We haven’t seen what happens when the ice caps melt, but we have seen what happens when demagogues claiming to protect against an endless and ambiguous crisis get into positions of power, and it never ends well.
We're seeing sexualized dances, hallucinogens, worshiping nature, confessing sins in pagan animism, worshiping purified teen saints, all to promote a supposedly greater cause.
Lynn Townsend White Jr., an American historian from Princeton, wrote an influential essay in 1967, at the height of the cultural revolution in Western campuses, arguing that Christianity and Judeo-Christian values are responsible for ecological disaster and climate change. The essay, naturally, was adapted by generations after, ironically almost like a document of faith.
The central argument went like this. White argued, “The victory of Christianity over paganism was the greatest psychic revolution in the history of our culture. … By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.”
, and fear — didn’t just go away but manifested in various other pre-civilized tribal ways. For example, a liberal seminary encouraged its students to skip classes to pray and confess sins in front of potted plants. In Switzerland, 250 people in full funereal garb mourned the apparent approaching death of a glacier.
That is why members of “Extinction Rebellion” do what they do. Extinction Rebellion is an apocalyptic cult that wants to radically end every thing around you, from your private cars to the burgers you eat and the plastic chairs in your yard. It is a cult that was formed after its founder took psychedelic drugs and prayed for “social change.” Members have blocked D.C. and London intersections, “twerking” the way people in a pre-civilized era would perform a fertility dance to pray to Gaia.
And then there’s Saint Greta, our perpetual teen of sorrow. I have been comparing her worship to Joan of Arc ever since she was invited to the British Parliament, the birthplace of modern democracy. She was surrounded by buffoons nodding their heads like they were listening to gospel truth.
Lads, I hesitate to take credit for my predictions…I am magnanimous and noble like that…but this entire Joan of Arc thingy…you guys read it here, first.
“Climate Apocalypticism” is simply a paganist religion, with its own saints, sinners, and providential end.
I wrote about her long before the new woke-capital fanatics adopted her as a pawn. In a recent speech to the U.N., while clearly having an emotional meltdown, she told assorted leaders, voice trembling, that they have failed the children and history wouldn’t be kind. The “gatekeepers” immediately hailed her as a brave savior as well as a vulnerable, autistic teen who shouldn’t be bullied.
So, there you have it. Sexualized dances, psychedelic hallucinogens, worshiping nature, confessing sins in pagan animism, worshiping purified teen saints, and throwing them up on an altar, bereft of their childhood, to promote a greater cause. Add to that witches hexing Brett Kavanaugh, and having an Ouija board to invoke the spirit of Karl Marx, and everything old is new again.
The reality is, of course, completely different. Much less than destroying the planet, climate change isn’t even a settled science. Conservatives don’t disagree that climate is changing. That is a straw man. Conservatives, however, are opposed to hysteria, have skepticism about the rate of the climate change, and would like to see an actual cost-benefit analysis of the radical changes being demanded.
More important than that, conservatives understand that climate change is cynically used by a certain section of people to justify their political goals of steering the West away from its way of life, a way they perceive to be evil and harmful, hetero-patriarchal, and capitalist. How? Appealing to the faith-based part of human brains, the need for subservience, and propping up children as human shields.
Consider a new letter by more than 500 scientists, which the mainstream media completely ignored. It urges the United Nations to have an open debate between scientists from both sides of the argument and states there’s “no climate emergency.” The report goes on to say, among other things:
The world has warmed at less than half the originally-predicted rate; Climate policy relies on inadequate models; More CO2 is beneficial for nature, greening the Earth; There is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts and suchlike natural disasters, or making them more frequent; There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050.
In short, everything you’re being told is wrong or flawed, and you’re a chump who is being taken for a ride.
For all the Marxists’ faults, the old left at least wanted to conquer nature instead of turning subservient to it. Of course, that went to its own extremes, but one can imagine Joseph Stalin putting all twerking climate fanatics as mentally ill people in a forced labor camp to build railroads in Siberia. The current Chinese government, likewise, gives two hoots about climate change, and for all the bravery of Green Peace and St. Greta, there’s nothing they can do about China burning more coal than the rest of humanity combined.
The modern left is a combination of two of the worst impulses in human history. First are the ultra-privileged bourgeoisie, which, having lost their old Judeo-Christian faith, are instinctively attracted to pre-civilized rituals, from overt sexuality to fewer familial ties. Consider Late Roman public orgies, and you get an idea. At the same time, human minds feel a gaping void that still needs to be filled by an alternate faith. It is in that intersection where this occultist, apocalyptic climate paganism comes from. It gives some privileged people a noble purpose.
As French philosopher Pascal Bruckner wrote in his book “The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings,” the current movement has all the trappings of a religion: saints, sinners, a providential end, apocalyptic fear, punishment, and penance. It appears Emperor Constantine’s children clearly failed to civilize their future generations. The pagan barbarians from the north are back circling outside the citadel.
Radical environmentalists are mounting a two-pronged attack on free markets and human enterprise. The first is “nature rights,” which would allow anyone to sue to stop any significant use of the land or extraction of resources as violating “nature’s” supposed “right” to “exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” Think of “nature rights” as a “shield” against large scale enterprise.
Lesser known, but even more potentially dangerous to human thriving, is the “ecocide” movement. Ecocide would criminalize enterprise that extracts natural resources or makes widespread use of the land, as a “crime against peace,” deemed an equivalent evil to genocide and ethnic cleansing. Think of “ecocide” as a “spear” that punishes large scale enterprise.
Here’s the general definition of ecocide:
Ecocide is the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.
Note that “peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants” is a very broad term, intended to include everything from grass, fish, and insects to mice, snakes, and people. And diminishment of “peaceful enjoyment” would not require actual pollution, but could mean a declining supply of forage or a loss of foliage caused by almost any use of the land, perhaps even simple urban or suburban growth.
Advocacy for ecocide has now gone mainstream, making the august pages of the New York Times. Using the fires in the Amazon as pretext, the Times’ Brazil bureau chief Ernesto Londoño, pushes the idea that Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, should be hauled before The Hague to stand trial for ecocide. From the analysis piece:
There is no international crime today that can be used to neatly hold world leaders or corporate chief executives criminally responsible in peacetime for ecological catastrophes that result in the type of mass displacements and population wipeouts more commonly associated with war crimes. But environmentalists say the world should treat ecocide as a crime against humanity — like genocide — now that the imminent and long-term threats posed by a warming planet are coming into sharper focus.
In Mr. Bolsonaro they have come to see something of an ideal villain tailor-made for a legal test case.
It is worth noting that there are no voices in Londoño’s piece critical of ecocide advocacy.
It is my understanding that the Amazon fires do not mostly involve old growth forest, but rather, lands that have already been converted to farming. Whether that is true or not, should a duly elected president of a sovereign nation be hauled before the Hague and face criminal charges because environmentalists disagree with his country’s environmental and development policies legally enacted by that president or country?
If so, China’s leader Xi Jinping had better watch his back. I mean, have you ever breathed the air in Beijing?
Oh, Wesley, who are you kidding? Communists aren’t about to be targeted by radical environmentalists.
Besides, ecocide isn’t about punishing potential environmental catastrophes such as the Amazon fires. That is just a pretext. The actual goal is thwarting enterprise and opposing capitalism.
Want evidence? Ecocide campaigners’ chief villains heretofore have been corporate CEOs, whose supposed crimes have been to extract oil from Alberta’s tar sands. Indeed, in a mock trial held in the chambers of the English Supreme Court, hypothetical corporate tar sand CEOs were imprisoned for extracting oil from the fields.
Further demonstrating the real game this is afoot, Londoño foresees President Trump as a splendid candidate for ecocide imprisonment because he has thwarted mainstream environmentalist policies:
Mr. Bolsonaro is by no means the only world leader reviled by environmentalists. President Trump has been assailed for rolling back environmental regulations and pulling out of the Paris climate accord.
See what I mean about the Amazon fires being a pretext?
Radical environmentalists intend to thwart human thriving in order to “save the planet.” As “nature rights” advances — four rivers have now been granted human-type rights — look for campaigners to push hard to make “ecocide” an international crime. If they succeed, the world will face a substantially less prosperous future.
Reporters have a responsibility to challenge the assumptions and exaggerations of activists.
Last weekend, the former chairman of psychiatry at Duke University, Dr. Allen Frances, claimed that Donald Trump “may be responsible for many more million deaths” than Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong combined. Frances, author of the fittingly titled “Twilight of American Sanity,” would later clarify by tweeting that he was talking about the “[t]errible damage Trump is doing to world climate at this global warming tipping point may be irreversable/could kill hundreds of millions of people in the coming decades.”
That’s quite the bold statement, considering the hefty death toll the Big Three extracted. But, really, it isn’t that shocking to hear. Frances’ pseudohistoric twaddle comports well with the pseudoscientific twaddle that’s been normalized in political discourse. Every year Democrats ratchet up the doomsday scenarios, so we should expect related political rhetoric to become correspondingly unhinged.
All of this is a manifestation of 50 years of scaremongering on climate change. Paul Ehrlich famously promised that “hundreds of millions of people” would “starve to death,” while in the real world we saw hunger precipitously drop, and the world become increasingly cleaner. Yet, neo-Malthusians keep coming back with fresh iterations of the same hysteria, ignoring mankind’s ability to adapt.
At a 2005 London conference of “concerned climate scientists and politicians” that helped launch contemporary climate rhetoric, attendees warned that the world had as little as 10 years before the Earth reached “the point of no return on global warming.” Humans, they claimed, would soon be grappling with “widespread agricultural failure,” “major droughts,” “increased disease,” “the death of forests,” and the “switching-off of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream,” among many other calamities.
Since then, the Earth has gotten greener. This year, for the first time since we began logging data in 2000, there were no “extreme” or “exceptional” droughts across the contiguous United States—although we’ve come close to zero on numerous occasions over the past decade. Every time there’s a drought anywhere in the world, climate change will be blamed. But world crop yields continue to ensure that fewer people are hungry than ever. I’m not a scientist, but I assume the North Atlantic Gulf Stream is still with us.
It doesn’t matter. Four years after the last point of no return was reached, the noted naturalist David Attenborough warned the world at a United Nations climate change summit that “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
Climate change is always an extinction-level event. When the Democratic National Committee rejected counterproductive single-issue debates this week (climate change being the most notable), a member complained, “If an asteroid was coming to Earth, there would be no question about having a debate about it, but with this existential crisis facing the world, we all sit and wring our hands.” This is how a lot of Democrats speak. They are never challenged.
And if you truly believe a slight variation in climate is comparable to an asteroid barreling towards the Earth—and if we trust their rhetoric, every Democrat presidential candidate does—why wouldn’t you support the authoritarian policy proposals of the Green New Deal?
And why wouldn’t you accuse those who oppose more solar panel subsidies and tax hikes of being mass murderers? Why wouldn’t you celebrate the death of philanthropists like David Koch? These people are literally “spinning us all toward environmental doom.”
On climate change, you can say virtually anything, and no one will challenge your zealotry.
Recently I noticed that CNN, where Frances accused the president of being the worst mass murderer in history without any pushback, refers to “climate change” as the “climate crisis” in news stories—which is editorializing, not reporting.
If journalists did their jobs, they would contest some of the assumptions and exaggerations that have now congealed as “crisis” in their newsrooms. Not necessarily the science, but the predictive abilities of scientists or the hyperbolic statements of politicians. But how can any reporter be skeptical of anyone when news organizations have already conceded that what they’re covering is a “crisis?” It would be an apostasy. Chuck Todd won’t give any airtime to “deniers,” but he’ll open his show any Chicken Little who can get elected.
Not long ago, candidates and mainstream media outlets like CNN were acting as if floods in the Midwest were an unprecedented environmental disaster. In reality, deaths from extreme weather have dropped somewhere around 99.9 percent since the 1920s. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and extreme temperatures can still be killers, but thanks to increasingly affordable fossil-fueled heating and air-conditioning systems, safer buildings, and better warning systems—among other technological advances—the vast majority of Americans will never have to fear weather in any genuine way.
Put it this way: Since 1980, death caused by all natural disasters and heat and cold is well under 0.5 percent of the total.
Yet, never, to my recollection, has a mainstream reporter asked an environmental activist why, if the world is headed towards Armageddon, humans are better off now than they were 50 years ago, or 20 years ago or 10 years ago? Climate change is supposedly in full swing, yet fewer people are hungry, fewer people are displaced, and we have to fight fewer wars over resources. Extreme poverty has steeply dropped over the past 30 years. There is no evidence that this trajectory is about to change.
Worse, instead of conveying this good news, the media keeps cherrypicking problems without any context. They’ve convinced large swaths of young Americans that everything is getting worse, when the opposite is true.
Nearly every day, I read some new chilling climate change story. “Climate Change Is Driving An Increase In A Deadly Flesh-Eating Bacteria And Spreading It To New Areas,” says BuzzFeed. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of reported cases of the “Vibrio” illness has more than tripled since 1997, from 386 to 1,256 in 201. The same day I read about the Deadly Flesh-Eating Bacteria, I read, in far less dramatic terms, about a new pill that researchers believe might be able to prevent a third of all heart attacks and strokes, potentially saving millions of lives.
Or take The Washington Post, which recently offered a beautifully packaged article written by a long-time environmental activist turned “reporter.” It cobbled together stories of suffering under climate change. What it failed to point out is that the vast majority of Americans rely on cheap energy and will never have to alter our lifestyles because of the climate—other than perhaps using air conditioning a few extra days.
We’re going to have to learn to deal with Deadly Flesh-Eating Bacteria, because the billions of people who once lived (and live) in disease-ridden areas in the developing world will want heart pills and cars and air conditioners. No sane nation is going to run its economy on expensive and unproductive energy sources.
Some people will argue that the failure of previous scares to materialize doesn’t mean this one isn’t real. Some people will argue human adaptation doesn’t mean that climate change isn’t happening. Of course not. But adaptation is the point.
The story of humankind is one of acclimatization. We use technological advances and efficiencies to deal with change. We will adapt to organic and anthropogenic changes, as we always do, because it’s a lot cheaper than dismantling modernity. That’s the reality, no matter how hysterical activists get on TV.