Climate Realists Are Already On The Right Side Of Energy Debate. No Need To Change

Tim Huelskamp and H. Sterling Burnett | President, Senior Fellow, The Heartland Institute

June 26 article in Roll Call titled, “A New Climate of Realism Emerges in Energy Debate,” argues progressives and conservatives should join forces in embracing climate realism, throwing over the claim “climate change is a hoax,” as well as the assertion that “renewable energy can supply all of the world’s energy needs.”

We couldn’t agree more with the premise — though, to be fair, we have a very different view of what climate realism entails than the article’s author, Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Climate change is not a hoax. In fact, the climate is constantly changing, and it has for decades, centuries and even millennia.

Contra Grumet, however, there are significant questions concerning the extent to which the use of fossil fuels are contributing to current climate change and, just as importantly, whether climate change threatens human civilization or the environment.

Indeed, the 20th century’s modest temperature rise was well within historic natural temperature variations, and alarmist climate models — which attribute that rise to humans’ greenhouse gas emissions — cannot account for the fact nearly half the global temperature increase occurred before 1940, before fossil fuel use began adding substantial amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

In addition, these models are unable to account for the 18-year hiatus in rising temperatures from the late 20th century to the early 21st century, and they consistently overestimate the amount of warming Earth has experienced as a result of atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. Numerous peer-reviewed studies indicate Earth’s climate simply isn’t as sensitive to greenhouse gas concentrations as those who fear human-caused global warming assume.

Almost every testable projection made by computer models concerning the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet has been proven false: Hurricanes aren’t getting worse; sea levels are not rising at an unusual rate; Antarctica is adding ice, not losing it; scientists can show no species to have been lost due to climate change; droughts continue to wax and wane, as they always have; and crop production continues to set records.

Grumet’s complaint that progressives have far too much faith in renewable power sources to provide sufficient energy for modern societies to function is correct. The increase in wind and solar energy during the past decade has been driven by big government policies that require or subsidize the production of wind or solar power. Absent massive government subsidies and forced use, wind and solar power providers would die on the vine; only the richest Americans, or those living off the grid in the wilderness, would be interested in these costly power sources.

If fossil fuels are not causing dangerous climate change, then there is no need either to further subsidize green energy sources, thereby punishing coal, natural gas and nuclear power providers, or to impose costly “fixes,” such as technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide emissions. Federal and state governments have already poured billions into the climate change prevention blackhole, and they have nothing to show for it for their efforts — other than rising deficits and continued energy poverty in developing nations.

At The Heartland Institute, we have identified a huge “peace dividend” that could be enjoyed by ending President Barack Obama’s war on fossil fuels. By simply ending costly programs intended to fight climate change, we could give every family in America a peace dividend of approximately $4,275 per year, every year — money that could be used to pay for college tuition, mortgage payments or rent, debt, health care, home improvements or vacation.

Simultaneously, we could adopt policies that would expand U.S. energy exports, allowing struggling peoples in the developing world to climb out of poverty while delivering manufacturing, construction and transportation jobs to U.S. companies.

That is the “winning” way, as President Trump likes to say, to improve America’s image and spread our influence around the globe. Surely those are goals progressives and conservatives alike can share.

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D. is president of The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a senior fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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