Last summer’s Rio+20 Conference tried unsuccessfully to rivet global attention on the latest “urgent problem” of unsustainable development. This week, another United Nations five-star-hotel convention, in Doha, Qatar, is working overtime to revive climate alarmism as a “central organizing principle” for global governance.
The strategies remain unchanged: There are treaties, laws, regulations and higher taxes for hydrocarbon energy, all under the direction of unelected, unaccountable fanatics who insist they are saving planet Earth from ecological collapse. The agenda is likewise the same: Slash hydrocarbon use, transfer wealth, regulate economic growth and control people’s lives.
With the Kyoto Protocol set to expire at the end of December, Qatar conventioneers are determined to forge new international agreements in the face of numerous harsh realities.
The United States never ratified Kyoto and is not bound by its dictates, and the country’s reduced economic and political stature make it harder to play a lead role in forging a new agreement. Canada, Japan and New Zealand will not participate in a new treaty. The European Union is drowning in debt and struggling under soaring renewable-energy costs that threaten families, jobs, companies and entire industries.
China, Brazil, India, Indonesia and other emerging markets refuse to limit the use of fossil fuels they need to build their economies and lift millions out of poverty. They say industrialized nations must agree to further greenhouse gas reductions before they will consider doing so, and holding developing countries to developed-nation standards would be inequitable.
Poor countries increasingly understand that carbon-dioxide emission restrictions will prevent them from expanding and subject them to control by environmental activists and U.N. regulators. They also realize that massive wealth transfers from formerly rich countries — for climate-change mitigation, adaptation and reparation — are increasingly unlikely and would go mostly to bureaucrats, autocrats and kleptocrats, with little trickling down to ordinary people.
The scientific realities are equally bad for alarmists.
Average planetary temperatures have not risen in 16 years, even as atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels have crept upward to 0.0391 percent (391 parts per million). While global-warming alarmists continue to say 2010 or, in the United States, 2012 was “the hottest on record,” actual data show that the difference between those and other allegedly “hottest years” is only a few hundredths of a degree. The 1930s still hold the record for the steamiest years in American history.
NASA has conceded that Arctic sea-ice reductions during 2012 were caused mostly by enormous, long-lasting storms that broke up huge sections of the polar ice cap. Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice continues to expand, setting new records. The rate of sea-level rise has not been accelerating and actually may be decreasing, according to recent studies.
Even with Hurricane Sandy, November 2012 marks the quietest long-term hurricane period since the Civil War, with only one major hurricane strike on the U.S. mainland in seven years. Large tornadoes also have fallen in frequency since the 1950s, and the 2012 season was the most peaceful on record. Only 12 tornadoes touched down in the United States in July 2012, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shattering the July 1960 record low of 42.
Alarmists insist that Sandy was “unprecedented” and “proof that climate change is real.” However, devastating hurricanes have struck New York, New Jersey and Canada’s Maritime Provinces many times over the centuries. Newfoundland’s deadliest hurricane killed 4,000 people in 1775, while Category 1 to 3 storms hit the provinces in 1866, 1873, 1886, 1893, 1939, 1959, 1963 and 2003. New York City was hammered by major storms in 1693, 1788, 1821, 1893, the 1938 “Long Island Express,” 1944 and 1954.
Climate change is natural, normal, cyclical, frequent, unpredictable and sometimes catastrophic, as the Little Ice Age — lasting from the 16th century to the 19th century — certainly was for European civilization.
These realities won’t stop the alarmists. There simply is too much money and power at stake. Tens of billions of dollars are transferred annually from taxpayers and energy users to eco-activists, scientists who hype climate disasters, regulators, carbon tax “investors” and renewable-energy and carbon-capture subsidy-seekers. They have every incentive to promote climate scares and attack anyone who voices skepticism about carbon-dioxide-driven climate-change catastrophes.
Reality will not stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is preparing to impose new carbon-dioxide regulations. Nor will it stop Congress and the White House from viewing carbon taxes as a new source of revenue for funding stimulus and entitlement programs. That these actions would strangle our economy, kill millions of jobs and eradicate expected government revenues does not occur to them.
The real danger is not climate change. With our economic and technological resources, we can adapt to almost any changes Mother Nature might throw at us — short of another glacial period that buries much of the world under a mile of ice.
The real danger is treaties, laws, regulations and taxes imposed in the name of preventing global-warming catastrophes that exist only in computer models, horror movies and environmentalist press releases. These political schemes will exacerbate and perpetuate poverty, disease, unemployment and economic stagnation. That is neither just nor sustainable.
Congress and the U.N. need to return to their founding principles, get serious about poverty alleviation and economic betterment for people everywhere and implement constructive solutions to the real problems that confront civilization.
David Rothbard is president of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, where Craig Rucker is executive director.