The focus of the 2014 Group of 20 summit meeting in Brisbane, Australia, was on stimulating economic growth across the industrialized world. Thanks, though, to President Obama’s grandstanding and attempted sabotage of the agenda as laid out by the host country, climate change also came to prominence.
For several months prior to the G-20, and despite strong Australian resistance, radical environmental groups had been lobbying for inclusion of global-warming issues on the meeting’s agenda. Mr. Obama was happy to oblige them.
His endorsement of the U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change just before the G-20 was a signal that he would also use the Australian meeting to highlight his campaign to stop “global warming.”
That global warming stopped 18 years ago and the warming of a few tenths of a degree between 1979 and 1997 shows no sign of being other than of natural origin is apparently unknown to the president. Taking action on climate change is to be a cornerstone of his presidential legacy. Bankrupting the domestic coal-mining companies is just an added bonus in Mr. Obama’s eyes.
About a week prior to the G-20 came the sudden announcement that the University of Queensland was to be included in the conference’s security zone, because Mr. Obama was to give a major speech there. Clearly, something was brewing.
The brew turned out to be the president’s stirring of the global-warming caldron through his heavy emphasis on climate change in his campus speech. This posed a deliberate and significant embarrassment for the host nation’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, who still wished to keep that topic out of the G-20 discussions.
In his university speech, Mr. Obama told students, “Here a climate that increases in temperature will mean more extreme and frequent storms, more flooding, rising seas that submerge Pacific Islands. Here in Australia, it means longer droughts, more wildfires.”
Doesn’t Mr. Obama know that in 2012, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a special report on extreme weather events that concluded there was no substantive evidence that any such events were increasing because of global warming?
Is the president ignorant of the fact that for the past 50 years, global sea-level rise has been both slow and decelerating and that, regardless, sea-level rise is an issue that can only be dealt with at the local, not global, level?
Continuing, Mr. Obama further misled his University of Queensland audience when he asserted, “The incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened.”
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman quickly responded: “If the president is concerned about the reef, I can absolutely reassure him that we have a government that is really solid on reef protection . One of the things I will be doing in the future is making sure U.S. officials perhaps know more about what is actually going on, because there has been a strong campaign of misinformation by green groups.”
Mr. Obama and his advisers are apparently unaware that were Capt. James Cook to sail again today along the reef as he first did in 1770, he would be unable to detect any difference from when he first observed this wonder of the world.
Millions of tourists continue to visit the reef every year, and return home glowing at their marvelous experiences. Are these tourists not to believe the evidence of their own eyes? The Great Barrier Reef is doing just fine. Indeed, it is the best managed and most pristine large coral reef tract in the world.
The most concerning aspect of the president’s global-warming crusade and his determination to end the use of coal-fired energy is its intrinsic immorality. Denying poor nations the right to develop their economies by using the cheapest available form of industrial energy, and forcing their peoples to continue to use wood or dung fires instead, is effectively a death sentence for many millions of people.
Exhibiting a pragmatic courage that is rare among Western leaders, Mr. Abbott refused to make an Australian contribution to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, as urged by Mr. Obama. At the same time, he pointed out that “coal is going to be, now and for the foreseeable future, a very important part of the world’s energy needs. It has to be, because if it’s not, we are never going to provide energy to the 1.3 billion who don’t have it.”
Donating $3 billion to the fund, as President Obama also announced, makes the matter worse, for most of the money will undoubtedly be spent subsidizing environmentally damaging and otherwise unattainably expensive sources of energy, such as wind power, in impoverished nations.
New scientific papers appear nearly every week that show that the claimed link between carbon-dioxide emissions and dangerous global warming is imaginary. Accordingly, the link between climate-change policy and energy policy is thereby invalidated, but this persistently escapes global-warming pundits.
Mr. Obama and other global political leaders need to reconsider their misinformed belief that climate policy and energy policy should be interwoven. In reality, the two policy streams urgently need to be disentangled.
Sound climate policy is primarily concerned with preparing for and adapting to climate hazards, however they are caused. The aim of energy policy is to provide cheap and reliable electric power to all citizens and industries. Where science is concerned, never the twain meet.
• Bob Carter is former professor and head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia. Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition.