- - Wednesday, October 12, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, Hillary Clinton has called on Al Gore to help boost her candidacy among voters concerned about climate change. If Tuesday’s Clinton-Gore climate change rally in Miami is any indication, we are in for a wild ride in the coming weeks. Their speeches were riddled with science misrepresentations and outright mistakes.

Perhaps their most egregious error was the idea that Matthew was made worse by man-made global warming and is therefore a harbinger of greater catastrophes to come. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Gore apparently do not know that the strongest hurricane on record, Typhoon Tip, occurred 37 years ago, well before recent temperature rise.

Madhav Khandekar, former Environment Canada research scientist explained, “The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in 2012 that a relationship between global warming and hurricanes has not been demonstrated. In their September 2013 assessment report, they had only ‘low confidence’ that damaging increases will occur in tropical [typhoons and hurricanes] and drought due to global warming.”

Mr. Khandekar concluded, “When the earth was cooling between 1945 and 1977, there were as many extreme weather events as there are now. The link between global warming and extreme weather is more perception than reality.”

Underlying Mrs. Clinton’s and Mr. Gore’s messages are three fundamentally unsound assumptions: that climate science is well understood, that the poor will derive net benefits from climate change mitigation policy, and that developing nations, the source of most of today’s carbon-dioxide output, will follow America’s lead in cutting emissions.

Mrs. Clinton said on Tuesday, “We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House . We need a president who believes in science.”

But the last thing America needs is another president who cherry-picks the science to support a political agenda, as Barack Obama has done throughout his presidency. As demonstrated by dozens of open letters and other public lists, thousands of experts do not agree that we face a man-made climate crisis. Perhaps the simplest document was the Climate Scientists’ Register which, in only a few days in 2010, attracted more than 100 expert endorsers to the statement:

“We, the undersigned, having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming.”

Contrary to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Gore’s assertions, no one knows what the majority of the scientists who study the causes of climate change think about the only issue that matters from a public policy perspective: Will carbon dioxide produced by industrial activity cause dangerous climate change?

That “climate change is real,” as Mrs. Clinton asserted on Tuesday, or even that we contribute significantly to those changes should not be important to policymakers. It is only if the changes we are causing are dangerous that it need be a public policy issue. Regardless, consulting only one side in this intense scientific controversy, as Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Gore have done, is irresponsible.

Mr. Gore told the Miami rally that the poor are the most vulnerable to climate change. Agreed. But it is also the poor who are the most vulnerable to misguided climate change policy.

For example, aid agencies are unable to properly help people affected by climate change because, of the more than $1 billion spent globally each day on climate finance, only 6 percent goes to adaptation support. Because of the success of campaigners like Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Gore, the rest is spent trying to stop climate change that might someday happen. This is immoral, valuing people yet to be born more than those in need today.

Because of the drive to reduce emissions to supposedly stop climate change, 6.5 percent of the world’s grain now goes to biofuels instead of food, causing food price spikes in poor countries.

People numbering 1.2 billion lack access to electricity even though their countries have vast fossil fuel resources. Climate concerns makes it difficult for poor nations to get the funds they need to use these resources to electrify. And in nations that already have broad access to electricity, power rates are skyrocketing as inexpensive coal-fired generation is turned off in the name of “stopping climate change.” It is the poor who suffer most due to these policies.

Mrs. Clinton said on Tuesday in Miami, “We can rally the world to cut carbon pollution.”

But Article 4 of the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the foundation of the Paris agreement, gives an out clause for developing nations. The article states, “Economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”

Actions to significantly reduce carbon-dioxide emissions would entail dramatically cutting back on the use of coal, the source of most of the developing world’s electricity. As coal is the least expensive source of electric power in most of the world, reducing carbon-dioxide output by restricting coal use would undoubtedly interfere with development priorities. So developing countries almost certainly won’t do it.

On July 18, outspoken President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said what most developing country leaders undoubtedly think about the Paris climate agreement: “You are trying to stymie [our growth] with an agreement … . That’s stupid. I will not honor that.”

Donald Trump is right — leftists are taking America for a ride to ruin on climate change. Its time they were stopped.

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.


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