- - Monday, September 23, 2019

Saving the world is the holy grail of each generation. Superheroes who used to come to the rescue in comic books now do it digitally. In this era of global consciousness, regular folks can roll up their sleeves and join the ranks of the adored. Now it’s called saving the planet, and it doesn’t require a cape and tights. The only prerequisite is a willingness to turn thumbs up for environmental activism, and the United Nations is all thumbs with its Climate Action Summit, a warm-up act for the U.N. General Assembly opening on Tuesday in New York.

Building on the vision of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on global leaders to help the international body provide “concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.”

U.N. climate change advocates want to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions to levels that limit the rise in global temperatures to less 2 degrees Celsius over the next 12 years, and even roll them back to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

These are ambitious “green” goals, touted as necessary to stave off the existential threat to all living things except, ironically, all green things. Plants thrive on the carbon dioxide that makes up the majority of supposed dangerous emissions. If trees could walk and talk, they would likely picket the proceedings at the U.N. monolith on Turtle Bay.

The secretary-general has prioritized “action portfolios” that could contribute toward greenhouse gas reduction, not the least of which would be “mobilizing public and private sources of finance to drive decarbonization of all priority sectors and advance resilience.” Trying to convince nations to hit up taxpayers and lean on businesses in order to condition the air requires super-heroics. Democrats’ Green New Deal, which outlines a wholesale makeover of the U.S. economy, carries a price tag that could reach $93 trillion over a decade. It’s unsurprising that in a CBS poll conducted last week, only 15 percent of respondents “describe the Green New Deal as a good plan that encompasses what’s needed to address climate change.”

Other action items include “accelerating the shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, as well as making significant gains in energy efficiency.” The Islamic Republic of Iran, a U.N. member in good standing, might have unique insights to share in this regard. The Gulf nation has, in all likelihood, made the U.N.’s case against the viability of fossil fuel in recent months by attaching mines to nearby oil tankers and in the past week, taking out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities with drones and cruise missiles.

An immediate 10-cent average pump price hike, which the American Automobile Association says could rise to 25 cents by the end of the month, demonstrates that there is method to the mullahs’ madness.

Renewable energy, sadly, is not yet ready for prime time. All “green” sources combined currently provides Americans with 11 percent of their energy needs, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Globally, the proportion is 13.5 percent, says the International Energy Agency. Nearly 1 billion souls across the planet are still waiting in the dark for electricity from any possible source — renewable or fossil. The prospect of cranking back the spigot on the global oil supply without a reliable replacement would hardly be greeted with gusto to match that of the U.N. summiteers.

Those who would save the world require a doomsday scenario to combat, and there have been plenty of false alarms in the past. Among them is the 1970 prediction by NASA and Columbia University that the world was as little as 50 to 60 years away from a new ice age.

Still, forecasts of catastrophic global warming are not something to be taken lightly. The third orb from the sun is the only habitat that humanity can presently call home, given that the fourth one next-door looks to be a fixer-upper. Careful study of the Earth’s evolving climate must trump trendy political opportunists who insist on calling the science “settled” and ignoring evidence to the contrary.

The current crop of climate-change superheroes wielding their pointy thermometers at the U.N. should beware their ministrations are not featured in the comics of future generations.

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