By Tom Harris
OTTAWA – President Donald Trump is right to kill the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The rules only regulate emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which even school children know is not unclean. CO2 is an essential reactant in plant photosynthesis and so necessary for all life on Earth. That’s why commercial greenhouse operators routinely run their internal atmospheres at up to 1,500 parts per million (ppm) CO2 concentration. Plants inside grow far more efficiently than at the 400 ppm in the outside atmosphere.
Biological Impacts, a report from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, cites over 1,000 peer-reviewed studies that document rising productivity of forests and grasslands as CO2 levels have increased, not just in recent decades, but in past centuries.
Despite the proclamations of climate activists, increasing CO2 levels pose no direct hazard to human health. CO2 concentrations in submarines can reach levels well above 10,000 ppm, 25 times current atmospheric levels, with no harmful effects on the crew.
Yet, in today’s version of Newspeak, the language used to limit freedom of thought in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the CPP refers to CO2 as “carbon pollution,” even though it is the opposite of pollution. This is an example of how misleading language has distorted the climate debate. By calling CO2 “carbon,” the public is encouraged to think of it as something dirty, like graphite or soot, which really are carbon. Adding on the word “pollution” further bolsters this misconception.
When activists are reminded that even former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy admitted that the CPP would have insignificant impact on climate, they respond that there will be important pollution reduction co-benefits to the control of CO2 emissions. Yet the EPA’s own data show that total emissions of six major air pollutants dropped 62% since 1980 despite the fact that CO2 emissions increased by 14%. If we need to better control real pollution, then the foundational Clean Air Act regulatory program, known as National Ambient Air Quality Standards, should be modified. Using climate regulations to affect pollution levels is an expensive mistake.
And for those who still cling to the improbable idea that our CO2 emissions threaten the climate and that the U.S. therefore has a moral responsibility to lead the charge, the CPP is still pointless. Developing countries have made it clear that they will not follow our lead. For example, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said in July 2016:
“You are trying to stymie [our growth] with an agreement [the Paris Agreement on climate change] … That’s stupid. I will not honor that.”
Duterte can say this with a clear conscience since all UN climate treaties, including Paris, are based on the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) signed by President George H. W. Bush and other world leaders at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. FCCC Article 4 states: “Economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”
This stipulation does not apply to developed nations.
Actions to significantly reduce CO2 emissions would usually require cutting back on the use of coal, the source of most of the developing world’s electricity. As coal is usually the least expensive source of power, reducing emissions by restricting coal use would undoubtedly interfere with development priorities. So, developing countries won’t do it, citing FCCC Article 4 as their excuse.
Trump’s promotion of coal and other hydrocarbon energy sources and his concentration on real-world issues of clear air and clean water should be a relief to Americans. Thousands of people lost their jobs and saw prices soar as a result of President Obama’s nonsensical focus on climate mitigation. The Congressional Research Service reported that the Obama administration wasted $120 billion on climate change issues.
“But that era is over,” Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), former Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, told the 12th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-12) in Washington, D.C. on March 23. “The outlook for environmental activists and climate change alarmists is grim. With significant losses in the White House and Congress, the Supreme Court and a persistently skeptic public, their political leverage and relevance has dwindled.”
However, Inhofe cautioned, “The Liberal extremists are not going to give up. Obama has built a culture of radical alarmists, and they’ll be back. You and I and the American people have won a great victory, but the war goes on. Stay vigilant.”
So what can be done to ensure that the climate scare is not resurrected by a future president or Congress?
The key is to sway public opinion so solidly against the global warming false alarm that the Democrats never dare promote it again. According to Dr. Jay Lehr, science director at The Heartland Institute, the organizers of ICCC-12, the war will finally be won when at least 90% of the American public tell pollsters that they oppose the government spending any money at all on climate change mitigation. Attempting to control the climate must broadly be regarded as a fool’s errand.
Lehr told the ICCC-12 audience, “We have won the science. [But] the battle is going to go on. The challenge I make to you, is to turn the minds of five people in a year. Reasonably neutral, sensible people. But we have still not won the attitude of the whole public and that is what we want to do.”
ICCC-12 provided a blueprint for how to do this. By itself, it is not enough to show that the science underlying the scare is wrong. It is not enough to merely reveal how the $1 billion a day spent trying to control climate is wasted. Or that we should welcome rising CO2 levels to help provide the food billions more humans will require. Or how millions of birds and bats are killed by industrial wind turbines erected to supposedly stop climate change. Or the ruined lives of hundreds of thousands of people who live near wind turbines. Or the corruption underlying the EPA’s finding that CO2 endangers human health and the environment.
All of these arguments, and more, must be used to bring sensible people, regardless of their political orientations, to understand that, as former University of Winnipeg climatology professor Dr. Tim Ball explained, “the climate scare is the greatest deception in history.”
Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.