By Paul Driessen
Vocal activists increasingly drive Democrat Party positions across the public policy spectrum. Print, television, social and click-bait media generally support them, while permitting little debate on liberal proposals or their potential ramifications. Even semi-moderate Joe Biden has been pressured into shifting or flipping his positions on abortion, energy, climate change and other issues, to satisfy far-left factions.
Their policy prescriptions often find ready acceptance in coastal, urban, academic, media and big government circles. But factory workers, blue collar families and Middle America better pay very close attention to how climate change scare stories and proposed Green New Deal programs will impact their energy costs and reliability, jobs, living standards, mobility and personal choices. Warning signs abound.
Reflecting heavy dependence on wind and solar power, German and British electricity prices are already three to four times higher than what the vast majority of American households currently pay – and rising. The exorbitant prices have largely shuttered the UK’s aluminum industry and what’s left of its steel industry. Combined with ever-tougher carbon dioxide emission limits, factory operating costs similarly “threaten the very existence” of Germany’s automobile industry, Volkswagen’s CEO laments.
Nearly 350,000 German families have had their electricity cut off because they cannot afford to pay their power bills. German families and businesses had to cope with 172,000 localized blackouts in 2017. The country has banned fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and imports US coal and Russian natural gas.
In Britain more than 3,000 elderly people die every year because they cannot heat their homes properly, exposing them to constant chilly temperatures that make them more likely to contract and succumb to respiratory or heart disease. The situation is likely to get even worse. In stark contrast, abundant natural gas supplies from the fracking revolution have driven prices down in the USA, saving some 11,000 American lives each winter, according to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research study.
Multiple widespread blackouts over a three-month period in South Australia were caused by the elimination of coal-fired power, 52% reliance on wind turbines, storms, grid instability, and an inability to predict weather conditions or peak power demand. In May 2019, they helped persuade Aussie voters to replace their climate-obsessed government with a conservative coalition that supports fossil fuels.
China, India and other overseas aluminum, steel and vehicle exporters to the EU and US face no climate-driven energy price or emission obstacles. The Paris Climate Agreement does not obligate them to reduce their fossil fuel use or emissions for decades to come, if ever. Indeed, China’s annual increase in “greenhouse gas” emissions is greater than Australia’s total annual nationwide emissions!
Asia’s total GHG emissions now dwarf the USA’s. So even total, painful, job-killing, economy-shackling elimination of US fossil fuels would do nothing to end the steady rise in atmospheric CO2 levels.
Unfortunately, these hard realities have had no effect on people or companies that expect to benefit politically or financially from legislated energy upheavals rooted in manmade climate change alarmism.
New Mexico recently joined California and Hawaii in mandating “renewable” electricity: 50% by 2030, 80% by 2040 and 100% by 2050. Despite the absence of any state mandate, the Northern Indiana Public Service Company wants to replace 1,850 megawatts of affordable 24/7 coal-based electricity with 1,650 MW of expensive, intermittent, weather-dependent wind and solar, plus 1,500 MW of backup batteries.
Modern factories, offices, hospitals, schools, households and cities cannot function or survive on starvation energy diets like these. Moreover, claims that wind, solar and battery technologies are clean, climate-friendly, renewable and sustainable are little more than useful fairy tales.
Wind and solar energy are certainly renewable and perpetual. However, the massive amounts of land and raw materials required to harness, store and utilize that energy certainly are not. And many rare earth elements, lithium, cadmium, cobalt and other high-tech metals are extracted and processed by Chinese companies under zero to minimal child labor, fair wage, worker safety and environmental standards.
But all this generally gets swept under the rug, while tsunamis of climate chaos scare stories terrorize children and even a lot of adults into believing human civilization, wildlife and even our planet face annihilation in less than twenty years, unless the world quickly rids itself of fossil fuels.
From Kamala Harris to Bernie Sanders, and now Joe Biden, every Democrat presidential candidate supports some version of the Green New Deal and would have us believe its authoritarian edicts and multi-trillion-dollar price tag are affordable and necessary.
Helping to drive this narrative is billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – proud owner of twelve houses, a private jet and helicopter, and a fleet of pricey cars. He intends to give the Sierra Club and other activist groups $500 million to conduct new campaigns to eradicate coal power and block construction of natural gas-fired generators that would otherwise replace coal-fired plants.
In fact, no sooner is one example of climate nonsense debunked, than another dozen take its place.
After decades of frightening visitors with tall tales that Glacier National Park glaciers would all melt away by 2020 or soon thereafter, park rangers are finally acknowledging that the Grinnell, Jackson and other glaciers have actually been growing since 2010. They are now (quietly) removing signs, videos and brochures that featured the (Al) Gorey claims about catastrophic (Michael) Mann-made global warming.
Even the Washington Post has acknowledged that the number of violent (F4-5) tornadoes has declined 40% between the 1950-1984 period and 1985-2018 interval – with not one violent tornado recorded in the USA in 2018, for the first time in history. The United States also enjoyed a record 12-year absence of Category 3-5 hurricanes making landfall, between Wilma in 2005 and Harvey in 2017. Overall, actual evidence shows no upward trend in extreme weather, floods, droughts or sea level rise.
So now we’re being told plant and animal species are disappearing 100 times faster than historic rates, because of manmade climate change – and a million or more are at risk of extinction … out of some eight million that a new UN report claims exist on Earth. There are serious problems with this latest hysteria.
Scientists have actually identified and named only 1.8 million plant and animal species. The other 6.2 million “have no names, have never been identified,” and exist only as bits and bytes in computer models and fear-mongering reports and news stories, forestry ecologist and Greenpeace cofounder Dr. Patrick Moore observed during recent testimony before the House Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee.
Only 800 or so species have gone extinct in the last five centuries, Dr. Moore added – and most of them were victims of cats, rats, foxes and other invasive species introduced by European colonizers, or on small islands where native species had no defenses and could not escape.
Assuming this pattern will be repeated on a global scale, across entire continents, because of climate change, for a mythical 8 million species … and plugging those assumptions into computer programs … isn’t science. It’s garbage – designed and intended to justify eliminating the fossil fuels that provide over 80% of the energy that the United States and world use to produce food, jobs, health and prosperity.
We’re also supposed to swallow pseudo-scientific claims that “surging levels” of plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide are creating dangerous hybrid puffer fish, making salmon unable to detect danger, making sharks right-handed and unable to hunt, making Arctic plants “too tall,” making coffee growing impossible in many countries, causing pigs to get skinnier, turning Earth into a super-heated Venus, causing the demise of tropical birds, and many other fearsome stories of White Walkers and Days after Tomorrow.
Sadly, all too many people soak up this nonsense like sponges. (Unkind comedians might suggest they have the brain cells of a sponge.) But to have these tales … and the voters and politicians who believe and propagate them … drive our energy and economic policies would be the cruelest joke of all.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy and environmental science and policy.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.