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New Times / Commentary

The following article was posted on July 2nd, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 49

Climate change nonsense

Current environmental pursuits revive specters of hypes past

BY GARY WECHTER

I must commend Heidi Harmon for her well-written and self-assured article on climate change (“Climate crisis has no party affiliation,” May 22), but at the same time I need to share my view.

I wish I could say I was a climate change denier, but I can’t because I remember learning about the Ice Age, a time when the climate indeed changed. At that time, I think we can all agree, no one was burning fossil fuels.

I wish I could say that man’s industrial activities have had no effect on our climate, but unfortunately, I can’t. One thing I can say is that prognostications similar to those presented by Ms. Harmon have been put forth many times before, generally with disappointing or even disastrous results.

For example, we were told that the world’s population would go hungry and millions would die (The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich circa 1970), but that didn’t come true. Another example was that banning DDT was necessary to save the world’s population from extinction (Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, 1962), but she was wrong and her impact was most devastating for the millions of folks in the tropics who died of malaria. Another example I can remember was the suggestion in the 1970s that the world was getting colder and humanity would freeze to death. Once again, it didn’t happen.

So now Ms. Harmon and her ilk want me to believe that “climate change” (as far as I’m concerned, the climate always changes) will have dire impacts such as floods, violent storms, droughts, and the like. Sorry ... I won’t again be taken in by this doom and gloom, “must act now or else” mentality.

OK, OK, for the sake of argument, let’s go along with this latest prognostication and let’s say that if the world reduced its use of fossil fuels we’d have a least a wildly unlikely possibility of survival. Then what to do? Ms. Harmon’s suggestion is to unilaterally force Americans to limit their use of fossil fuels while the rest of the world continues on its current path. Let’s see ... 300+ million Americans vs. 8 billion world population. Does anyone besides me see anything wrong with that?

Ms. Harmon references the Solutions Plan written by expert Dr. Mark Jacobson at Stanford University who suggests that following his plan will “get the United States on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.” She goes on the say, “We can eliminate combustion as a source of energy by utilizing our natural renewable resources”. Let’s see if I understand her correctly: In 35 years, science and industry will figure out how to lift a 747 off the ground using an alternative energy source. Somehow I don’t think so.

Ms. Harmon suggests a “revenue-neutral carbon incentive that will put market pressure on fossil fuels to create the economically viable pathways to green energy.” Let me translate: Increase taxes on gasoline and all energy from oil and natural gas until such time as green energy becomes less expensive. The fact that gasoline will cost more—perhaps lots more—and all things transported, like food, will cost lots more doesn’t seem to concern Ms. Harmon. Who gets hurt the most when food and gasoline prices go up significantly? I’ll let the reader figure that one out.

Ms. Harmon closes with, “What we do in the next two years will decide the next 200.” The only thing I can say to that is “nonsense!”

I like green energy and believe efforts in that direction are worthwhile. I, like every American, want clean air and reliable water. But at the same time I’m interested in policies that help the middle class and those less fortunate to climb into the middle class, and Ms. Harmon’s encouragement does nothing for those folks. High-minded intellectuals, like Rachel Carson, can do a lot of damage pursuing goals that are in the best interest of the world. For me, the aggressive pursuit to mitigate what is called “climate change” unfortunately rings familiar and dangerous at the same time. More reasonable and prudent policies than those espoused by Ms. Harmon are in order.

 

Gary Wechter lives in Arroyo Grande. Send comments to the executive editor at rmiller@newtimesslo.com.