By Dr. Thomas Patterson |
Leftist thought leaders insist that we are facing an environmental holocaust unless we immediately, drastically reduce carbon emissions.
Yet it’s curious. The governing and influence elites demand massive societal sacrifice, while they are apparently not concerned enough to alter their own extravagant lifestyles. They own multiple sumptuous homes, cars, and yachts. They fly individual private jets to their annual meetings in Davos, Switzerland, where they assure each other that it is their solemn responsibility to save the rest of us from ourselves.
They refuse to engage in thoughtful debate on any notions that challenge their woke orthodoxy. Instead, those advocating ideas different from their own are dismissed as “climate deniers.”
Take electric vehicles. EVs are touted by enviros as the obvious antidote to carbon belching SUVs. But they aren’t.
Fossil fuels produce most of their electricity. The manufacture and disposal of batteries—and the rare metals required—have significant environmental impacts. A growing consensus now acknowledges that EVs may produce more net carbon emissions than today’s cleaner burning gasoline cars.
You would think anyone with genuine concern about the environment might reconsider EV policy. But they don’t engage. Instead, they soldier on, funding yet more subsidies, benefits, and charging stations. Taxpayers get dinged for billions with no discernible benefit.
Clearly, to these decision makers, climate change isn’t about climate. It’s about power. Egomaniacal persons of all stripes throughout history have had the unquenchable desire to control the lives of others and operate the world from their centers of power. Think Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Gates, Zuckerberg – make your own list.
One irony is that the consequences of rising temperatures may not be that harmful. According to Swedish economist Bjorn Lomborg, higher temperatures are far less harmful than lower ones.
500,000 people worldwide die annually from heat-related causes, while 4.5 million die from cold. Over the last decade or so, rising temperatures have caused 116,000 more heat deaths yearly, but also 283,000 fewer cold-related deaths per year. How many hysterical accounts of coming devastation would you have to read to learn that?
It’s not the heat but the political responses to climate change that are causing real harm. Low-cost synthetic fertilizer is an innovation that has greatly enhanced our ability to feed the world. Because it is made from natural gas, climate activists have limited its use, even though 1 billion people worldwide are facing imminent threat of starvation.
Other pressing needs have been drowned out by the insistence on prioritizing climate change. Recent increases in energy prices were exacerbated by Biden’s self-proclaimed war on fossil fuels. Europe’s refusal to capitalize on its shale reserves and their shunning of nuclear power also resulted in higher energy prices and lower security, as did subsidies of solar and wind, which are still not substantial, reliable suppliers to the electrical grid.
The costs of climate activism will be even higher if governments seriously pursue their stated aim of producing net zero emissions by 2050. The truth is that climate is a global problem. With our current technologies and geopolitical realities (i.e., China) such goals are simply not attainable.
But the price for such climate grandstanding would be $5 trillion per year for 30 years according to McKinsey. Every single American would have to pay $5,000 per year to achieve even 80% of the goal by mid-century.
Ordinary citizens are getting fed up with these elitist obsessions. Polls show climate change far down the list of Americans’ concerns.
40,000 Dutch farmers recently held a mass protest against government mandates that nitrogen-oxide and ammonia emissions, produced by livestock, be reduced by 80%. The government of Sri Lanka resigned after a ban on synthetic fertilizers decimated food production and the economy collapsed.
Remember, we’re only in the early phases of the alarmists’ grand plans to reorder society. Already, California and other areas, possibly including Arizona, are facing the threat of rolling blackouts. An EU official recently warned that millions of Europeans may not be able to heat their homes this winter.
Climate change is manageable through mitigation and innovation. The fabulously expensive, impractical nostrums being pushed by our self-appointed experts are a recipe for human suffering and chaos.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.