Save the Planet?
CO2 is a greenhouse gas in that its molecular structure tends to absorb and re-release heat, trapping some of it in the earth’s atmosphere. But does it contribute to global warming? The historical evidence suggests not. But let’s grant the global warming fanatics their day in court and assume they are correct. If so, what will our actions to reduce atmospheric CO2 actually accomplish?
The global warming fanatics often show pictures of smokestacks billowing black smoke to suggest massive air pollution from CO2. Another lie. Never mind that technology has significantly reduced smokestack output of unburned hydrocarbons and other byproducts. The facts, as usual, are radically different. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless gas which currently comprises a little over 400 parts per million (ppm), that is 0.04 percent of all atmospheric gasses—an infinitesimal amount. CO2 concentration has increased by about 40 percent or 120 ppm (0.012 percent of atmospheric gasses) over the last 200 or so years. During that time, world mean temperature has increased by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
Let’s generously assume that all of the CO2 increase since colonial times was caused by man’s activity and that the 1.8˚F temperature increase was entirely attributable to CO2. The U.S. has contributed less than 20 percent of that. (The U.S. contributed 15 percent in 2014, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).) But we’ll use the 20 percent figure to keep the math easy. So if we buy the Left’s argument entirely, the United States—the imperialist destroyer of the global environment that promiscuously burns carbon fuels to satisfy its insatiable appetite for warmth, air conditioning, and automatic dishwashers—has raised global temperatures over the past 200 years a whopping 0.36˚F (1.8 x 0.2).
But it gets even more absurd. Using the Left’s assumptions, since colonial times, the U.S. has added a total of 24 ppm of CO2 (120 x 0.2). Let me repeat that, 24 parts per million or 0.0024 percent—an almost immeasurable amount.
In 2014, the Obama administration heroically announced its intention to reduce coal plant carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030. Obama was thankfully stopped, and the coal industry (and our nation) got a temporary reprieve. But what would success have looked like? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 2014 coal-burning power plants were responsible for about 29 percent of manmade U.S. CO2 emissions. See Table 1.
Under the Obama proposal, total U.S. CO2 emissions would have been reduced by about 9 percent (0.29 x 0.3). This equates to a CO2 reduction of about 2 ppm (0.0002 percent), for a temperature reduction of 0.03˚F. So using the Left’s assumptions, if the average global temperature in 2014 was 58.24˚F, it would have been reduced to 58.21˚F. And the Obama administration was willing to destroy an entire industry to accomplish this! The same result will obtain with the effort to switch to electric cars.
In the real world where the rest of us live, to suggest that such miniscule CO2 reductions could have any impact strains credulity. Indeed the EPA admitted at the time that its rule would have had no measurable effect on temperature.
Biden has promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2030. Thankfully the Supreme Court ruled the EPA has no authority to unilaterally impose such draconian rules without congressional approval. But a similar argument can be made here. If we generously take the Left’s assumptions as fact, and we have contributed a total of 0.36˚F to the global warming that has occurred so far, Biden’s plan would cut temperature by 0.18˚F, reducing current average global temperature from its current 57.52˚F to 57.34 ˚F.
While these people are setting off alarm bells about the dangers of rising CO2 levels, the biggest polluters in the world don’t seem to have received the memo. China has the worst carbon footprint by far of any nation in the world and is rapidly building new coal-burning power plants that will equal to total current U.S. capacity. This will negate any efforts we make. Nonetheless, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm stated publicly in March that we can learn from Communist China’s example about their investments in “clean energy.” Granholm’s statement is simply bizarre for its tone-deaf ignorance.
Is there a method to this madness? Czechoslovakia’s famous leader Vaclav Klaus has called global warming a religion, whose motivating ambition is greed and power. In a 2009 Fox News interview, he said:
We’ll be the victims of irrational ideology. They will try to dictate to us how to live, what to do, how to behave. What to eat, travel, and what my children should have. This is something that we who lived in the communist era for most of our lives—we still feel very strongly about.… Some of them are really just rent seekers who hope to get some money either for their businesses or for their countries. Some of them are really true believers.
Marc Morano of Climate Depot writes:
A prescient government-funded report by five universities in the United Kingdom (Cambridge, Imperial College, Oxford, Bath, Nottingham, and Strathclyde) titled Absolute Zero, released in November 2019, envisions what a society locked down for the sake of the climate would look like. “Stop doing anything that causes emissions regardless of its energy source…. Stop eating beef and lamb…. Either use 60% fewer cars or they will be 60% the size,” urged the report…. By 2050, “All remaining airports close…. All shipping declines to zero.” According to the report’s executive summary, there is no choice but to follow this draconian path because it is “the law.”
. . .
Canadian banker Mark Carney, a climate advisor to both UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, has a plan to financially lockdown businesses that don’t adhere to the dictates of the climate agenda. “Carney’s Brave New World will be one of severely constrained choice, less flying, less meat, more inconvenience, and more poverty: ‘Assets will be stranded, used gasoline-powered cars will be unsaleable, inefficient properties will be unrentable,’ he promises,” wrote Peter Foster, columnist for the National Post and the author of Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism.
The agenda’s objectives are in fact already being enforced, not primarily by legislation but by the application of non-governmental—that is, non-democratic—pressure on the corporate sector via the ever-expanding dictates of ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) and by ‘sustainable finance,’ which is designed to starve non-compliant companies of funds, thus rendering them, as Carney puts it, ‘climate roadkill.’ What ESG actually represents is corporate ideological compulsion. It is a key instrument of ‘stakeholder capitalism.’
We covered ESG and “stakeholder capitalism” (i.e., socialism) in my most recent report. Pensioners, as well as investment funds, are already paying the price for ESG. Figure 4 shows what losers these funds are when compared to the S&P 500 index:
In 2021, the Guardian blared: “Equivalent of Covid emissions drop needed every two years.” The article claims, “Carbon dioxide emissions must fall by the equivalent of a global lockdown roughly every two years for the next decade for the world to keep within safe limits of global heating, research has shown.”
Current Biden Climate Czar, John Kerry, was enthusiastic back in 2009 when the recession caused a 6 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Kerry wanted to see a 20 percent reduction, which would have required a recession almost four times worse. The cumulative effects of successive Covid lockdowns would be magnitudes worse, and literally destroy the world economy.
This article was first published in the May/June 2023 issue of Capital Research magazine.