Lorrie Goldstein sets the record straight on climate change, the positions he’s taken, and why.
Having recently … uh ... celebrated my fourth year of writing about global warming, or, if you prefer, climate change, I’m going to use today’s column to push the “reset” button on a few issues.
While I’ve had hundreds of worthwhile exchanges with readers over that time, there are a minority who maliciously misrepresent my views.
So, in order to, pardon the pun, clear the air, I’m going to re-state some of the things I’ve actually said and the positions I’ve actually taken — a selective list, not an exhaustive one.
Question: Have you ever been paid by the fossil fuel industry?
Answer: No. Anyone who says I have is lying.
Question: Do you believe in the science of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming?
Answer: Yes. Aside from the scientific evidence, it strikes me as logical that just as we affect air quality by burning fossil fuels, we have an impact (although obviously not the only impact) on climate.
Question: Do you believe anthropogenic global warming (AGW) poses an existential threat?
Answer: No. AGW is one of many problems we face, but it does not pose the threat of a mass extinction in the way, for example, a new Ice Age would, which, ironically, some prominent climate scientists today were predicting in the 1970s.
Question: What is the most effective way to lower greenhouse gas emissions?
Answer: Unfortunately, (1) high energy prices and (2) recessions, given the shortcomings of current technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels.
Question: What about carbon taxes and cap-and-trade?
Answer: Both only “work” to the extent they increase energy prices and deepen or prolong recessions. Neither improves the environment. Norway has had a carbon tax for 20 years and Statistics Norway concluded long ago it has only had a small impact on emissions. Cap-and-trade is worse because it creates a global market in “carbon credits,” which simply moves emissions from rich countries to poor ones, without lowering them. Trading carbon credits enriches energy companies, utilities, banks, brokers, speculators and fraudsters, at the expense of ordinary citizens. It’s no accident the earliest corporate booster of carbon trading in the U.S. was Enron.
Question: What would you do?
Answer: (1) Stop listening to politicians and others who advocate the abandonment of fossil fuels in time frames that are not only unrealistic, but would cause more deaths and suffering than what they claim will result from our continued use of fossil fuels. What greenhouse gas emissions represent is civilization. Developing countries with low emissions (or low per-capita emissions) aspire to be developed countries with high emissions. No developing nation will abandon a known technology — fossil fuel energy — which can move it out of the Third World into the First, which is what we did via the Industrial Revolution and continue to do today. Good luck trying to convince China and India otherwise, which is why Kyoto and any similar global treaty, won’t work.
(2) End the green jihad against nuclear power, which doesn’t emit pollution or greenhouse gases.
(3) End public subsidies of the fossil fuel industry and invest the money in technological research into clean energy, since it is technological innovation that has always helped us overcome environmental challenges. Since this will raise consumer prices, be honest in explaining this to the public and why it is being done.
(4) Abandoning environmental hysteria doesn’t mean abandoning the environment, or conservation, or ignoring irresponsible corporate behaviour. We should, for example, mandate scrubbers on coal-fired electricity plants (which will lower pollution, not greenhouse gas emissions), enforce tougher emission and mileage standards for automobiles, designate more national parks and protected green spaces and make responsible environmental choices as individuals.
But, again, politicians must come clean and admit there is no green pot of gold waiting for us at the end of the rainbow. The only way to achieve a cleaner environment, is to be willing to pay for it.