By James Taylor
Congressman Matt Gore – er, I mean Matt Gaetz – unveiled a ‘Green Real Deal’ this month, showing he is in full agreement with Al Gore-style climate alarmism. Gaetz’s proposal also reveals he believes high taxes, expensive energy, and government intrusion at the expense of economic freedom are ‘conservative’ values. Unfortunately, there is nothing conservative about being just 10-percent less radical than socialist congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Parroting Al Gore’s claim that the science is settled, Gaetz fails to recognize that temperatures are rising at less than half the pace predicted by United Nations climate models. He also fails to recognize that our modest recent warming is spurring record global crop production, a dramatic greening of the Earth, a retreat of global deserts, a decline in cold temperatures that kill 20 times more people than warm or hot temperatures, and a decline in the frequency and severity of a wide array of extreme weather events. There is simply no scientific case for climate alarmism.
Even if humans were causing climate change harms, Gaetz’s Green Real Deal would do nothing to impact global temperatures. America is responsible for only 15 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and our emissions are in long-term decline. By contrast, emissions from the rest of the world have risen 56 percent this century. Even if America immediately and completely eliminated all carbon dioxide emissions, EPA models show less than 0.2 degree Celsius impact on global temperatures this century – an amount almost too small to be measured. Moreover, ongoing emission increases from the rest of the world would render American reductions meaningless.
Gaetz proposes massive new government spending on renewable energy technologies and dramatic cost increases for American energy. According to the American Action Forum, even replacing conventional energy with a heavy dose of new nuclear power – a much more affordable alternative to wind and solar power – would still cost American consumers up to $5.4 trillion, or $39,000 per American household.
Raising American energy prices will simply chase businesses, jobs, and emissions overseas. Even Gaetz acknowledges, “if we merely export pollution [emphasis mine], in service of our own virtue signaling, then we will not have done anything real to protect our beautiful planet. Being the world’s fool or patsy, will not combat climate change. Unilaterally disarming the American economy, through crushing regulations, will empower Washington, but few others.” And yet Gaetz’s Green Real Deal would do exactly that.
Just as importantly, Gaetz’s Green Real Deal would devastate American public lands and American wildlife. Gaetz proposes a massive increase in renewable energy production on American public lands. However, it takes approximately 300 square miles of wind turbines to replace a single conventional power plant. Gaetz’s plan would sacrifice tens of thousands of square miles of pristine open lands, coastal shorelines, national parks, and forests to generate just a small amount of electricity. Moreover, a recent peer-reviewed study found that while wind turbines produced just 1 percent of American electricity, they killed 1.5 million birds and bats annually, including many protected and endangered species. Ramping up wind power to 50 percent of American electricity production, therefore, would kill an unsustainable 75 million birds and bats every year. On top of that, wind and solar equipment are dependent on rare earth minerals, and rare earth mining is perhaps the most environmentally destructive activity on the planet.
What is it that induces some liberal Republicans to believe the best way to counter radical leftist energy and climate proposals is to propose essentially the same thing, tinker a little with the edges, and then brand it ‘conservative’? Raising energy costs, raising taxes, devastating the environment, and growing government is not just economically ruinous, it is also Republican political suicide.
James Taylor is a senior fellow for environment and climate policy at The Heartland Institute.