by E. Calvin Beisner
Britain’s Prince Charles said it: “the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels.”
There you go. 18 months.
And you thought AOC was shrill!
Why 18 months?
Supposedly because, as Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and director emeritus of the Potsdam Climate Institute, and one Pope Francis’s chief advisors on his 2015 environmental encyclical, put it, “The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020.”
Ah. Yes. “The climate math.”
Is that kind of like the old “new math” that drove parents crazy back in the sixties and seventies? Or the “Common Core” math that prizes creativity more than getting the answers right? (Warning: Don’t fly on a jet engineered that way.)
“Climate math.” What a fascinating concept!
According to the average results of computer climate models, we should have seen about 0.27˚ C of global warming per decade since the late 1970s.
But the best data we have show about half that much—0.13˚ C per decade according to the University of Alabama at Huntsville’s satellite data.
Don’t get me wrong. There has been warming. But the models simulate about twice what we’ve observed.
And they simulate that as coming entirely from CO2 we’ve added to the atmosphere. But the world has warmed similarly many times in the past. That makes it pretty likely that at least some of the warming we’ve seen came from natural causes, not our CO2 emissions.
What’s more, the models estimate “climate sensitivity”—how much warmer the atmosphere will be after the whole climate system adjusts to a doubling of atmospheric CO2—at 1.5–4.5˚ C with a 3˚ “best estimate.” But more empirically driven estimates put “climate sensitivity” at about 0.5–1.5˚ C.
So the models are wrong. Almost unanimously wrong. Hopelessly wrong.
(Take a look at that first graph again. The closest to right is a Russian model. Collusion, anyone?)
And if the models are wrong, they provide no rational basis for predicting future temperature. Hence no rational basis for any policy.
But don’t sweat the small stuff. “Climate math,” you know? That solves everything.
So don’t even bother to ask about the math for global temperature if the countries signed onto the 2015 Paris climate treaty meet their targets for CO2 emission reductions—and what it’ll cost.
But let’s ask anyway.
Temperature? It’ll be at most 0.17˚ C cooler in 2100 than otherwise—statistically barely detectable, and utterly inconsequential to ecosystems and human welfare. (By the way, that number’s generously calculated from the Paris treaty’s own assumptions.)
Cost? A mere $70 to $140 Trillion. And that’s just from 2030 onward—doesn’t count 2016–2030. (Again, based on the treaty’s own assumptions.)
That figures to $23.3 to $46.6 Trillion per tenth of a degree Fahrenheit. But don’t worry. “Climate math” makes that a deal you can’t pass up!
And what do the climate warriors insist we commit to, within 18 months, to achieve this magnificent result?
Simple. By 2050, cut annual global CO2 emissions by 90 percent of what they were in 1990.
But there’s a catch. CO2 emissions are forecast to rise to nearly 50 Billion metric tons by 2050, compared with about 20 Billion in 1990. Hitting the target means reducing the 2050 emissions by 96 percent.
And there’s another catch. Most CO2 emissions come from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels provide over 80 percent of all the world’s energy—and they’ll continue to do so well past 2050.
Meanwhile, energy and economic production march together almost lockstep. More energy means more production. And that means less poverty and less of the troubles it brings, like disease and early death and—ironically—a dirtier environment.
So massive cuts in CO2 emissions will mean massive cuts in energy and thus massive cuts in poverty reduction—i.e., massive increases in poverty.
And poverty’s a greater threat to human welfare than anything related to climate or weather.
But, hey, what’s to worry about? President Trump is pulling the United States out of the Paris treaty. So we’re okay.
Except for AOC’s “Green New Deal.” And such a deal it is!
Economist Benjamin Zycher did the math—the real math, not “climate math”—on the GND’s costs. He shared the results at the 13th International Conference on Climate Change, in Washington, July 25. Take a deep breath.
Just to meet the GND’s renewable electricity mandate would cost, at a very conservative estimate, $491 Billion a year—or $3,845 per household.
And then there are the indirect costs. What are those? The costs of building the political coalition necessary to turn the GND (which AOC introduced as a resolution) into law:
- $3.2 Trillion for a single-payer health care system;
- $680 Billion to guarantee everyone employment;
- $107 Billion for “free” college and family-and-medical leave;
- $200 Billion for high-speed rail (because planes won’t fly on batteries!);
- $4.5 Trillion for the marginal excess burden of the expanded tax system. (It costs a lot to collect all those taxes!)
That totals $9 Trillion a year. A paltry sum. Just slightly over two-fifths of our economy.
So the real math tells us the 18-month deadline, and the 12-year deadline, and all the other deadlines are fantasies.
What’s the real reason why Schellnhuber, Prince Charles, AOC, and others insist we have only a short time to get serious about fighting climate change?
Simple. Don’t by any means give people time to think carefully about what you’re demanding they do—time to do the math to carefully assess your case for rapid CO2-driven warming, your case for catastrophic results from it, your case for being able to prevent catastrophe by your policy, your case that the benefits of your policy will outweigh the harms.
No, no, no! Got to do it NOW!!!
E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.