If a company quadrupled sales while simultaneously reducing all expenses to levels from 30 years ago, it would be celebrated from Main Street to Wall Street. Books would be written about such performance and that model would be taught in schools as a clinic on operating excellence.
Well, that story is the metaphor for how the U.S. has balanced economic production and carbon emissions. But instead of celebrating and building on that success story, the Biden administration has embarked on a quixotic agenda that in one policy motion will punish the U.S. economy for its unmatched performance, and in perverse irony, likely do harm to the climate.
And the lost opportunity and increased energy cost will disproportionately hurt America’s small businesses. Recently in an online poll, we asked small business owners, “How will the climate plans of the Biden administration impact your business?” Almost 80% rejected the new president’s energy agenda as damaging to their business.
In an intellectually honest climate debate that values solutions over control, the following baseline of facts would be stipulated:
- The Earth was warming before humans discovered fire.
- Modern humans probably contribute to climate change.
- By definition, no science – climate or otherwise – is ever settled.
- The greatest climate offender is also the greatest geopolitical threat.
- The planet’s leader in economic production and carbon reduction is also the only firewall against despots.
Let the debate begin.
Climate change isn’t new
Ten thousand years ago, glaciers 5,000 feet thick receded from the upper third of what is now the United States on their way to carving out the Great Lakes. And from 1650-1715AD, Earthlings experienced the “Little Ice Age.” This was cosmic climate change.
Modern humans are warmer
Intellectual honesty requires acknowledgment that modern civilization very likely contributes to global warming. Ever since humans made combustion energy move a wheel, the associated exhaust – thermal and particulate – has likely contributed to a non-cosmic impact on what E.F. Schumacher called “Spaceship Earth and its rich passengers” (“Small Is Beautiful – Economics As If People Mattered,” 1973).
It must be said, however, that a warming planet has been good for homo sapiens because you can’t grow tomatoes in tundra or potatoes in permafrost.
If science was ever settled, doctors might be using leeches to bleed feverish and lung-compromised COVID-19 patients. Plus, the 10 million science researchers across the planet (Unesco) would have to join the gig economy. Indeed, scientists who refuse or deny peer review – the professional gold standard – become marginalized and irrelevant.
In fact, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize that Al Gore received for his climate work was shared with members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes scientists from across the climate change spectrum from OMG to take a chill pill (see John Christy, Ph.D., UAH).
Settled science only exists in the Church of Climate Change, where the sacred doctrine is control rather than solutions that balance both economic and climate well-being for the passengers of Spaceship Earth.
The real climate problem
China’s CO2 emissions have tripled in the last 20 years and are greater than the U.S., Europe, Canada and Mexico combined (Union of Concerned Scientists, Aug 2020). Yet it creates only one-third of the combined GDP of those countries. Ready for the smoking gun – literally? China’s coal-burning power plants have quintupled in the past 20 years, to over 1 million and growing – four times the U.S. number, which is declining (CarbonBrief).
From Kyoto (1997) to Copenhagen (2009) to Paris (2015), China has never had to comply with the same emission-reduction rules as the U.S. In fact, while other Paris signatories have a carbon reduction hard-date of 2025, China doesn’t even have to begin reducing emissions until 2030.
Green plaintiffs and global competitors will use our own court system to hold the U.S. to Paris compliance. When China misses their Paris goals, to what Chinese court will they be taken?
Remember that success model?
Here’s America’s climate story, by the numbers:
- Since the Senate’s 95-0 rejection of Kyoto in 1997, U.S. GDP has quadrupled – one-third larger than China – while CO2 emissions have risen less than 2% in 30 years, exceeding Kyoto (EIA.gov).
- According to the International Energy Agency (IEA.org), while the U.S. wasn’t part of the Paris Agreement, it was the only country to achieve the Paris carbon goals.
In sports, that’s called two-for-two.
This unparalleled accomplishment is the alloy of productive regulations, technological innovation and energy-efficient investment, plus the mining of and conversion to our native natural gas resources. Only in Bizarro World and the Church of Climate Change does a model that leads the globe in positive climate impact and economic performance get penalized and scorned.
Small is beautiful – policy as if people matter
There are dozens of reasons why 78% of America’s small business owners reject the Biden administration recommitting the U.S. to the Paris Agreement and embracing the “Green New Deal” fantasy. But all can be boiled down to two points:
- Biden’s climate agenda will simultaneously hurt the U.S. economy and increase global carbon emissions (see Newton’s law of motion).
- American business owners have proven they shouldn’t have to choose between their livelihood and the planet.
Biden’s climate agenda is dangerous
America’s economic strength and energy independence is a critical geopolitical factor in thwarting despots who’ve openly stated their desire to become the dominate world power – and not in a good way.
On many fronts, the U.S. is in the middle of World War III with China, our greatest competitor, and most dangerous geopolitical threat. Make no mistake – this is not a cold war. It’s a real, 21st-century war with real war stakes. Under the Biden energy agenda, the U.S. would become weaker, while China will gain an advantage toward fulfilling its stated goal of overtaking the U.S.
In an intellectually honest world, we’d be able to have a productive climate debate that recognizes and builds on the U.S. model. Alas, intellectual has morphed into intolerance, honesty has been hijacked by politics, and climate change has become a religion.
And when intolerance, politics and religion morph into zealotry, policies result that are unfortunate at best and existential at worst for America, its small businesses, and indeed, the world.
Write this on a rock … Anyone who denies the facts of America’s climate-impact success story, while promoting international restrictions and the Green New Deal, is a member of the Climate Change Church, which doctrine values control over saving the planet.