Politically Handling Climate Change

Recently, Scientific American bemoaned the fact that although 90% of scientists believed that climate change was real and caused by man-made activity, about only 50% of Americans shared this view.  A discussion of climate change is sure to elicit strong responses from the Left and the Right given this 50/50 split.  The first obvious question is whether climate change actually exists and to the extent that it does, is it the fault of mankind?

There is no shortage of commentators on the Right to make a strong case that although climate change may exist, it is part of the natural cycle of the earth and very little man can do about it.  Buffeting their case is the string of well-documented climate change predictions which have failed to come to fruition.  When the issue first became popular in the wake of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, most of the terrible consequences did not come to pass.  According to some of those accounts, the East Coast should be under water by now and the continental United States should be inundated with killer hurricanes every year.  Of course, the Left has since adjusted the goal posts and timeline.  “Global warming” became “climate change” because climate is temporally longer than “weather.”  By drawing out the time frame, they give themselves greater opportunity for the dire consequences to come true.  They are setting up the “We told you so” scenarios.

But, as a thought exercise, let us just assume that climate change does exist for whatever reason: man or the natural cycle of earth.  Creating a database of failed predictions is likely to fall on deaf ears as are attacks on the scientific methods used to declare climate change a reality.  The average voter does not care about nor understand the fallibility of computer models, modeling replication and other scientific methods.  It makes them no less justifiable, but useless politically.

The more important question to the voter is whether human attempts to decrease global warming is worth the risk to the American economy, jobs, GDP, and standard of living.  One important fact stands out regarding the purported effects of Obama’s recent war on energy production in America: Assuming we fully implemented his EPA regulations, US carbon dioxide would show a decrease by 2030 equivalent to Chinese emissions in 13 days.

Given this incredibly costly negative offset, why would the Left insist on these policies and hail Obama for implementing them?  Considering the cost to American industry, the projected loss of jobs, and the average energy consumer seeing their utility bill increase, why the insistence?

The Left’s whole argument is that the process has to start somewhere and what better place than in the United States.  After all, despite the decrease in carbon emissions from American sources without Obama’s onerous regulations over the years, the Left portrays the problem as a uniquely American one since we are the #1 industrialized country in the world.  Surely, then, we are the primary cause of carbon emissions, global warming and climate change. China, India and the European Union have surpassed us in emissions, but we must be “punished” for the sins of the Industrial Revolution.

In reality, we are not starting somewhere; we are starting nowhere.  To the extent that climate change exists and that it is caused by man, the United States is not the only player today.  Hence, the United States alone cannot reverse the trend and solve the problem.  In fact, there is broad consensus on the Left that the United States cannot solve the “problem” alone.  There is a saying in international relations that nations have no friends, only interests.  That is so very true and explains why China, India and other growing industrialized countries reject and shun international protocols regarding climate change.  Obama may get a handshake from a Chinese leader, but little else.  As the United States embarks on energy regulations projected to cost the American economy an average of $50 billion a year (low end), other countries simply become the winners.

In Congressional testimony, EPA Commissioner Gina McCarthy reiterated this reality.  She testified that the carbon emission standards and regulations being formulated by the EPA had nothing to do with pollution control.  Instead, it was more a program to encourage investment in and expansion of renewable energy sources.  Is this the proper role of the EPA?  Are they now tasked with the job of spurring investment?

The Left’s entire argument is that the United States must lead by example.  This is based upon some dumb Left wing Utopian vision that the rest of the world will then suddenly see the error of their ways and fall in line.  The world does not operate that way.  For every coal plant shuttered by Obama’s regulations, there will be increased demand for coal elsewhere in the world.  India and China are the two biggest polluters in the world today.  Lest Obama believe that they will suddenly shift course and forego coal, they are seriously mistaken.  No country will join the American sacrifice; in fact, they will take advantage of it.

The solution and political strategy is to show in vivid terms what Obama’s policies will cost the average American consumer in jobs and in their utility rates.  How spending more money to heat one’s home in the winter because of an EPA regulation helps with income disparities defies logic as the average American loses additional spending power.  These questions must be asked of the American voter:

  1. Are the regulations necessary in light of the fact they will have an adverse impact on the American economy and jobs?
  2. Can the average American afford the added costs of heating or lighting one’s home?
  3. Are the regulations necessary in light of the fact they will do little to lower worldwide carbon dioxide emissions?
  4. Are the regulations necessary given the fact they will have a minute effect on global average temperatures?
  5. Are the regulations necessary since the United States will provide no true global leadership in this area?
  6. Are the regulations necessary since other major polluters will simply take advantage of America’s “leadership?”
  7. Aren’t Americans tired of playing the chump and dupe on the international stage?


Trending on Redstate Video