As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, we hope to introduce a little logic, common sense and a different perspective in dealing with some of our pressing problems real or perceived. Reality however seems to be sorely lacking in so many important policy areas. Take climate change for instance. Two threads emerged lately from the climate alarmists, we face a dire economic future because of climate change and it’s already too late to do anything about it. The economic doom forecast is based on the Fourth National Climate assessment. Its prediction of a reduced GDP in 2090 has been heralded in much of the press as leaving our children and grandchildren with a very gloomy future. Worse, Steven Mufson the energy correspondent for the Washington Post tells us it’s already too late to do anything about it. To be a successful religion the Church of Mother Earth (Pacha Mama) it must give some hope of redemption, but no we’re doomed. Redemption and hope for the future will have to be found elsewhere. Luckily, there is actually reasons for hope. The theoretical physicist Stevin Koonan, who served as Energy under Secretary in the Obama administration doing the math points out the worse case scenario in the Climate assessment the economy would only put us “two years behind where it would have been absent man-caused climate change.” Put that way the worse case doesn’t sound all that bad.
Will we really experience the worse case? Maybe, but it’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow any good. While governments much as Canute with the tides have failed to stop climate change, people are adapting on their own to the perceived future. The Wall Street Journal reports due to a longer growing season farmers in Northern Manitoba, Canada are switching from wheat to higher yielding corn and soybeans. Good for them. Now we want you to go to a globe and see how much of the world’s land mass is above and below the respective 56th parallels. A map while favoring our point (especially a Mercator Projection) would have distortions. Increasing arable land is a good thing. Also what treasures of natural resources will now become recoverable at a reasonable cost? What is under all that Greenland Ice? Not only may we have more access to stuff the world needs but for Canada and Alaska and others we will have the long sought Northwest Passage to move it all to the World Markets. Don’t believe the Passage exists, book one of the 10 Best Northwest Passage Cruises offered by Northwest Passage Cruises and Tours.
Again according to the Wall Street Journal seed companies are busy developing various heat and drought resistant strains to continue the productivity of our present crop lands. What all this points to is the idea of adapting to changing circumstances. The human race has contended with moving out of Africa to all sorts of climates while dealing with Ice Ages and warm periods along the way. This is the point made over the years by Bjorn Lomberg president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and others recommending adaptation as far more effective and cost efficient. Given the vast amounts of money expended and legal constraints directed by governments to address climate change to virtually no avail, they certainly have a point. After all, up to the present none of the governmental actions taken have made any dent in the rise of carbon dioxide levels.
Some logical adaptations should be apparent to everyone. If you expect rising sea levels and more extreme weather you would build in flood zones or fire prone areas.We would manage our forest and other fire prone areas to eliminate the fuel making normal fires so explosive and dangerous. Eliminating barriers to Genetically modified crops to adapt to a more variable climate is a no brainier.This would be the least governments could accomplish. Yet it is government policies actually thwarting actions in these areas. Insurance companies doing their job of assessing risks have placed premium costs on much of the flood and fire prone lands that would discourage building in these areas. By placing the proper risk they encourage people to move out of harms way. Unfortunately this commonsense approach in many cases undone by actions at all levels of government. Subsidized flood insurance and in some cases fire insurance puts people just where they’ll suffer the most damage. Building codes have raised the cost of housing to such an extent, people are forced to move further out into more fire prone rural areas. Governments and powerful Green organizations have pushed back on Genetically Modified Foods even though there has never been an instance where they caused any harm. Modifying our foods to succeed in a changing climate is a necessity and doing genetically is the quickest way to do it. Yet roadblocks set up by European Union Nations and others work at cross purposes of maintaining food production. Why are we worldwide closing Nuclear Plants when they emit zero carbon dioxide? It’s as if they want to make the effects of climate change worse for the populace rather than better.
This makes us suspicious of any government action on climate change. All the billions spent on subsidies, all the regulations favoring some forms of energy over others and public pressure to live in a certain way simply hasn’t moved the carbon needle in any meaningful way. Some actions that have proved to be boondoggles such as ethanol live on because of politics.. Ronald Reagan had it right when he said, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear.” In fact, there is nothing proposed in the developed world that will have any meaningful effect on Climate change. The simple reason is the rest of the world is emerging out of darkness to make economic gains and a better life for people. That takes power and reasonably priced fuels emit carbon, so their use in these areas more than offset anything the developed world does. Unless you can convince these people to give up their dreams of a better life we’re just fooling ourselves. The rioting in France shows punishing more the less affluent with higher gas taxes in the name of preventing climate change when it in fact changes nothing except the amount of money these people have is disastrous. Denying people in the developing world consigns them to a lesser life. What are the ethics of that?
We expect people to question where any progress on carbon emissions will come from if governments at all levels back off. Well the U.S. has done better job of lowering carbon emissions than most not by government subsidies but by the innovation of fracking allowing for the much less carbon emitting natural gas to substitute for coal to produce electricity. Remember the government had nothing to do with the success of fracking. In fact if anything it was hostile. Whether it’s insurance , seed or energy companies or any other, we’re all aware of climate change. Innovators are well aware of a $6 trillion energy market. With this kind of target, why does government even have to butt in. Windmills, solar, algae or something else, why try to dictate? The chances are you’ll just waste money and resources betting on the wrong horse. Much as fracking seemingly came out of nowhere to change the world’s energy markets, the solutions to our problems will may evolve from the unexpected. We need to leave things open enough to let it happen.