February 11, 2013
Obama Wants More SnowBy Jeffrey Folks
A winter storm of epic proportions has pounded the northeast. The president's solution: make it colder. That's the message he sent during his second inaugural speech, and it's what we're going to hear in the State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Not that the president's climate change proposals will actually work. Closing down a few coal-powered plants is not going to alter global temperatures. But it will please the environmental lobby and bring in contributions in advance of the 2014 congressional elections, which is more or less the point.
If the White House could alter the climate, the 2013 supersnow would argue for making it warmer, not colder. The storm has killed at least four, shut down commerce in four states, and wrought havoc on air travel nationwide.
The recent cold spell in the eastern U.S. has been accompanied by record cold in China, Europe, and other regions. Obviously, the earth's climate is not getting dramatically warmer, as climate alarmists claim. While it is generally acknowledged that global temperatures have risen since 1850, more recent temperature readings have been less clear-cut, and future readings are unpredictable. In the centuries-long period before 1850 known as the Little Ice Age, global temperatures were the coldest in millennia.
The next century may well revert to that pattern of cooling -- a prospect not to be desired. On balance, periods of climate cooling result in devastating crop failures, higher death rates, and lower standards of living. Warming, on the other hand, produces bumper crop yields, economic growth, improved health, and greater prosperity -- especially for the world's poor.
President Obama has never shown much concern for the world's poor. Unlike President Bush, whose Millennium Project brought a measure of reform to developing nations, Obama has been willing to meet "without preconditions" with any corrupt tyrant, anytime and anywhere. The result has been no improvement in living standards or human rights among the world's poorest citizens. Obama is more interested in rewarding green energy investors who just happen to be major contributors to the Democratic Party than he is in relieving suffering among the poor.
The president's climate change policies certainly don't do much for anyone, poor or not. After the failure of Solyndra and many other government-funded green energy companies, one would have thought that Obama had learned his lesson. But his second inaugural proposal was to double down on green energy -- that is to say, continue shoveling out tens of billions of dollars to wealthy investors in exchange for campaign contributions. Even with continuing trillion-dollar deficits, Obama insists that government does "not have a spending problem." A trillion dollars is nothing to this president as long as he can wring a billion dollars of contributions out of it.
The fact that all of this spending comes at the expense of ordinary Americans seems not to matter. At a point in the economic cycle when the economy should be expanding by more than 4%, estimates of GDP growth for 2013 are coming in at 2% or less. That lack of growth, and the lack of job-creation that accompanies it, has devastated working Americans. Proposed EPA regulations of existing coal-powered plants will, if implemented, result in a tax on all Americans, but one that disproportionately affects the poor and middle class. The same thing can be said for Obama's radical plans to raise CAFE standards on passenger vehicles. Likewise for EPA regulation of oil and gas drilling and all the other misguided climate-related policies coming out of this administration. Ordinary citizens are paying a tax equal to 25% of their income -- the effect of compounding wage losses of 3% annually over eight years of the Obama administration -- just to fund the president's green energy pay-to-play schemes.
The effect on the world's poor is even greater. It is, in fact, a matter of life and death. Obama's continuing support for corn ethanol mandates has raised global grain prices beyond what the world's poorest citizens can afford. Quite literally, Obama has caused billions of poor people to go to bed hungry each night and millions to starve. Ironically, America's first African-American president would rather collect cash contributions from the green energy lobby than save the life of a child starving in east Africa.
Global hunger is already a crisis, but if Obama really could lower global temperatures, as he claims to be able to do, hunger would become a catastrophe, and not just in east Africa. Fortunately, nothing any politician can do will change the course of the earth's climate. Unfortunately, Obama doesn't see this, or he doesn't want to see it. And his actions are going to cause great harm, especially to the poor the world over.
What is truly disturbing is this president's callousness toward the poor. One stroke of the pen could eliminate corn ethanol mandates, end biofuel boondoggles, and block EPA regulation of fossil fuels. As a result, the U.S. economy -- and the global economy with it -- would flourish, creating new wealth that would spread not just among America's people, but among human beings everywhere.
Real reform of this kind would lower food and fuel costs globally, thereby relieving suffering for the world's poor. Obama's proposal to double down on green energy, on the other hand, will drive food and fuel costs even higher. Tens of millions of desperate human beings will die as a result of the president's policies, and billions will suffer the agony of unending hunger. Does the president even care? Not as long as donations keep rolling in.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books on American culture, including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).