A Better Fate for America Than Suicide
No thoughtful person believes that human beings can substantially change the Earth's climate. Even the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, composed of climate activists rather than objective observers, has admitted that there is no practical way for Americans to reduce global temperatures.
At the same time, the IPCC recognizes that natural forces play an important role in climate change and that in the past, these forces have altered the climate more dramatically than anything happening today, and this entirely without the influence of fossil fuels. During the Medieval Warm Period (900 to 1200 A.D.), the Earth's temperatures were warmer than they are now, while in the Little Ice Age (1200 to 1850 A.D.), they were much colder.
Both of these periods of climate change were fairly recent, and neither was influenced by humans. In fact, the climate has been changing dramatically throughout the Earth's history. Is it possible that these natural climate variations suddenly ceased just since 1990, when the idea of global warming came into vogue?
Natural variations are attributed to a number of forces, including solar cycles, shifts in the Earth's tilt, volcanic activity, and changing ocean currents. Past variations in the Earth's temperatures were much greater than what we have experienced since 1850, and none of these previous variations was man-made.
Since 1850, temperatures have risen slightly off a low baseline, but they remain significantly below those of the Medieval Warm Period. Note the IPCC's guarded statement that "[e]ach of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850." That's to say, warmer than what the Earth's temperatures have been throughout much of its history, including the past 800 years.
Climate activists warn that polar ice is melting and that the oceans will rise, with devastating consequences. Yet the polar ice has melted completely many times in the earth's geological history, and the sea has risen, all without catastrophic damage. Indeed, the polar regions have been largely ice-free for two thirds of the past 100 million years. Thirty-three million years ago, the South Pole was heavily forested.
Natural forces will continue to be a determining factor behind climate change in the future. Even over much shorter periods of time, the climate changes dramatically with no help from human emissions. The most recent Glacial Maximum (26,000 to 13,300 years ago) caused glaciation of much of North America, but it ended quite rapidly in a geologic time scale. The ice and cold that covered all of the northern regions and that affected global temperatures everywhere suddenly receded and made possible the rise of human civilization based on agriculture and trade. It was warming that made possible the monumental advances in human civilization since 8,000 B.C. None of these advances took place during periods of cooling.
What if we enter another Glacial Maximum with ice many meters thick covering much of the northern temperate zone? The last time around, humans were not prepared for it: populations declined, and advancement of civilization was halted for 13,000 years. It is certain that the cold will return at some point, and with it, lower agricultural production, greater demand for energy, and the need for population redistribution due to glacial ice.
When the ice returns, human civilization can cope with it so long as adequate resources are available. But if we are enslaved by a progressive dictatorship, there will be no resources, public or private, to deal with the cold.
In Build Back Better, Biden wants to spend a trillion dollars in a futile effort to make the climate colder — this at a time when short-term warming may be peaking and we are returning to colder temperatures. Even the liberal New York Times admits that U.S. temperatures have been getting colder in recent years, though it tries to explain this cooling away as an anomaly. If cooling is widespread and happens every year, is it an "anomaly," or is it real?
If that trillion dollars were left in private hands, it would be spent wisely preparing for either warming or cooling. Lower government spending would lead to greater prosperity, and that prosperity would allow private citizens to deal with whatever nature tosses their way. Biden's proposed tax increases will dampen the economy and prevent private citizens from weatherizing their homes, updating heating systems, and dealing with higher food and energy prices if the climate continues to cool.
Biden knows that Green Energy will not reverse climate trends, but he also knows that money buys votes. Green spending goes to favored industries that contribute to the Democratic Party. So Biden transfers hundreds of billions in taxpayer money to green businesses, and those businesses return a share of it to Democrats in the form of political donations. Another word for that practice is "graft," which is a form of corruption as old as politics itself. Biden, who seems incompetent in other ways, is a master of the old politics.
No respectable scientist believes that shifting to electric vehicles or eliminating coal plants will reduce warming in a measurable way, but every liberal knows that alternative energy companies contribute money to progressive causes.
Obviously, climate change proponents are misguided — so much so that they have not even asked whether the warming now taking place, driven by natural forces, is a good or a bad thing. On balance, it is a good thing.
Anyone who has examined the record of the past knows that the Great Ice Age was the most destructive geophysical event of the past 50,000 years, but even more recent events, such as the Little Ice Age, have been harmful — and that ice age was still occurring as recently as 1850. The public should ask whether they would prefer to live in an age when temperatures were so cold that the Thames River froze over, as it did in Shakespeare's day, or to live in a period of warming in which global food production continues to rise, partly as a result of expanding temperate zones and the greater availability of CO2 for plants. (U.S. corn production, for example, has risen from less than 2 tons per hectare in 1940 to almost 11 tons in 2014 and continues to rise. The USDA predicted record corn yields in 2020–21.)
Globally, there are some 5 million temperature-related deaths each year, and according to sciencedaily.com, "cold weather accounts for almost all temperature-related deaths." A small number of these deaths occur in the U.S. (1,330 each year) because we enjoy better shelter and safer working conditions, but even here, the goal of driving temperatures lower is absurd.
Fortunately, Biden's green energy plan won't result in lower temperatures. Their only effect will be to enrich Biden's corporate cronies and return a percentage of green energy spending to the coffers of the Democratic Party.
What will work is if governments would allow private citizens to retain their tax dollars and spend them as they wish, including on measures that would reduce deaths due to cold exposure. I know that this is a heretical proposal: to allow those who work, save, and invest their money to actually keep it and spend it as they see. But that is what I am proposing. It is the opposite of Biden's suicide mission for America. It will make us stronger, wealthier, and more able to combat whatever nature throws at us. And unlike Biden's climate proposals, it actually works.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).
Image via Good Free Photos.
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