Columnists, Energy, Environment, Jon Caldara, National

Caldara: Joining Paris accord just more climate virtue signaling

Joe Biden wants to commit the U.S. to the Paris climate accord. We are told that global warming is an existential threat to humanity and time is running out to save the planet by ending fossil fuels.

I do not believe this is true because those who are trying to convince me of it obviously don’t believe it themselves.

If the environmental community actually did believe that limiting carbon production would save human life as we know it, they would insist on two policy priorities above all others: ramping up nuclear and hydro power faster than a vaccine for COVID, and backing up climate accords with military action.

Play along with a mental experiment. Let’s agree that human existence is truly at stake from man-made global warming and the only way to save ourselves is to end fossil fuel power. If all nations stick to strict carbon limits but China continues to build hundreds of sloppy coal-fired power plants, would you support military intervention to force China to turn carbon neutral?

Unless you say, “yes, absolutely if need be, we must use military force to keep any rogue nation from threatening the entire planet with their green-house emissions,” you really, deep down, don’t believe global warming is an existential threat to humanity. You just don’t.

Global warming isn’t the first time worries about the end of humanity scared people around the globe. Those of us old enough to remember the Cold War recall it all too well. All of mankind could have ended in a blaze of mushroom clouds (and still could). What steered us through the heights of the threat was real preparation for military action.

Real arms limitations that greatly reduced the risk of Armageddon came when President Reagan negotiated nuclear arms reductions. Key to that was the policy of “trust but verify” which allowed real inspection, including spying flyovers, backed up by the real threat of military action.

Yet, I haven’t heard any environmentalist demand a military-backed “trust but verify” system to back up their economically devastating climate accords. This tells me it’s more about virtue signaling than saving the planet.

If climate change is man-made, and if unstopped will devastate human life, then any nation that doesn’t stop polluting is a national threat, just like the Soviets were.

When environmentalists demand the Pentagon start drawing up plans to force China at gunpoint to close coal plants, then I’ll take them seriously.

The Paris climate accord isn’t a weapon against global warming as much as it is an economic weapon against the United States. The U.S., among other western powers, would keep up their end of the bargain, while China would just lie and say they are.

China is notorious for putting out knowingly false information, so much so that oil and gas investors have to pay private satellite companies to spy on China’s oil tanks to estimate their supply rather than rely on the official data. A quick look at what China is doing to Hong Kong shows how much respect they have for their signed agreements.

Manufacturing, something environmental elitists have little experience with, takes real power. To run factories, and cities for that matter, takes cheap, reliable, large-scale electricity. Wind and solar have made impressive technological advances but in no way are they ready or reliable enough to take on the full power needs of manufacturing. Thus, China keeps building coal plants.

Without a military threat to enforce it, signing the Paris accord plays into China’s hands.

The only way to truly have large-scale, manufacturing-level electricity without greenhouse emissions is with nuclear power and large-scale hydroelectric. Oddly Colorado’s renewable energy mandates don’t include either as “renewable.”

Again, if enviros truly believe greenhouse gas and fossil fuels are leading to mankind’s near extinction, they must then lead the charge to build nuclear power plants.

Since they don’t, it is safe to assume they feel the very small risks of nuclear power are greater than the risk of global warming. They must feel the environmental damage of hydroelectric power is more than that of global warming.

In other words, most environmentalists don’t think climate change is a big threat. So, neither do I.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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