Does global warming science matter?
By Dennis T. Avery
The European Union's top climate official says the EU is pursuing the right renewable energy policies—even if the scientists are wrong about the cause of global warming! Why?
Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Minister, recently told the London Telegraph, "Say that 30 years from now, science came back and says, ‘Wow, we were mistaken then, now we have some new information so we think it is something else.' In a world with nine billion people, even 10 billion at the middle of this century, where literally billions of global citizens will still have to get out of poverty and enter the consuming middle classes, don't you think that anyway it makes a lot of sense to get more energy and resource efficient?"
So, the EU Climate Minister saying it doesn't matter whether the global warming science is wrong. She seems to think that higher-costing energy will help raise people out of poverty. How does that make sense?
The Greens' precious campaign for renewables is now clearly reducing both energy efficiency and energy availability for everyone. True, the sun and the wind are free. However, it takes massive investments in solar panels and wind turbines to harness them. Moreover, both solar and wind power are so erratic that no fossil fuel plant has been shut down!
Europe has found it needs to keep fossil and nuclear plants equal to 90 percent of its "renewable" power capacity—in spinning reserve and burning fuel. Otherwise, factories may have to shut down and stop lights will quit working, not to mention hospital operating rooms. The public thus must build and maintain two power systems, both using up energy but with the "renewable" set far more costly.
Meanwhile, population growth is already solving itself, and much more rapidly than the UN admits. The Deutsch bank says human numbers will stabilize and start shrinking in the near future—peaking at 8.7 about 2055, and falling to 8 billion by 2100. In contrast, the UN recently raised its projected population growth; it now expects 10.9 billion people in 2100, 2.9 billion more than the Deutschbank. The difference between the two estimates equals the planet's whole population as recently as 1959!
Why does the bank foresee population decline? They can see that people are moving from peasant farms to urban jobs. Kids once earned their keep by weeding fields and herding goats. In the cities, they are an expensive ego investment. Meanwhile, their parents will increasingly earn retirement benefits instead of moving in with their adult children.
As a 20-year veteran of the environmentalists' war against high-yield farming, I have become suspicious of "progressive" motives. The food yields from organic fields are only about half as high as those from high-yield farming. The first impact of an organic-only world would be massive famine. The second impact, says Rockefeller University, would be hungry people seeking more food by plowing down wildlife habitat equal to twice the land area of South America! Yet the very people who claim to be treasuring the wildlife and "defending" the poorest humans keep demanding organic-only farming.
Now it is energy crunch time. The "greenest" nations, all over Europe, are trying desperately to renege on their expensive "renewable energy" commitments. Nevertheless, they must backtrack without alienating the same voters they had earlier convinced to "save the planet" with recycling, biofuels, etc. One misstep will see them thrown from office.
I don't envy them the task—but I remember a British politician a decade ago marveling about the governmental impact of the global warming fear: "My constituents are actually demanding that I raise their taxes!
Mother Nature doesn't seem to care much about our puny energy production—but to the humans who must live here, the real science behind global warming matters a very great deal.
Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 2442; email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website at www. cgfi.org