As liberal environmentalists and tax-happy politicians scheme over strategies to hike international flight rates to raise funds to address alleged global warming, North Dakotans are celebrating snowfalls in June. Anomalies like snow in June certainly don’t refute that the planet is warming, but there does exist a widening of disconnect between hard evidence indicating global warming and the policy prescriptions designed in its name.
This new levy on international air travel, proposed by a coalition of the world’s 50 least developed nations, intends to raise money from wealthy countries in order to finance anti-climate change campaigns in those too poor to develop and implement such plans of their own. From the Guardian:
Developing countries, backed by the UN, argue that they will need hundreds of billions of dollars a year to adapt themselves to climate-related disasters, loss of crops and water supplies, which they are already experiencing as temperatures around the world rise.”
Apparently, with a little “ingenuity,” the UN climate geniuses have discovered that it’s quite easy to raise money via taxation. This brainstorming on revenue-raising has taken place in full ignorance of potential unintended consequences. Taxes such as those in question may prompt changes in corporate policies surrounding international travel. If air travel costs more, companies may choose to have their representatives instead use videoconferences.
To the extent that companies continue to use air travel internationally, the inevitable result will be cost-shifting onto consumers. Such cost-shifting will result in what is effectively a regressive tax policy, disproportionately affecting lower-income families. And faced with a shortfall in tax revenue, the global warming gurus at the UN will no doubt find themselves devising yet more economically distortionary interventions to finance their agenda.
Leaving aside these problematic considerations, the new proposals carry within them several familiar implicit assumptions. For instance, global warming is not only man-caused, but caused in fact by the past industrialization of the West in particular. Therefore, the West is responsible for the ecological catastrophes wrecked by its legacy of pollution and exploitation.
Never mind the highly arguable nature of such claims, particularly the question of whether the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) recommendations upon which all of these plans are based are as rock-solid as global warming alarmists claim it to be.
The most prominent of these recommendations was a statement in 2007 that human activity is “very likely” causing global warming. But a conference hosted last week by The Heartland Institute and attended by over 250 scholars and analysts from all over the world casts some healthy skepticism on the IPCC’s apparent confidence.
For example, Dr. Roy Spencer, a professor at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, pointed out that the IPCC failed to consider such major factors as the role of cloud cover in affecting climate change. Cloud cover reduces the amount of sunlight that reaches the earth surface and therefore plays a significant role in the affecting global temperature. Needless to say, it is significant factor to consider in any realistic assessment of global warming. Oversights such as this, Spencer contends, draw into question the comprehensiveness of the IPCC’s findings as well as its heavy reliance on computer-based models. He writes:
Even though they never say so, the IPCC has simply assumed that the average cloud cover of the Earth does not change, century after century. This is a totally arbitrary assumption, and given the chaotic variations that the ocean and atmosphere circulations are capable of, it is probably wrong. Little more than a 1% change in cloud cover up or down, and sustained over many decades, could cause events such as the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age… As far as I know, the IPCC has never discussed their assumption that global average cloud cover always stays the same.”
Yet Congress, The Environmental Protection Agency, the United Nations, and other countries’ governments are intent on significantly alter the peoples’ everyday behavior.