In the midst of resolving conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama briefly mentioned another war in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech: the war on climate change. He said,
“The absence of hope can rot a society from within. And that is why helping farmers feed their own people – or nations educate their children and care for the sick – is not mere charity. It is also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action – it is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance.”
Interestingly, the more attention the Climategate scandal receives, the firmer the Obama administration is that the scientific consensus is, in fact, a consensus. First Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson and now President Obama. But the truth is there is a lot of scientific dissent refuting the claim that doing nothing will result in more natural disasters. It’s easy to blame hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, floods, tornadoes and every other natural disaster on manmade global warming since they’re all climate-related but the correlation simply isn’t there. There is no consistent long-term pattern. Climatologist Roy Spencer pointed out after Hurricane Katrina that we had similar hurricanes in a less industrialized world: “Certainly, the previous huge hurricanes that we had in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, didn’t have anything to do with mankind’s production of CO2 because we hadn’t produced very much by then, and I find it just irresponsible that anyone would claim that this hurricane was caused by global warming.”
In fact, Florida State University researchers found that global and northern hemisphere tropical cyclone activity is the lowest in thirty years and will likely continue down that path. Natural disasters will occur with or without global warming and their frequency or intensity cannot be linked to human-induced global warming. The only thing collective action to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions will ensure is a poorer world with fewer resources to combat these natural disasters and mitigate the detrimental effects that result from them. The simple adage “wealth makes health” can go a long way in improving technologies to better track storms and the ability to battle floods, droughts and fires.
Capping carbon dioxide, not only in the United States but also globally with an international treaty, is a wealth reducer. As far as “common security hanging in the balance”, carbon caps would inhibit our military preparedness and overall economic well-being. As energy prices soar, production will decrease, resources will become scarcer and innovation and entrepreneurial activity will fall, and innovation and entrepreneurial activity are the two things that will help to effectively adapt to climate change, if necessary.
“The absence of hope can rot a society from within.” Powerful words from our nation’s leader. Unfortunately, the president’s solution on climate change will do nothing but give people less hope and make certain that poorer countries remain poor.