NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Five Truths about Climate Change

October 11, 2011

Inspired by groundbreaking steps such as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," but spurned by the constant obstinacy of federal governments, climate changes activists continue the fight on the streets via protests and demonstrations.  Yet, when assessing climate change and what to do about it going forward, it is important to avoid submitting to propagandist dogma, and recognize five facts we have come to learn about climate change thus far, says Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

First, carbon taxes are not feasible (at least in the near future).

  • Even while Mr. Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dominated the environmental debate, global carbon dioxide emissions rose by 28.5 percent.
  • This reflects increased demand for electricity (up 36 percent) which fostered increased consumption of coal, natural gas and oil by 47, 29 and 13 percent, respectively.
  • The lesson is, as the world modernizes, larger portions of the population will want access to energy, thereby making a tax on that energy evermore unpopular and untenable.

Second, assuming that current demographic trends hold, this demand for energy will continue to increase.

Third, the issue of climate change is no longer U.S.-centric.

  • While the United States is the second-largest energy consumer, its carbon dioxide emissions fell by 1.7 percent over the last decade.
  • In this same time span, Africa's carbon dioxide emissions jumped by 30 percent, Asia's by 44 percent and the Middle East's by a whopping 57 percent.

Fourth, there is most certainly room for improvement in the use of resources we already have, and this must be taken advantage of.

Fifth, a definitive end goal is not yet clear -- the science has not been settled, and therefore drastic policy decisions ought to be left out of the viable political arena until a certain end is clear.

Source: Robert Bryce, "Five Truths about Climate Change," Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2011.

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