The Biden administration has hit the ground running, issuing more than 50 executive orders in its first three weeks. Many of these orders have been aimed at reversing the environmental policies of the preceding administration.
The United States is back under the strictures of the Paris climate accord, for instance, and the Keystone XL pipeline is now canceled. With the stroke of a pen, President Biden has put thousands of people out of work and halted the development of new oil and gas activity on federal lands. A week after the inauguration, another executive order made climate change an essential part of not only U.S. foreign policy but also national security policy.
But none of this economic carnage or policy misdirection was necessary. These executive actions assume that the planet has little time left to avoid catastrophic change. But since the late 19th century, the global average temperature has risen a mere 1.2 degrees to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In addition, even if the goals of the Paris accord are met, global temperature increases would still only be on the order of 1.0 degree Celsius or so by the year 2100and that is being generous with the models. Fact is, observed global temperatures consistently register in the lowest, not the highest, range of the projected temperature increases.
Furthermore, weve heard that sea levels may rise as much as 20 feet by 2100. But the latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put the projected rise at only 1-3 feet. In addition, over the past half-century, the trends in extreme weather show mixed results, with hurricanes remaining constant and highly dependent on the region in question. The projections by the models of these future events are also characterized by much uncertainty.
And how about this inconvenient fact? During the first part of the 21st century, and especially in the last few years under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. has done very well in reducing its carbon emissions. According to the World Bank, more efficient technologies, conservation efforts, and a larger share of our energy coming from cleaner-burning natural gas have reduced our carbon emissions to levels not seen since the 1990s. Even more impressive, emissions per capita are at levels not seen since the 1960s. It seems that the free market is already on track to tackle the problems the Biden administration thinks need solving by government regulation.
In sum, the data we have and the projections that can be drawn do not justify even the minimal economic costs that compliance with the Paris accord would bring. But the costs we are facing are not minimal. Bidens canceling of the Keystone pipeline will indeed mean 10,000 jobs lost and untold thousands more in the communities in which these fitters and welders live, not to mention the millions of small businesses affected by higher energy costs during the pandemic.
The climate alarmists tell us that these workers now have the opportunity to get jobs by making solar panels in the renewable energy sectorjobs that do not exist and will require their holders to be extensively retrained. And who, its worth asking, will pay for that massive retraining effort? And do we really want to see the U.S. once again dependent on unstable and abusive regimes for its energy supply?
All climate scientists agree that the climate of the planet is changingas it always has since the formation of the Earth. Furthermore, few would disagree that, as the most technologically advanced society in history, the U.S. should seek to mitigate the impact of the nations economy on the climate. But we already have, and without Draconian government action. The good news is, then, that the free economy of the U.S. is taking care of our climate change problemeven if one doesnt really exist.