CO2 emission worries are overblown

Stephen Ontko

Carbon dioxide emissions aren’t destroying the planet.

Last week’s news of the most dismal fourth quarter GDP growth rate since the first quarter of 1982 isn’t enough to impede the audacity of President Barack Obama’s ambitious agenda.

Despite the current economic turmoil, Obama feels now is as good of a time as any to regulate the economy when it comes to CO2 emissions and to address “climate change/global warming.” Bloomberg reported Feb. 26 Obama’s plan to generate $78.7 billion in revenue for 2012 and $645.7 billion by 2019.

Unfortunately, this policy will do nothing but take much needed resources away from fixing the economy and dump them into a massive hysteria that is nowhere near challenged and questioned the way it should be. This is evidenced by findings such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s claiming that global surface temperatures rose between one and 1.7 degrees since 1850.

Yet this doesn’t provide much information. Although one could say that, since the industrial revolution overlaps with this trend, human causes must be to blame, a different picture emerges when the industrialized era is accounted for and a greater context is given.

The New York Times reported Mar. 13, 2007, Dr. Don J. Easterbrook, a professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University, giving a demonstration at the Geological Society of America. The presentation by Dr. Easterbrook delved into the temperature trends for the past 15,000 years, which show “10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to ’20 times greater than the warming in the past century.'”

Not only are temperature levels anything but abnormal during the course of human development, nor is the rate at which temperatures change evidence of abnormality. Canada’s National Post on Dec. 13, 2007, published a letter from scores of signatories from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. In the letter, the scientists concluded that the “average rate of warming of 0.1 to 0. 2 degrees Celsius per decade recorded by satellites during the late 20th century falls within known natural rates of warming and cooling over the last 10,000 years.”

Despite all of this evidence contrary to man-made involvement in climate changes, the campaigns that Obama is waging such as the cap and trade rages on. But if the facts don’t fit the claims, why such an immense effort and change everyone’s lifestyle and standard of living just to lower ones carbon footprint in all walks of life?

This is where the alarmism is used to discredit sensible policies with the special interests of political coalitions. As Bret Stephens wrote in a column in the Wall Street Journal on July 1, 2008, global warming is more about an attack on capitalism than credible science. The very same lifeline our economy rests on, oil, electricity (coming mostly from coal), are the very ills that will kill us all, according to the global warming movement.

The irony is, it is capitalism that would solve a problem such as global warming or climate change, if it were a great looming catastrophe. Capitalism would provide the best answer for the technological progress needed to save our planet, while keeping our standards of living; the best of both worlds. Capitalism offers the incentives and the rewards for the technology to make this possible. Our economic growth depends on increases in productivity.

With productivity or efficiency increasing, we get more for less. Applying the concept of productivity to the topic of global warming would be the same as a lowering of carbon footprints allowing standards of living to be retained, or even improved.

Therefore, let us give Mr. Obama a hope he should believe in: One need not sacrifice personal well-being and pursue a decline in standards of living in order to adapt to a changing world, or even save it. This is one thing the businesses Obama’s about to force cap and trade on would like him to see; after all, this is one regulation they might not be able to afford, possibly eliminating the jump start our economy needs in order to grow like a global warming alarmists’ projections.

Stephen Ontko is a senior economics major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].