The weekly column from Clark Judge:
SOTU Address To Double Down on Climate Change. Why? Why now?
By Clark S. Judge: managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.; chairman, Pacific Research Institute
In case anyone doubted, the White House has indicated that in tomorrow night’s State of the Union address, President Obama will follow through on his inaugural address calling out of climate change as a major policy focus in his second term. Whether you come from a perspective of science, economics or politics, you’ve got to ask, why now?
First science. The case supporting manmade global warming and the government centered strategies for dealing with it is falling apart. For example, a study of tree ring data from Scandinavia published last July at the highly respected Nature.com (http://tinyurl.com/a96cpn6) found that the earth’s long term trend is toward global cooling, not global warming. As explained by commentator Chriss Street (internal quotes are from the study): “Researchers from Germany, Finland, Scotland, and Switzerland examined tree-ring density profiles in trees from Finnish Lapland. In this extremely cold environment, trees often collapse into one of the numerous lakes, where they remain well preserved for thousands of years…. [This] Tree Ring Data allows precise measurements of annual climate variability. The results reveal there has been a cooling trend of -0.3°C (0.54°F) per millennia (1000 year periods) ’due to gradual changes to the position of the sun and an increase in the distance between the Earth and the sun.’”
Further, since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the developed world has experimented with two models for dealing with greenhouse gases, the statist European model and the generally laissez-faire American model. By the standards of climate alarmists, the results are no contest. Laissez-faire wins. As Manhattan Institute fellow Robert Bryce has reports (http://tinyurl.com/bbl87r6), “[O]ver the past decade, carbon-dioxide emissions in the U.S. fell by 1.7%. And according to the International Energy Agency, the U.S. is now cutting carbon emissions faster than Europe, even though the European Union has instituted an elaborate carbon-trading/pricing scheme.” Indeed, the developing world is increasing its output of greenhouse gases so rapidly that, according to Bryce, “[O]ver the past decade, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions — about 6.1 billion tons per year — could have gone to zero and yet global emissions still would have gone up.”
In his impressive new book, The Age of Global Warming: A History (http://tinyurl.com/acn66s6), prominent British policy intellectual Rupert Darwall notes that even as the International Panel on Climate Change (the UN sanctioned body that has been central to international policy in this area) was settling on the now discredited “hockey stick” analysis of historical global temperature data, “Privately, some of the leading figures in the IPCC were less sure,” but were hushed up. As Darwall notes, the entire course of global warming alarmism has been framed more like religion than science, a cycle of “Sin, punishment, redemption” with original sin being the coming of industrial revolution. As he explains: “Politicization of climate science… [has] led to a retreat from the standards that emerged during the Scientific Revolution… to pre-scientific norms, principally reliance on consensus, peer review and appeals to authority.”
So from the perspective of science, is this really the time to build critical national policies around the climate change theory?
The economic timing of the President’s decision is even worse. With the economic growth almost non-existent, with unemployment by the broadest measures as high as 25 percent (www.shadowstats.com <http://www.shadowstats.com> ), with our federal government facing an unprecedented crisis in its national debt and unfunded entitlement liabilities, why has President Obama picked this moment to double down on action global warming?
Why especially now, when the brightest spot in the nation’s employment picture is North Dakota, thanks to the fracking boom. Fracking is making vast stores of oil and natural gas economically recoverable. Already the U.S. is recovering its long-lost status as an energy exporter. For more than forty years, our excessive dependence on petroleum products imported from unstable and hostile parts of the world has been among the country’s biggest economic and security weaknesses. Why pick now to embrace a theory that can only lead to discouraging, even blocking, fracking?
And why politically? The president knows the Republicans in Congress will never go along. Neither will many Democrats, particularly senators facing reelection in energy-producing states like Louisiana, Montana, Virginia and West Virginia. If the president wants to achieve a deal on the deficit and economic policy in this Congress, pushing divisive anti-climate-change policies either by legislation or regulation is exactly the wrong way to go.
But more and more it looks as though legislative achievement is not Mr. Obama’s goal for coming two years. Positioning for the 2014 elections is. And for energizing the Democratic Party’s irrationally environmentalist base, few issues are as effective as global warming, which is why he will double down on it tomorrow night.