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The Skeptical Environmentalist is Right about the Paris Accord

K.J. Rodgers
Crownsville, Maryland  

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There has been a lot of talk from both sides of the issue on the impact of the Paris Accord. The best reason for backing out comes from an environmentalist.

John Dewey, an American philosopher and psychologist, once stated “Skepticism: the mark and even the pose of the educated mind.” I believe this is true in every sense. Not to overshadow a healthy dose of faith, skepticism is vital to understanding oppositional understanding and to better understand your own ideas.

Skepticism actually helped me better understand natural gas and fracking operations better. I have never been a bandwagon follower, so when I had questions about processes and consequences of natural gas, I read up on it – from multiple sources so I could see a complete story (this is why I read CNN and Fox News coverage of the same story).

Bjorn Lomborg shakes hand with Al Gore

You could imagine the refreshing feeling I felt when I listened to a Reason Foundation Podcast yesterday where they interviewed the “Skeptical Environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. I am so used to ideology-based activism (not that he lacks any), that his interview struck me as a complete surprise. An environmentalist who leads a group of 27 of the world’s top climate economists and three Nobel Laureates, claims the Paris Climate Accord is insane – in fact, it doesn’t do enough.

In the interview, he claimed what many others are saying, that the price tag of $100 Billion dollars per year from the U.S. or the world’s contribution of $1-2 trillion per year would provide nearly zero impact.

Lomborg states on his website:

“Even if we assume that these promises would be extended for another 70 years, there is still little impact: if every nation fulfills every promise by 2030, and continues to fulfill these promises faithfully until the end of the century, and there is no ‘CO₂ leakage’ to non-committed nations, the entirety of the Paris promises will reduce temperature rises by just 0.17°C (0.306°F) by 2100.”

This money would be much more effective being used to invest in research and development of sustaining green energy that could survive without being propped up with subsidies. I tend to agree, as I support green technologies as a whole, but am skeptical why private markets cannot support them without us all paying out such huge subsidies. Worse, too many of these endeavors fail even with the big subsidies. Investing the money instead into more efficient self-sustaining technologies makes the most sense and is supported by the CATO Institute. Perhaps this is the capitalist or the libertarian side of me, but private innovation will always solve these problems if we just let it.

Of course, Bjorn is not without his critics. One such critic is Nathaniel Keohane, from the Environmental Defense Fund. This time last year, Keohane penned a harsh critique of Lomborg, calling him a “hot mess”  that purposely lays information out in ways to be deceitful. Talk about projection! Another is the Union of Concerned Scientists which, of course, was also involved in the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s RICO scheme to target and shakedown ExxonMobil for not being sufficiently politically correct on climate change and a coverup of this sordid affair.

There is something else driving me crazy about the Paris Accord and it’s the utter shallowness of those discussing it in popular culture. I came across a parody video where Brad Pitt plays weatherman (that’s the upper limit of his acting ability if you ask me) giving a weather forecast telling viewers it’s hot everywhere and there is “no future.” It’s not that I don’t like parodies, but this one is more political than funny and serves merely to reinforce suppositions about which none of the participants have the foggiest clue – a theme all too familiar in the case of the Comedy Central fan base that get its news from Jon Stewart.

From my chair, I still see Lomborg as an activist, but one who may have a more sensible approach to climate change. It is his critics who interest me the most, though, as they are the ones funded for their radical stances. In the case of groups such as EDF and the Union of Concerned Scientists, my level of skepticism has no reached full-blown cynicism.

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11 thoughts on “The Skeptical Environmentalist is Right about the Paris Accord

  1. Unfortunately people confuse natural changes in climate with pollution. There is no doubt that we can promote energy conservation and tap the energy sources that are literally wasted every day. I would rather see billions if not trillions of dollars be invested in energy recovery facilities incorporated into the operation of landills, agricultural and wastewater treatment plants to help supplement our overall energy demand.

        • Yes well let’s see: on the right side of the political or ideological spectrum there are people who believe the greatest faux issue of modern times is climate change. On the other end of the political spectrum are those who believe all corporations are evil and some other things including that natural gas is the worst fossil fuel, specifically in terms of climate change. Fascinating times. Not sure that I would use the word wash to describe how people come to see issues the way they do. However it’s pretty clear that ideology and political leanings play a big role.

  2. Interesting. It’s likely Lomberg knows that the Paris Accord wouldn’t have been the end all or be all, so the calculation about how much warming was prevented isn’t super important. It is however a figure that those who wish to do absolutely nothing about the issue or those who say it’s a hoax or scam or faux science glom onto. According to your write-up, Lomberg makes suggestions as to what to do about climate change or energy right? So he doesn’t say hey climate change is a Chinese hoax which the current president of the united States actually tweeted or that it’s some liberal plot or the science is fraudulent which is what one can read over at Breitbart, and one of the current president advisors is a former Breitbart guy. The whole issue is a hot mess is more like it. Too political. Too much hysteria and animosity.

    • Too political and too much hysteria is for sure! The problem is, it has become less about science and more of a religion. The problem with the science side of it from my perspective, is that so much of what today’s arguments are based on is because the scale of climate change is so long there is no reasonable way to conduct a scientific experiment to verify the hypothesis that increasing carbon dioxide is causing an increase in temperature. It’s all based on a computer model (or maybe more than one? who knows), and in order to conduct a valid experiment, it would take thousands of years to prove. Heck, we’ve only been out of the last ice age for 10-11 thousand years. A real scientific process would publish findings, data, models, and invite other scientists to repeat their experiments, findings, etc. hoping to prove or disprove the hypothesis. Look at the “Cold Fusion” hoopla from the mid-1980s. Fleischman and Pons noticed anomalous increases in temperatures while conducting electrolysis in a cell containing “heavy water” (D2O, deuterium being an isotope of hydrogen). They published thier experimantal setup, their findings, and invited others to replicate their results. Sadly for the energy community, the results were inconculsive at best and disproved at worst, but that’s the scientific method. Today’s climate change discussion is more like the geocentric (or Ptolemic) model of the universe that existed from ancient Greece until the 16th century and the observations of Copernicus. Even then, it was considered heresy to postulate anything different, with the Catholic Church threatening excommunication or execution to those who disbelieved. Hence my observation that the current battle has a religious fervor about it, with skeptics being called deniers, etc. Nobody denies climate change – it’s been happening for billions of years. During the age of dinosaurs the earth was hotter than it is now, and had more C02 in the atosphere. We’ve had ice ages that have lasted tens of thousands of years..

      My own thoughts? First, I sincerely doubt that any current model can possibly consider ALL possible inputs to climate change. Just not possible. Climate, like many other physical systems is a nonlinear system with (I suspect) a large component of chaos involved that cannot be adequately predicted or modelled.. A far simpler system would be to model the stock market and make millions. Second, much as we’ve seen in the hydraulic fracturing debate, science is often paid for with a specific outcome in mind. Third, the drive toward globalism and economic redistribution. Witness the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Consider this quote from Ottmar Edenhofer of the IPCC, speaking in November 2010: “But one must say clearly that we redistribute, de facto, the world’s wealth by climate policy. … one has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is
      environmental policy. Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute, de facto, the world’s wealth…” “This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy, anymore.” Or more recently Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, who admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity, but to destroy capitalism. “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said. Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”

      Does this mean we should do nothing? No, and to bring the circle back to natural gas, the US has greatly reduced our carbon footprint by exploiting our abundant natural gas reserves, all without being bound by the Paris Accords. And with a decent energy policy will continue to do so. In time, renewables may become economically competitive, or we may find the answers to controlled fusion, cold or otherwise. Obama reportedly gave a billion dollars to the climate change fund in return for – what? Seems like the beginning of the economic redistribution mentioned by the UN and IPCC globalists. Climate will change regardless of what we puny humans do, and that money might better have been spent elsewhere. The future will decide. And the future, as it has been from the beginning of time, is unknown.

      • Well I am with you on natural gas reducing carbon dioxide emissions and to me what matters is that if the science is indicating that the emissions are a problem then we should do something. What is done, whether it is adaptive, continuing to work on efficiency, reduce emissions etc– this I do not presume to have all the answers to nor the perfect recipe for either. But certainly natural gas is playing an important role in this issue.

  3. President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt are seeking a balanced scientific debate on Climate Control e.g. CO2 and CH4 emission control.

    I advocate application of Peer Review Science in evaluating Environmental Issues [fears of melting polar icecaps caused by rising CO2 temperatures from Green House Gas induced Green House Effect when compared to effect of the warm surface-level current in the Atlantic Ocean melting the polar ice caps [review articles [April and May 2016]. Other professionals share my philosophy and they should be encouraged to express their views

    REFERENCES:
    Galeottia, S. et.al.; “Antarctic Ice Sheet variability across the Eocene-Oligocene boundary climate transition”; Science Vol. 352, Issue 6281, April 1, 2016; pgs. 76-83
    Hand. E. “New Scrutiny for a Slowing Atlantic Conveyor”; Science May 11, 2016, pgs. 751-752
    Please see following:
    Recent peer review articles [April and May 2016] reflect a shift in scientific opinions on Global Warming and Climate Change.
    Goodwin. RW. “Recent peer review articles [April and May 2016] reflect a shift in scientific opinions on Global Warming and Climate Change” Oil Pro; June 5, 2016
    http://oilpro.com/post/24917/polemics-vs-peer-review-science-global-warming-and-climate-change

    Thank You
    Dr. Richard W Goodwin PE Energy and Environmental Engineering Consultant

  4. Well written article KJ.

    Bottom line- never trust absolutists. Climate is the new replacement religion for leftists, who have veered sharply into tyranny and intolerance of dissent for any plank of their platform. Anyone who does not live
    under a rock can plainly see that these
    days… and it’s very disturbing.

    The ONLY solution to what may or may not be a climate problem is technology that is affordable and scalable. I have friends and even family members who preach global warming but they’re not doing a damn thing to change their lifestyles. So basically: stop using fossil fuels or shut up… we need a good extinction event anyway.

  5. Pingback: Stephen Hawking Journey Into Politics A Total MeltdownNatural Gas Now

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