I won’t go into the details but I am reasonably informed about “climate change” or global warming, or whatever. I care about the issue. I once even moderated a discussion of a carbon tax on Wall Street. (The audience and panelists were generally pro-tax. I was the moderator only, I was not there to offer opinions.You know my position on taxation.) I respect many of the people who are concerned about climate change and who are working to address it in Washington and elsewhere. I think many of these people are deeply committed to making the world a better place. I think many are concerned for humanity and the world at large. But the call for a carbon tax in the USA makes little sense. Why would we tax carbon, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions, if carbon emission levels in the USA are already dropping steadily? Why would we penalize ourselves relative to other countries?
Consider that according to The Energy Information Administration US carbon emissions are at 1988 levels. Our population was significantly smaller in 1988 and yet we now, as a country, produce less in the way of greenhouse gasses than when Ronald Reagan left the White House.
To read the article associated with the above screenshot and graph click HERE.
So why the reduction in emissions? Simple. Capitalism.
Fracking technology changed the energy landscape. Specifically natural gas has changed the energy landscape, for the better.
Natural gas used to be something the enviros liked. Even The Sierra Club liked it. But then, when fracking came on the scene, with all the associated rigs and other associated eyesores, the greens turned on natural gas even though embracing the stuff meant that potentially reducing greenhouse emissions. Now it’s more than just potential reductions, the reductions are real and tangible.
And yet Bill Gates still says we must have a carbon tax. That “capitalism” can’t solve a problem it already appears to be solving.
Let me reiterate that I have a great deal of respect for many of those who are calling for a carbon tax. This article is not some sort of dismissal of the concerns of my green friends. And I am fortunate to have a number of green friends. People with whom I’ve had excellent conversations over the years. People who are as committed to transpartisanship as I am. But if Bill Gates is going to denigrate capitalism (Yes that is hilarious.) because it damages the environment it is only proper to counter this assertion because it simply isn’t true.
The real issue is in China and in India where carbon emissions are growing steadily. Many in the environmental community believe that China and India will never embrace curbs, any curbs, on carbon emissions unless the US does the same via a carbon tax. The European Union also would like to see a carbon tax attached to the US economy because, frankly, they don’t want the US to have a relative competitive advantage. So the pressure is on for the US to embrace a punitive carbon tax even though carbon emissions are going down in the US already.
Basically the market is solving the problem in the US, but the president can’t go to the climate conference in Paris which is coming up and say, “No no, we’re cool. Fracking has reduced our emissions. Really the issue is with YOU guys. Maybe you should embrace fracking too. Let me call up my buddies the Koch Brothers who can give you some insight into how it can be done.” Yeah, Obama isn’t going to say that for about a million reasons.
But maybe he should. In fact one climate scientist who would likely prefer not to be named made the case to me that if China and India were actually to seriously take on the issue of carbon emissions they would have to embrace fracking. China, for all the shininess of Shanghai is still a poor country in relative terms. India much poorer than China. The countries aren’t going to green tech their way out of their environmental issues. They might be able to work in that direction over time, like we can, but for the foreseeable future exploiting the natural gas reserves of both countries (and they are immense) is likely the best way forward.
There is one additional factor which must be addressed in this debate, and that is that some, some within the environmental community see climate change as a way to regulate the world. I hate to say it, but some in the environmental movement are watermelons. Green on the outside and red on the inside. I have argued in the past that green is not the new red. But some folks are only “environmentalists” because they want to control humanity. Concern for the planet is secondary. If everyone, every country, can be roped into a global carbon regulatory regime power moves from the US and to the broader world. Funds can be funneled from the US and to various crony outfits around the globe via such a regime. (“Climate mitigation” payments are on the table in Paris, they have been for a while.) For many people the real concern is the redistribution of wealth, not whether the planet is warming in an historically anomalous way.
By the way I have been very interested in getting climate change, or global warming, right. I have no interest in scoring points for any side in this debate. As I have stated in the past the environment is very important to me. But there is so much information pro and con that it’s hard for people to take informed positions. We often just follow our own ideological herds. All I can say is that having talked with a number of very knowledgeable people on the subject over the years, from skeptic to full on climate “alarmist,” the position I have personally come to is that climate change is real and that carbon emissions likely play a role, but it’s not nearly as bad as the IPCC has predicted. Indeed that if global temperature changes continue as projected the world isn’t going to turn into a vast expanse of desert. We will be able to adapt. It may not be a crisis situation for the planet at all. (I know this is sacrilege in some circles but it’s my honest assessment. I am not saying however that “climate change” is to be dismissed. That is not an intellectually honest position to take – at least from my perspective.)
However there are many people who are committed to continuing a dire climate narrative because they want to regulate the world anyway and abhor free enterprise, the watermelons. Others, often green all the way through, get funding for their projects and careers from organizations and people who want the narrative continued no matter what. This compounds the earnestness and commitment of activists which is only natural. Such a situation also encourages conformity. Say the right things and the boat isn’t rocked and your grant keeps showing up in the mail.
There is a great push to make “climate change” an issue prior to the president’s trip to Paris. This is likely one of the reasons Bill Gates said what he said. But the concern we should all have is why the push for carbon regulation in the US if policy goals are already being achieved without massive regulation? (Or at least more regulation on the carbon front.) Is the concern actually with reducing carbon emissions and climate change or is it actually about controlling free enterprise and taking the USA down a peg or two?
It is a legitimately open question for me, but one of extreme importance.