ADVERTISEMENT

July 5, 2013

Charles Krauthammer: Obama fiddles with climate change as bigger crises unfold around him

The economy stagnates. Syria burns. Scandals lap at his feet. China and Russia mock him, even as a "29-year-old hacker" revealed his nation's spy secrets to the world. How does President Obama respond? With a grandiloquent speech on climate change.

Climate change? It lies at the bottom of a list of Americans' concerns (last of 21 -- Pew poll). Which means that Obama's declaration of unilateral American war on global warming, whatever the cost -- and it will be heavy -- is either visionary or solipsistic. You decide:

Global temperatures have been flat for 16 years -- a curious time to unveil a grand, hugely costly, socially disruptive anti-warming program.

Now, this inconvenient finding doesn't mean there is no global warming. But it is something that the very complex global warming models that Obama naively claims represent settled science have trouble explaining. It therefore highlights the president's presumption in dismissing skeptics as flat-earth know-nothings.

On the contrary. It's flat-earthers like Obama who refuse to acknowledge the problematic nature of contradictory data. It's flat-earthers like Obama who cite a recent Alaskan heat wave -- a freak event -- as presumptive evidence of planetary climate change. It's flat-earthers like Obama who cite perennial phenomena such as droughts as cosmic retribution for environmental sinfulness.

For the sake of argument, nonetheless, let's concede that global warming is precisely what Obama thinks it is. Then what is his massive new regulatory and spending program -- which begins with a war on coal and ends with billions in more subsidies for new Solyndras -- going to do about it?

The U.S. has already cut CO2 emissions more than any country on Earth since 2006, according to the International Energy Agency. Emissions today are back down to 1992 levels.

And yet, at the same time, global emissions have gone up. That's because we don't control the energy use of the other 96 percent of humankind.

At the heart of Obama's program are Environmental Protection Agency regulations that will make it impossible to open any new coal plant and will systematically shut down existing plants.

Net effect: tens of thousands of jobs killed, entire states impoverished. This at a time of chronically high unemployment, slow growth, jittery markets and deep economic uncertainty.

But that's not the worst of it. This self-sacrifice might be worthwhile if it did actually stop global warming and save the planet. What makes the whole idea nuts is that it won't.

The have-nots are rapidly industrializing. As we speak, China and India together are opening one new coal plant every week. We can kill U.S. coal and devastate coal country all we want, but the industrializing Third World will more than make up for it. The net effect of the Obama plan will simply be dismantling the U.S. coal industry for shipping abroad.

To think we will get these countries to cooperate is sheer fantasy. We've been negotiating climate treaties for 20 years and gotten exactly nowhere.

China, India and the other rising and modernizing countries point out that the West had a 150-year industrial head start that made it rich. They are still poor. And now, just as they are beginning to get rich, we're telling them to stop dead in their tracks? Fat chance.

I'm not against a global pact to reduce CO2 emissions. Indeed, I favor it. But in the absence of one -- and there is no chance of getting one in the foreseeable future -- there is no point in America committing economic suicide to no effect on climate change, the reversing of which, after all, is the alleged point of the exercise.

For a president to propose this with such aggressive certainty is incomprehensible. It is the starkest of examples of belief that is impervious to evidence. And the word for that is faith, not science.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for The Washington Post. He can be contacted at:

letters@charleskrauthammer.com





Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


  • Back to Opinion

News
Sports
Politics
Business
Life & Culture
People

© 2014 The Portland Press Herald - All Rights Reserved.
MaineToday Media
One City Center, 5th floor, Portland, ME 04101-5009
(207) 791-6650
contact@pressherald.com