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At Davos, Trump’s Message of Hope is Right, Alarmists’ Message is Wrong

January 31, 2020

Climate Change Weekly #349:

President Donald Trump’s speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland was a breath of fresh air concerning the true state of the world—and a shot across the bow of crony capitalists and the public officials in bed with them. Trump made it clear the United States would not impose energy restrictions on its economy predicated upon the false assertion humans are destroying the planet, and neither should other governments.

Trump pointed to America’s recent economic growth, historic low unemployment, stock market gains, and trade deals, to tout the country’s economic success during his presidency.

“Today I'm proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” said Trump. “America is thriving. America is flourishing, and yes, America is winning again like never before.”

Trump went on to say the peoples of other countries could experience similar levels of economic progress if their leaders would reject the doomsday prognostications of environmental extremists and the business and political interests aligned with them.

“To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” Trump said. “They are the errors of yesterday's fortune tellers, and we have them and I have them, and they want to see us do badly, but we don't let that happen.”

Trump’s presentation came a few hours after young climate puppet Greta Thunberg gave an invited talk to the WEF in which she decried, in her simultaneously angry and plaintive voice, what she says is their inadequate action to prevent a supposed human-caused climate crisis. She called on the assembled world political and economic leaders to end the use of fossil fuels immediately.

“Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour,” said Thunberg. “Let's be clear: we don’t need a low carbon economy; we don’t need to lower emissions. Our emissions have to stop. … [I]mmediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels. We don’t want these things done by 2050, or 2030 or even 2021—we want this done now.”

Regardless of the cost in terms of human misery, one must assume.

At a news conference in Davos, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin responded by saying Thunberg should at least get a college degree before lecturing the world on what types of energy policies it can and should adopt.

“Is she the chief economist?” asked Mnuchin rhetorically. “After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”

Who is right: Thunberg and those conniving adults promoting her as the face of and standard bearer for the need to end fossil fuel use to prevent climate disaster, or Trump and climate realists like me at The Heartland Institute and elsewhere, who study the science and economics and recognize, despite a modest warming over the past century, all signs point to the world getting better and better?

English science journalist Matt Ridley, Ph.D., recently wrote in the British publication The Spectator that the second decade of the 21st century was the best in history in terms of human living standards, despite purportedly catastrophic warming. Ridley pointed out that when he was born in 1958, 60 percent of the world’s population was living in poverty, whereas in the second decade of the twenty-first century it fell below 10 percent for the first time. Ridley also noted, “Global inequality has been plunging as Africa and Asia experience faster economic growth than Europe and North America; child mortality has fallen to record low levels; famine virtually went extinct; malaria, polio and heart disease are all in decline.”

“We are getting more sustainable, not less, in the way we use the planet,” wrote Ridley. “Efficiencies in agriculture mean … despite the growing number of people and their demand for more and better food, the productivity of agriculture is rising so fast that human needs can be supplied by a shrinking amount of land.”

A July 2019 study in the journal Global Environmental Change demonstrates even as the planet has warmed since 1980, mortality from weather-related events has declined sharply, with the decline being attributable mainly to increased wealth.

The researchers examined the incidences of climate-related hazards—flooding, extreme heat, and wind-related events—and found vulnerability to climate-related hazards fell substantially between 1980 and 2016, with global average mortality and economic loss rates having declined by 6.5 and nearly 5 times, respectively. The researchers also discovered “over the last four decades the difference in multi-hazard human vulnerability between poorer and richer countries reduced by almost 2.5 times,” meaning mortality linked to climate-related hazards has fallen fastest in the poorer countries experiencing some of the highest average growth rates.

The research is clear. Contrary to delusional climate scolds, economic growth is good for ordinary people’s prosperity and health. This is the message Trump brought to Davos, and it’s a message the world should hear and take to heart.

—    H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: SBS News; CNN; Climate Change Weekly; CNN


IN THIS ISSUE …

Climate assessments undercount agricultural benefits of carbon dioxideTrump’s NEPA reforms improve assessmentsAgriculture booming under climate change


CLIMATE ASSESSMENTS UNDERCOUNT AGRICULTURAL BENEFITS OF CARBON DIOXIDE

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Economics and Policy Studies shows the agricultural benefits of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are undercounted in integrated climate models used in estimating the social cost of carbon dioxide to the economy—the marginal cost of the effects of emitting one extra ton of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases (translated into carbon dioxide equivalents) at any point in time.

According to the authors, most models estimate the Earth is far more sensitive to additions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than has been demonstrated by measured changes to the climate. It is well-known that for any type of model, the farther out in the future a projection is made, the less likely it is to be accurate. For climate models, this means their predictions of distant catastrophic climate changes are uncertain in the extreme because they grossly overestimate the sensitivity of the earth to carbon dioxide additions.

The authors point out data consistently demonstrates, across a wide range of plants, including the staple grains and cereals which are the foundation of most peoples’ diets, increasing the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide enhances plant growth “both by raising the rate of net photosynthesis and increasing water use efficiency within the plant.” Yet these known, daily proven, benefits of carbon dioxide fertilization are rarely accounted for in social cost of carbon estimates.

The authors examine a range of estimates of the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels, using varying levels of additional carbon dioxide, discount rates, and agricultural productivity increases, to produce social cost of carbon calculations. They found even under a low rate of productivity increase and a low discount rate of just 2.5 percent, there is a 45 percent probability of a net benefit in terms of the social cost of carbon—meaning increases in carbon dioxide improve human welfare. Using a higher estimate of agricultural productivity and a 5 percent discount rate, the probability of net benefits exceeds 65 percent.

If this research is correct, rising levels of carbon dioxide could be having an overall net positive effect on human welfare. Even under the worst-case scenarios, increased carbon dioxide is likely to have much less of a negative effect than most models project, because they fail to account for the gains in crop yields and plants’ water-use efficiency.

SOURCE: Environmental Economics and Policy Studies


TRUMP’S NEPA REFORMS IMPROVE ASSESSMENTS

The Trump administration has proposed sweeping reforms to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which mandates federal regulatory environmental oversight of major infrastructure projects. The basic purpose of the Nixon-era regulation is to ensure agency decision makers are cognizant of the potential environmental impacts of public projects and the management of public resources such as public lands. Over time, the scope of NEPA’s requirements has grown from covering projects specifically undertaken by or contracted for by the federal government to projects undertaken by states and localities, if federal funds are involved or federal approvals are needed.

As federal bureaucrats currently exercise their NEPA authority, the average Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) takes four-and-a-half years to complete and review for most projects, with seven years being the norm for highway projects. The average EIS is more than 600 pages long.

At a White House signing ceremony, President Donald Trump said approvals for critical infrastructure projects are being unnecessarily delayed for far too long because of the complex EIS process.

“America’s most critical infrastructure projects have been tied up and bogged down by an outrageously slow and burdensome federal approval process, and I’ve been talking about it for a long time,” Trump said when signing the proposed reforms on January 9. “These endless delays waste money, keep projects from breaking ground, and deny jobs to our nation’s incredible workers.”

The proposed reforms would require the federal government to complete all future environmental reviews within two years, and EISs would no longer be required for nonfederal projects that receive little or no federal funding. In addition, project developers would need only to assess a project’s direct effects on the environment and human health, those that are “reasonably foreseeable” and have a demonstrably “close causal relationship” to the project.

“Effects should not be considered significant if they are remote in time, geographically remote, or the product of a lengthy causal chain,” the NEPA reform proposal states. As a result, for example, when developing EISs for pipeline or highway projects under the proposed reforms, project managers will not have to consider the potential, highly speculative, future climate effects of carbon dioxide emissions from the use of oil and gas that flow through the pipelines or from cars and trucks on the roads.

SOURCES: The Hill; Environment & Climate News


AGRICULTURE BOOMING UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE

In a recent Breitbart commentary, James Taylor, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy at The Heartland Institute, writes, “U.S. and global crop production continues to set new records, even as climate activists ramp up a campaign to convince people that climate change is decimating crop production and forcing farmers out of business.”

Taylor backs up his claim with hard data from, among other sources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The USDA reports “the past three years produced the three highest U.S. wheat yields per acre in history. The past five years produced the five highest U.S. corn yields and the five highest soybean yields per acre in history.” The FAO reports similarly booming global crop production. Looking at Central America, for example, the FAO reports almost every country, including Mexico, has experienced “long-term growth in crop yields per acre, with record crop yields being set throughout the past decade.”

Taylor points out these agricultural gains are attributable in large part to the use of fossil fuels to modernize the nations’ agricultural sectors, plus the fertilization effect of increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

When it comes to farm fears, believe the data, not the climate catastrophe hype pushed by alarmist activists and mainstream media headline writers, Taylor says.

SOURCES: Breitbart; United States Department of Agriculture

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org