Lipton Matthews – September 23, 2022
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The passion of the green movement has captured the world’s attention with its incessant demands for solutions to taper carbon emissions. Unfortunately, these appeals are rarely questioned due to the clout of environmental activists. We are automatically expected to endorse the assumptions of climate activists or be accused of science denialism. But closer introspection exposes the unscientific approach of climate activism.
Climate activists propose that we embrace the argument that CO2 is a pollutant as an article of faith without delivering compelling evidence. Noting that CO2 warms the planet by trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere is an inept argument because warming has positive and negative effects. The strength of the green movement is predicated on the belief that warming is a deleterious activity that must be abated at all costs.
But this is a false proposition that fails to consider the ameliorative effects of global warming. Global warming is associated with the greening of the planet and rising biodiversity. In fact, NASA satellites have observed that the greening of the earth during recent decades has been considerable. Moreover, NASA even computed that the earth is greener today than in the 1980s.
Global greening implies that the increasing availability of farmlands for agricultural production can avert fears of an impending food crisis. Global greening will also limit threats to wildlife by providing habitats for them to thrive. Blanket denunciations of global warming as a pollutant obscure the complexity of climate science.
Instead of worrying about global warming activists should be concerned with outlier possibilities and doing so is difficult because the optimal level of warming is debatable. Although Nobel Winner William Nordhaus describes 4°C as the optimal level of warming, some scientists disagree with his conclusions. The uncertainty surrounding the optimal level of global warming indicates that policy makers should approach the management of warming related risks with caution rather than alarmism.
And for all the discontent that warming has caused, a 2011 study by Roy Spencer and William Braswell found that the earth’s atmosphere is not as adept at containing heat as activists have suggested. Even more important is that recent research shows that climate models are overestimating warming. One study avers that cloud processes are a possible reason for outlandish estimates:
Thus, although there appears to be no single property in the current generation of CMIP6 models to which the increased range and higher values on the upper end of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity can be attributed, cloud feedbacks and cloud-aerosol interactions in models with prognostic aerosol schemes seem to be playing an important role.
A survey of the data has revealed that warming is not as dangerous as climate activists would want you to think. Now, let’s consider the benefits of CO2. According to a study from Australia, heightened levels of carbon dioxide have vegetated arid regions through a process known as CO2 fertilization. Speaking to reporters, research scientist Dr. Randall Donohue shares how the process unfolds:
If elevated CO2 causes the water use of individual leaves to drop, plants in arid environments will respond by increasing their total numbers of leaves. These changes in leaf cover can be detected by satellite, particularly in deserts and savannas where the cover is less complete than in wet locations…. On the face of it, elevated CO2 boosting the foliage in a dry country is good news and could assist forestry and agriculture in such areas.
Additionally, international researchers have concluded that carbon dioxide emissions are fertilizing plants and by greening the planet allows vegetation to moderate global warming by consuming carbon emissions. Likewise, examining the effects of carbon emissions on agricultural output, Jan F. Degener found that CO2 is crucial for obtaining higher yields:
Rising CO2 concentrations will play a central role in keeping future yields of all crops above or around today’s level … Generally, yields will increase when CO2 rises and decline when it is kept constant.
Aside from vilifying CO2 and global warming, climate alarmists mistakenly think that climate change is a preventable event. The climate is always changing and it will change without human beings. Human beings can only manage their response to climate change to minimize damage. Furthermore, the global effects of climate change are unequal. Russia, China, and the US could record an increase in arable land due to climate change, while tropical and subtropical regions might experience losses.
Also interesting is that scientific evidence argues that contrary to the doomsday predictions of alarmists global agriculture and welfare appear unthreatened by climate change and instead “problematic agricultural policies aimed at mitigation should be relaxed.” On the other hand, Chiu-Ming Hsiao in a 2022 paper opines that climate policies should be compatible with a country’s level of development: “Not all countries should take carbon reduction actions immediately. Under the consideration of global economic growth, countries have their own economic growth needs and carry out appropriate economic activities.”
Another defect in the climate alarmist movement is the promotion of renewables. Renewables generate significant waste and have been proven to be an unreliable source of energy that is powered by fossil fuels. But it’s quite hilarious that advocacy for renewables has unleashed a new problem that would not exist if climate activists were reasonable.
The demand for rare earth minerals that are used in the creation of renewables is driving terrestrial mining, but because activists oppose terrestrial mining some have proposed deep sea mining. As expected, activists are opposing deep sea mining with equal vigor. Compared to terrestrial mining, deep sea mining is less toxic and disruptive. The conundrum is that activists want renewables but dismiss both forms of mining. However, a true dilemma doesn’t exist because renewables are costly, toxic, and inefficient.
The real problem is that unscientific activists are shaping public policy to the detriment of ordinary people. Consequently, it is the inability to halt the success of climate alarmism that presents a genuine existential threat. It should trouble us that a movement led by misguided people has the influence to derail industrial progress and make millions suffer.
Originally published at Mises.org.
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