Today’s climate activists are nothing like a religious movement, with carbon as a new offspring of the devil. The green movement is increasingly linked to a kind of carbon fundamentalism not only is this unrealistic, but it will lower the standard of living in the West and around the world. And as with other types of religious fundamentalism, climate hysteria is often exaggerated and of course so; a decade ago, the same militants predicted global catastrophe by 2020 if the United States and China did not reduce their emissions by 80%, which of course never happened.
This approach is a loser and reduces the effectiveness of the green lobby. What is needed to fight climate change is a pragmatic approach based on adapting to real and verifiable dangers. And it starts with environmentalists recognizing the limits of our ability to reduce emissions in the short term.
It’s not about giving up the fight. The reality is that what we do in the West means less and less. Today biggest transmitters comes from China, which already emits more GHGs than the United States and the EU combined, while rapid growth of emissions comes more and more from developing countries such as India, today the world’s third largest emitter. These countries have become accustomed to blame climate change in the West, openly seeking exemption from net zero and other green goals. And the West’s penchant for hyper-focusing on our own state or national emissions misses the reality of where future problems are really concentrated.
However, we don’t just miss the forest for the trees. Under current green lobby policies, our ‘war’ on climate change is bound to make things worse for most people, creating what the economist Isabelle Schnabel calls it “green inflation”. Rising energy and food prices, further aggravated by the war in Ukraine, are already forcing countries to adopt massive subsidies for food and gas. In the developing world, billions of people are now facing impoverishment, malnutrition or starvation. And green zero-emissions targets only make this situation worse.
Residents of rich countries will also suffer from the rapid adoption of current green policies that focus almost entirely on wind and solar. Germany, for example, suffered the highest electricity prices in the world before Russia’s war in Ukraine. In California, residents pay up to 80 percent above the national power average. Dependence on wind energy has made even the Texas grid vulnerable.
The real winners green politicians are not the birds and the bees, but the tech oligarchs, the uncompetitive American auto industry and Wall Street.
Given our limited ability to significantly reduce emissions, more attention should be paid to adapt, something we are really good at. Since the beginning of the modern era, technology and science have been used successfully to alter temperatures and precipitation. In the 1700s, people coped with a colder climate by planting potatoes, which thrive in cooler weather. They also learned to use water power, wind, and especially fossil fuels, which made life bearable in the freezing cities of the north and, later, with air conditioning, in the brutally hot south.
Read the rest of this article at Newsweek.
Joël Kotkin is the author of The rise of neo-feudalism: a warning to the global middle class. He is Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director of the Urban Reform Institute. Learn more about joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.