Actually understand climate change

By Joseph Bast
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | 2 a.m.

The column by Frances Beinecke (“Despite misinformation effort, U.S. is targeting climate change,” July 11) recites all the tired myths and cliches of the global warming movement but offers not one iota of evidence. One would have hoped the leader of an organization with an annual budget of more than $100 million would be better informed about an issue as important as climate change.

Then again, most of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s budget relies on exaggerating and misrepresenting the truth about climate change.

Most of Beinecke’s claims are not only wrong, but obviously false, starting with the claim that 97 percent of climate scientists believe “our climate is changing in dangerous ways, and pollution from human activity is causing it.” No survey of climate scientists has ever found that. Reliable surveys show some two-thirds of climate scientists do not believe we have sufficient data to understand or forecast future climate changes. Thousands of articles in the peer-reviewed literature refute the alarmists’ claim.

Beinecke claims “extreme weather cost our country more than $140 billion,” but she doesn’t tell us how much of that was due to man-made global warming. In fact, she cannot. There is compelling evidence that weather has become less extreme in recent decades even as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen. There’s been no increase in global temperatures for 17 years. How can recent weather events be attributed to something that isn’t happening?

Beinecke cites a survey that found “70 percent of Americans accept climate change as real, and perhaps more importantly, want their leaders to combat it.” But another survey found only 20 percent believe the scientific debate is over, and likely voters rank global warming dead last in surveys that ask them to rank the important issues facing the nation.

More importantly, virtually no one is willing to pay the $3,900 a year the Heritage Foundation estimates a carbon tax would cost the average household. That tax would barely amount to a down payment on the cost of reducing emissions enough to affect the climate. When it comes to actually doing something to combat global warming, the American people are solidly on the side of the skeptics.

President Barack Obama, according to Beinecke, is courageously calling for action to “reduce carbon pollution from power plants.” But even the president’s own scientists admit his proposed regulations would reduce global temperatures in 2100 by a mere two one-hundredths of a degree. According to Ben Zycher, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, “a 40 percent U.S. emissions reduction — more than double the Obama goal — would reduce temperatures by six one-hundredths of a degree.” Is that what the American people want? Why do Obama and the NRDC want this?

Beinecke claims power plants in the U.S. are allowed to emit carbon dioxide because of a “loophole” in the nation’s clean air laws. This is also false. The legislative record clearly shows Congress never intended the laws to include carbon dioxide, and every administration before the current one acknowledged that fact.

Beinecke says the Obama administration’s proposed regulations on power plants could stimulate new investment and lower electricity bills. This is pure fiction. The best estimate of the net cost is more than $50 billion a year and the loss of nearly a quarter-million jobs. Even Obama admitted, when campaigning for office, that under his plan, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Was he telling the truth then? Why is he telling us something different now?

Beinecke claims the number of global warming skeptics is “dwindling rapidly.” No doubt she wishes that were the case, if only to keep the NRDC’s direct mail machine humming and generating the millions of dollars that support her and her staff.

In fact, the American people have figured out that global warming is not a crisis. They are increasingly calling for the repeal of the taxes, regulations and subsidies passed at the height of the global warming scare. The same backlash against global warming extremism is occurring in other nations around the world, most recently in Australia, where the Senate voted to repeal a hated carbon tax.

Too bad Beinecke didn’t bother attending the climate change conference she chose to criticize. She would have seen more than 600 scientists, economists, policy experts and concerned citizens coming together to actually understand climate change rather than use it to scare people into making contributions or embracing a radical political agenda.

But it’s not too late for her … or for anyone reading this column. All the presentations were recorded and are available online at

Joseph Bast is president of the Heartland Institute.


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