Americans are a sturdy bunch. Despite a decade of in-your-face alarmism about global warming, we the people remain unimpressed. Recently asked by Gallup to describe their concern about 15 issues, only 25 percent said they worried “a great deal” about climate change; 51 percent said they worried “a little or not at all” about the problem. Climate change ranked next to last of the issues raised – way below “availability and affordability of energy.”
There’s the rub. Americans are smarter than their president. They know that combatting global warming is going to raise the cost of energy – an essential ingredient in our country’s competitive mix. They know that the United States – unlike China or Japan -- has been blessed with an abundance of low-cost fuel. Trying to compete in a fiercely competitive global marketplace they are reluctant to toss that advantage overboard. Not so President Obama.
There are many reasons the public has not climbed aboard the climate change express. First, there is the unhelpful hysteria from the Left. The New York Times and other campaigners have linked all natural disasters to climate change. Hardly a day goes by without front-page coverage of avocado shortages, disappearing honey bees, cars falling into sink holes, unseasonal forest fires, rising coffee prices, floods, droughts, avalanches – the list goes on and on, all attributed to rising temperatures. You can almost hear the editorial staff: “Hem lines going up? Anticipating rising sea levels? Higher cotton prices brought on by heat waves? Come on people--get creative!”
Some of the most hysterical claims have simply proven untrue. When, in 2007, the National Geographic breathlessly reported the findings of a NASA climate scientist that Arctic Sea ice could disappear by 2012, the world took note. In 2012, hysterics predicted the (still plentiful) ice would be gone by 2016. Last year, surprisingly, the volume of sea ice in the region increased by 50 percent. Does this refute past alarms? Who knows, but environmentalists have not helped their cause by continually hitting the panic button.
Recent scare tactics have linked unseasonably early wildfires in the west and tornadoes across the nation with climate change. The reality: “In 2013 there were 47,579 wildfires in the U.S., which burned 4,319,546 acres. Both fires and acres are below the five and 10-year national averages’” reports the National Interagency Fire Center.
Also, last year saw the fewest tornadoes since 2000, reports the NOAA. The agency describes why the reporting of tornados rose in the past: “The United States today averages 1200 tornadoes a year. The number of tornadoes increased dramatically in the 1990s as the modernized National Weather Service installed the Doppler radar network.” In other words, we suddenly could track significantly more storms – there were not necessarily more storms. Through August last year, the U.S. had experienced the fewest number of 100 degree days in about 100 years. Last year’s hurricane season, which was predicted to be disastrous, was a non-event. And then, of course, we’ve had that pesky “pause” in warming…for the past 15 years.
As for the climate this year? After a record-breaking cold winter in many parts of the country, Americans are not only skeptical of global warming – they might welcome it.
None of these recent weather events refute the gradual warming of the planet. They do, however, cause Americans to wonder whether they are being told the truth, or whether the hysterical and incessant warnings of imminent crisis are warranted. They also wonder whether it isn’t more important to put people to work and to make our country stronger and its people more financially secure. That is at the top of the country’s agenda – an agenda not shared by President Obama.
Against this backdrop, President Obama is unveiling new rules for limiting emissions from power plants. The rules will raise the cost of power for U.S. businesses and consumers. Based on an approach proposed by the National Resources Defense Council (since the actual new rules were not yet released) a study commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce has projected the regulations – every year through 2030 -- will cost $51 billion in lower output and up to 442,000 lost jobs.
The pro-business group projects that the measure will raise electricity costs $289 billion and reduce disposable income for Americans by $586 over the next 15 years. The worst news? Global carbon emissions are projected to rise by 31 percent between 2011 and 2030; the new costly EPA regulations would reduce this by less than 2 percentage points.
With Americans unimpressed with the urgency of climate change, President Obama has tried all and every means to build support for his higher-price energy policies. Most recently he visited children suffering from asthma in a hospital, trying to link their suffering with the burning of coal. It was a shameless political stunt, and another of questionable legitimacy. A major study on childhood asthma from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states, “A major frustration in fighting asthma is the mystery of its development. It remains unknown why some people get the disease and others do not. Research has identified several factors associated with the development of asthma, but none have proven to be the causative agent.” Differing incidence of the disease by ethnic group and income level strongly suggest something other than air quality is at work.
Most news coverage of the new EPA regulations claim that curbing emissions is crucial to Obama’s legacy. It is becoming clear that our Nobel-prize winning president’s focus on legacy rather than doing his job has built a solid reputation as the most political of all presidents, a weak and ineffectual leader, an inept manager and someone who often lies to Americans. That is his legacy.
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