The advent of the Biden administration was supposed to signal a new era for climate policy. The bevy of climate executive orders issued during his first week in office—along with grandiose promises at the United Nations climate summit—seemed to support his campaign pledges.
But now Biden is slow-rolling the release of his “national climate strategy” detailing how to eliminate America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, leaving many activists frustrated and wondering where the administration’s priorities really lie.
I suspect Biden’s radio silence on his emissions plan has less to do with priorities and more to do with taking America to net-zero being plain impossible—not to mention utterly fruitless at stopping climate change.
Modern society’s standards of living are unattainable without greenhouse gas emissions. We need only consider the stark difference between the extreme poverty and daily danger faced by people living in developing countries without electricity and the luxurious lives we enjoy in the privileged West to see how essential energy is. In America, we are far more likely to fall ill and die from laziness and poor lifestyle choices than from war, famine, or communicable diseases. Affordable, reliable energy has made most threats faced by the un-electrified world all but irrelevant.
Even wind and solar power—which haven’t lived up to decades of claims they would revolutionize our energy landscape—depend on fossil fuels to function. If you’ve ever seen a convoy of diesel-powered trucks and pilot cars carrying wind turbine blades down the highway, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From mining for rare minerals to powering manufacturing facilities to getting the equipment where it needs to go—then replacing it every 20 to 25 years at best—renewable energy requires a lot of oil, gas, and coal.
Most corporations claiming to be net-zero or close to it haven’t actually eliminated many, if any, greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, they usually purchase carbon credits. These credits may support companies that plant trees or install carbon capture projects, but they don’t actually prevent any greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere. Some behemoth corporations like Amazon and Google have purchased their wind or solar facilities, but their output pales in comparison to their total electricity use, and they’re still connected to the grid for the majority of their power. Data centers even sought and received exemptions from California’s environmental regulations to install diesel backup generators that could keep them running in the event of increasingly common blackouts.
It’s likely the Biden administration would need to engage in similar greenwashing to claim the United States could reach anything close to net-zero—unless it plans to force the American people to give up even a basic standard of living and return to the Dark Ages.
The ironic part? Even if Biden went so far as to force energy poverty on the nation, it would have almost no effect on climate change.
The same data models touted by the United Nations and other climate alarmist groups to claim that the end is nigh show exactly how futile it would be to spend trillions cutting emissions. Even if the United States succeeded at eliminating all manmade emissions by 2030—that means no more gas-powered cars, trucks, ships, or planes; no more reliable fossil fuel power plants; not even a propane barbecue grill in the backyard—it would change the average temperature at the end of the century by a whopping 0.17 degrees. And that’s if these questionable data models that have historically overestimated warming actually turned out to be accurate.
It’s difficult to seriously argue that the massive cost of the net-zero fantasy, both financial and in terms of standard of living, would be worth a mere two-tenths of a degree.
If the Biden administration is so concerned about climate change—although it needn’t be, given the copious data showing that mild warming isn’t leading to more natural disasters and is resulting in over 98 percent fewer deaths than ever before—it should focus less on government regulations and more on allowing the free market do its thing.
It was through the free market, after all, that America became a world leader in clean air—a well-documented but little-known fact that shocks even some of the most influential policymakers. Over the last five decades, the United States has cut harmful airborne pollutants by 78 percent. We’re the only highly populated developed country to meet the World Health Organization’s standards for particulate matter. That progress was made across Republican and Democrat administrations largely by free-market innovation, not by federal mandates.
Left uninhibited by burdensome red tape, there’s no reason to believe the market would suddenly stop making environmental protection a priority, something consumers consistently demand. Even the most well-intentioned government regulations do more harm through higher costs, time delays, and limited job growth than good—especially given the nearly pristine state of our air quality and lack of data to support the climate apocalypse narrative.
This commentary originally appeared in The Epoch Times on February 25, 2022.