Why Skeptics Should Encourage Use of Energy from Fossil Fuels Where Economically JustifiedAlan Carlin | May 19, 2015
I was actively involved in environmental protection as a Sierra Club activist and senior EPA analyst for over 45 years, but about eight years ago I concluded that I could not support the energy use/CO2 reduction objectives of the environmental movement and many governments in the developed world. These objectives are not just unlikely to be successful; they are genuinely harmful to humans and the environment.
What the world needs is not decreased fossil fuel use but increased use with careful control of conventional pollutants using conventional controls where needed and justified. Conventional controls are much less expensive and much more certain to be effective than attempting to reduce fossil fuel use in order to reduce conventional pollution.
The much maligned carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, as EPA and Obama claim, but rather a basic input to plant photosynthesis and growth, which is the basis of life on Earth. Decreasing atmospheric CO2 levels would decrease plant productivity and therefore the food supply for the rest of the ecosystem and humans, and vice versa. Further, attempts to reduce it will prove enormously expensive, futile, harmful to human welfare, and in the longer run, to environmental improvement. It is now increasingly evident that efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by governmental coercion will have important non-environmental adverse effects in terms of loss of freedom of scientific inquiry, economic growth and development, and the rule of law.
So why are the environmental movement and their supporters, such as the Obama Administration, pursuing these objectives? They claim that it is necessary in order to avoid catastrophic changes in climate, but the scientific case for this does not survive application of the scientific method.
It is rather part of an ideology that they are attempting to sell which would harm humans, particularly less affluent humans, and ultimately result in less environmental improvement and less protection against the only realistic climate change we really need to fear—a new Little Ice Age or ultimately even a new ice age.
Meaningful global CO2 emission reductions would require substantial reductions by less developed countries, which they have made clear they will agree to only if there are large payments from the developed countries to them. Such income redistribution would decrease the economic welfare of the developed countries and would have an uncertain effect on the recipient countries since they would presumably be asked to give up part or all of their aspirations for further development since it is strongly dependent on increased use of fossil fuels to increase human productivity. Anything that decreases their chances of providing a better life for their people is harmful in my view, and vice versa.
So in addition to arguing against the alleged need for CO2 emissions reductions, I believe skeptics might usefully argue for increasing CO2 emission levels to the extent that this will promote economic development (and in time environmental improvements). In other words, we would be supporting the position taken by the less developed countries. Environmental groups claim that their favored but much higher cost and less reliable–and thus damaging to economic development–“renewable” sources should be used, of course, but this would hinder economic development since available resources would produce less development.
I have not documented here my detailed reasoning for all this since my new book (now available from the Publisher), Environmentalism Gone Mad, How a Sierra Club Activist and Senior EPA Analyst Discovered a Radical Green Energy Fantasy, provides much more detail, documentation, and a description of how I reached many of these conclusions.