Why US CO2 Reductions Are Useless without Major Contributions from Rapidly Developing CountriesAlan Carlin | February 4, 2016
Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that humans do have a substantial adverse effect on climate. For the reasons explained in my book, Environmentalism Gone Mad, it is unlikely that humans have a significant effect on anything other than the urban heat island effect near large urban areas. I have also argued that humans will actually be better off with a little global warming as long as the increase is minor and not catastrophic in its effects. But let’s assume these arguments away.
The Obama Administration has now required that trillions of tax and electric rate payer dollars be spent to reduce CO2 emissions from electric power generating plants. EPA models using UN IPCC science show that these regulations would reduce global temperatures by 0.019oC by the year 2100 below what they would otherwise have been. This reduction will only come about if the UN climate science is correct; if not, it will likely have less or even no effect since the UN IPCC projections have consistently greatly overestimated observed temperature increases. But let’s assume that it will have that effect even if it is so small as to be unmeasurable.
CO2 is a natural constituent of the atmosphere necessary for life on Earth. It is believed to be well mixed on a worldwide basis with other gases, so decreased emissions in one part of the world quickly change atmospheric levels throughout the world unless there are compensating reductions elsewhere. There are also many other sources and sinks of CO2 besides human-caused emissions. The most important of these absorbers are plants and the oceans; the later absorb or emit CO2 largely based on temperature. So it is unclear whether human emissions have any effect on atmospheric levels or whether human emissions are offset by increased absorption by plants and oceans. But what is clear is that it makes no difference whether human emissions are from the US or from India or China. The effect on atmospheric levels will be the same although we do not know what these effects are.
EPA Claimed that Their CO2 Emission Reduction Regulations Would Encourage Other Countries to Take Similar Actions, But They Have Not
In mid-2015 the EPA Administrator claimed that this unmeasurable decrease was justified in order to encourage other countries (presumably including India and China) where most of the increase in CO2 emissions will occur in the coming decades, to implement stringent reductions. She has also claimed that there are important health “co-benefits” from the EPA CO2 regulations, but these are extremely doubtful for reasons discussed in Environmentalism Gone Mad.
But as a result of the Paris climate conference in late 2015 we now know what the rapidly developing countries are planning to do in response to the climate issue. Briefly, they are not planning to do much of anything and are making no binding, enforceable agreements to do so. They rightly point out that economic growth is more important to their countries and people. So what will the trillions spent for CO2 reduction in the US accomplish? Why are we making our economy grow even more slowly than it has been by implementing CO2 regulations in order to encourage other countries to do what they have already announced they are not going to do? And without substantial reductions by the rapidly developing countries, the effect of US reductions will be negligible even under the most favorable alarmist assumptions.
So Obama/EPA are requiring the US to reduce CO2 emissions when the major rapidly increasing sources of CO2 have made no meaningful commitment to do so. From a US point of view this imposes very high costs with no measurable benefits. If they were being logical, the EPA should have withdrawn their CO2 regulations the day after the Paris conference since they did not and will not accomplish the purpose EPA claimed they would with regard to the response by other countries. But EPA has not done so.
Thus even assuming all the highly dubious IPCC science, the fact that there are no unilateral reductions in CO2 emissions that the US can make that will have any measurable effect on the alleged problem should convince rational US decision makers to abandon attempts to reduce human-caused CO2 emissions. Even the complete elimination of all human-caused CO2 emissions in the US would have no measurable effect on atmospheric CO2 levels, but would have serious adverse effects on the US standard of living, particularly for the less well off among us, and on the reliability of the vital electricity production and distribution system.