The basic scare tactic spread by climate alarmists is that climate is so unstable that a slow increase in a very minor but vital constituent of the atmosphere will result in runaway increases in global temperatures. It turns out that the climate system is actually amazingly stable, however, so none of the alarmists’ predictions have proved accurate. Fortunately, the response of the US political system has been much slower than that of some Western European nations, who in many cases have taken this very seriously and mortgaged their economic futures in a misguided attempt to avoid the adverse consequences predicted by the alarmists. In other words, because Western Europe generally uses the parliamentary system of government, the political system is more unstable than the climate. The results to date have been disastrous in the case of climate.
The much more stable US political system came very close to following these European nations, and probably would have if the outcome of the 2016 elections had been different. But by a fairly narrow margin the voters elected candidates who were not convinced by the “green” scare tactics. So in the US case, the political system was sufficiently stable to withstand the “green” onslaught, but just barely. Significant resources have been wasted on building expensive, unreliable wind and solar energy sources, but nothing like what some European nations have done, or the poster child for alarmism, the Australian state of South Australia. These actions will damage US growth and economic well being for a number of years to come, but will not have a huge adverse effect as in the case of Western Europe and South Australia.
The Longer Run Problem
The outcome of the US election with regard to climate policy will last at least two years and more likely four years or maybe even eight years. The main question is what will happen to the climate alarmist cause in two, four, or eight years? Will it become stronger or gradually fade away? With a little cooperation from Congress, the Administration should and hopefully will kill Federal climate regulations and hopefully even subsidies. But it could do much more. It could, for example, publicize the skeptic case, just as the Obama Administration publicized the alarmist cause. It could fund a neutral Presidential commission to evaluate the scientific arguments and recommend future actions. It could reverse the current overwhelming Federal Government concentration on alarmist climate research to a neutral research agenda or even an all skeptic climate research program.
The Obama Administration took its advocacy of climate alarmism to an extreme extent by mobilizing efforts in many if not most Federal departments to promote the alarmist cause. This included the military, the National Park Service and even the National Science Foundation. The Trump Administration could go just as far as the Obama Administration but in the opposite direction. An interesting issue is what the new Administration should do in this regard, assuming that it takes strong action to derail the climate regulations and hopefully subsidies that it inherited. The decision by the Trump Administration on this issue may ultimately determine whether the US ultimately follows the European example with its huge costs, particularly to lower income households. Thanks to the stable climate there is no urgency to do anything in terms of averting an alleged climate catastrophe, but it is important to avoid future US political instability on this issue down the road.