During a visit to Japan last May, the President said that when "it comes to gas prices, we're going through an incredible transition." Yes, we are. We are turning our economy and household finances upside down with implementation of the Green New Deal (GND). Resultant inflation is at a 40-year high.
But have we thought through the basis for our actions? Shouldn't we be sure of our facts before we take these drastic steps? There are two aspects that appear to have been overlooked.
The first is an examination of what was predicted in the past, and then an evaluation of what actually happened--were those predictions accurate? The second is a question of whether or not the GND proponents give only a one-sided view of fossil fuels.
James Hansen, a foremost climate alarmist, said back in 1986 that "if current trends are unchanged, temperatures would rise 0.5 to 1.0 deg F in the 1990s, and 2 to 4 degrees in the first decade of the 2000s." In fact, they rose 0.018 instead of 0.5 to 1.0 deg F, and 0.27 deg F instead of 2 to 4 deg F respectively in those periods. They were much, much lower than predicted.
In other words, Hansen's predictions were wildly wrong. Then in 2006 Al Gore said in his documentary An Inconvenient Truth: We have "just 10 years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tailspin." Well, 10 years have come and gone, and we are still here!
Thus, the track record of the climate change environmentalists is far from convincing. Now Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said: "The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don't address climate change." How much stock do you think we should place in that prediction?
Now, let's look at the one-sided views of the proponents of the GND. They speak only about the disadvantages of fossil fuels, but never consider (or at least espouse) the advantages. It's comparable to a doctor prescribing a pharmaceutical. There are possible side effects, but the benefits far outweigh the potential drawbacks, so the prescription is written.
History's first substantial use of fossil fuels was in the Industrial Revolution. One major contributor was from inventor James Watt who developed the steam engine using coal as fuel. That meant that manufacturing plants no longer had to be located next to rivers for water mills, or on hills where windmills were practical.
Mobile steam locomotives were made for rail transportation, thus leading to the development of distant areas of the country where all sorts of goods could now be brought to market. True, we had smokestacks in the cities. But subsequently the air has been purified, and the United States has now one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest environment of all industrialized nations. Has John Kerry ever extolled the accomplishments of the Industrial Revolution? Does he want us to return to the horse and buggy days?
Mother Nature has produced fossil fuels from the degradation of vegetation over millions of years. As these fuels are utilized, they produce carbon dioxide. This gas is not poisonous. Human breath contains 4 percent CO2. Besides giving some warming effect to the atmosphere, this greenhouse gas also has a fertilizing effect on plants. In a controlled experiment the amount of CO2 was increased by 300 ppm above normal levels in a controlled environment. The resultant mean average increase in plant growth was as follows:
Fruits 32.8% Vegetables 45.7% Grains 36.3% Trees 70.8% (Source: Idso, Plant Growth Database, 2014.)
When did you hear a climate environmentalist mention this advantage?
As an aside, let me say that the environmentalists claim that evidence from entrapped air bubbles in glacial ice shows that historically atmospheric CO2 and global warming go hand in hand. In actuality, analysis of ice core data shows that the increase in CO2 came after temperature increases, not the other way around. Therefore, CO2 production did not cause global warming. Likewise, burning fossil fuels did not cause the end of the last ice age.
But back to the advantages of fossil fuels. One of the first jobs I had in the 1960s as a chemist in a large petrochemical company involved the production and evaluation of a family of biodegradable detergents. These fossil fuel-based products replaced non-degradable detergents that contaminated our effluent waters. During my 40-year career other petroleum-based products that I have personally been involved with have been used for the production of nylon, plastics, antifreeze, fertilizers, explosives, insulation materials, pharmaceuticals (Tylenol), tires, preformed shower stalls, boat hulls, wood preservatives, and probably many others that my old brain has forgotten. All of these products are derivatives or by-products of fossil fuels.
Have the alarmist environmentalists ever considered the advantages of these products, or where they would come from if we eliminated fossil fuels? Perhaps Energy Czar John Kerry should consider these advantages as he rides his Gulfstream GIV-SP private jet around the world burning 415 gallons of fossil fuel-based aviation fuel each and every hour.
Peter Gilderson, Madison.