By Jay Ambrose
He got cute the other day, President Barack Obama did. Making a speech about global warming and people who don’t see solutions his way, he said the judgment of science is conclusive, all objections have been vanquished and “we don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society.”
Obama himself is a flat-earther. How else would you describe someone who ceremoniously overlooks three years’ worth of scientific study watched over by a goodly portion of the federal government and summed up in eight volumes of precise, explicit, verifiable detail?
He did that, listening not to the findings of research on the Keystone XL Pipeline that said, look, this project is safe, or to the State Department that had been principally in charge. It said, go ahead, let’s lay these pipes from Canada to Texas, thus helping secure a reliable energy future.
No, even though the pipeline would provide hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil every day, thousands of jobs and billions upon billions of dollars to the economy, he delayed it in 2011 after some radical environmentalists said this old world of ours would be kaput with Keystone.
The fear was that this tar sands oil would emit disastrous amounts of carbon dioxide, but, if you want to get back to science, here’s what it says: It would add a fraction of 1 percent to our emissions of carbon dioxide each year. And by the way, if we weren’t using that oil, China would, and carbon dioxide from China gets in the atmosphere and has a greenhouse effect as surely as carbon dioxide from the United States. Does Obama know that?
I’ve written about all of this before, quoting much of the above data from Adam J. White, a D.C. lawyer who crafted a superb piece for the Weekly Standard, and am writing about it again because, in his supercilious speech on warming the other day, Obama incredibly said we had to check out the pipeline’s climate impact before giving it the go-ahead. There’s a lot of talk these days about low-information voters, and I guess Obama believes they were his listeners. High-information voters would know we’ve been checking out this pipeline since 2008. It’s OK.
The pipeline stuff was a small piece of what he discussed, but it is representative of the miscast notions of much of the rest of the Obama plan. Besides frowning at the pipeline, the strategy may eventually stop energy companies from burning coal here and do what’s possible to stop it abroad. And, says the Heritage Foundation, we will thus see an increase in the price of natural gas, the substitute. The plan will also plow public money into private green-energy projects that will succeed without help if they have what it takes and will fail and again test the ability of Obama to make excuses if they don’t.
All of this adds up to still more wasteful spending, higher energy costs for one and all, fewer jobs and no help to speak of on global warming.
You see, as scientists absolutely affirm, the United States acting alone can’t do the job. Fixing global warming, if it can be fixed, requires a global effort. Much of the world is gradually pulling itself out of poverty and would have to pull still harder with less success if it adopted anti-warming measures. That’s not going to happen, and meanwhile, we should all note that the production of ever more natural gas through fracking was already reducing carbon emissions here without government intervention that inevitably has unintended consequences.
Whatever else you want to believe about the warming debate — and there is more of a debate than Obama admits — understand that no national rescue mission in and of itself will rescue anyone and that some measures can do positive harm.
— Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. E-mail: SpeaktoJay@aol.com.
Scripps Howard News Service