Skip to Primary Navigation Skip to Primary Content Skip to Footer Navigation

High Anxiety

By:
Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Jul 16, 2019  at  at 6:00 AM
Category
Climate Change

Numerous factors are causing high anxiety in the climate science and environmental communities and among US politicians:

  • the current US Administration’s skepticism regarding climate change;
  • the impending 2020 elections in the US;
  • the proposed President’s Commission on Climate Security; 
  • the legal challenge to the EPA 2009 Endangerment Finding;
  • recent research suggesting lower climate sensitivity to increased CO2;
  • acknowledgement that the climate models are “running hot”; and,
  • the call for improved near-surface temperature measurement.

Perhaps the most dramatic manifestation of this high anxiety is the proposal for a Green New Deal, which was announced with great fanfare by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D, NY) and Senator Edward Markey (D, MA) and is supported by half of the announced Democrat candidates for President. This approximately $100 trillion proposal combines rapid decarbonization of the US economy with a progressive wish list of environmental justice and social justice programs. The rallying cry of its supporters asserts that we have 12 years to save the planet, though rapid decarbonization of the US economy would have no measurable effect on climate change on a global scale.

A second political manifestation of this high anxiety is the formation of a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis by the majority in the US House of Representatives. This action, like the Green New Deal, assumes that the climate is in crisis and would focus on how to avert the worst perceived effects of that crisis. The fact that there is no apparent crisis appears to be of little concern to the House majority, though it is apparently the reason for the lack of concern regarding climate change among US voters.

Yet another political manifestation is the recent commitment of $500 million by financier and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg to support an enhanced lobbying effort to end the use of coal in the US. There are also ongoing efforts to end oil and gas exploration on public lands and to limit the use of hydraulic fracturing to enhance natural gas production. These efforts are accompanied by persistent demands that the US economy transition to 100% renewables by 2050. However, several prominent figures including former NASA GISS Director James Hansen, Bill Gates and Michael Shellenberger assert that 100% renewables is impractical and that nuclear energy will be required to satisfy US energy needs in a future, decarbonized economy.

The Administration’s positions regarding climate change have led to numerous personal attacks. One 2020 Democrat presidential candidate has described the President’s position regarding climate change as “treason”.  The New York Times has described his actions as “an attack on climate science”. Professor Michael Mann has described the proposed Commission on Climate Security as “Stalinist”.

Meanwhile, there is far less public anxiety within the climate science community regarding: the progressive falsification of the existing ensemble of climate models; the perceived need to improve near-surface temperature measurement and eliminate temperature data “adjustment”; uncertainties in sea level rise measurements; and, the lack of any apparent linkage between climate change and extreme weather events.

It appears that the “settled science” is not quite as settled as the climate science community, politicians and the media would have us believe.