Ex­it­ing the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment

Scant ev­i­dence of ex­pected ben­e­fit means Scott Pruitt is right

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By E. Calvin Beis­ner E. Calvin Beis­ner is founder and na­tional spokesman of the Corn­wall Al­liance for the Stew­ard­ship of Cre­ation.

En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt ap­peared on “Fox & Friends” April 13 and said, “Paris is some­thing we re­ally need to look at closely, be­cause it’s some­thing we need to exit, in my opin­ion.” Why? “It’s a bad deal for Amer­ica. … China and In­dia had no obli­ga­tions un­der the agree­ment un­til 2030, we front­loaded all of our costs, at the ex­pense of jobs.” That’s a good start. It should res­onate well with Amer­i­cans who use elec­tric­ity at home or work and gas or diesel in their cars — i.e., pretty much all of us.

But if Mr. Pruitt wants to ex­pand pub­lic sup­port, he needs to make six other im­por­tant points.

First, Bjorn Lom­borg, ac­cept­ing cli­mate-change ad­vo­cates’ as­sump­tions about how much warm­ing comes from car­bon diox­ide, showed in a peer-re­viewed study that im­ple­ment­ing all pro­vi­sions of all sign­ers to Paris would pre­vent only 0.306 de­grees Fahren­heit of global warm­ing by 2100.

What would it cost? Unof­fi­cial es­ti­mates by the United States, Euro­pean Union, Mex­ico and China amount to $739–$757 bil­lion per year.

Those par­ties ac­count for about 80 per­cent of sig­na­to­ries’ emis­sions re­duc­tion pledges. Other pledges would have sim­i­lar costs per unit, im­ply­ing some­thing in the range of $185–$189 bil­lion.

All told, $924–$946 bil­lion. Per year. Ev­ery year from 2030 to the end of the cen­tury. “And that’s if the politi­cians do ev­ery­thing right. If not, the real cost could dou­ble,” Mr. Lom­borg said.

So, for $65–$132 tril­lion, we might — if the alarmists are right — re­duce global aver­age tem­per­a­ture by a third of one de­gree by 2100. That’s $212– $431 bil­lion per thou­sandth of a de­gree of cool­ing.

Se­cond, if car­bon diox­ide’s warm­ing ef­fect is smaller than alarmists al­lege, two things fol­low: First, there’s not as much warm­ing ahead to fear. Se­cond, the cool­ing ef­fect of re­duced emis­sions will be less than thought, and the cost per unit higher.

Em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence is mount­ing that the cli­mate mod­els on which cli­mat­e­change ad­vo­cates rely over­state car­bon diox­ide’s warm­ing ef­fect.

As Univer­sity of Alabama cli­ma­tol­o­gist John Christy tes­ti­fied be­fore the House Science, Space and Tech­nol­ogy Com­mit­tee March 29, the mod­els call for warm­ing of 0.389 de­grees Fahren­heit per decade. But weather bal­loon mea­sure­ments find only 0.2 de­grees Fahren­heit, satel­lite mea­sure­ments 0.211 de­grees Fahren­heit and re-analy­ses of data from ma­jor weather cen­ters around the world 0.221 de­grees Fahren­heit.

Ob­served warm­ing is about one-half to three-fifths what the mod­els pre­dict.

It’s not just “cli­mate skep­tics” who see this. Astro­physi­cist Ethan Siegel, in an ar­ti­cle meant to re­fute “cli­mate skep­tics,” re­ported that global tem­per­a­ture has been ris­ing at 0.072–0.144 de­grees Fahren­heit per decade — one-fifth to one-third the mod­eled rate.

This im­plies two things: First, car­bon­diox­ide emis­sions will drive only one-fifth to three-fifths as much warm­ing as the mod­els pre­dict. Se­cond, im­ple­ment­ing the Paris agree­ment will re­duce global tem­per­a­ture in 2100 by only one-fifth to three-fifths what Mr. Lom­borg cal­cu­lated, or 0.061–0.184 de­grees Fahren­heit.

That raises the cost per thou­sandth of a de­gree of warm­ing pre­vented to $353 bil­lion to $2.16 tril­lion.

That’s money that could in­stead be used to pro­vide elec­tric­ity, drink­ing wa­ter, food, sewage san­i­ta­tion, in­fec­tious dis­ease con­trol, health care, im­proved hous­ing, ex­panded in­dus­try and other ser­vices to help the world’s poor far more than an im­per­cep­ti­ble re­duc­tion in global warm­ing.

Third, other em­pir­i­cal stud­ies give even more rea­son to think car­bon diox­ide’s warm­ing ef­fect is even smaller.

The cal­cu­la­tions above as­sumed that all ob­served warm­ing 1979–2016 was caused by ris­ing car­bon-diox­ide con­cen­tra­tion. But car­bon diox­ide is prob­a­bly not the sole or even pri­mary driver.

In a peer-re­viewed re­search re­port last fall, “On the Ex­is­tence of a ‘Trop­i­cal Hot Spot’ and the Va­lid­ity of EPA’s CO2 En­dan­ger­ment Find­ing,” Mr. Christy teamed up with me­te­o­rol­o­gist Joseph D’Aleo and econo­me­tri­cian James P. Wal­lace III to show that “there is no sta­tis­ti­cally valid proof that past in­creases in At­mo­spheric CO2 Con­cen­tra­tions have caused the of­fi­cially re­ported ris­ing” tem­per­a­tures.

Their anal­y­sis showed that, after sep­a­rat­ing out the im­pacts of the El Nino-South­ern Os­cil­la­tion, changes in so­lar ac­tiv­ity, and the 1977 “Pa­cific Shift,” no ad­di­tional warm­ing trend oc­curred over the rel­e­vant pe­riod.

Con­se­quently, no cor­re­la­tion re­mained be­tween car­bon diox­ide (rapidly ris­ing) and global tem­per­a­ture trends (flat ex­cept those driven by El Nino-South­ern Os­cil­la­tion).

Fourth, that study im­plies that the “Trop­i­cal Hot Spot” im­plied by com­puter cli­mate mod­els does not ex­ist. Since that was cru­cial to EPA’s car­bon diox­ide “en­dan­ger­ment find­ing,” the find­ing was un­jus­ti­fied and should be re­versed.

Fifth, what­ever the risks from its tiny warm­ing ef­fect, adding car­bon diox­ide to the at­mos­phere has pos­i­tive ef­fects.

Plants need car­bon diox­ide for pho­to­syn­the­sis. On aver­age, ev­ery dou­bling of at­mo­spheric car­bon-diox­ide con­cen­tra­tion causes a 35 per­cent in­crease in plant growth ef­fi­ciency.

Con­se­quently, plants in­crease their ranges and make food more abun­dant. The world’s poor ben­e­fit most. One sur­vey of hun­dreds of stud­ies con­cluded that in­creased at­mo­spheric car­bon diox­ide 1960–2012 added $3.2 tril­lion in crop yields and would add nearly $10 tril­lion more through 2050.

Sixth and fi­nally, since the en­dan­ger­ment find­ing was wrong, the EPA should re­verse it. There is no rea­son to call life-giv­ing car­bon diox­ide a pol­lu­tant, and the Paris cli­mate agree­ment re­ally is “some­thing we need to exit.”

That raises the cost per thou­sandth of a de­gree of warm­ing pre­vented to $353 bil­lion to $2.16 tril­lion.That’s money that could in­stead be used to pro­vide elec­tric­ity, drink­ing wa­ter, food, sewage san­i­ta­tion, in­fec­tious dis­ease con­trol, health care, im­proved hous­ing.

ILLUSTRATION BY GREG GROESCH

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