Fossil foolishness: Biden’s tragically regressive EPA Rule

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Beholden to Progressives for his razor-thin, contested victory in 2020, President Joe Biden is paying forward his climate alarmist supporters as the 2024 election nears. He does so by proposing an EPA Rule which would, by imposing impossible CO2 emissions standards, effectively ban existing fossil fuel power plants. 

The scientific opposition to this proposed Rule, luckily for our society, is led by MIT Professor Emeritus Richard Lindzen and Princeton Professor Emeritus William Happer. We say “luckily” because each is over seventy years of age, has a world-class reputation, and is neither dependent, as are younger, ambitious scientists, on governmental imprimatur for their publications, nor on bureaucratic stipends for research. In short, these two brilliant academics are at the very top rung of the climate field, with no suggestion of the bias and corruption necessarily plaguing most striving climate scientists. 

Because the mainstream media have uncritically latched on to a cartoonish view of the science, most citizens have been provided a silly, jejune view of the supposed twin evils of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide. They have been assured that with main reliance on “alternative” energy, all will be well. So let us briefly dispel the journalistic pap that passes as meaningful information.  

Starting first with the conclusion, as the highly respected Bjorn Lomborg demonstrates, that in the unlikely event that the world, including the recalcitrant China and India, all gets on board with extreme alarmist remedies, at a crippling cost into the trillions, the climate alleviation by year 2100 would be a trivial .3 degrees Celsius lower than otherwise. Efforts by the U.S. alone would accomplish a less than .01-degree cooling versus the alternative.  

But what harm, besides the waste of money, would be caused by a proposed “cleaner” planet? As Lindzen and Happer show, the EPA’s proposed restriction of CO2 actually starves plant life of its food. The more CO2 in the atmosphere, the “greener” the world gets, and the more abundant the arable land for impoverished peoples, including much of Africa. As CO2 rises, plants need not keep open as long their stomata, their openings to inhale CO2, when water is transpired. CO2, in sum, increases crop yields and preserves water otherwise wasted.

But that is not all.  The most effective fertilizers require a process using natural gas reacting with nitrogen, the production of which requires as well high energy from fossil fuels. The world’s food supply would thus plummet about fifty percent without these manufactured supplements, causing it to decrease from abundance to deficit. Millions of the poor would starve, but not to worry, because climate alarmist scientists would still dine out on their generous government grants.

But what should be widely known about the science is that CO2 has at best such a mild effect on climate as to be virtually undiscernible. 

The world warmed considerably without any CO2 assistance during the Minoan Warm Period, which enabled the societal advancements of the Bronze Age. After cooling, the world warmed again during the Roman Warming, producing another great civilization. It ended when another periodic cooling began around 400 A.D., and the Upper Mongolian crops began to fail, causing Attila the Hun to head southward to begin the cascading tribal raids which eventually led to barbarians at Rome’s gates.  

The Medieval Warming Period (850-1250) featured, in addition to the re-blooming of civilization, barley farms in Greenland, grapes in Newfoundland (“Vinland” to Leif Erickson) and citrus trees at Hadrian’s Wall on England’s northern border.  

Even during our current period, most of our warming occurred from 1750 to 1950, the later years of which had trivial increases in CO2, the earlier years, none. Since 1950 CO2 has increased significantly, but why should we believe that this has caused most of our current warming, if prior increases over the millennia, including our current warming epoch, had no correlation with CO2? In fact, the computer models relied upon by alarmists to “prove” CO2-induced warming, as Lindzen and Happer show, have over-predicted, by a factor of three, warming in the present era, while these models fall absurdly short of “backcasting” the horrendous Dustbowl warming of the 1930s.

So, it stands to reason that warming, which is beneficial for our civilization, has little to do with CO2.  

But isn’t it scientifically “proven” that “most” of our current warming comes from CO2?  After all, our media has been fed the IPCC’s Summaries for Policymakers (SPM), breathlessly reporting a warming crisis ad nauseum.  

But Lindzen and Happer alertly note that the written report of the consensus of investigative scientists, prepared for the 1995 IPCC Report, entitled “Climate Change 1995”, firmly noted that CO2 had not been shown to be any meaningful cause of the current warming:

“No study to date has positively attributed all or part (of the climate warming observed to manmade) causes.  

None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed (climate) changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.”  

If these IPCC-endorsed scientists so concluded, why have we been constantly told the opposite?  Because the IPCC SPM is prepared, not by IPCC scientists, but by its governmental directors, all bureaucrats from multiple countries who would not wish to forfeit their dole.  After considering the scientists’ report, they transmogrified it for the SPM to read:

“The balance of evidence suggests a discernable human influence on global climate.”

In other words, the IPCC bureaucrats proclaimed in the widely read SPM the exact opposite of what its scientists had found. The consequent sensational alarmism which ensued as a result of this 1995 SPM, then, has been based upon deliberate falsity.  

Moreover, as Lindzen and Happer observed, what little effect CO2 has, when compared to any slight change in the far more ubiquitous and wide-spectrum greenhouse gas, water vapor, shows that CO2 is not the climate “control knob” postulated. Significantly, the impact of CO2 diminishes as its concentration increases.  

Why would that be? Because CO2, unlike water vapor, has only a limited absorption band capturing escaping longwave infrared radiation, which band becomes increasingly saturated as CO2 concentrations rise.  

Lindzen and Happer show that if our current CO2 level of around 420 ppm is doubled, unlikely to occur for generations, the increase in temperature would be less than one-degree Centigrade.  Even climate alarmists, per the Paris Accords, agree that any increase under two degrees is not worrying.

Meanwhile, for millions of years, humans have lived lives of hand-to-mouth subsistence. Only the past two hundred and some years of fossil fuel availability has Western civilization seen unprecedented human flourishing, with abundant food, shelter and clothing, higher incomes, luxury, and longer, healthier lives.  

We take for granted our electronic devices, our efficient automobiles, our convenient airline transportation, our immediate and convenient access to goods worldwide.  The numbers of impoverished throughout the world are plummeting and starvation decreasing markedly.  

But thanks to Joe Biden’s mindless pandering to a coterie of generously funded nonprofit and bureaucratic retainers, our civilization risks further devolving, not evolving.  

The choice is stark.  We can dramatically change our lives for the worse based upon insipid advice emanating from the mansions of C-students Joe Biden and Al Gore, or we can heed the advice of the world’s greatest climate scientists Richard Lindzen and William Happer and continue to improve lives worldwide.  

Civilizational suicide or widespread human flourishing?  Much of the answer hinges on the ill-advised Rule which the EPA foolishly seeks to adopt.   


John D. O’Connor is a former federal prosecutor and the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the author of the books, Postgate: How the Washington Post Betrayed Deep Throat, Covered Up Watergate and Began Today’s Partisan Advocacy Journalism and The Mysteries of Watergate: What Really Happened.


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