Climate policies vs. nature
By Peter Murphy
They took all the trees, put ‘em in a tree museum.
–Joni Mitchell, from “Big Yellow Taxi” (1970)
The great singer/songwriter, Joni Mitchell’s hit song quoted above was an environmental anthem a half century ago when the American public recognized and took action to mitigate a range of environmental problems, including air and water pollution, endangered species, waste disposal and more.
There are numerous success stories as a result of these actions. Air and water quality are cleaner than ever in America and the bald eagle no longer is endangered, among many examples.
Climate hysteria pervasive in government, entertainment, corporate and educational circles is moving the U.S. backwards from protecting nature and the environment and becoming hazardous. Climate change policies are inexorably ruining our forests, landscapes, farmland, seashores and mountain ranges, along with animal habitats, sea life and even household pets, all of which true environmentalists are supposed to care. Today’s climate dogmatists instead have relegated these environmental issues to the fantastical pursuit of “zero carbon,” that is, nature, wildlife and open space are so yesterday. Examples abound:
- A single electric-powered passenger car requiresa 750-pound battery comprised of rare cobalt (30 lbs.), lithium (25 lbs.), nickel (60 lbs.) and other more common materials found below the surface. The mining necessary to produce EVs to replace millions of gasoline vehicles in America is environmentally destructive. Globally, about 400 new mines are needed in the next dozen years to fulfill EV goals. With only one lithium mine operating in the U.S., many more will need to open domestically (with associated environmental risks) or we will continue to rely upon, and be vulnerable to, China and its growing list of global allies adversarial to America. Did I mention EV batteries are an explosive fire hazard when flooded?
- It takes about 32 acres of solar panels to powera small municipality of 1,000 homes, which gets complicated at night and when raining. Present day solar power produces over 100 gigawatts of energy, which supplies about 3 percent of U.S. electricity, but requires nearly 1,000 square miles of land, equivalent to the state of Rhode Island. Plus, the materials mined from the Earth and the carbon-based energy essential to manufacture, install and dispose of solar panels virtually negate the stated purpose of solar energy (and puts a lie to the “renewable” energy label).
- Wind turbines are increasingly littering landscapes and mountain ranges across America. For minimal efficiency, turbinesmust be at least one-third of a mile apart in wide open space, with a single turbine generating a mere 2 megawatts of energy when the wind blows. There are an estimated 71,000 in the country and growing. As with solar panels, it’s going to take exponentially more of them for America to go “net carbon neutral,” which means a lot more forests, animal habits and birds disappearing. The film Planet of the Humans illustrated this wind turbine calamity by showing acres of trees in Vermont’s Green Mountain Forest being clear-cut to install them. The latest evidence of the folly of wind turbines comes from Germany, where some are being demolished to allow for the expansion of an adjacent coal mine in order to supply desperately needed and reliable energy for winter.
- Offshore wind turbines not only are a blight to ocean and mountain views, more importantly they are threatening marine life such as migratory whalesand killing approximately 150,000 birds and bats annually.
- Even household petsare in the cross-hairs from some climate activists since they are supposedly contributing to global warming.
Policies to address the politically manufactured “climate emergency” amount to a multi-trillion-dollar taxpayer waste of solutions in search of a problem; solutions that increasingly threaten actual environmental progress.
If you listen to baby-boomer or younger climate activists, especially certain celebrities, media personalities and politicians, you can be forgiven for thinking global warming began in the early 1980s, after the bottom fell out regarding predictions of mass, worldwide starvation and an imminent ice age.
The planet Earth has had climate and resulting temperature fluctuations for thousands of years of recorded history, influenced by factors way beyond greenhouse gases. Far more widespread climate changes going back millions of years occurred, including the several ice ages. Wouldn’t you know that every ice age and cooling of the planet came without banning incandescent light bulbs, adopting meatless Fridays or mandating electric vehicles, windmills and solar panels?
Climate is indeed changing. It always has and always will. No man-made governmental climate edicts will materially affect this planetary reality. If we stipulate that the Biden administration’s forced “transition” to supposedly “renewable” energy will have a slight climate impact, it’s not worth rolling back 50 years environmental stewardship and is fruitless besides due to the ever-growing carbon fuel consumption of industrializing nations that is overwhelming America’s foolhardy and costly attempts at carbon mitigation.
The climate industrial complex that demands action with its relentless push for more wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles, won’t be putting the lost trees in a “tree museum” as Joni Mitchell admonished. Rather, they are grinding them to dust along with the great American outdoors.
Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT. He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: https://www.petermurphylgs.com/