The Green bridge to nowhere
By Peter Murphy
Mankind’s attempt to control the climate is going to be very, very costly – to you. Even worse, there is no guarantee of any benefit, environmental, planetary, or otherwise.
Every version of the Green New Deal proposed by various politicians will cost trillions of taxpayer dollars in the near term, which the politicians themselves acknowledge. What will such massive costs buy for America? Not much. More likely, it will benefit nothing and no one – not the consumer, not the worker, and likely not the planet. That makes this investment not just a bad bet; it is reckless.
By some measures, the average global temperature has warmed by 0.5 degrees Celsius in the last 40-plus years, since the late 1970’s when some scientists were predicting further cooling and, in some cases, another ice age. The previous “Little Ice Age” ended approximately one century prior, in the late 1800s, when the planet began an overall warming trend no thanks to any Green New Deal at the time, but by nature itself.
Let us assume the warming trend continues over the next 40 to 80 years, and the average global temperature becomes 1.5 to 2 degrees higher by the turn of the century in 2100, as was recently predicted by two prominent global warming scientists. Would anyone notice the temperature change, and would it matter? Such a small, gradual climate change—assuming the trend continued—would not melt the Arctic or Antarctic ice shelves outside of their normal summer cycles. Cold winters will remain north and south, respectively, of the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
If, as predicted by some computer climate models, carbon emissions were reduced by diminishing fossil fuel use, more electric cars, retrofitted buildings, etc., there is no guarantee the climate itself would change, or that warming would cease. There are many other factors that affect the Earth’s climate, including sunspot activity, cloud impact, and ocean currents – changes to which could warm or cool the planet, regardless of man-made activity. Such has been the case for millennia.
With this uncertainty, how can it be worth spending trillions of dollars in taxpayer and private sector money to attempt to thwart a warming of one degree in the next 40 years, or two degrees in the next 80 years? Still, nearly every politician running for president of the United States thinks it is, regardless whether they are labeled “socialist” or “moderate.”
The latest set of climate policies have been proposed by Presidential candidate, Michael Bloomberg, along with a blizzard of taxes to finance them. Mr. Bloomberg’s plan would raise taxes by $5 trillion over the next ten years, including higher rates on income, capital gains and estate taxes on the wealthy.
These tax hikes would fall well short of the cost of his and other climate polices. The risk of implementing such a plan is that the economy would shrink and everyone except the super-wealthy would suffer from less investment and fewer jobs and opportunities. The economy cannot risk taxing $5 trillion and borrowing trillions more from the private sector and expect no economic blowback. Meanwhile, does anyone believe Bloomberg and countless other elites would relinquish their carbon-spewing private jets and multiple mansions?
Millionaires and billionaires, a.k.a., the “top one percent,” will not be the only ones paying for a Green New Deal, whatever the version. Nearly every American—rich, poor and in-between—would be harmed financially, whether from higher taxes, higher energy bills, lost jobs, or a combination of all three. There is no free lunch; there is no escape.
When energy alone costs more, it raises the cost of everything else since energy is needed to produce and transport everything else. That means higher prices for food, rent, clothing, travel, recreation and whatever else you would purchase on-line or buy from a store.
Members of the U.S. Congress often are criticized for wasteful spending, labeled pejoratively as “pork barrel” projects. One famous example years ago was the multi-million dollar “Bridge to Nowhere” that would have connected a remote, sparsely populated island in the state of Alaska to the mainland.
Yet, numerous, prominent politicians in the present day think nothing of the idea of taxing, borrowing and spending trillions of dollars in the hope that the temperature doesn’t warm by an average of one or two degrees in the next eight decades.
Call it a metaphorical Green New Bridge to Nowhere.
Peter Murphy, a CFACT analyst, has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the New York Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post and the Wall Street Journal.