Climate alarmism—the end-of-the-world scenarios of dangerously warming climate, allegedly caused by human emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere—is becoming an increasingly mainstream view. This is fueled by the media that have abandoned objective (fact-based) journalism for environmentalist, anti-human advocacy.
These media casually attribute extreme weather events (the rate of which has not increased since the Industrial Revolution) and any temperature fluctuations to man-made climate change. The media also valorize climate change crusaders, such as Greta Thunberg, who claim that they act on the basis of science and thus occupy the moral high ground.
With climate alarmism and “extinction” protests now in the mainstream, it is no wonder that most people consider the alleged man-made catastrophic climate change an established fact, and advocate curtailing carbon “pollution” or even banning fossil fuels altogether.
I have had some eye-opening discussions with well-educated people, including those in business, who have fallen for the end-of-the-world scenarios and who insist that we must abandon fossil fuel energy (oil, gas, and coal) and adopt renewable energy sources (wind and solar) so as to stop emitting CO2. These alarmist argue that we must do this now, before it is too late and we destroy the planet and ourselves.
In calling for giving up fossil fuels, the climate alarmists have also abandoned concern for human well-being and flourishing. Although they claim to be wanting to preserve the planet for future generations, they ignore that such a goal cannot be achieved by sacrificing the present generations. As Alex Epstein has demonstrated, human flourishing in the long term depends on access to abundant, affordable, and reliable energy. It is such energy that powers agriculture, industrial production, transportation, health care (incubators, respirators, operating rooms, etc.), and heating and cooling of homes and workplaces.
The only source for such energy today are the fossil fuels: about 80% of the world’s energy at present. Close to 20% of world’s energy comes from (the non-CO2-emitting) nuclear fission—which is only suitable for some energy uses and which many environmentalists also oppose. Solar and wind, which are not reliably available, constitute about 1% of world’s energy and are not profitable yet with current technology.
It is not possible to scale up the renewable energy sources to replace all fossil fuels within the end-of-the world scenario deadlines, which seem to vary from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 12 years to somewhere around 50 years—unless we are willing to plunge most of the world’s population back into the poverty and misery of the pre-Industrial Revolution era.
Yet, in their anti-CO2 and anti-fossil-fuel fervor, the climate alarmists insist on substituting fossil fuels by renewable energy. They claim that their argument is based on science (and that those who question their alarmism, are deniers of science).
These arguments of the climate alarmists reveal their limited understanding of science, which is due to many factors. Many equate science with climate models, which are only one attempt to advance our understanding of climate. A problem with such models is that they are only as good as the assumptions that they are based on.
For example, the models assume that there is a direct causal relationship between CO2 and global temperature, when only an imperfect correlation has been observed. There is also some long-term historic evidence of an opposite causal relationship: higher global temperature leads to higher atmospheric CO2 levels.
The climate models also assume that higher than present CO2 levels in the atmosphere are harmful. The fact is that the current level, about 400 ppm, is close to a historic low. CO2 is an essential plant food that all life depends on, and even 20 times higher level is considered beneficial.
The more complex the phenomenon to be modeled, the more assumptions need to be made, and the more difficult it is to develop accurate models. The inability of the existing models to predict climate shows this.
To learn more about the science of climate change, listen to the interview of Dr. Patrick Moore, ecologist and the co-founder and former member of Greenpeace here, or any of his presentations available on Youtube.
The real science behind climate change explained by Patrick Moore, as opposed to the inaccurate climate models, should be the basis of any action we take, if human flourishing—now and in the future—is our goal. We should dismiss climate alarmists’ fear-mongering and calls for abandoning or banning fossil fuels. Instead, we should advocate freedom, including that of energy companies to develop affordable, abundant and reliable energy, from any source, for the benefit of human flourishing.