Tuesday, March 09, 2021

1889 Institute: False Alarm -- Climate Change is not going to kill us all

False Alarm: Climate Change is not Going to Kill Us All
By Spencer Cadavaro

In recent years, apocalyptic predictions of climate change have been popular. As politicians and activists push their preferred policies to supposedly prevent climate change, their claims of what will happen if we do not adopt them grow more severe. One politician claimed, "The world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change." I remember hearing similar predictions while growing up in the early 2000s about the ozone layer and polar ice caps. But their fearmongering overstates the dangers posed by a changing climate, and their solutions are unlikely to fix the problem. Indeed, their solutions will likely cause even more problems, especially for states where fossil fuels are a staple of their economy.

One of the more radical proposals to fight climate change involves making the United States carbon neutral by a specific year, such as 2030 or 2050. To do this, activists want to transition to an electrical grid that runs on renewable energy sources. Such a process would be expensive, costing nearly $6 trillion. Beyond the dollar cost, such an act would require massive amounts of land. According to an analysis by the Brookings Institute, wind and solar generation need ten times as much land to produce a similar amount of energy as coal or natural gas. We simply do not have the land necessary to make this happen.

Even at such a cost, oftentimes, changes to renewable energy sources do not provide significant reductions in carbon emissions. On average, solar power can operate at capacity only 25.7% of the time, and wind power can only operate 34.6% of the time. Due to this inconsistent generation, these energy sources require reserve generation, which often comes from traditional fossil fuels, but burned less efficiently than traditional generation. If fossil fuels are banned, then the United States could face challenges with rolling blackouts. Last year, California experienced its first rolling blackout in 20 years due to government officials' failure to account for inadequacies in the state's solar production.

Despite all of the alarmism and doomsday predictions from climate activists, there is reason to be optimistic about our current situation. Humans have an amazing capacity to adapt and innovate. The world has been improving over the last century. Natural disasters are portrayed as evidence of the disastrous effect of man on climate change. However, these disasters are not a new phenomenon, either in frequency or severity. In fact, deaths from natural disasters across the board have decreased dramatically since 1900. This is largely due to human ingenuity and innovation. So, whatever challenges do come our way, mankind can overcome them without costly government mandates and programs, and without the constant and harmful fearmongering of some climate activists.

Spencer Cadavero is a research associate at the 1889 Institute.