OCALA, Fla., May 19, 2014 — Public concern over climate change has died down over the last few years. This lack of attention on climate change offers the ability to discuss it in earnest.
“If you look at both the science and the empirical evidence, the hypothesis of man-made climate change just doesn’t add up,” Steve Goreham of the Heartland Institute, a group which opposes the idea that humans cause global warming, told me in 2012.
He continued: “Regarding the science, theory of man-made climate change claims that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are boosting Earth’s greenhouse effect and causing dangerous global warming. But if you break down the greenhouse effect, man’s contribution is small. First, water vapor, not carbon dioxide, is Earth’s dominant greenhouse gas. Somewhere between 75 percent and 90 percent of Earth’s greenhouse effect is due to water vapor and clouds.
“Second, of the remaining part of the greenhouse effect that is caused by CO2 and methane, about 96 percent of this is caused by natural emissions from oceans, the biosphere, and volcanoes. This means that man-made emissions are only causing about one percent of Earth’s greenhouse effect. Even if we could eliminate all industrial emissions, the change in global temperature would be too small to even detect.
“Regarding the empirical evidence, all of the climate models predict a heating of the low atmosphere in Earth’s tropical regions. This atmospheric ‘hot spot’ must be present if dangerous climate change were occurring. But thousands of temperature measurements over the last 25 years by satellites and weather balloons do not show this hot spot, powerful evidence that the climate models are wrong.
“In addition, global temperatures have not increased for at least 10 years. In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted a global rise in temperatures of 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade. Twenty-two years later, global temperatures remain far below even the lowest IPCC estimate.”
Bob Inglis served South Carolina’s fourth congressional district for six non-consecutive terms. Based in the Greenville suburbs, he started out as a fairly routine conservative Republican. During the latter half of his tenure, however, his views moderated considerably. After Barack Obama was elected president, Inglis refused to adopt the angry temperament that became routine for many on the right.
During the 2010 primary cycle, he lost to a Tea Party-backed challenger by an almost unbelievable 42 points.
Today, Rep. Inglis devotes his career to protecting and promoting environmental interests. Unlike many environmental activists, he looks to free enterprise to find solutions for the most daunting environmental challenges.
“The National Academy of Sciences was established a long time ago (by President Lincoln) to help Congress and the President with scientific questions,” he told me, also in 2012. “They’ve said, ‘Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for—and in many cases is already affecting—a broad range of human and natural systems.’ At the Energy and Enterprise Initiative you won’t hear us talking about apocalyptic visions. You will hear us talking about reasonable risk avoidance. The science clearly indicates a risk; let’s move to reduce that risk.”
Rep. Inglis went on to mention that “(w)e conservatives have the answer to the energy and climate challenge: it’s free enterprise in an accountable market place where there are no subsidies for any fuels and where all fuels are accountable for all of their costs—including the health costs of their emissions. Citizens making individual decisions in the liberty of enlightened self-interest will lead us to a wealth-creating/job-creating energy revolution.
“We don’t need clumsy government regulations or fickle tax incentives; we need an accountable marketplace. Of course, consumers will need some way to pay for that innovation, so we’re proposing that any new emissions tax be coupled with either a dollar-for-dollar reduction or elimination of taxes on some form of income (individual income taxes, corporate income taxes or payroll taxes) or with some form of a rebate to taxpayers. The idea is to change what we tax. What conservative wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to reduce taxes on something we want more of (income) and shift the tax onto something we want less of (emissions)?”
Regardless of whether or not one supports the position that climate change is a natural phenomenon, there can be little doubt that common ground is difficult to reach on environmental policy. Only a short while ago, finding consensus on what was best for the environment was not such a partisan debacle.
Rep. Inglis offered some words of wisdom on the matter: “The pain of the Great Recession has had us necessarily focused on this month’s mortgage payment and this month’s paycheck. But solutions are usually found on a longer time horizon than that. If we can focus on that longer time horizon, we can find American solutions. First, though, we’ve got to give up on this divisive scapegoat hunt that some partisans have led us on.”