Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
President Barack Obama’s speech on global warming to the United Nations yesterday was based on fantasy. Here are some quotes from the speech followed by the reality.
Obama ”...[T]he threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.”
Reality Global mean temperatures increased slightly from 1977 to 2000. Temperatures have been flat since then.
Obama “Rising sea levels threaten every coastline.”
Reality Sea levels have been rising on and off since the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago. The rate of sea level rise has not increased in recent decades over the 19th and 20th century average.
Obama “More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.”
Reality There is no upward global trend in storms or floods.
Obama “More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive.”
Reality There is no upward global trend in major droughts. Reversals in large-scale cycles have meant that the southward march of the Sahara Desert into the Sahel has been reversed in recent years and the Sahara is now shrinking.
Obama “On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees.”
Reality Some Pacific islanders may want to emigrate to New Zealand or Australia and are claiming that their islands are disappearing as the reason, but shrinkage has been minimal in recent decades because sea level rise has been minimal.
President Obama’s policy prescriptions are energy rationing and energy poverty disguised as growth and prosperity. The emissions reductions that he promises the United States will make through cap-and-trade legislation are dead in the water in the U.S. Senate and would not survive a second vote in the U.S. House. If enacted, cap-and-trade would consign the economy to perpetual stagnation and make the U.S. into a second-rate economic power.
His policy prescription for poor countries is to promise them massive “financial and technical assistance”. The track record of paying off poor countries is that it has lined the pockets of corrupt leaders and bureaucracies with billions and tens of billions of dollars, but has done nothing to help those countries become prosperous. What these countries need is free markets and abolishing barriers to trade. The global warming policies advocated by the Obama Administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress would raise trade barriers and foster energy poverty throughout the world. Energy rationing is not the way forward and is not a message of hope for the poorest people in the world, who lack access to electricity and modern transportation.