Launching the Counter-Offensive: A Sensible Sense of Congress Resolution on Climate Change

Lewis Issue Analysis, 2004 No. 3

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Despite a surge in activism, at home and abroad, in courts and legislatures, in the media and regulatory bodies, climate alarmists have scored few if any victories at the national level. Supporters of pro-growth energy policy have done a reasonably good job of fending off several major thrusts by climate alarmists during the 108th Congress—a leading case in point being the Senate’s 55-43 rejection of the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act in October 2003.

However, in politics, as in war, staying permanently on defense rarely leads to victory. A purely defensive posture cedes the initiative to one’s opponents, allowing the other team to generate the headlines, capture the public imagination, and frame the terms of debate.

The battle over climate policy is a protracted struggle. To win it, the friends of economic liberty, scientific inquiry, and affordable energy must advance their own vision and compel alarmists to react to it. Taking a leaf out of Sen. McCain’s (R-Ariz.) playbook, they should introduce their own “Sense of Congress” resolution on climate change, recruit co-sponsors, and “force votes” on the bill, year after year, until it passes.

This paper aims to provide the scientific, economic, and moral underpinnings of a sensible Sense of Congress resolution on climate change. Its findings and recommendations may be summarized as follows:

Given the growing evidence that any anthropogenic global warming will likely be at the low-end (1.4°C, 2.5°F) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) projections, the weak and even fictional basis of climate disaster scenarios, the high cost and negligible benefit of mandatory carbon dioxide reductions, the manifest superiority of no-regrets approaches that make societies safer by making them wealthier, the high susceptibility of energy rationing schemes to special interest manipulation and political abuse, the abundantly documented ecological and nutritional benefits of carbon dioxide aerial fertilization, and the vital importance of affordable energy to human flourishing, Kyoto-style regulation is not a responsible policy option.