Climate Change 101 A Conservative Perspective with a Focus on Solutions

climate change 101

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Conservatives have long been skeptical about climate action. Alarmist environmentalists have tried to use it to push their broader political and economic agendas at the expense of actually addressing the problem. Yet, it is a real issue, and one that we cannot afford to ignore. 

So what do we really know about climate change, and what should be done about it?

Facts vs. Myths

  • FACT: Scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring more than normal due to increasing human activity.
  • FACT: Scientific research suggests that limiting carbon emissions to 450 parts per million (ppm) will reduce the negative impacts on our climate and environment.
  • FACT: NASA research has found atmospheric carbon dioxide (C02) to be historically high and that global sea levels have risen approximately 8 inches in the last century.
  • MYTH: Climate change will lead to global destruction in 10 – 20 years.

The Cost of Climate Change

  • The U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) Report on Effects of A Changing Climate to the Department of Defense notes that climate change increases geopolitical risk.
    • “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations.”
  • The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) analysis indicates that the cost of climate change to the U.S. will be experienced through:
    • Crop failures, lower agricultural yields, and decreased fishing harvests
    • Increased wildfires and heat-related mortality
    • Increased coastal infrastructure damage due to rising sea levels
    • Increased damage from tropical storms and extreme weather events at an increased annual cost of up to $112 billion per year by mid-century.

Mandates vs. Markets

  • Progressive policies would amount to economic deforestation. The “Green New Deal” would wreck our economy, costing U.S. taxpayers almost $100 trillion  and doing very little to curb global emissions or temperatures.
  • Markets incentivize efficiency and technological innovation. For example, the shale gas revolution has reduced U.S. emissions by 12% since 2005. In competitive energy markets like Texas, renewable energies such as wind are increasingly beating coal in terms of cost-efficiency, while maintaining very low electricity prices. Many of the latest innovations in next-generation nuclear, hydrogen, and carbon capture technology are propelled by the private sector. 

Haven’t We Already Made a Lot of Progress?  Yes.

  • On Clean Energy . . .
    • The U.S. has experienced record economic growth while reducing carbon emissions because of innovations in natural gas and renewable energy.
    • Renewable electricity in the U.S. has doubled since 2008 and is now our fastest growing energy source.
  • On Infrastructure Resiliency . . .
    • Since 2007, over 282 miles of levee improvements and 36,000 acres of land have benefitted through mitigation efforts in Louisiana. Many other states are also pursuing avenues to weatherize and modernize their critical infrastructure.
  • On Agriculture Innovation . . .
    • Farmers have become more efficient in their farming, producing more food using fewer land and resources. 
    • Since 1990, per-unit greenhouse gas emissions related to beef production have declined by 9%, milk-related emissions have declined by 25%, and soybean-related emissions are down nearly 20%.

How To Accelerate Clean Energy Innovation in America

  • Accelerate American-Made Innovation
    • Increase federal investments in R&D.
    • Restructure the U.S. Department of Energy to support this transition.
    • Reduce taxes and regulations on energy entrepreneurship and innovation. 
  • Remove Regulatory Barriers to Clean Energy and Reduce Government Waste
    • Reform the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
    • Streamline permitting for clean energy and energy efficiency projects, including: renewable energy, nuclear energy, hydropower, geothermal, and others.
    • Reduce government waste identified by the GAO annually.
  • Encourage Smart Adaptation & Mitigation Policies
    • Encourage individual, local and state responsibility.
    • Adopt better forest management and building practices.
    • Reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to increase private sector participation and decrease federal taxpayers’ liability.
    • Improve infrastructure along coastlines including levees, roads, bridges, waterways, and elevation of structures.

Summary:

  • Scientific evidence and data points to the fact that climate change is occurring faster than normal, in large part due to human activity. 
  • What the science does not justify, however, is the alarmism that progressive policies such as the Green New Deal promote. Moreover, such policies are counter-productive, placing higher tax and regulatory burdens on the American people, without really incentivizing innovation.
  • We should address climate change through innovation, adaptation & mitigation, entrepreneurship, and free markets.

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