ATTN: California Prop 23 Voters: How the “Scientific Consensus” on Global Warming Affects American Business—and Consumers

How the “Scientific Consensus” on Global Warming Affects American Business—and Consumers
Published on October 26, 2010 by Nicolas Loris

Abstract: The only consensus over the threat of climate change that seems to exist these days is that there is no consensus. The much-heralded 2007 United Nations report on greenhouse gas emissions has served as a catalyst for lawmakers to burden traditional energy sources with regulations in favor of so-called clean energy. The private sector has begun to “chase” these policies, shaping business decisions to align with policies preferred by politicians, not the market or the public. Recent revelations of erroneous and misleading data in the report have led many to question the wisdom of government-mandated emissions caps and costly energy-efficiency regulations. Instead of basing policy on a “scientific consensus” that is neither scientific nor agreed-upon, Congress should eliminate subsidies and reduce regulatory red tape—and let all energy technologies succeed or fail on their own merits. Artificially propping up a select few distorts the market and hurts American businesses—which means that the final bearers of the costs are, as usual, the taxpayers.

For years businesses and the general public have been told by mainstream climatologists that the planet is warming due to human activity and that immediate action is necessary to avoid a global catastrophe. The U.S. government relied heavily on a 2007 report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to justify the need to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) created anthropogenically. Over time, Congress enacted numerous policies to increase clean energy production, such as mandates for renewable fuels, expanded tax credits for renewable energy, and new energy efficiency targets for vehicles and appliances. All of these policies had the goal of reducing America’s carbon footprint. Congress is now seeking to expand and create new policies aimed at further reducing emissions by placing a national cap on carbon emissions and enforcing a federal mandate for renewable energy production. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency is on its own regulatory path to decrease CO2.

The business landscape consequently changed, and not for the better. Energy producers became vested stakeholders and lobbied for handouts to produce what Congress determined to be cleaner energy from cleaner sources, such as windmills, solar panels, and ethanol. Major oil companies invested in renewable energy technology to capitalize on subsidies and tax breaks while enhancing their image. Most businesses factored the threat of global warming into their daily operations and became cognizant of the threat of higher energy prices caused by government policies.

Despite vigorous dissention among the scientific community concerning the effects of anthropogenic warming, the climatologists who believe the warming to be a serious problem controlled the message for years. Simply put, they convinced the general public that global warming posed an imminent threat and drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions were necessary to prevent a catastrophe. Recent flaws discovered in the scientific assessment of climate change have shown that the scientific consensus is not as settled as the public had been led to believe. Leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit in the U.K. revealed conspiracy, exaggerated warming data, possibly illegal destruction and manipulation of data, and attempts to freeze out dissenting scientists from publishing their work in reputable journals. Furthermore, gaffes exposed in the IPCC report have only increased skepticism among businesses and the public, and raised serious questions about sacrificing economic activity to reduce CO2 emissions.

Read The Rest At the Heritage Foundation
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