We Can And Must Adjust To Climate Change – And Not Kill Billions

We’ve always done so and have no right to tell others they can’t have modern living standards. Earth’s climate has changed many times over four billion years, and 99.999% of […]
Published on July 9, 2024

We’ve always done so and have no right to tell others they can’t have modern living standards.

Earth’s climate has changed many times over four billion years, and 99.999% of those changes occurred before humans were on this planet. During that short time, humans adjusted their housing, clothing and agriculture in response to climate changes. Can we now control the climate?

Except for decades-long droughts or massive volcanic explosions that ended some civilizations, humanity generally adjusted successfully – through a Pleistocene Ice Age, a Little Ice Age, a Dust Bowl and other natural crises. Numerous state high temperature records were set in Dust Bowl years.

After putting our current “microsecond” on Earth into its proper perspective, we might therefore ask:

* With today’s vastly superior technologies, why would humanity possibly be unable to adjust to even a few-degrees temperature increase, especially with more atmospheric carbon dioxide helping plants grow faster and better, providing more food for animals and people?

* How dare the political, bureaucratic, academic and media ruling elites – who propagate GIGO computer predictions, calculated myths and outright disinformation – tell us we must implement their “green” policies immediately and universally … or humanity won’t survive manmade climate influences that are minuscule compared to the planetary, solar and galactic forces that really control Earth’s climate?

* How dare those elites tell Earth’s poorest people and nations they have no right to seek energy, health and living standards akin to what developed countries already enjoy?

Scientists, geophysicists and engineers have yet to explain or prove what caused the slight change in global temperatures we are experiencing today – much less the huge fluctuations that brought five successive mile-high continental glaciers, and sea levels that plunged 400 feet each time (because seawater was turned to ice), interspersed with warm inter-glacial periods like the one we’re in now.

Moreover, none of the dire predictions of cataclysmic temperature increases, sea level rise, and more frequent and intense storms have actually occurred, despite decades of climate chaos fearmongering.

Earth continues to experience climate changes, from natural forces and/or human activity. However, adjusting to small temperature, sea level and precipitation changes would inflict far less harm on our planet’s eight billion people than would ridding the world of fossil fuels that provide 80% of our energy and myriad products that helped to nearly double human life expectancy over the past 200 years.

Today, with fuels, products, housing and infrastructures that didn’t even exist one or two centuries ago, we can adjust to almost anything.

When it’s cold, we heat insulated homes and wear appropriate winter clothing; when it’s hot, we use air conditioning and wear lighter clothing. When it rains, we remain dry inside or with umbrellas; when it snows, we stay warm indoors or ski, bobsled and build snowmen.

Climate changes may impact us in many ways. But eliminating coal, oil and natural gas – with no 24/7/365 substitutes to replace them – would be immoral and evil. It would bring extreme shortages of reliable, affordable, essential energy, and of over 6,000 essential products derived from fossil fuels.

It would inflict billions of needless deaths from diseases, malnutrition, extreme heat and cold, and wild weather – on a planet where the human population has grown from 1 billion to 8 billion since Col. Edwin Drake drilled the first oilwell in 1859.

* Weather-related fatalities have virtually disappeared, thanks to accurate forecasting, storm warnings, modern buildings, and medicines and other petroleum-based products that weren’t available even 100 years ago.

* Fossil fuels for huge long-range jets and merchant ships move people, products, food and medications to support global trade, mobility, health and lifestyle choices. Indeed, more than 50,000 merchant ships, 20,000 commercial aircraft and 50,000 military aircraft use fuels manufactured from crude oil.

* Food to feed Americans and humanity would be far less abundant and affordable without the fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and tractor and transportation fuels that come from oil and natural gas.

* Everything powered by electricity utilizes petroleum-based derivatives: wind turbine blades and nacelle covers, wire insulation, iPhone and computer housings, defibrillators, myriad EV components and more.

Petroleum industry history demonstrates that crude oil was virtually useless until it could be transformed in refineries and chemical plants into derivatives that are the foundation for plastics, solvents, medications and other products that support industries, health and living standards. The same is true for everything else that comes out of holes in the ground.

Plants and rocks, metals and minerals have no inherent value unless we learn how to cook them, extract metals from them, bend and shape them, or otherwise convert them into something we can use.

Similarly, the futures of poor developing countries hinge on their ability to harness foundational elements: fuels, electricity, , minerals and feed stocks made from fossil fuels and other materials that are the basis for all buildings, infrastructures and other technologies in industrialized countries.

For the 80% of humanity in Africa, Asia and Latin America who still live on less than $10 a day – and the billions who still have little to no access to electricity – life is severely complicated and compromised by the hypocritical “green” agendas of wealthy country elites who have benefited so tremendously from fossil fuels since the modern industrial era began around 1850. Before that:

* Life spans were around 40 years, and people seldom travelled more than 100 miles from their birthplaces.

* There was no electricity, since generating, transmitting and utilizing this amazing energy resource requires technologies made from oil and natural gas derivatives.

* That meant the world had no modern transportation, hospitals, medicines and medical equipment, kitchen and laundry appliances, radio and other electronics, cell phones and other telecommunications, air and space travel, central heating and air conditioning, or year-round shipping and preservation of meats, fruits and vegetables, to name just a few things most of us just take for granted.

There are no silver-bullet solutions to save people from natural or man-made climate changes. However, adjusting to those fluctuations is the only solution that minimizes fatalities which would be caused by the callous or unthinking elimination of the petroleum fuels and building blocks that truly make life possible and enjoyable, instead of nasty, brutish and short. The late Steven Lyazi explained it perfectly:

“Wind and solar are … short-term solutions …. to meet basic needs until [faraway Ugandan villages] can be connected to transmission lines and a grid. Only in that way can we have modern homes, heating, lighting, cooking, refrigeration, offices, factories, schools, shops and hospitals – so that we can enjoy the same living standards people in industrialized countries do (and think is their right). We deserve the same rights and lives.

“What is an extra degree, or even two degrees, of warming in places like Africa? It’s already incredibly hot here, and people are used to it. What we Africans worry about and need to fix are malnutrition and starvation, the absence of electricity, and killer diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, sleeping sickness and HIV/AIDS…. We just need to be set free to [get the job done].”

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of articles and books on environmental, climate and human rights issues. Ronald Stein is an engineer, senior policy advisor on energy literacy for the Heartland Institute and CFACT, and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book “Clean Energy Exploitations.”

 

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