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America’s interest in the Green New Deal (GND) or energy decarbonization has its origins half a century ago with the 1970 founding of Earth Day, and the subsequent 1972 creation of both UNEP, the United Nations Environment Program and the United States EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency.
Unfortunately, the push for a GND is about power and global socialism, not the environment and not pollution and not energy.
At the time, historical environmental laws were based on identifying particular “torts” or harm. One of the important pollution cases in the US was in New York where the owner of a mink farm north of LaGuardia airport complained that his minks were not making more minks because of the noise from airplanes.
The courts agreed and restricted when planes could land and take off from LaGuardia. As a result, the minks apparently started “minking” again and the farm was back in business. Note the principle here: a specific environmental harm or tort was demonstrated, and a specific remedy was adopted.
The Legislative Drafting Research Fund, part of Columbia Law school, helped draft the original regulations for the Clean Air Act, regulating harmful pollutants from the use of coal–sulfur dioxide or acid rain–and automobiles –particulates and lead. Such pollution markedly declined as a result.
However, the idea of regulating C02 as a “greenhouse gas” –GHG—was never on EPA’s agenda. After all, C02 gave life to the plant kingdom that in turn produced the oxygen on which all animal life depended. [It would be decades later that the US Supreme Court greenlighted the regulation of C02.]
UNEP’s office of Energy and the Environment was charged with examining how to get alternative energy to the growing world without greater dependence on oil and in a manner that would not degrade the environment. Given the economic chaos caused by the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, where the US by 1977 would be paying not $3.6 billion annually for oil imports but $36 billion, UNEP’s work was important.
The office set out to draft a report about what energy futures could be recommended that would meet UNEP’s objectives. Was it possible for the Third World to reduce its dependence on imported oil and find alternative “clean” energy? Was pollution from coal consumption remedial?
The 1975 (available from the author) report concluded that although renewable “green” energy technology could substitute for some electricity and liquid fuels, both the industrialized world and nations seeking to emerge from poverty would for many future decades be highly dependent on current energy such as oil, gas, coal, and nuclear power. In short, only a combination of primarily fossil fuels and nuclear power with some renewables would provide adequate energy for the third world economies, particularly in that the poorer nations already suffered from extreme energy poverty.
When the report was submitted to the United Nations ECOSOC, it received only a handful of “yes” votes– including the United States, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, France, and Australia, while the more than 130 other UN members either abstained or voted no.
The vote was understandable. The report was written after the OPEC oil embargo. With oil prices soaring, and supply remaining subject to interruption, such books as the Meadows “Limits to Growth” and Commoners “The Closing Circle”, and even reports from the US Geological Survey, popularized the narrative that US conventional fossil fuel energy supplies were rapidly depleting, and unless consumption was sharply curtailed, the world’s economic growth and energy use could not be sustained. (Unconventional resources were considered too costly and environmentally damaging to be available.)
Now it was true that as of 1975, annual conventional US oil production had apparently peaked in 1970 as Shell oil geologist Marion King Hubbert had predicted. This reinforced the idea that oil resources were rapidly depleting, and the US economy was in danger of “running on empty.” Indeed, by 2010, US oil production had fallen from a peak of 10.5 mb/d (millions of barrels per day) to 5 mb/d. But by 2020, however, due to new technology such as fracking, US oil production reached a record high of 13 mb/d.
Well, if fossil fuels were going to get scarce and increasingly expensive, what better strategy than to end our dependence on such fuels?
Especially if as global climate catastrophe folks warn, we have to do so to save the planet.
Although the 1975 UNEP report rejected such a “scarcity” narrative, other more powerful voices were stepping up.
Limits to Growth advocates such as Paul Ehrlich, John Holden, Barry Commoner, and Carl Sagan warned the country that the reserves of fossil fuels would soon be depleted, while growing sharply in cost and creating more environmental damage.
One popular school of thought concluded that fossil fuel use would emit into the atmosphere so much CO2 and other gases that the sun’s heat would be shielded from reaching the earth. Thus, was born the idea of the looming Ice Age, as the earth was in danger of freezing.
Ironically the predominant published climate research during the 1970s was on the possibility of more global warming, despite a multi-decade long record of colder temperatures.
But it was the catastrophic predictions of the coming planetary ice age that garnered the media’s attention. Given that higher C02 levels had historically “ushered in the relatively balmy, stable climate sometimes called the ‘long summer’ that has allowed human civilization to flourish,” a coming Ice Age might put such flourishing in danger, according to a 2012 Scientific American essay.
Popular publications, including Harpers, the Scientific American and Science, all detailed the dangers of a coming Ice Age, urging Americans to dramatically reduce energy consumption, and accept a reordering of the entire economy, and rejecting the industrialized world paradigm of continued economic growth and rising incomes.
There was little pushback on the Ice Age narrative as few examined the underlining “science.” After all US oil production continued to fall. Gas lines became widespread. The Carter administration even banned new natural gas production on US federal land, predicting the US would run out of natural gas by 1990.
After 1981, the Reagan administration tried to reverse this trend by immediately eliminating all price controls on oil. Later, the Saudi government was persuaded to markedly increase oil production to help boost economic growth and escape from the recession caused by previous spikes in oil prices.
Despite the Reagan economic boom, the narrative of scarcity remained, both the apparent dangers of fossil fuel use and limits to economic growth.
Then Dr. Carl Sagan took things a step further. Sagan connected Reagan’s nuclear build-up with the assumed looming Ice Age. He postulated that even if as few as a hundred nuclear weapons were detonated, the resulting fires and massive curtain of carbon and soot in the atmosphere, would blot out the sunlight trying to reach the earth. A “nuclear winter” would be created said Sagan, not unlike the feared projected coming Ice Age, but now much sooner. As Sagan warned, the Reagan administration’s nuclear modernization programs were not just starting a new arms race but threatening to trigger a nuclear conflict with the USSR, and thus a “nuclear winter”.
This got Washington’s attention. One assessment done during the Reagan administration reviewed all the documents that were footnoted in Sagan’s various essays. And then the material footnoted in the first footnoted documents was also collected and examined.
Surprisingly, virtually all the documents referenced an original assessment of Sagan which was about “dust storms” on Mars. Sagan postulated the dust storms blotted out sunlight, guaranteeing Mars as a lifeless planet. Similarly, believed Sagan, massive amounts of soot and carbon from nuclear fires (dust) would have the same effect but on earth.
What are the facts? Mars gravity is too weak to hold an atmosphere in place to allow any form of life as Erik Metaxas outlines in his new book (“Is Atheism Dead”) on how the universe and earth’s solar system were created. Atmospheric pressure on Mars is only 7% of that on earth concludes NASA, making any kind of life supporting atmosphere impossible.
Despite successful efforts to end such fashionable global climate research, global warming was gradually adopted as the new narrative from which the same limits to growth energy and economic policies would flow—managing energy scarcity, transferring through globalization trillions of dollars to the third world from the rich, industrialized world, and create large international “management” experts and authorities to manage what has now become known as the “great reset” particularly a new green energy deal.
It is true that from roughly 1980 to 2000, the average global temperatures as measured by such United Nations institutions as the IPCC did show an increase that if projected over a century would increase temperatures by 4°C which the IPCC climate “models” (based on false premises to begin with) predicted would have catastrophic climate impacts.
A key proponent of this narrative and creator in 1988 of the IPCC was none other than UNEP’s first director Maurice Strong, an advocate of globalizations “great reset” plans. Part of his objective was to make UNEP one of the most powerful UN agencies by giving UNEP the job of regulating world-wide energy production.
Thus, to achieve such an objective, scary but highly dubious global warming scenarios were artfully fed to the media and Hollywood and sympathetic politicians and came to dominate the climate and energy debate. And ironically it was based on the same principles as the previous scare story (the coming Ice Age) but with a twist. Sunlight did get through the atmosphere but once reflected off the earth’s surface could not bounce back through the blackened atmosphere and thus would remain trapped beneath a blanket of greenhouse gases.
However, when warming temperatures flattened in the post 2000 period, the Global Warming narrative made less sense, so a switch was needed.
Enter Global “Climate Change.”
As the former UNEP Director Maurice Strong explained in his work for the UN Secretary General, globalized socialism requires a huge transfer of trillions in wealth from the rich industrialized world to the poorer nations, through multiple mechanisms including “mitigating” climate change. And to make sure China got on board, the country was classified as “developing” and eligible for billions in assistance, despite its GDP being surpassed only by the United States.
Such new green deal (NGD) proposals are estimated to cost between $53-93 trillion just for the United States. However, NGD proposals before Congress remain particularly vague, except for an overall goal of reducing GHG’s by 1 billion tons a year, or 20% below current emissions, but with no recognition that such a reduction on a 2019 world-wide base of 50 billion tons will be swamped by increases elsewhere, especially in India and China.
For example, although the IPCC objective has been to reduce projected world temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees C, any US success in reducing GHG’s would be more than wiped out by current planned new construction of 236 coal burning plants just in China and India. To say nothing of whether the US success in already being 17% under the 2005 GHG level due largely to substituting natural gas for coal, will be sustained if natural gas is being phased out as well or fracking banned.
The energy new green deal is thus not about energy or energy scarcity. It is a push to panic Americans into bad energy policies as a globalization vehicle to transfer trillions in cash and technology from rich to poor countries, while buying “development” in the poor nations of the world.
As China has no intention of following the US lead, markedly lower economic growth in the US will result, even as Chinese growth expands. China’s added coal production in one year cancels out all US reductions in GHG’s since 1990, (about 1 billion tons a year.) India’s new annual coal production wipes out all the European based GHG reductions.
In short, climate change, has been weaponized—every major flood, cyclone, or hurricane, or unusual cold or hot weather—is immediately blamed on US consumption of fossil fuels.
Notice the ruse: unlike how EPA first enforced environmental law, under the new climate change weapon, no specific harm is alleged that can be connected to any specific action.
Instead, the connection between climate change and fossil fuel energy use is broadly assumed although the past scare stories of a looming ice age and then a too hot planet have both been discarded.