· I believe in science and the evidence I see shows that human-caused global warming is real. There are long-term natural components at work in climate trends, of course, such as the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, and the Dark Age and Little Ice Age Cool Periods, but the size of CO2 concentration and temperature increases since 1950 or 1980 are of a different scale than the natural trends and correlate with global industrialization, especially in Asia.
· There is plenty of undue alarmism and ulterior motives in some of the groups spreading apocalyptical claims related to global warming, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a real problem and Republicans shouldn’t fall into “climate denialism” as a knee-jerk reaction to those alarmists.
· The threats created by increasing CO2 levels are real, as are threats related to other types of pollution. Just like other pollution threats we have faced, such as acid rain in the 1970s and a thinning ozone layer in the 1980s, we can deal with climate change.
· Contrary to some alarmist claims, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, the UN’s lead agency on global warming research) does not say that global warming is an “existential threat”, meaning human existence on the planet is in danger. Different degrees of warming carry harsher consequences, but human survival in any realistic scenario is not in doubt. Another global body, the International Energy Agency, reported during the recent Glasgow COP26 summit that if all current commitments are fulfilled, further global warming could be limited to 1.8 degrees Celsius, a level that would avoid many extreme threat forecasts. CO2 and other greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem and needs responsible action, not alarmism.
· There are many reasonable measures that our country can take to reduce greenhouse gases, such as the elimination of avoidable methane releases and flaring of gas from oil and natural gas production, the conversion of municipal bus fleets to electric vehicles, more efficient insulation and other building code standards for new construction, and support for modern safety design nuclear power plants.
· However, some proposals to reduce greenhouse gases are either problematic or outright unrealistic. For instance, the mining of huge tonnages of lithium and cobalt needed for electric vehicle and wind/solar power storage batteries comes with its own environmental damage. Also, electricity is currently not a feasible replacement for fossil fuels in the cement and steel industries (due to ultra-high manufacturing temperatures needed), aviation, or transcontinental ocean shipping. Republicans are right to guard against solutions that don’t make economic or scientific sense, but should not run away from the issue or fall into denialism. Let’s embrace science, be bold, and lead.
· Finally, let’s tout our progress in the United States in lowering emissions. We are twice as efficient as China in creating GDP per ton of CO2 emitted. Bill Gates pointed out that for the fight against global warming, the battle will be won or lost in Asia. Europe and America have done well in increasing our efficiencies and lowering emissions. Developments in China and India, and to a smaller degree Africa, are where global focus should be. In the developing world, huge gains can be made helping communities transition from wood and coal fuel sources to natural gas. While still a fossil fuel, natural gas usage would represent significant progress in those countries and should be taken in the short term. Many nations and global development agencies have cut off funding for natural gas/LNG development projects in developing nations under pressure from environmental groups. Let’s not make the perfect be the enemy of the good, and take the lower emissions of natural gas usage until the cost per kilowatt of wind and solar energy falls low enough to make sense in the poorest nations.
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