For a newspaper that boasts “All the news that’s fit to print,” the New York Times editorial board certainly doesn’t spend much time reading its own publication.
In a curious editorial, the Times called on President Obama “to deliver on his pledges to limit this country’s greenhouse gas emissions” because the daily average level of CO2 passed 400 parts per million last week. This is a level that has not been seen for three million years, writes the Times, and the magic number of 400 PPM portends catastrophe for earth:
America cannot solve a global problem by itself. But as Mr. Obama rightly observed in his inaugural address, the United States, as both major polluter and world leader, has a deep obligation to help shield the international community from rising sea levels, floods, droughts and other devastating consequences of a warming planet. In his State of the Union speech, he promised to take executive action if Congress failed to pass climate legislation.
Which is just what he will have to do. The prospects for broad-based Congressional action putting a price on carbon emissions are nil. The House is run by people who care little for environmental issues generally, and Senate Republicans who once favored a pricing strategy, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have long since slunk away. Meanwhile, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have spent the last two weeks trying to derail Mr. Obama’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency — a moderate named Gina McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy has served two Republican governors (Mitt Romney was one) but is considered suspect by the right wing because she wants to control carbon pollution, which is driving global temperatures upward.
Hence the need for executive action. Yet we are now four months into Mr. Obama’s second term, and there is no visible sign of a coherent strategy. One plausible reason is that Mr. Obama has been preoccupied with other issues and that his key players on climate have not been in place. But that excuse disappears if Ms. McCarthy can survive a threatened Senate filibuster; even if she does not, Mr. Obama has sufficient talent in the E.P.A. and the Energy Department and among his science advisers to get started.
That Times then tries to be helpful in an executive power grab by listing several measures the president could adopt without getting involved in the messy, boring, and difficult task of taking his proposals to the people through their elected representatives. They blame the right, of course — despite the left firmly in control of the White House and the Senate.
Beyond the Times’ authoritarian proclivities, there is the astonishing realization that the New York Times editorial board doesn’t bother to read the news. If they had picked up the rival Wall Street Journal of April 18 (if they bothered, they might have gotten some tips on how to stop losing their shirt), they would have seen the headline “Rise in U.S. Gas Production Fuels Unexpected Plunge in Emissions”:
U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions have fallen dramatically in recent years, in large part because the country is making more electricity with natural gas instead of coal.
Energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is widely believed to contribute to global warming, have fallen 12% between 2005 and 2012 and are at their lowest level since 1994, according to a recent estimate by the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Energy Department.
Obama is already doing his part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. His economic policies have led to a moribund economy and higher gas prices — two factors that are also responsible for lower emissions according to the Journal article.
The Times also missed the news that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — one of the government’s major climate change cheerleaders — discovered that global temperatures have been unchanged since 1995:
Global temperatures are essentially the same today as they were in 1995, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were merely 360 ppm. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose 10 percent between 1995 and 2012, yet global temperatures did not rise at all. Global warming activists are having a difficult time explaining the ongoing disconnect between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures.
This isn’t the first time in recent years that global temperatures have disobeyed the models presented by global warming activists. From the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s, global temperatures endured a 30-year decline even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose nearly 10 percent. From 1900 through 1945, by contrast, global temperatures rose rapidly despite a lack of coal power plants, SUV’s, and substantial carbon dioxide emissions.
Bottom line: The correlation between temperature and CO2 levels in the atmosphere is not understood very well. So despite hitting the magic number of a daily average of 400 PPM of CO2 in the atmosphere, it’s stupid to make a big deal out of it when its significance is largely unknown.
What really annoys me about climate change stories is that they never, ever mention the incontrovertible fact that the earth’s climate changes naturally over the millenia, and that these changes have occurred with and without human beings on the planet. This may be a no brainer but you’d be surprised how many people who support draconian measures to limit CO2 emissions don’t know this simple truism. It’s the problem all media experiences when trying to take an enormously complex subject that even scientists don’t fully understand outside of their own discipline and reduce it to a palatable mush that can be digested by us lay people. Invariably and inevitably, confusion and misinformation reign.
The Times and other catastrophic climate change advocates want to reduce CO2 emissions when there is shaky evidence that doing so will keep the temperature from rising too much. And they wish to do it with little regard for economic growth or the overall health of our economy. The question they should be asking is how necessary are their “solutions” for dealing with a problem that may be solved by finding cheaper, cleaner alternatives to coal and oil without government help? Without any push from government, the energy industry is revolutionizing our economy by switching to natural gas — with the side benefit that CO2 emissions are way down.
Someone tell the Times about it before they write another editorial about lowering our already falling CO2 emissions.