Editorial:

Policies to address climate change should be rational

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According to the International Disasters Database, the number of deaths from climate events has plummeted more than 95 percent since 1930. Fewer people than ever die from natural disasters.

This fact stands in stark contrast to a national dialogue that says the climate is becoming dangerously unstable as a result of the burning of fossil fuels.

It’s firmly established science that CO2 emissions impact the climate. This impact can cause problems, but opponents of fossil fuels claim global warming is going to cause such a dramatic cataclysm that we need to act now to eliminate most, if not all, fossil fuel use — no matter what the cost.

That cost is staggering. A 2015 Stanford study estimated replacing all fossil fuels with wind, solar, and hydroelectric by 2030 would cost at least $7 trillion. The study has since been analyzed by prominent researchers who found numerous flaws in its calculations on what it would take to replace all fossil fuels. 

But never mind whether or not such proposals would work; they are based on irrational thinking about energy. Looking at fossil fuels solely in terms of the impact of CO2 emissions is a lot like looking at cars solely in terms of traffic fatalities. People accept the risk of traffic accidents because transportation by automobile provides so many benefits that it’s worth that risk.

When it comes to the climate change discussion, not only is the risk greatly exaggerated, it does not consider that fossil fuels have any benefits.

Countries that pursue aggressive wind and solar build-outs, such as Denmark and Germany, pay two to three times more for their energy than we do in the U.S., and they’ve barely made a dent in their CO2 emissions.

Energy is the industry that powers all other industries. If you make energy more expensive, you make everything more expensive. This includes all the technology that has made us safe from the naturally deadly climate.

Recently, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., wrote a scathing critique of the proposed Green New Deal, which seeks to replace all fossil fuel use with wind and solar energy. The senator recognizes how expensive and impractical the plan is, and he calls for a global solution on climate change.

Climate change may be a problem, but it’s important to remember, even before significant levels of CO2 emissions, climate was a serious, deadly problem. Fossil fuels didn’t make the climate dangerous. Cheap, abundant, reliable energy powers the solutions that keep us safe from it. Any plan that makes energy more expensive and less reliable is not solving anything and leaves us more vulnerable to the elements.

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