What Conservatives Think #012304: Environment: Are Conservatives “Un-American” on Global Warming?

The Left Says:

“[Global warming] is a real problem. You can say that it isn’t. You can say it over and over again. It is a real problem, and it is a problem that is getting worse because we failed to attend to it. But what bothers me is this idea that somehow America — the most innovative, creative nation the world has ever seen — cannot cope with this problem. This defeatism, this pessimism, this fatalism that I hear from the opponents is fundamentally un-American. We have a problem. We should get about the business of addressing the problem.”

Source: Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senate floor debate on McCain-Lieberman global warming bill, October 29, 2003

What Conservatives Think:

Conservatives are not inclined to immediately endorse every “sky is falling” clarion call issued by the environmental left. That does not mean, however, that conservatives are any more likely than other people to want their children to breathe dirty air or drink dirty water.

On the matter of global warming, more precisely, the modern theory that human actions are causing the planet to heat to a soon-to-be-catastrophic degree, conservatives make several observations:

1) Excepting the El Nino year of 1998, since about 1979, the Earth’s temperature apparently has not been increasing. (1)

2) If human-induced global warming were happening, the Kyoto global warming treaty and measures like it would not reverse it.(2)

3) The Kyoto global warming treaty and initiatives like it would, if adopted by the U.S., cause significant job losses and price increases.

4) The U.S. is not ignoring climate issues. Since 1990, the United States has spent $18 billion on climate research, three times as much as any other country.(3) President Bush’s 2004 budget sought a 15 percent increase in funding for climate change-related programs, which would bring total U.S. government spending this year to $4.3 billion, the highest-ever.(4)

In summary: When it comes to global warming, conservatives are not convinced there is a problem, are convinced the left’s expensive solution wouldn’t work, but are willing to consider the matter further.

Sources and notes:

(1) This is based on a review of global satellite and balloon temperature measurements and high-quality U.S.-based surface temperature station measurements. For additional details understandable to laymen, we recommend the short document “There Has Been No Global Warming for the Past 70 Years,” published by The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and available online at http://www.co2science.org/edit/v3_edit/v3n13edit.htm as of January 22, 2004.

(2) If the Kyoto global warming treaty were to be ratified and adhered to by the U.S., Russia and E.U. (unlikely in all three cases, as the U.S. and Russia have not ratified and the E.U., which has, is not meeting its emissions targets), under the best of circumstances global “greenhouse gas” emissions would be reduced by about 2 percent. Global warming theory advocates say a 60 percent cut or more is needed to reverse what they believe is human-caused global warming.

(3) The $18 billion figure and the comparison to other nations’ climate research spending comes from U.S. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), as quoted by Greenwire, January 16, 2004.

(4)”Climate Change Fact Sheet: The Bush Administration’s Actions on Global Climate Change,” The White House, September 2003, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/09/20030930-4.html

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.