The climate change debate is a dumpster fire, with neither side being anywhere near the truth. The Left holds a close monopoly on hysterics, believing that if nothing is done, the world will more or less end. The Right often times does not believe global warming even exists.
Neither of these two positions understands the evidence or the nuances the evidence provides. You can believe that global warming is real, has costs, and is caused primarily by humans, and not believe the government should do anything about it—whether it be for philosophical, economic, or other reasons.
Here is a rundown of the most important facts when debating global warming inside American politics:
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, US Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions, measured by metric tons, matched a two-decade low. Since our CO2 emissions peaked in 2007, they have maintained a general pattern of decline. Methane and Nitrous Oxide are also lower than they were in 1990.
- The Paris Climate Agreement was a non-binding agreement, meaning that no country had any legal responsibilities to follow it and there were no enforcement mechanisms besides shaming a country that did not follow.
- The earth has been warming since the 1970s and 1980s and sea levels have been rising since the 1990s and 2000s.
- According to the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human activity is “extremely likely” to cause over half the global average surface temperature increase from 1951 to 2010. Greenhouse gases contributed to the global mean surface between 0.5 degrees Celsius and 1.3 degrees Celsius from 1951 to 2010—other human causes in the previous are in the range of reducing global average surface temperatures by 0.6 degrees Celsius to an increase of 0.1 degrees Celsius. Natural factors range from a reduction of 0.1 degrees Celsius to 0.1 degrees Celsius, natural variability is the name range.
- Depending on CO2 emissions models, the IPCC expects the global mean surface temperature to increase in a range of just over zero degrees Celsius and 5.5 degrees Celsius. The corresponding sea level rise is expected to be between 0.3 meters and 0.95 meters.
- Estimates show that even if the Paris Climate Accords are implemented to their fullest, global mean temperature will still increase 1.8 degrees Celsius. If the more moderate version is implemented, the increase will be 3.5 degrees Celsius.
When talking about global warming, there are two assumptions that are unfounded. While they may be true, they deserve debate.
- The government has a right to combat global warming specifically and it is the only way to solve the problem.
- The costs of global warming outweigh the costs of stopping it.
Just because something is bad does not mean it has to be fought. At the same time, just because something has to be fought does not mean the government has a right or responsibility to fight it.
After President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accords, many went insane—including some business leaders. Many businesses, and political, leaders said their companies, states, or cities would keep fighting climate change. Contrary to popular opinion, change can be done outside Washington DC.