Today’s Calamity: Understanding Climate Change

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Cap and Trade Calamities

If cap and trade is meant to solve our climate crisis, why does the bill include funding to understand climate change?

Section 451 of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade legislation includes funding to research the effects of “human-induced or natural changes in the global environment (including alterations in climate, land productivity, oceans or other water resources, atmospheric chemistry, biodiversity, and ecological systems) that may alter the capacity of the Earth to sustain life.” The government will pay for five-year reports on scientific knowledge regarding climate change and how various resource capacities are affected by it (Sec. 451).

The bill also establishes a National Climate Service to “advance understanding of climate variability and change at the global, national, regional and local levels,” among other climate change-related functions (Sec. 452, b1). Provisions for a report that will identify “specific needs for new climate products to be delivered by each Federal agency and its partner organizations,” as well as “potential user groups and stakeholders that may be served by expanding climate products and services” (Sec. 452, d2B(iii-iv)). It also creates a “Natural Resource Climate Change Adaptation Panel,” composed of the heads of various related government agencies, to serve as a forum for interagency consultation on the national resource climate change adaptation strategy.

A few things are certain. The verdict on climate change is quite uncertain. A recent BBC News article notes that “for the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.” The long-term trend of increasing temperatures is something to study, as is climate change in its entirety. If climate change is going to cause dramatic sea level rises or a new ice age, whether it’s human-induced or not, a changing climate could be a major problem. But it’s not right now and there’s no near-term imminent danger that would justify an expensive response, which most Americans seem to understand according to recent polling.

Indeed, it seems that they are seeing right through the façade of global warming alarmism. The American public requires more than overplayed claims by Vice President Gore that global warming not only caused Hurricane Katrina but that Katrina was itself evidence that we were entering a new era of deadly hurricanes. Despite these assertions, the hurricane seasons in 2006-09 have, by most measures, been quite normal. As Heritage energy and environment expert Ben Lieberman often states, everything that you hear about global warming that sounds terrifying is not true, and what is true is not particularly terrifying. The public gets this, which is why global warming ranks low as a priority of issues for Congress to address.

Studying the climate is worthwhile and Waxman-Markey would be an acceptable bill if it solely included these provisions for the world to better understand climate change. But pairing it with a costly cap and trade system, along with countless other problematic provisions, as the world recognizes that the scientific debate over global warming is far from over is not the solution to the nation’s dwindling climate concerns.

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