Amid the feeding frenzy of doomsday predictions and massive spending proposals during November’s United Nations Global Climate Summit (COP26), it was all too easy to lose sight of the big picture.
Climate activists continue to claim that sweeping changes to our economy are necessary to stop an imminent threat to humanity from extreme weather events. However, the data doesn’t actually reflect a trend toward more frequent and more severe weather disasters.
Furthermore, missing from the equation is mankind’s consistent tendency to overcome adverse conditions by adapting. We figure out a better way to inhabit our surroundings.
The astronomical costs of climate policies under the Paris Agreement, from which the Trump administration withdrew, are estimated at roughly $1-2 trillion per year with perhaps 11 cents worth of return for each dollar spent. Despite this abysmal return, during the recent summit, UN officials called for $100 trillion in government and private financial commitments over the next 30 years to meet greenhouse gas emissions goals.
The disparity between developing and developed countries in emissions generated by growth since the Industrial Revolution and resources available for achieving climate goals is significant. South African officials did the math and came to the table with a proposal that wealthier countries contribute $750 billion annually to assist the rest of the world in transitioning to fossil fuel alternatives.
Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg, whose climate commentaries appear regularly in the Wall Street Journal, views the “radical” climate agenda as over-the-top and particularly costly to those who can least afford it. He observes that health, education and nutrition are more compelling needs than climate change for most of the world’s population.
Using the UN’s own calculations, it can be argued that personal wealth will rise on average to 434% of today’s levels if global warming occurs and 450% if it does not. Looking at it another way, if world temperatures rise as forecasted under existing conditions, the estimated annual global gross domestic product will increase 2.6% less than otherwise projected.
Does this sound like an “existential threat” as President Biden and other climate activists claim?
The list of pressing global challenges is long, and the costs of confronting these challenges far exceed available funding. Before we commit considerable capital to prioritizing climate policy over everything else, we need to clearly understand the potential consequences and keep the true risks in perspective.
Editor’s note: Missouri Farm Bureau is currently running a multi-part series surrounding climate policy. Contact Eric Bohl, Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy, to schedule President Hawkins for an interview on this topic.