#136 Global Warming is Good

the christian economist dave arnott

#136 Global Warming is Good

The Christian Economist looks at “The other hand” of global warming, and finds some good effects.


The Inflation reduction plan signed by President Biden recently will reduce inflation by…..wait for it….are you ready?  I’m an academic, so I’ll use three citations: First, The Congressional Budget Office says the effect will be “negligible at best,” second, the Bipartisan Policy Center predicts “small impacts one way or the other.”  Third, and finally, the Penn Wharton Budget Model says the effect on inflation will be “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

So the inflation reduction plan might INCREASE inflation?!  George Orwell’s 1984 predictions have arrived in 2022, in the form of “Newspeak.”  Newspeak is the fictional language of Oceania, a totalitarian super state that is the setting of the 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by Mr. Orwell.

The Inflation Reduction Plan contains $430 billion in one legislative bill.  That bill would be the 36th largest country in the world.  Larger than the GDP of South Africa, Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam.  The only COMPANY with a larger revenue is Wal-Mart at $560 billion.  Think about it: That ONE spending bill is greater than the revenue of every other company in the world.  Amazon’s annual revenue is only $386 billion, Apple takes in $275 billion.  And Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, has annual revenue of $256 billion.  

Of that $430 billion, 90% of the spending is on green energy programs for the expressed purpose of slowing global warming.

OK, here’s the strength of economic thinking.  I often stand in front of my class and proclaim: There are no one-armed economists.  Because we always say, “On the other hand.”  That IS a good way of thinking by the way.  The US judicial system assumes that truth is discovered by two parties arguing opposite points of view.  The entire academic system is based on an argumentive system.  The term Israel, means “To struggle with God.”  Where is the “Other hand” of the global warming debate?  We will never find the truth, unless we investigate, “The other hand.”  



Tilting at Windmills

Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen institute looked at the scientific estimate for CO2 emissions reductions from the afore-mentioned $430 billion legislative bill. He then plugged them into the United Nations climate model to measure the impact on global temperature by 2100. He finds the bill will reduce the estimated global temperature rise at the end of this century by 0.028 degrees Fahrenheit in the optimistic case. In the pessimistic case, the temperature difference will be 0.0009 degrees Fahrenheit.

In other words, the climate provisions in this ballyhooed legislation will have no notable impact on the climate.

30 years from now, we will laugh at videos of leaders in 2022 proclaiming, “I can change the climate…..if you will just give me more control of your life.”  It’s reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz shouting, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” as Toto pulls it back to reveal a huckster. 


The Creation or the Created?

Which is more important: Humans or the planet?  Creation, or the created?

Quoting Mr. Lomborg again, from a WSJ article titled, “How the Climate Elite Spread Misery,” he writes, Half a million people die each year from heat, but more than 4.5 million die from cold. While rising temperatures will increase heat deaths, they will also decrease cold deaths.” So if you care about life, global warming is good.  But remember, this is the group who caused violence recently when their right to kill babies in the womb via abortion was denied in some states.  

A recent Lancet study found that rising temperatures since 2000 have on net REDUCED the number of temperature-related deaths. Researchers concluded that rising temperatures globally were causing 116,000 more heat deaths annually, but “on the other hand,” it was leading to 283,000 fewer cold deaths a year.

After the consideration of life: What else do you want to hear?  Isn’t that reminiscent of the old adage, “Other than THAT Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”  Other than, global warming will SAVE lives, what else do you want to consider?

Let’s look. 



In Economics and the Christian Worldview, I wrote, “There’s a limited amount of land, and God isn’t making any more.  But he IS making creative people in His image, who are finding more efficient ways of using it.” 

James Meigs, writing in City Journal, tells us: “Because of their low energy density, wind and solar developments require enormous tracts of land, compared with other energy sources. New York’s now-shuttered Indian Point nuclear power plant sits on just 240 acres. Replacing its power entirely with wind power would require more than 500 square MILES of turbines.” That’s a massive amount of land and habitat lost to energy production.  This is the same group who wants to preserve land for farming, which I opined about in a recent podcast #128, titled Limiting Urban Sprawl.  

Citing another source, Bloomberg news reports that getting to zero carbon by 2050 would require a land area equal to five South Dakotas.”

90% of the corn grown in Germany is converted into biodiesel.  Is that the best use of the land?  Maybe they should accept Liquified Natural Gas from the US, as President Trump encouraged then Prime Minister Angela Merkel to do five years ago.  She chose natural gas from Russia, and the German people will likely be cold this winter because of her bad choice. 

I saw this LNG ship arriving in a port in Lithuania when I was there earlier this month.  It’s from the US.  Seems like the Lits may have made a better economic choice than the Germans. 

Are you seeing the power of economic thinking?  On one hand, you can choose to accept natural gas from Russia that will be cut off, or you “on the other hand,” you could choose LNG from the United States that won’t be cut off.   



The Cost

President Biden said, “If your home is powered by safer, cheaper, cleaner electricity, like solar or heat pumps, you can save about $500 a month.”  Solar is cheaper?  If it was, the government would be taxing it, not redistributing money to support it.

Economist Steven Moore cites governmental data, showing that solar and wind energy is three times as expensive as electricity produced by fossil fuels.  And off-shore wind power is five times more expensive.  

The personal experience at our home is relevant here.  We put 30 solar panels on our barn.  We make solar power for 19 cents a kilowatt hour, while the natural gas plant just down the hill from us can make and sell it to us for 5.5 cents.  Then we pay 4.5 cents for transportation to keep the lines operating, for a total cost of 10 cents.  I sat at a dinner table in Europe last week, where my host showed me his electric bill.  He pays 50 cents for the same thing I pay ten cents.  Would you rather me be poor in Europe, or America?

Don’t miss my Christian Economics point here: Perhaps we should be reducing carbon output.  But the Christian Economics question is, “At what cost?”  Or, as I’ve said earlier, “What’s on the other hand?”

Wind and solar power are called “Renewables.”  I don’t get it.  What’s renewed?  Isn’t that a violation of the first law of thermodynamics, “You cannot create nor destroy energy, you can only change its form.”  So the global warming alarmists believe they can not only change the weather, they can change the first law of thermodynamics.   

Quoting Bjorn Lomborg again, “The world gets almost 80% of its energy from fossil fuels, and even if all current climate policies were fully implemented, by midcentury fossil fuels would still provide more than half of all energy used world-wide, according to the International Energy Agency.”

Okay, so we’re going to be using fossil fuels for a long time.  That’s good for the poor, because the huge supply of fossil fuels makes energy cheaper for the poor. 


Stewarding, Nor Worshiping

We are called to steward the earth, not worship it.  We worship the creator, not the creation. 

The global alarmists are partially correct: On one hand, global warming will cause some land to be lost to agriculture.  But on the other hand, more land will be opened to growing food to feed the poor.  It’s called “The Greening of the earth.”  If you look at earth from space, you will notice it is getting greener.  That’s good, isn’t it? 

Another example from our visit to Germany last week.  A German citizen mentioned flower pots, “Our government wants us to grow plants that consume Co2.”  If 80 million Germans each had a flower pot, how much Co2 would be consumed?  And the most frightening part of that sentence is the first five words, “Our government wants us to.”  Really?  You take your directions from the government.  How about, “God wants me to.”  Or, “The Bible says.”  Or even, MY belief is that……” You see how frightening it is, when people start taking actions, only because the GOVERNMENT wants them to, without asking what is “On the other hand?”  Or, without doing the math.  Really: 80 million German flowerpots are going to save the world.  Frightening.      

As you can tell from my comments, I’ve been traveling the last couple weeks.  I was in eight airports over ten days.  There is a clear theme of “going green.”  I think it was the Copenhagen airport who bragged about being net zero by 2030.  One airline claimed I was flying on the greenest airplane in the world.  OK, let’s think about this.  If global warming from CO2 production was REALLY an existential threat, wouldn’t the signs in the airport read, “Stay HOME!”  Do NOT travel!  Aren’t the half-way measures I saw over the last two weeks an indication that they don’t really believe it’s an existential threat.  And the governments: After the covid pandemic, the US government gave the airlines $54 billion.  Why didn’t they let them go broke, so they could reduce the CO2 production?

The Inflation Reduction Plan won’t reduce inflation, nor will it reduce global warming.  Reminds me of podcast #124, the title of which comes from perhaps our greatest living economist, Thomas Sowell.  It is titled,

 “The march of foolish things.”