Stossel offers levelheaded assessment of climate debate

John Stossel‘s latest column at Real Clear Politics questions why pundits and prognosticators expect a “major policy battle” in Congress this year over climate-related issues.

We already waste billions on pointless gestures that make people think we’re addressing global warming, but the earth doesn’t notice or care.

What exactly is “global warming” anyway? That’s really four questions:

1. Is the globe warming? Probably. Global temperatures have risen. Climate changes. Always has. Always will.

2. Is the warming caused by man? Maybe. There’s decent evidence that at least some of it is.

3. But is global warming a crisis? Far from it. It’s possible that it will become a crisis.

Some computer models suggest big problems, but the models aren’t very accurate. Some turned out to be utterly wrong. Clueless scaremongers like Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Cal., seize on weather disasters to blame man’s carbon output. After Oklahoma’s tragic tornadoes last year, Boxer stood on the floor of the Senate and shrieked, “Carbon could cost us the planet!” But there were actually fewer tornadoes last summer.

4. If the globe is warming, can America do anything about it? No. What we do now is pointless. I feel righteous riding my bike to work. That’s just shallow. Even if all Americans replaced cars with bicycles, switched to fluorescent light bulbs, got solar water heaters, etc., it would have no discernible effect on the climate. China builds a new coal-fueled power plant almost every week; each one obliterates any carbon reduction from all our windmills and solar panels.

Weirdly, the only thing that’s reduced America’s carbon output has been our increased use of natural gas (it releases less greenhouse gas than oil and coal). But many environmentalists fight the fracking that produces it.

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