Editors at The Wall Street Journal see good news and bad news in the latest report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The good news? Some of the silliest projections have been excised from the latest report, and scientists seem to approach their predictions with a bit more caution (as has been documented elsewhere on this forum).
All of this vindicates what we wrote about the 2007 report: “Beware claims that the science of global warming is settled.” It also suggests an IPCC toning down the end-is-nigh rhetoric that typified its past climate warnings: “Vulnerability is rarely due to a single cause.” In other words, humanity has lots of problems, climate change being one of them. And as with other problems, humanity will cope and adapt.
All good, which makes it even more of a pity that the authors venture from cautious climate science into the most politically correct forms of political science. “Existing gender inequalities are increased or heightened by climate-related hazards,” says the report, while dilating on the deleterious effects global warming has on “discrimination based on gender, age, race, class, caste, indigeneity, and (dis)ability.”
The IPCC also turns out to have an agenda that’s less about climate change than income inequality and redistribution. What else given the liberal fashions of the day? “Recognizing how inequality and marginalization perpetuate poverty is a prerequisite for climate-resilient development pathways,” the IPCC insists, before suggesting that the costs for “global adaptation” should run between $70 billion and $100 billion a year from now until 2050.
So adaptation funding needs to be “orders of magnitude greater than current investment levels, particularly in developing countries.” If one Solyndra wasn’t enough, try underwriting thousands of them. Preferably in third-world countries. For those who suspect that the purported threat of global warming is really a vehicle of convenience for reviving the discredited economics of the 1970s, this IPCC report will serve as Exhibit A.
Then again, if you believe that the risks of climate change are sufficiently plausible that we should at least be considering an insurance policy of sorts, then the IPCC’s policy recommendations could hardly be worse. The best environmental policy is economic growth. The richer you are, the more insurance you have. Wealth is what pays for robust safety standards and prevents sensible environmental regulations from being ignored or corrupted.