Opinion

Fight the Virus, Not Carbon

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Posted: Mar 28, 2020 12:01 AM
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Fight the Virus, Not Carbon

Source: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Editor's note: David Wojick contributed to this column. 

The many trillions of dollars proposed to be spent under dubious national Green New Deals should be spent instead (effectively and within reason) on health care, especially virus prevention, protection and cures. This is the gist of an “Open Letter to World Leaders” from the Climate Intelligence Foundation

The Foundation, or CLINTEL, makes this clear right up front: “Your Excellencies, compared to COVID-19, climate change is a non-problem! It is based on immature computer models, and it looks into the distant future. In the current health emergency, however, your attention to the peoples’ needs is today! Please, don’t continue pushing your zero carbon emission ambition in a time that the world is dealing with a deadly global crisis. Yes, there is an emergency, but it is NOT climate.”

CLINTEL specifically speaks to the leaders of the UN and EU, saying “People need an inspiring narrative that promises them a hopeful future. Today, for instance, it is totally inappropriate that the billion-dollar Green New Deal focused on climate is still on the agenda of leaders such as Mr. Antonio Guterres of the UN and Mr. Frans Timmermans of the EU.” 

In the EU, green funds could begin flowing to the virus crisis almost immediately, by reprogramming €100 billion ($110 billion) of European Green Deal money. The GED has a Just Transition Mechanism to “help mobilise at least €100 billion over the period 2021-2027,” by way of “financial support and technical assistance to help people, businesses and regions that are most affected by the move toward the green economy. All they have to do is replace the Mechanism’s “green economy” with “corona crisis.”

All the EU has to do is abandon its compulsive transition to a so-called “green economy,” which would in reality be very poor and uncompetitive, with millions unemployed. The European Green Plan (EGP) proposes spending a trillion euros on a foolish attempt to control the global climate, even as China, India and other emerging economies build hundreds of new coal and gas-fired power plants, hundreds of new airports, thousands of fossil fuel-based factories, and millions of new internal combustion vehicles. 

CLINTEL says it would be far wiser to spend that money on improving health care, with priority to virus protection. Far more necessary, too. Anyone following the coronavirus news out of Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Britain and other EU countries, knows CLINTEL is right. Aware EU leaders know it too

In the United States, President Trump signed the Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2 trillion emergency relief bill, the largest such package in US history. It will help hospitals, meet critical medical needs, and provide relief for small businesses and furloughed workers. It contains few items from the liberal wish list in an earlier bill. 

Any European Green Deal would actually cost many trillions of dollars, as would the US Green New Deal endorsed by the Democrat presidential candidates. Candidate Bernie Sanders pegs his pet version at “just” $11 trillion, while other estimates run as high as $91 trillion! 

Some of that spending should go to upgrading the health care system, testing people and getting COVID patients respirators and medicines that work, conducting clinical trials to evaluate anecdotal evidence about various treatments, and saving lives! Other spending should assist families whose breadwinners have been laid off by the lockdowns and quarantines, and businesses that have been closed down. 

Right now, some 15 million workers are unemployed in the restaurant industry alone, plus millions more in restaurant-support industries. If the business lockdown continues another month or so, some 75% of independently owned restaurants will never reopen, business insiders say. Moreover, across the USA, it is minorities who are most seriously harmed by the shutdown, since they dominate worst-affected sectors. 

(A suggestion: Order an occasional takeout-pickup meal from local eateries – and leave a generous tip.) 

The rest of the money should simply not be spent, especially since it’s mostly more government debt. Spending it would further damage the economy and future taxpayers, in Europe and the United States. 

Any thinking legislator should endorse CLINTEL’s call for action, instead of foolish green new deals. 

But instead, the manmade-climate-crisis-obsessed United Nations continues to pressure all nations to adopt expensive zero-carbon-dioxide plans, preferably as soon as its Glasgow climate summit in November. That underscores how wrongheaded and intransigent the UN has been for decades. No. The world needs to fix the current virus problem – and prepare for the inevitable next ones. 

The economic crisis due to the corona pandemic will hit all countries, including those with relatively small virus outbreaks at the moment or in the future. With proper prevention and response systems in place, there is no reason these economic disasters should escalate. But those systems will not be in place in impoverished nations – largely because UN, EU, climate and other eco-imperialist activists for decades have prevented those countries from building fossil fuel, nuclear and even hydroelectric generating plants, forcing them instead to be content with minimal, unreliable, habitat-destroying wind and solar power

CLINTEL’s strong advice to the world’s leaders is spot-on: “To revive the global economy, don’t further increase government debts. Instead, apply the money intended for your costly Green New Deal to the present needs of people and society. Call it the COVID-19 RECOVERY PLAN. Be aware that, in today’s crisis, the conjectural policy of CO2 reduction is highly counterproductive!” 

The letter’s eloquent summary statement says it all: “The world is moving to an open global economy of ten billion people. Top priority must be given to significant investments in a global health system that makes any pandemic less catastrophic. Considering COVID-19, climate alarmists and climate critics should admit that global warming is a non-problem. Therefore, stop fighting, step over your own shadow and work together against the deadly virus. In this tough battle we need each other!”

Imagine what would happen if abundant, reliable, affordable heat and electricity from fossil, nuclear and hydroelectric were replaced by expensive, limited, intermittent, weather-dependent wind and solar power. The impacts on our coronavirus response, healthcare, living standards and life spans would be horrific.

Without reliable, on-demand energy sufficient to power modern, industrialized society – which neither wind nor solar power can provide at current levels of technology – hospitals could not maintain sterile conditions. Food and vaccines could not be grown, developed, preserved or transported. Protective equipment to safeguard front-line health care workers from COVID-19, respirators for critically-ill patients, could not be delivered where they’re needed, let alone manufactured in the first place. 

We would not even have clean water or reliable sanitation systems. We would not have jobs, industries, decent living standards, or anything approaching a vibrant, functioning, job and tax-generating economy. 

That’s the situation African and other impoverished nations found themselves with Ebola – and will find themselves if (when) COVID-19 (God forbid) reaches them. It is where a GED or GND would take us

President Trump is absolutely right. We need to fight the coronavirus and keep it from spreading. But we also need to begin soon to balance the virus threat against threats created by our response to the virus: deaths from COVID-19 itself (which could be overstated) versus deaths due to mass unemployment and recession because of the shutdowns: from stress, depression, despair, strokes, heart attacks, suicides and murder-suicides ... amid bankruptcies, loss of life savings, destruction of years of work and sacrifice. 

And yet there are some who applaud the corona-economic recession for driving down fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions – or want more wind and solar mandates and subsidies built into any corona response plans. 

Our health and economic emergency is real and immediate. The manmade climate emergency is years or decades away – if it even exists outside the realm of pseudo-scientific studies that blame every observed (and imagined) problem or event on fossil fuels and models that can’t even forecast temperatures accurately. 

Fight the virus, not carbon.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, environment, climate and human rights issues. David Wojick is an independent analyst specializing in science, logic and human rights in public policy, and author of numerous articles on these topics.