President Donald Trump was right to ignore climate change in his April 22, 2019 Earth Day message. Instead, he focused on issues that actually matter and over which we have considerable control: protecting the nation’s water infrastructure, conservation of land, water, and wildlife, improving forest health and, of course, economic prosperity, the linchpin on which all the rest is founded. After all, without prosperity, we cannot afford to protect the environment. Trump explained in his official Earth Day statement:
“Environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand in hand. A strong market economy is essential to protecting our critical natural resources and fostering a legacy of conservation. “
He is correct, of course, but this did not go over well with those concerned about man-made climate change. BNN Bloomberg reported that Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, complained, “The statement is really the antithesis of environmental protection. They are not mentioning the gravest existential threat [man-made climate change] facing humanity.”
The UK-based Guardian newspaper reported, in an article reposted by the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones, “The executive director of the Sierra Club said Trump was ‘the worst president for the environment our nation has ever had.’”
Concerns about dangerous human-caused climate change are not based on observations of what is actually happening in the real world. Even NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies admits that between 1880 and 2019 there has been only slightly more than a one-degree Celsius rise in the so-called ‘Global Annual Mean Surface Air Temperature’ despite a supposed 40% rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration.
And extreme weather is not increasing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) database of state-wide extreme weather records, likely the best of its kind, shows that, in 2018, only one state record was set—the largest hailstone (5.38 inches in diameter) in the history of Alabama. So far, only one record has been set in 2019: the lowest temperature recorded in Illinois (-38°F on Mount Carroll). In fact, in the first 18+ years of the 21st century, only two states recorded their maximum temperatures—South Carolina in 2012 and South Dakota in 2006 (the latter tied with 1936, when 15 states established their all-time maximum temperature records).
The NOAA’s updated coastal sea level tide gauge data (2016) shows no evidence of accelerating sea level rise. NOAA data also shows that for nearly 142 months in a row starting on Oct. 24, 2005, there were no moderate or major landfall hurricanes in the continental United States. This was the longest such period in records starting in 1851.
The climate scare is based only on computer model forecasts of what may happen in the future if we do not restrict our use of inexpensive, plentiful fossil fuels to reduce CO2 emissions. But these models do not work because we do not understand the science well enough to know what mathematical equations to program into the models. Observations demonstrate that the actual rate of warming between 1979 and 2017 is three times smaller than that predicted by the average of 102 different climate models. Yet, on this flimsy basis, we are spending over $1 billion USD a day across the world on climate finance, 95% of which is dedicated to the impossible task of ‘stopping climate change.’
And of course, Trump was also right to promote prosperity and a strong market economy as the best ways to protect the environment. In Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels” (CCR-II-Fossil Fuels), a 780-page report issued last year by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), it is shown “how prosperity makes environmental protection a higher public goal and provides the resources needed to achieve it.” CCR-II-Fossil Fuels continues:
“Once basic demands for food, clothing, and shelter are met, people demand cleaner air, cleaner streams, more outdoor recreation, and the protection of wild lands. With higher incomes, citizens place higher priorities on environmental objectives.”
CCR-II-Fossil Fuels describes what economists call Environmental Kuznets Curves (EKCs) which show how environmental degradation rises with national per-capita income until a certain critical point is reached, after which the environment starts to improve. (See main image for graph)
For example, CCR-II-Fossil Fuels cite researchers Grossman and Krueger (1995) who:
“conducted an extensive literature review of air quality over time and around the world and found ambient air quality tended to deteriorate until average per-capita income reached about $6,000 to $8,000 per year (in 1985 dollars) and then began to sharply improve. Later research confirmed similar relationships for a wide range of countries and air quality, water quality, and other measures of environmental protection.”
Before the creation of EKCs, many well-informed people thought that wealthier countries damaged their environment more than poorer nations. The only way out of this dilemma was to de-industrialize and reduce incomes, they thought. But we know now that the exact opposite is true. While factors such as the strength of democratic institutions, levels of educational achievement, and income equality play a role, Trump was completely right to link prosperity with environmental protection.
And finally, CCR-II-Fossil Fuels demonstrates that the prosperity made possible by free markets creates the circumstances needed to better protect the environment. The report concludes:
“Without markets, a poorer and hungrier world would have little regard for the environment or the interests of future generations, being too busy meeting the more immediate needs of finding food and shelter.”
Bravo to President Trump to making Earth Day a time to remember what really matters for environmental protection—prosperity and free markets.