All the way back in 2014, we pointed to research showing that denial is driven by a rejection of climate solutions. Last year, we repeatedly warned about how while some on the right, particularly the young, are pushing for real climate solutions, and the industry is pretending to have solutions, the GOP remains committed to fossil fuels, peddling fake solutions and innovation denial.
As the GOP pretends to start taking climate seriously, the hardcore deniers are figuring out how to respond. For the most part, they’ve been doubling down on denia. But a post from CFACT this week suggests they might be trying out a new strategy in response to calls for climate action.
It is, as many denier tropes are, intuitively simple and clever, while also being completely stupid. The post describes modeling done by the Heritage Foundation. It comes to the conclusion that the US shouldn’t bother fighting climate change, because even if the US immediately zeroed out emissions, it would only limit warming “by less than one tenth of one degree Celsius by 2050, and by less than one fifth of one degree Celsius by 2100.”
Put more simply, “if the US eliminated all fossil fuel use tomorrow, it would have virtually no measurable impact on world temperature,” writes Collister “Terry” Johnson Jr., whose claim to fame seems to be that he was appointed to the Board of Directors of OPIC by his former Yale roommate, President George W. Bush.
The Heritage Foundation isn’t exactly a reliable source, and we have no idea how they came to this conclusion, so we’re skeptical the exact figures are correct. But the general message that the US eliminating its own fossil fuel use wouldn’t save the climate is, sadly, correct. So in response to whatever climate policy is being discussed, deniers can roll out an analysis like this and claim that the policy wouldn’t even reduce temperatures that much.
But no one’s arguing otherwise. No one’s saying that as long as the US eliminates fossil fuels, the rest of the world can keep burning with abandon.
Obviously, the rest of the world also needs to eliminate their emissions. It’s really not complicated – none of us can do this alone, and everyone needs to do their part to get it done.
For a group supposedly supportive of the power of the free market, this post is surprisingly silent on how the free market would spread the wealth from a US phase-out of fossil fuels. Once the US powers itself with clean energy, we will also be exporting that technology. Getting off of fossil fuels as soon as possible means a dramatic scaling-up of renewables, which is going to further lower its price and make it a more desirable option around the world.
Regardless, we can expect to see this argument rolled out in response to any and all climate policies, from the left’s Green New Deal to the (young) right’s tentative embrace of a carbon tax. No matter how dramatically the US reduces emissions, global warming is an issue that’s going to require global cooperation to overcome.
If CFACT and Heritage wanted to be honest, they’d apply this modeling to the global scale. If global fossil fuel use were halted, what impact would that have on temperatures?