Over in Poland, a passel of the world’s elite have gathered for the 24th annual Conference of Parties (COP24), to discuss climate change and hammer out an agreement on carbon emission tracking and mitigation. The word coming out of Poland is that the situation remains as dire as ever, and that the world needs to make dramatic real cuts in carbon emissions by 2030, and get to near-zero by 2050, to avert an increase of 1.5°C in global temps. And, I presume, the catastrophic harm such an increase would cause to the planet (which actually means to our living standards, because the Earth doesn’t care). Despite a seemingly endless list of past predictions that have failed to materialize, and despite a seemingly perpetual shifting-forward of “act by Year XXXX or we all die” lines in the sand, the COP24 participants and their ilk remain as certain and as earnest as ever.

Meanwhile, over in France, we are witnessing the fifth weekend of the “yellow jacket protests,” prompted by a planned 30 cent per gallon increase in gasoline taxes, an increase advanced by President Macron in order to reduce carbon emissions.

Fantasy crashes against reality.

If oh-so-progressive France won’t accept a relatively piddling change in favor of ‘saving the planet,’ who in their right mind can believe that a coordinated and near-unanimous reduction of carbon emissions that’s “dramatic” in the next 12 years and near-total 32 years from now will happen? Especially when the replacement for carbon-based energy is being limited to wind and solar power?

To get to “near-zero,” we’d have to witness every nation’s power grid convert to wind and solar in the next 3 decades, AND witness a breakthrough in energy storage technology (batteries?), AND see a near-complete switchover to electric cars (more batteries), AND have all that technological wizardry exported to every major population in the world, AND expect every nation in the world to eschew the use of oil, gas, and coal (which, if the first world nations somehow manage to decarbonize, will become cheaper and cheaper, thanks to the laws of economics).

Those who see the world as America, Western Europe, and a bunch of brown and yellow people who are out-of-sight-out-of-mind might convince themselves that, given enough collective will, all this is possible.

Funny thing, that collective will. It’s not really collective. It’s the belief of a relative handful of first-world elites, imposed upon the masses. Those masses voted those rich and powerful people into power because they were promised easier and better lives, not because they were promised the imposition of taxes and hardship in pursuit of a diffuse benefit that they won’t live to see.

What those masses give in power, they can just as easily take away. Despite massive efforts at indoctrination and a near-Inquisitional degree of marginalizing skepticism or dissent, the public hasn’t embraced climate change as a high priority. It’s not hard to understand why. People vote for what they perceive are their best interests, and vote for those whose promises of making things better they most believe. Philosophical differences prompt different people to vote for different “betters,” but it is the rare person who votes for personal privation. Note, by the way, that those most interested in seeing draconian controls on carbon are those who can most afford the increased costs of maintaining their lifestyles (aka the 1%, who by definition are nowhere near a majority), not the people who will suffer the greatest burden of much more expensive energy.

In short, a leader that imposes draconian harm on his citizens will very likely find himself replaced by someone who promises to undo that harm.

So, it’s a safe bet that all these demands for massive carbon taxes and draconian caps will amount to nothing. Yes, some nibbling around the edges can happen, but the only benefit will be to the pockets of the well-connected.

But, what of the agreements? The Paris accord, the one that Trump withdrew America from, with ensuing hue, cry, and fainting onto divans (even as America actually met and exceeded her share of cuts), is not only voluntary, it allows signatories to change their commitments at will. Who the [redacted] honestly thinks that China is going to do anything that will harm her economic competitiveness? Russia? India? And, even if every nation in the world somehow managed to honor their commitments, the Paris Accords don’t even come close to what we’re told is necessary in terms of cuts.

Compounding matters is the fact that there are still a billion people in the world who do not have access to electricity. Normal human progress will bring it to them, and in doing so will make their lives immeasurably better. Even if “we” could decide that they shouldn’t get electricity, “we” would be committing an act of gross immorality in denying it to them. Fact is, developing nations will continue to develop, they will do so with carbon energy, and it would be monstrous (and murderous to genocidal levels) to halt that development.

As I’ve iterated on this blog time and again, carbon caps and taxes cannot adequately remediate global warming, should such remediation be necessary. This is doubly true when advocates very deliberately exclude nuclear power as a replacement, and persist in the assertion that the solution lies in “renewables” i.e. wind and solar (with a dollop of geothermal occasionally added for flavor). Such geniuses are trying to make an already near-impossible strategy even harder by excluding the only alternative that makes any sense.

Thus, I offer a suggestion to the COP24 attendees: Declare that this is the last such meeting, and request that those funding these meetings repurpose all expected future outlays (thousands of people traveling from all over the world and meeting for two weeks isn’t cheap) towards geoengineering research and the construction of modern nuclear power plants. Solutions that do not require total conformity to a brute-force imposition of harm upon billions of poor people stand a much greater chance of coming to fruition and of working, and thus are certainly preferable to the current pipe-dream.

Sadly, there are actually people out there who don’t think cheaper-and-easier is preferable to a useless imposition of expensive punishment, and these folks consider themselves among the Best-and-Brighest. Among these are people who halted a geoengineering experiment out of concern that a viable alternative to carbon caps might derail their efforts. I’d deride these people as being self-interested rent-seeking liars, and there are indeed many who are on the anti-carbon bandwagon solely to enrich themselves, but there are indeed people who are utterly convinced of the morality of their carbon hatred, and thus genuine in their opposition to other solutions.

The Earth’s nations are not going to decarbonize their economies. Anyone who believes that global warming can be remediated by making carbon energy more expensive and/or banning its use is engaged in deep and arrogant self-delusion. This delusion is not benign, since it misdirects efforts and resources, and imposes pointless hardship on the world’s poor. It’s a force of destruction that, left unchecked, will shorten the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

A footnote: One estimate puts the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by the COP24 meeting at 55,000 metric tons, or the equivalent of annual emissions of over 8200 American homes. And that’s BEFORE factoring in travel. The UN reports that the majority of those attending flew private. The shameless, arrogant hypocrisy of this is breathtaking, given their demands that the working classes and the poor suffer lifestyle privation. While, factually, this release is a relative triviality, appearances matter, and actions are telling. None of these elites will suffer a gram’s worth of inconvenience from the draconian sacrifices they demand others make.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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