October 29, 2018

Climate Change and Global Warming

BOSTON – In August, when US President Donald Trump proposed to freeze fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, environmentalists and their supporters were outraged. Now, the temperature of the debate has risen again, following a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that highlights the urgent need to take drastic action to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

While the environmentalists’ efforts to combat climate change are laudable, their reactions to these developments are misdirected. The strategies for reducing emissions that they advocate barely move the needle and are, in many cases, counterproductive; giving companies and governments a “fig leaf.” We need a real-world strategy for tackling climate change that marshals the world’s technological resources without imposing crippling restrictions on economic growth.

Much of the backlash that followed the Trump administration’s proposed relaxation of vehicle emissions standards has centered on two aspects of the 500-page report on which it is based. First, the administration accepted that the change will increase greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, but claimed that the increase would be inconsequential. Second, the administration estimates that global temperatures will increase by 3.5° Celsius (6.3° Fahrenheit) by 2100 if no action is taken. These assumptions provoked fierce criticism; the Boston Globe published the headline: “The Trump Administration Content to Sit Back and Watch Planet Warm.”

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