President Should Declare Global Warming Victory and Go Home

President Should Declare Global Warming Victory and Go Home
January 22, 2013

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)

President Barack Obama in his second inauguration address called for new action to “respond to the threat of climate change,” saying “none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

Imposing still more “global warming” restrictions on the U.S. economy makes about as much sense as losing your car keys in Boston but insisting on searching for them in Los Angeles. True, global carbon dioxide emissions have risen more than 33 percent since the year 2000. However, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have declined during that time and will continue to decline for the foreseeable future. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that during 2012 alone, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions declined by 8 percent compared to 2011. 

China by far emits more carbon dioxide than any other nation. Chinese emissions, moreover, are growing rapidly. China alone accounts for 75 percent of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions since 2000. If the United States completely eliminated all of its carbon dioxide emissions today (something that is impossible to do), the only thing we would accomplish would be to delay by about five years an equal increase in Chinese emissions. And China has repeatedly and emphatically insisted it will not agree to any restrictions on its carbon dioxide emissions.

Thankfully, President Obama’s asserted global warming catastrophes exist solely in his mind. 

The National Interagency Fire Center reports the number of annual wildfires in the United States has been declining for more than 30 years. In fact, the number of wildfires rose from the 1950s through the 1970s, as global temperatures declined, and have been declining ever since, as global temperatures modestly warmed.

Similarly, U.S. and global soil moisture has improved throughout the 20th century as our planet warmed in its recovery from the Little Ice Age. According to the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank, global soil moisture has increased during the 20th century at almost all sites. Moreover, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 20th century droughts were quite mild when compared to droughts in previous centuries.

The President’s assertion about more powerful storms is particularly fictitious. NOAA reports a long-term decline in strong tornadoes striking the United States. The National Hurricane Center reports that the past 40 years have seen the fewest major hurricane strikes since at least the mid-1800s. Even Hurricane Sandy reminds us that the U.S. Northeast has experienced only one major hurricane strike since 1960, but experienced six major hurricane strikes during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, when global temperatures were cooler.

When it comes to President Obama’s call to take action “to respond to the threat of climate change” we should declare victory right now and allow Obama to yet again take political credit. 

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)