Restore Our American Republic

Human Flourishing vs. The Green New Deal – Part 1

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This is the first in a series of essays looking at the implications of a sweeping new policy proposal in the U.S. known as The “Green New Deal.” The program, unveiled in January 2019 by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, proposes to replace fossil fuels by renewable sources of energy by 2035 to combat “climate change.” But it goes far beyond that. Similar to the original New Deal enacted in the 1930s by the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, it proposes massive federal expenditures and regulatory controls over the U.S. economy to promote a social welfare agenda. As Tim Huelskamp President of the Heartland Institute notes:

“The real desire is to accomplish the Left’s longtime goal of moving the United States toward the full adoption of socialism. Significant provisions of the Green New Deal reveal its true purpose of imposing socialism on an unprecedented scale.”

The proposed program would include complete government control of healthcare, guarantee of a living wage and other welfare measures to be funded by massive inflation created by the Federal Reserve along with steep tax increases.

Although many commentators have mentioned the policy’s impracticality and its excessive economic costs, few have challenged its moral outlook of demonizing the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy, an energy source that has been used to radically improve human life around the world.

The Green New Deal is part of a larger cultural battle in  the U.S. with the founding principle of individual rights vs. the moral outlook underlying socialism where the individual is seen as being part of a larger whole e.g., society or the environment as a whole. This conflict has been ongoing in one form or another since the founding of the U.S. and will ultimately be won by philosophic arguments that are expressed in terms of fundamental values. This is because:

Values are the vehicle for defining who we are and what we want, and help us to develop our life’s purpose, or mission. This gives them enormous motivational power. When we present a philosophical viewpoint consistent with our values, we can rouse people to action, and sustain that action with our values serving as both fuel and desired end result (i.e., cause and effect).

 The values involved with this policy proposal are the ability to consciously modify the environment to serve human life (human flourishing)  vs. the value of  minimizing our impact on the environment (the Green New Deal).  To preserve our freedom, individual rights,  and the prosperity they have provided, it is imperative that we be willing and able to defend the flourishing of human life as the ultimate standard of value. So without further ado let’s begin Part I of Human Flourishing vs. the Green New Deal

Mike Gemmell
Founder and President, Restore Our American Republic, LLC

 

 

Origin of the Green New Deal

In 2007, British political economy professor Richard Murphy used the term “Green New Deal” when describing a proposed public policy to develop a zero-carbon emission transportation infrastructure that would eliminate the use of fossil fuels and replace it with renewable energy resources.  The program’s sweeping scope was reminiscent of the vast scope of the New Deal of the 1930s, a series of policies from Franklin Roosevelt’s administration initiated for the purpose of reducing unemployment during the depression years in the U.S. Roosevelt’s program failed to reduce unemployment, and in the process introduced the beginning of the welfare state in America.

Proponents of the Green New Deal base their claims of its necessity on the overwhelming consensus of scientists stating CO2 levels from the use of fossil fuels are responsible for the possibility of catastrophic manmade climate change. According to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

“There’s no debate as to whether we should continue producing fossil fuels,” she said. “There’s no debate. We should not. Every single scientific consensus points to that.”

Really??? Let’s look at this claim of scientific consensus to see whether it is as Ocasio-Cortez claims.

The So-Called Scientific Consensus

Alex Epstein in his excellent essay “97% Of Climate Scientists Agree’ Is 100% Wrong” traces the origin of scientific consensus on climate change to a 2013 paper by John Cook of skepticalscience.com where Cook stated:

“over 97 percent [of papers he surveyed] endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.”

Epstein points out that  Cook was able to demonstrate that only a small percentage of the authors explicitly endorsed “the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.” When the study was publicly challenged by economist David Friedman, one observer calculated that only 1.6 percent of the cited authors explicitly stated that man-made greenhouse gases caused at least 50 percent of global warming.

So, where did the rest of the 97 percent “consensus” come from? To create that piece of fiction, Cook created a category called “explicit endorsement without quantification. ” Cook eventually admitted that this designation did not say what percent of the warming was caused by man. He also created a category called “implicit endorsement,” for papers that imply (but don’t say) that there is some man-made global warming and don’t quantify it.

And in fact numerous scientists that Cook falsely classified as endorsing his claim of consensus on climate change publicly protested his misrepresentation. (97% Study Falsely Classifies Scientists’ Papers, according to the scientists that published them)

 Some Inconvenient Facts for the Climate Change Catastrophists

With a more skeptical regard for the claim of ‘97% Of Climate Scientists Agree‘ consensus, let’s take a look at some inconvenient facts that severely undermine the claim of catastrophic climate change being caused by fossil fuel emissions:

  • Relative to Earth’s entire record, carbon-dioxide levels are at historically low levels. 600 million years ago when dinosaurs  walked the earth, –prior to any fossil fuel emissions from industry– the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was up to 6500 parts per million, 17 times higher than today.
  • The amount of CO2 put into the atmosphere by the biosphere is approximately 440 billion tons per year, 13 times the amount produced by fossil-fuel emissions. In other words, fossil fuels emissions are less than 10 percent of biological emissions.
  • CO2content in the mid-nineteenth century was between 260 and 280 parts per million (ppm) and today is approximately 410 ppm. But if CO2 levels were driving atmospheric warming we would expect the rise in CO2 levels to be mirrored in the temperature record. Instead global temperatures rose approximately one degree Celsius from 1900 to 1940; fell approximately one degree Celsius from 1940 to 1965; and showed no net increase during the 1980’s.

(Sources: Global Warming Myth Debunked: Humans Have Minimal Impact on Atmosphere’s Carbon Dioxide and Climate, Jay Lehr and Tom Harris, February 14, 2019, and Environmentalism Humanized, Mike Gemmell, 1995.)

The Deeper Roots of the Green New Deal

From the early days of the environmental movement in the mid-20th century up to the present day, the Greens attitude toward human life has ranged from disdain to outright contempt. For example, the perspective from renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben in his book The End of Nature is all too common:

Our goal should be a “humbler world” one where “Human happiness would be of secondary importance.”

And in praising that book, biologist David M. Graber, said:

Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.

This profoundly anti-human moral outlook is the source of the Greens bias against human actions that consciously modify our environment. They view nature as a Garden of Eden that will provide for us – as long as we don’t try to modify it. They are unable, or unwilling, to grasp how distorted their view of reality is and because of this do whatever is necessary to convince themselves of its validity. This includes actions such as fabricating a false consensus supporting manmade climate change (i.e., John Cook), suppressing inconvenient data not supporting the manmade climate change paradigm (Climategate scandal) and overlooking important comparative measurements showing the minor contribution of manmade CO2 emissions relative to nature (current CO2 levels [410 ppm] being extremely low compared to historical levels [6500 ppm] during age of dinosaurs, i.e., pre-industry).

Inconvenient facts do not deter them from their mantra that mankind should not be consciously modifying the environment:

“We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.” – Tim Wirth, President UN Foundation

Because of their anti-human perspective, Greens have for decades been seeking a mechanism to control society and minimize our impact on nature. Their policy proposal to implement this goal was the Agenda 21 resolution introduced at the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992. It was hailed as the “comprehensive blueprint for the reorganization of human society” and was summed up in supporting documents:

“Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced. It requires a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals, and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources…”

In other words centralized control, i.e., a totalitarian state is needed to “protect the earth.”

These goals and the anti-human perspective they were founded on have been repackaged and included in the Green New Deal. Since 1992, Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center has been in the forefront of efforts to expose the threat to our rights that Agenda 21 represents. In his latest essay, he explains how Agenda 21 has been repackaged within the Green New Deal: “Green New Deal Reveals the Naked Truth of Agenda 21”

Human Flourishing as an Alternative to the Green New Deal

Thankfully, we have a pro-human perspective presented by Alex Epstein in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels that paints a much more positive outlook on energy and environmental issues. Epstein points out that nature does not supply us with resources but only raw materials. We must then use our rational faculty to transform those raw materials into resources that serve human life. In his introductory chapter “The Secret History of Fossil Fuels” he points out facts that have been glossed over due to the Greens anti-human perspective:

  • Fossil fuel use increased by 80% worldwide from 1980 to 2012, while at the same time proven oil/gas reserves increased during that time.
  • From 1980 to 2012, although fossil fuel use was greatly increasing around the world, air pollution concentrations in the U.S. from the six major pollutants monitored by the EPA all declined during that same time period (ammonia, Particulate Matter 2.5, Sulfur Oxide, Nitrous Oxide, Volatile Organic Carbon, carbon monoxide).

In future installments of Human Flourishing vs. The Green New Deal we’ll delve more into the philosophical and practical flaws in the Green New Deal, and elaborate on how a pro-human moral outlook is the needed perspective for addressing environmental and energy policy issues to support human life without violating our individual rights and personal freedoms.

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