Pielke Outlines Pragmatic Climate Skepticism

University of Colorado climate scientist Roger Pielke, Jr. published an interesting article yesterday making his case for pragmatic climate skepticism. Pielke presented some authoritative recent scientific data refuting predictions of climate doom and gloom, yet implicitly made the case for pragmatic energy policy that would address climate concerns.

On the science, Pielke linked to a recent peer-reviewed study demonstrating droughts are becoming rarer as global temperatures warm. “For most of the CONUS [conterminous United States], drought frequency appears to have decreased during the 1901 through 2014 period,” the study concludes. Pielke also linked to a new National Academy of Sciences report finding no evidence of global warming worsening droughts, floods, or tornadoes. These studies support Pielke’s longstanding assertion that global warming is not making extreme weather events worse.

University of Colorado climate scientist Roger Pielke, Jr. Image courtesy of YouTube.

University of Colorado climate scientist Roger Pielke, Jr. Image courtesy of YouTube.

Pielke nevertheless voiced hope for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, presumably as insurance against potential future warming harms. “In 2016, 14.5% of global energy consumption came from carbon-free technologies,” wrote Pielke, citing BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy. “That is the highest level since 1966. That’s the good news.”

Pielke explained, however, that the pace at which global energy sources are becoming carbon-free is well short of what is necessary to meet climate activists’ goal of keeping global carbon dioxide emissions below 450 parts per million. Pielke noted that renewable power alone is falling far short of meeting the carbon-free power goals of climate activists.

Globally, the United States, China, and India “are responsible for 100% of the increase in carbon-free energy consumption, while the rest of the world netted out to zero change,” observed Pielke. This is encouraging in the sense that China and India have increased their carbon dioxide emissions more than any other countries in the world this century. China and India being among global leaders in carbon-free energy sources has slowed their emissions growth nearly to a halt. Nuclear and hydro power are driving much of this trend.

What are the policy lessons here? We can agree with Pielke that global warming has yet to unleash the extreme weather events long predicted by climate activists, while at the same time being conscious of pragmatic means to minimize future growth in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Nuclear and hydro power should continue to provide growth in global carbon-free energy sources. Additionally, natural gas can continue to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions – as it is doing in the United States – by providing an affordable low-carbon alternative to coal power. A wind-and-solar-only approach is self defeating for climate activists.

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