Great Britain’s most prominent scientific body significantly softened its position on global warming after 43 of its members complained that the previous position did not take into account dissenting evidence. Although the Royal Society’s climate change guide still asserts that greenhouse gas gases resulting from human activity contributes to warming, it does so more prudently:
There is very strong evidence to indicate that climate change has occurred on a wide range of different timescales from decades to many millions of years; human activity is a relatively recent addition to the list of potential causes of climate change. It is not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the climate will change in the future, but careful estimates of potential changes and associated uncertainties have been made. Scientists continue to work to narrow these areas of uncertainty. Uncertainty can work both ways, since the changes and their impacts may be either smaller or larger than those projected.
This is a dramatic reversal from the Royal Society’s previous reports from a few years ago, when the group urged the U.K. government to take urgent action to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and to do so “as fast as possible.”
The U.S. took that message to heart. The current Administration is attempting to tip the balance in favor of renewable energy by advocating a cap-and-trade system and renewable electricity mandates and has allocated additional billions of dollars in government spending for government-picked clean energy sources. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving down a long regulatory path to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act because CO2 and five other greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten public health and the environment.
With such inconclusive and uncertain scientific evidence, Congress should cease from implementing any new policies to avoid GHGs and prohibit the EPA from doing the same. We should welcome an objective scientific debate on global warming, but when you mix politics into the equation, having an uninfluenced, transparent debate is wishful thinking.
Nicolas Loris is a Research Assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Loris studies energy, environment and regulation issues such as the economic impacts of climate change legislation, a free market approach to nuclear energy and the effects of environmental policy on energy prices and the economy.
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