It has been widely noted that many of our government leaders seem to like the air of crisis and the exertion of emergency power that the COVID pandemic has enabled. And there has been open support among the climatistas applying the kinds of strictures used to battle COVID to climate change as well. The superficiality of this parallel will be lost on lots of people—after all, how well are the lockdowns and mark-wearing mandates working?
Thus we are starting to hear calls for proto-President Biden to declare climate change to be a national emergency when he takes office:
Progressive environmentalists are mounting a long-shot bid to get President-elect Joe Biden to go beyond naming a climate czar and declare an environmental national emergency, borrowing a tactic employed by President Donald Trump to fund part of his border wall.
Invoking a climate emergency could give Biden the authority to circumvent Congress and fund clean energy projects, shut down crude oil exports, suspend offshore drilling and curtail the movement of fossil fuels on pipelines, trains, and ships, according to a research note by consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners.
“The president’s powers to address climate change through an emergency are very, very large,” said Kassie Siegel, an attorney with the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity,* which is lobbying Biden’s team to act. “This is No. 1 on the list of things the Biden administration should do.”
And just yesterday, Biden said: “Climate change will continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods, public health and economics of our existence and literally, the very existence of our planet.”
One reason a Biden Maladministration might declare a “climate emergency” is that it is hard to see what else Congress might do at this point. As John has already noted, the recently passed COVID relief bill contained huge giveaways for “green energy” extending out for several years. Some environmentalists actually call these climate provisions “the most significant climate legislation ever.” If that’s true, then why should Congress worry about it again next year?
Robert Bryce has pointed out how lopsided these subsidies are relative to the amount of energy generated by source:
Now, if Biden wants to declare the climate equivalent of martial law, he has just the team to do it with Long-(Faced)-John Kerry and former EPA capo Gina McCarthy, though Kerry’s doltery is seldom more obvious than when he talks about climate. Myron Ebell reminds us:
The fact is that Kerry knows less about climate science than a person of normal diligence could learn on the Internet in an hour. Now, it is fair to note that politicians have to talk about a lot of things that they know nothing about. But Kerry has specialized in climate for decades. . . Kerry not only doesn’t know anything about the basics of climate science; what he is sure he knows is wrong.
Here’s one of Kerry’s actual explanations of the climate system, from 2014:
Try and picture a very thin layer of gases—a quarter-inch, half an inch, somewhere in that vicinity—that’s how thick it is. It’s in our atmosphere. It’s way up there at the edge of the atmosphere. And for millions of years—literally millions of years—we know that layer has acted like a thermal blanket for the planet—trapping the sun’s heat and warming the surface of the Earth to the ideal, life-sustaining temperature. Average temperature of the Earth has been about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, which keeps life going.
There are a few cool-headed environmentalists who know better, like Alex Trembath of the Breakthrough Institute. Writing last year in Slate, Alex says:
What might worry me most is that, like Trump’s recent move [to pay for the border wall through the National Emergencies Act], the declaration of a national emergency in the name of climate change amounts to an end run around democracy. And this would not be the first ecological challenge in which scientists and activists demanded an authority higher than the populace’s. The famous 2009 “planetary boundaries” hypothesis explicitly proposed geophysical limits that must be enforced by institutions sitting above democracy. These included climate change but also freshwater use, land use change, and other environmental measures. As Oxford’s Steve Rayner put it, “the framing of planetary boundaries as being scientifically derived nonnegotiable limits obscures the inherent normativity of deciding how to react to environmental change.” Indeed, several of the idea’s leading advocates argued affirmatively for such a power structure, proposing “an institution (or institutions) operating, with authority, above the level of individual countries to ensure that the planetary boundaries are respected.”
I cannot help but recall this overt attempt at a scientistic power grab when I hear calls for a national, highly partisan climate emergency.
* Nota bene: The Center for Biological Diversity is a Stalinist organization.