Peter Morici

Climate change cannot be denied. The inconvenient truth President Obama refuses to accept is that U.S. efforts to significantly alter its course are fruitless, and severely handicap America's ability to mitigate its consequences.

The global climate has gone through profound cycles of cooling and warming since long before humans walked the earth. Still, the majority of qualified scientists have now concluded industrial activities-greenhouse gas emissions-are now a significant cause of global warming and are urging concerted international action.

CO2 composes 80 percent of harmful emissions. Failing to win congressional approval for a system of permits to reduce emissions, the president has unilaterally targeted coal-fired electric utilities and fuel use in transportation to reduce U.S. emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels.

Those actions are unnecessary and harmful.

In recent years, more abundant and cheaper natural gas has motivated electric utilities to switch from coal, and energy intensive manufacturers in metals, chemicals and the like have made remarkable, cost-saving progress to reduce energy use.

Responding to consumer preferences, automakers were making more fuel efficient vehicles before the president imposed more stringent mileage standards. The high cost and stress of commuting are encouraging many young people to live closer to jobs. Competition from rail is pressuring trucking companies to purchase more fuel efficient rigs.

Together, those free market decisions have reduced CO2 emissions by more than 9 percent from 2005 levels.

Now, the EPA and other federal agencies want to micro-manage those choices by imposing inflexible standards on electric utilities and other manufacturers. Progressives would happily force as many Americans as they can onto mass transit, imposing a terrible drain on state transportation and local government operating budgets.

Those initiatives would not do much to arrest global warming but by increasing taxes and production costs, those would send more jobs to China.

With an economy about half the size, China already emits almost twice the CO2 as either the United States or Europe. Every 18 months, its emissions grow enough to replace the emissions savings the United States will accomplish hitting the president's 15 year target.

Other developing countries, like India, are similarly adding to the problem; however, China accounts for about 85 percent of the annual increase in global CO2 emissions.


Peter Morici

Professor Peter Morici is a recognized expert on economic policy and international economics. He has lectured and offered executive programs at more than 100 institutions including Columbia University, the Harvard Business School and Oxford University.
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