Climate Change And The Presidential Campaign

Marita Noon 2013 greyGlobal warming has been off the energy news radar as high gas prices have usurped the spotlight, however Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has brought it back. “Defense Secretary?” you might ask. “Not Energy Secretary Steven Chu or EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson?”

No. It was Leon Panetta, who, at an Environmental Defense Fund reception on Thursday May 3, declared “The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security.” (Are we going to declare war on countries like Canada for backing out of the Kyoto climate change commitments, or China and India for never supporting them in the first place?)

Panetta’s comments tell us two things. First, as I’ve stated in a previous column, the environmental community is important to the president’s re-election efforts, and, second, global warming will be part of the debate in the coming months leading up to November.

President Obama campaigned with the promise that he would slow the rise of the oceans and enact cap-and-trade legislation. Talk of manmade climate change was central to his election efforts. Now we know it will still be a part of the re-election rhetoric.

Likewise, candidate Romney has also supported the theory of manmade climate change and was part of the founding of one of the original cap-and-trade programs. However, Romney has now, after seeing new data, admitted that he doesn’t know whether or not man’s activity plays a role in climate change.

Both President Obama and Governor Romney accepted what was the prevalent thinking on climate change at the time. Many believed that the “science” was “settled.” Scientists like NASA’s James Hansen and Penn State’s Michael Mann publicly proclaimed that global warming was a threat to all of humanity and the earth. But that was then. Leon Panetta’s comment reminds us that the Obama position on climate change has remained static, while Romney’s has matured with the latest findings.

Within the past few weeks, James Lovelock, a scientist and climate-change alarmist, who in 2006 wrote, “Before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable,” admitted he was wrong and acknowledges that he’d been “extrapolating too far.”

Lovelock puts himself in the same “alarmist” category as Al Gore. Now he sees that “the problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened.” Lovelock continues. “The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now. The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising—carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that.” Despite rising carbon dioxide, sea levels are dropping – though it is doubtful that President Obama can take any credit for it since his promised cap-and-trade plan did not make it through the Democratic controlled Congress.

As Lovelock confessed, the dire predictions haven’t come true.

The polar bear, the mascot of the climate change crisis, believed to be drowning due to melting ice caps, is flourishing. Drikus Gissing, director of wildlife management for the Nunavut region, told the Globe and Mail, “The bear population is not in crisis as people believed. There is no doom and gloom.” The Canadian study Gissing referenced found that the polar bear population was 66 percent higher than expected.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted in 2007 that “Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and if the present rate continues, the likelihood of their disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.” Then, in 2010, they had to retract the estimate, admitting that it was based on “dubious scientific sources.” Time Magazine called the entire episode “a black eye for the IPCC and for the climate-science community as a whole.” Now, there is a new study reported in Nature that points out that the contribution of melting ice “is much less than previously estimated, with the lack of ice loss in the Himalayas and the other high peaks of Asia responsible for most of the discrepancy.”

As the Himalayan story exposes, some of the science behind the manmade climate change hysteria is “dubious.” And some is the result of scientific misconduct, as was revealed in the Climategate scandal that exposed falsified records and silenced scientists.

Add to the above the impact the general public is beginning to feel as climate change mitigation strategies – such as wind and solar power -are hitting their utility bills, and the disgust they feel over the president’s insistence that more taxpayer dollars be thrown at an increasing number of failing so-called renewable energy firms, and it is easy to see why support for manmade global warming theory has waned.

And, one has to question why the president is entrenched in ideology that has now been shown to be demonstrably deceptive. The issue of costly climate change mitigation schemes is about more than just our presidential candidates. More than half of the states have mandated requirements for expensive renewable energy that raises electricity rates for everyone. Each legislator who voted for the cost-increasing standards needs to be as honest as Romney, and admit that they were wrong and reverse the policies, or be voted out of office. Unless that happens, energy prices will continue to climb and will stunt the struggling economic recovery.

The combination of new data, dire predictions that were no more accurate than a carnival fortune teller, scientific misconduct, and harsh economic impacts don’t add up to a strong foundation for a presidential campaign – yet, as Leon Panetta exposed, President Obama continues to cling to claims of manmade climate change crisis while Romney, like former “alarmist” James Lovelock, admits he was wrong.

Thousands of scientists never believed the predictions put forth by computer models, and many more, like Lovelock, have begun to question the assumptions. Later this month, hundreds of them, from across the globe, will converge in Chicago for the world’s largest gathering of “skeptics.” There they will discuss and debate the science.

Over the next six months, we are bound to hear about climate change as an issue. Romney will likely be called a flip-flopper, while President Obama stands firm on his convictions – with one sounding shameful and the other honorable. In contrast, I believe it is honorable to accept new input and admit when we are wrong and shameful to ignore new evidence, putting ideology ahead of reality.


The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.