Facing Reality on Carbon Dioxide

By: Mona Charen | Posted: February 25, 2014 3:55 AM
Mona Charen

Mona Charen

Though you wouldn't necessarily know it based on news coverage, the United States in the reign of President Barack Obama is enduring the most prolonged period of slow growth and high unemployment since World War II. The president asserts that he saved us from another Great Depression, which, like his claim that the stimulus would "create or save" millions of jobs, is about as provable as the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

The Obama administration has done little to spur job creation, but a great deal to inhibit it. The president mocks the idea of deregulation ("cut two regulations and call me in the morning"), but the new layers of rules and directives his administration has layered over the already-existing sedimentary encrustations cannot have helped.

There is one segment of the economy that has defied the trough, though, and that's energy. The U.S. is now the world's leading producer of hydrocarbons. The International Energy Agency predicts that the U.S. will produce more petroleum than either Saudi Arabia or Russia by 2015. For the first time since 1949, the U.S. is a net exporter of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. For the past several years, the oil and gas industry has added between $300 billion and $400 billion annually to the economy. Without the hydrocarbon boom, the economy would still be in recession.
Obama has attempted to take credit for the boom in domestic energy production. His website boasts, "The president established a national goal in 2011 to reduce oil imports by one third ... "

The president can issue goals and schedules to his heart's content, but like so much else about his tenure, these words are piffle. As Mark Mills, an energy analyst at the Manhattan Institute notes, the president had absolutely nothing to do with the energy renaissance that is reshaping our economy and can do more.

Neither did Big Oil. Small businesses, most with fewer than 15 employees, are responsible for 75 percent of America's energy production. "Fracking" is only part of the story. The boom in onshore energy production is the result of American technological prowess wedded to entrepreneurial genius. Computers and cameras guide probes below ground, minimizing dry holes. Horizontal drilling permits seams long inaccessible to be tapped.

Rumor has it that in North Dakota, epicenter of the Bakken formation, workers are in such demand that McDonald's is paying up to $18 an hour. The state currently enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and boasts a $1 billion budget surplus.

The boom is not limited to North Dakota. At least 16 other states have more than 150,000 workers associated with the energy industry. In the states most associated with the fracking revolution -- Pennsylvania, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Wyoming -- statewide employment growth has beaten the national average.

Is the domestic energy expansion bad for the environment? Certainly not when natural gas replaces coal. Besides, the world has not yet figured out how to power itself with other energy sources. Ethanol, which consumes 40 percent of all corn grown in the U.S., provides only 5 percent of transportation energy. Renewables, including hydropower, biomass wood, wind, solar and geothermal, accounted for just 9.3 percent of U.S. energy use in 2012, despite government subsidies. The developing world, including China, India and Brazil, are unwilling to sacrifice economic growth on the altar of climate change. Germany, which made a hasty and emotional switch away from nuclear power after Fukushima and made a heavy investment in wind power, is now building dirty coal generation plants to cope with rising prices.

Democrats can sneer at so-called deniers all they like, but they themselves are denying a hard reality: Hydrocarbons will continue to power the world for the foreseeable future. There is no other fuel that can put planes in the air, for example. If carbon dioxide is causing the planet to warm (and the models significantly overpredicted the amount of warming so far), mankind will have to find ways to cope with the problem other than massive taxes to discourage CO2 use. Maximizing natural gas usage is one such step. Basic R and D on improving batteries, solar cells and other technologies is another. Seawalls, dikes and other ameliorating efforts are a third. 

In the interim, the energy boom in the U.S. is a job creator, a boon to our friends (like Canada, Britain and Israel -- also poised to exploit the new technologies) and a setback for our adversaries.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


Tags: News, Columns

Comments (9)

12:09PM MAR 2ND 2014
"...After examining climate data extending back nearly 100 years, a team of Government scientists has concluded that there has been no significant change in average temperatures or rainfall in the United States over that entire period.

The study, made by scientists for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was published in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters. It is based on temperature and precipitation readings taken at weather stations around the country from 1895 to 1987."

New York Times - January 26, 1989
9:46PM MAR 3RD 2014
News report from 25 years ago . . . is that the best you can do, a news quote from last century . . . . perhaps you might ask NOAA scientists what they think today . . . I know a few, including a past head of NOAA . . . . perhaps you can talk to one or two . . . somehow I'm sure the current understanding (and the data) will say something just a little bit different . . . . . as you can see from the statements of other scientific organizations below . . . . bringing us timely info, once again . . . .

Pathetic . . . . . .
John Paul Jones
8:28PM FEB 25TH 2014
Though I really love being lectured to about science by progressives who never took so much as a college level science class, I am not willing, nor should any other American living in the real world be willing, to destroy the American economy over the fantastical musings of the progressive AGW cult. All, let me repeat, ALL of the supposed AGW models are wrong. NONE of them can explain past temperature trends, let alone predict what is happening with climate now, or how man made emissions are contributing if at all. The only thing we know for sure is that the climate on the earth has changed continuously and significantly since long before man burned his first fossil fuel. So close your eyes and believe those who "coincidentally" propose, as a solution to AGW, a drastic increase in government power and redistribution of wealth. Or open your eyes and realize that economic freedom and growth (powered by plentiful and affordable energy) is what will bring health, security, and prosperity to far more people on this planet than any form of socialism.

P.S. I am not trying to convince Frank. He is a hopeless believer. Bless his heart.
9:04PM FEB 25TH 2014
Of course you're not trying to convince me . . . see, unlike you I actually have college and graduate degrees in the relevant sciences . . . . in three different fields, in fact . . . . so you must seem just a little out of sorts . . . . . why don't you just cite your peer-reviewed scientific paper with your name on it demonstrating all models used in climate change research are wrong . . . . what, don't have one . . . . of course you don't . . . . . when FoxNoise is the bible and basis for your science denial, well, that's just so . . . .

Pathetic . . . .

Oh, and here are just a few of the actual scientific statements on man's role in Climate Change by national and international scientific organization (or as John Paul prefers to spin them all, "fantastical musings", since he can't cite a single one in his favor, as "no scientific body of national or international standing (has) rejected the findings of human-induced effects on climate change"):

2003-2013 - American Geophysical Union. "Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes."

2004 - American Chemical Society. "Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem."

2005 - U.S. National Academy of Sciences. "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

2006 - American Association for the Advancement of Science. "The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society."

2007 - American Physical Society. "The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now."

2010 - The Geological Society of America. "The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse‐gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s."

2012 - American Meteorological Society. "It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide." . . .

Still in denial, aren't you . . . . and attempting to spread more of your easily discounted politics of the "Big Lie" . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
John Paul Jones
9:09PM FEB 25TH 2014
Oh Frank, there you go copying and pasting again. So are all of those little comments above actually peer reviewed scientific reports with your name on them? No? There is one thing I can say. All of them get their manipulated analysis from the UN IPCC. So I realize that you and the other believers are excited to crush the US economy to satisfy the UN IPCC, and all the billionaires who invest in solutions to the fantisized problem, but the scientists who aren't controlled by the IPCC, and dependent on government grants for their livelihood, can attest that the models you depend on are spectacular failures.
9:41PM FEB 25TH 2014
Incredible . . . . in your world, scientists don't know anything and are all easily led to obvious political findings (except, of course, for your few deniers) . . . . . sigh . . . . deny, deny, deny . . . . you'd think after awhile you'd learn that time and knowledge will expose this, just like it did about smoking, evolution and the earth circling the sun (although as recent polling shows, an awful lot of your believers still swear the sun revolves around the earth) . . . . they too are science deniers . . .

Pathetic . . .
12:46PM FEB 25TH 2014
Yes, we've gotten ourselves into quite the excess carbon trap . . .

The issue is whether we move forward and try to wean ourselves away from as much excess carbon production as soon as possible . . . . or continue to delay at moving forward with innovative solutions because some vested interests wish to deny we even have a problem . . . . like they did with the science linking tobacco smoking and cancer, heart disease, etc. . . . .

Oh, and about that Germany comment . . . . yes, you must be right . . . the country that has set itself a goal that 80 percent of its energy will come from renewable sources by 2050 is now totally abandoning that goal, correct . . . . . and it's not like any new coal plant was planned for, what, a decade ago and PREDATES Fukushima (as was Germany's thought out decision to phase out its nuclear power) . . . is that what you mean by your partisan spin about Germany's "hasty and emotional switch away from nuclear power after Fukushima". . . . . yeah, right . . . . why do you right wing commentators persist with easily disproven politics of the "Big Lie" . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
11:32PM MAR 1ST 2014
For somebody who loves to repeat the word "Pathetic" so much, Frank is one of the most Pathetic non-thinkers in the Church of the GoreBull Warming religion. The more these religionists try to dismiss logical objections by calling GoreBull Warming "settled science" the more they prove that it is neither settled nor science.
9:45PM MAR 3RD 2014
I don't get my science from FoxNoise . . . . I actually went out in the field, did my research, published my peer-reviewed scientific papers, and earned my three science degrees in related fields . . . . how about you . . . . published any scientific papers recently or spoken at a national science conference on Climate Change . . . when you have, come back with something intelligent to say . . . . until then, your truthiness denial is clearly . . . .

Pathetic . . . .

. . . . and I just love how I always seem to continually generate and attract the brand new, first time commentators on SSN . . . . you'd think there's a fan club conspiracy involved or something . . . . just sad . . . . . just sad . . .

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