DOI Secretary Sally Jewell told employees today that combatting climate change is a “privilege” and “moral imperative,” adding: “I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior,” E&E News PM (subscription required) reports.
Such moralizing would be funny were it not for the chilling effect it is bound to have in an agency already mired in group think.
What does she mean by “denier” anyway? Is it literally someone who denies that greenhouse gas emissions have a greenhouse (warming) effect? Or is a “denier” merely someone who thinks climate change is not a “crisis,” or who regards the usual panoply of climate policies — carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, other market-rigging interventions — as a ‘cure’ worse than the alleged disease?
In recent testimony before House Energy and Commerce, University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologist Roy Spencer unhesitatingly included himself among the alleged 97% of scientists who BELIEVE. He explained:
It should also be noted that the fact that I believe at least some of recent warming is human-caused places me in the 97% of researchers recently claimed to support the global warming consensus (actually, it’s 97% of the published papers, Cook et al., 2013). The 97% statement is therefore rather innocuous, since it probably includes all of the global warming “skeptics” I know of who are actively working in the field. Skeptics generally are skeptical of the view that recent warming is all human-caused, and/or that it is of a sufficient magnitude to warrant immediate action given the cost of energy policies to the poor. They do not claim humans have no impact on climate whatsoever.
Would Spencer, who challenges the climate sensitivity assumptions underpinning the global warming scare, be welcome at DOI? Not a chance on Jewell’s watch.
The problem with trying to turn climate activism into a moral imperative is that coercive carbon reduction poses risks of its own to public health, human welfare, and biodiversity.
Globally, poverty remains the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death. Poor countries require affordable energy to fuel their growth out of poverty. For the foreseeable future, that chiefly means carbon-based energy. Is eliminating poverty a moral imperative, Ms. Jewell? If so, then opposing the imposition of carbon caps or taxes on developing countries is a moral imperative.
Even in industrialized nations, carbon taxes, caps, and renewable electricity mandates can destroy jobs and income, and an abundant literature confirms the widespread intuition that poverty and unemployment imperil life and health. Is improving public health and welfare a moral imperative? If so, then opposing domestic carbon suppression policies is a moral imperative.
Since 2007, biofuel policies adopted in the name of climate change have contributed to the plowing up of 23 million acres of grasslands and wetlands — a loss of wildlife habitat equal to the size of Indiana, estimates Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group. Is safeguarding U.S. biodiversity a moral imperative? If so, then repealing or reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard is a moral imperative.
Wind farms slice and dice large numbers of golden eagles and other raptors every year. Is raptor conservation a moral imperative? If so, then opposing the expansion of Soviet-style production quota for renewable electricity, especially on public lands, is a moral imperative.
Ms. Jewel’s anti-‘denier’ sermonizing is morally vacuous. It will, however, discourage candor and independent thought in an important and powerful agency.
Only a few months on the job and Jewell already behaves like a self-righteous bully. A good swift dose of congressional oversight is in order. It might just keep the thought police from harassing climate dissenters at DOI.