covid-19 gives us a preview of extreme responses to climate change

covid-19 gives us a preview of extreme responses to climate change

The lyrics from Don Henley’s hit song “The Boys of Summer” properly characterize the situation we have today in America:

“Nobody on the road
Nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air
The summer’s out of reach

Empty lake, empty streets
The sun goes down alone
I’m driving by your house
Though I know you’re not home”

Of course, we need to change the last line…because now everyone is home thanks to Covid-19 and the shutdown of a large part of the American economy.

There are many known and yet to be known impacts of this interruption of our daily routines, jobs, businesses, and lives. Certainly, public safety and health concerns are important in a situation like this, and any loss of life is tragic. Nevertheless, it is impossible for a centrally planned response to anything to take into account all the unintended consequences of a course of action this drastic.

Even before the coronavirus was reaching our shores, the waves of negative economic data began lapping at the beaches. Supply chains from overseas were shut down, oil prices tanked due to reduced demand, airline travel all but ceased, and even the clamor over climate change took a back seat for a few days. But as soon as the response became more about politics than a common sense effort to mitigate the health impacts on the public, everything changed.

Now, the Covid-19 bailout is being loaded with stimulus for everything from Amtrak to Industrial Wind Farms…none of which has anything to do with virus propagation.  My fear is, and has been, that the economic devastation would eventually overshadow the effects of the virus, as deadly as they may be. And when all sorts of different entities and individuals line up for a help from the government, the long-term distortions to the economy cannot be ignored.

But, isn’t this what Greta Thunberg, and many climate alarmists have advocated all along? Closing down all human activity is justified, in their minds, as saving the planet from climate change is far more important than the negative social and economic impacts it would have. And now we are getting an idea of exactly what that sort of action looks like. Massive unemployment and layoffs. Businesses shutting down. Fear and uncertainty. And all this is happening in a matter of weeks…not months.

The interesting part of all of this from a climate standpoint is that now we are restricting travel and industry, shouldn’t we begin to see a decrease in the CO2 content of the atmosphere soon? If man is really to blame for all the increase in CO2, then shouldn’t those levels come down? So far, they have not. 

Dr. Roy Spencer in his latest blog makes the remarks:

“Some global warming alarmists are celebrating the current economic downturn as just what is needed to avert climate catastrophe. I’ve seen a couple estimates that China’s manufacturing and commerce might have seen up at 40% reduction recently.

The current global crisis will be a test of just how much economic pain is required to substantially reduce CO2 emissions (assuming there is no reasonably affordable and practical replacement for fossil fuels).”

 I generally agree with most of what Dr. Spencer has to say, but I am still not convinced that man’s contribution to the CO2 concentrations is as large as some think. It is known, for example, that CO2 increases in the atmosphere lag behind temperature increases by up to 50 to 100 years. And, the global temperature increases due to a more active sun essentially ceased in the late 1990s…only 20 years ago…so it’s likely that the higher concentrations we see now are a result of that natural release by warming of the oceans.

Yes, we release CO2 into the air whenever we plow farm fields, mow the grass, chop down trees, or drive a car, but the ocean covers approximately 71% of the planet and the massive amounts of CO2 both absorbed and released by the oceans alone overwhelm anything contributed by man.

If we do see a blip of reduction of CO2 on the charts, I suspect that will gives us a clearer picture of the amount man truly contributes.  I’ll be watching closely to see what happens!