What’s the Worst that can Happen?
By John D. Turner
21 May 2014

“If we make the necessary efforts to address this challenge [global climate change] – and supposing I’m wrong or scientists are wrong, 97 percent of them all wrong – supposing they are, what’s the worst that can happen?” – Secretary of State John Kerry, commencement speech, Boston College, 19 May 2014

There are times when a public official makes a statement that is so mind-blowingly stupid that I just sit there in slack-jawed amazement, unable to utter a sound, wondering how it is that such an individual was ever let out of the playpen, much less given a position of authority in our government. Such an event occurred this morning, as I read about a commencement speech made by Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday at Boston College. After first lambasting those “fellow Americans” who remain skeptical of the administration’s recently made climate change claims as “members of the Flat Earth Society,” he went on to produce this absolutely mind-boggling statement of total ignorance:

“If we make the necessary efforts to address this challenge [global climate change] – and supposing I’m wrong or scientists are wrong, 97 percent of them all wrong – supposing they are, what’s the worst that can happen?” (italics added)

“What’s the worst that can happen?” -- can he possibly be that utterly clueless?

Well ‘scuse me! As a charter member of “the Flat Earth Society,” let me please answer that question for you Mr. Kerry!

First, let me state that I have never in my life seen an administration which, as a matter of course, is quite as ready and quite as accomplished at insulting those of us who disagree with them on any issue. There is no debate; the discussion is always over after they have weighed in on an issue. Anyone who disagrees is immediately labeled a Luddite, a racist, a member of the Flat Earth Society, or a Holocaust denier. There is no superlative too strong, no term of derision too demeaning that it can’t be used by this administration to browbeat those who disagree. It is an effective tactic, shutting off all debate before it can even begin. Why after all, would one even engage in conversation, much less debate, with a member of the Flat Earth Society? What would be the point?

The implication being of course that you are simply a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal, too stupid to understand what “science” has made blindingly clear as the nose on your face. And if you are too dumb to comprehend what is now scientific “fact” (97% of scientists agree, Mr. Kerry states; where he got the number from I don’t know, but he said it so it must be correct, right?) then your voice doesn’t deserve to be heard anymore. In a world where it is becoming less politically correct all the time to even crack a joke about anything lest someone’s feelings get hurt, it’s ok to ridicule you because you are obviously an imbecile.

So Mr. Kerry wants to call me a member of the Flat Earth Society because I have the temerity to disagree with the Administration’s position? So be it. It is such a ridiculous supposition that it means nothing to me anyway, and I will wear it as a badge of honor, much as those during the Revolution bore the title "Yankee Doodle” which was used as a term of derision by the Brits.

So, Mr. Kerry, what’s the worst that can happen? Where should I start…

How about destroying the entire US energy sector by forcing coal-fired power plants off-line through restrictive EPA regulation and hamstringing the oil industry by disallowing drilling on public lands, restricting or disallowing the construction of needed transportation pipelines, and waging a campaign against fracking, a technology that has been in use for 60 years, all in the name of reducing “carbon emissions?” At a time when the US energy needs are increasing, we are in a pattern of decreasing the available power generation.

The administration’s “solution” to our energy needs is what? Oh that’s right – solar and wind power, supposedly “free” and “green” energy to replace that nasty polluting fossil fuel stuff. Unfortunately what is happening is that baseline power, available night and day, 24x7, on demand is being replaced by variable power, available only when the sun shines or the wind blows.

The only place where the sun shines constantly, 24x7, with no appreciable variability is in space – you know, that place where we have to hitch a ride with the Russians if we want to visit? If the administration were talking about space solar, I might be on-board with that. But no, they are talking about “solar farms” and putting panels on your roof. While I do believe that solar has a place in the energy mix (and I would like to put some panels on my roof – if I could afford to do so), replacing on-demand power is not that place.

A good example of where instantaneous on-demand power is required would be this past winter, which was much colder than recent experience, and required a lot more electricity for heating than the norm. The amount of electricity you can generate in the winter from solar is far less than you can generate in the summer, and it doesn’t work at all at night, when it is the coldest. If you are depending on solar energy to heat your home in the winter – good luck!

Wind is just about as bad. Electricity production is variable – the amount produced depends on how hard the wind is blowing, and if it blows too hard or not at all, you produce nothing.

Reliable, on-demand baseline power could be produced using nuclear power plants. And of course, they have zero carbon emissions. But nuclear is off the table; too frightening for a number of reasons.

This brings up a whole host of other problems as well. Solar and wind are much more expensive than coal when it comes to generating electricity. So electricity rates, as President Obama so famously put it when he was running for president the first time, will necessarily skyrocket; even more so if we put a carbon tax into place as this administration would dearly love to do as part of its “solution” to preventing “global climate change.” I guess it’s OK if you don’t have enough electricity to heat and cool your homes adequately if you can’t afford to buy it in the first place. But I guess, from the administration’s perspective, this is a “good” thing. It lessens your “carbon footprint;” you will be doing your part, however forced, to “save” the Earth from “climate change.” And of course, it won’t affect Kerry, or Obama, or Clinton, or anyone else with money – they can afford electricity no matter the cost, and will get electricity no matter the shortages elsewhere since they can afford a backup fossil-fuel fired generator on the premises of their mansions if needs be.

And if more of your money is going to electricity that is that much less you will have to spend on “luxury” items such as TVs and swimming pools, and DVDs, and other things. Consumption will decrease, and that too is a “good” thing from the perspective of those trying to stop climate change in its tracks.

Of course, this will cause economic stagnation as the economy grinds to a halt from a combination of insufficient demand and insufficient electricity to power it. But that too, is good; Americans (that would be you and I) consume too much of the Earth’s resources anyway. Why should we the common folk benefit from a standard of living that historically has been the special province of the rich?

So what if more Americans are on food stamps, welfare, unemployment, and disability? I haven’t even mentioned the employment dislocations this whole thing will cause. Mr. Kerry cheerfully talks about the “millions of jobs… transitioning our energy, creating new and renewable and alternative” will create. But jobs are not fungible; those coal workers in Appalachia and Wyoming won’t instantly become makers of solar panels in California. Many will no doubt be unable to secure employment anywhere. Towns whose livelihood revolved around the local mine will dry up and blow away. The secondary effects, businesses that go under because they no longer have paying customers supporting them, will ripple through the economy as well.

Those “millions of jobs,” if they even materialize in the numbers envisioned, will have completely different skill set requirements, and be located in different parts of the country. What about the dislocation and re-education costs incurred?

And where is all that government money to support the re-education programs (that you know the government will implement), the relocation programs, the increases in food stamps, welfare, unemployment and disability payments, subsidies for electricity that is too expensive to buy and too expensive to produce, and other government programs that will undoubtedly spring up to address a myriad of “needs” that will occur in the process of all this come from?

Why speak of anything so crass as money when we gotta save the Earth! It’ll come from somewhere!

If the Earth needs “saving” at all.

The Earth has been here for an estimated 4.3 billion years. We have been here an estimated million or so; an infinitesimally small period of time in the grand scheme of things. Of that million or so, we have had a tech level capable of any sort of global environmental impact for at most a few hundred years. Mr. Kerry, guess what? Earth’s climate has never remained the same; it is constantly changing, and will continue to do so with or without us.

We have been in an Ice Age, defined, by scientists, as a period of time where continental/polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers are present, for the past 2.6 million years. Because the Greenland, Arctic, and Antarctic ice sheets still exist, we are still in an ice age. If and when those ice sheets disappear, it does not signal catastrophe for the Earth and the extinction of all life as we know it – it merely signals the end of the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation period; the current ice age. Earth will then be ice-free as it was before the start of the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation period.

Yes, it is true that the melting ice will cause sea levels to rise. But they have been rising for the past 8000 years, since the end of the last glacial period (we are currently in an interglacial period). From the end of the last glacial period to today, sea levels have risen some 110 meters; around 360 feet. Projections are that if the rest of the ice melts, ocean levels may rise another 10 feet or so. While this will prove an inconvenience for some, it isn’t as if it will happen overnight; it is hardly catastrophic as far as life on this planet is concerned.

So if you are wrong, what’s the worst that can happen? Does it really matter if you are wrong or not? Even if you are right and you implement these policies, this stuff will still happen. All to prevent sea levels from rising 10 feet? Really?

So you think you can prevent Earth’s climate from changing – a climate that has been changing for as long as the Earth has been around? What hubris!

I guess when you are a lib, and you have a “great” idea, and the power to implement it, secondary considerations, like where the money is going to come from, and driving the economy off a cliff, and mortgaging your children’s and their children’s and their children’s children’s future out as far as the eye can see, and potentially risking the very existence of the country itself are just not a concern. Who cares? It isn’t as if it is your money is it? You won’t have to pay it back. “The rich” will do that, and if worse comes to worse, we can always print more, right? Or borrow it from the Chinese or someone else. There will always be someone willing to lend it to us, right? And even if there isn’t we can always borrow from ourselves!

And while we are busy impoverishing ourselves, trying to drain the ocean one teaspoon at a time, everyone else on the planet will be busy refilling the oceans by the bucketful. China and India alone are building four new coal-fired power plants a week.

After all the dislocation, all the suffering, all the economic destruction that this effort to halt global climate change will produce, what if at the end we have nothing to show for it at all? Mr. Kerry’s response is “oh well – no harm, no foul!” As if the pain caused others is of no import; after all, the cause was good.

Mr. Kerry. I understand that the Great Red Spot on Jupiter is shrinking. It appears that the storm there is abating. This sounds like “global climate change” to me. What steps do you and the administration plan to take to keep this from happening?

I eagerly await your response.