Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by China to trick the United States into cracking down on carbon emissions and making itself less competitive in the world economy.
Donald Trump said that. Considering the source, most people know the statement is utter nonsense.
“The climate hasn’t warmed in quite a few years. That is proven scientifically.”
That’s nonsense too. But the source wasn’t Trump. The outlandish statement was made by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and it was surprising. Coming across as sincere, thoughtful and committed to conservative principles, Johnson seems like the quintessential anti-Trump Republican.
Johnson’s comment, made in an interview on a Racine radio station, received national attention because it was so astonishingly wrong.
NASA reported in January that an analysis by its scientists and a separate study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration both found that surface temperatures on the earth in 2015 were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880.
The NASA report noted that 2015 temperatures extended a long-term warming trend, with 15 of the 16 hottest years on record occurring since 2001.
Johnson’s comment went even further than Republican climate-change-denying orthodoxy, which must have disturbed some of his environmentally aware supporters in Wisconsin.
Before he became successful in politics by defeating Russ Feingold in the 2010 Senate race, Johnson was successful in business. If he would apply some of the acumen that made him a lot of money in the plastics business to the issue of global warming, Johnson might see what is becoming clear to business leaders throughout the developed world: The cost to national economies of failing to deal with climate change will be far greater than the cost of reducing carbon emissions.
Multiple studies, including one by the international finance and banking giant Citigroup, project that the effect of global warming on agriculture, water, biodiversity and human health will cut gross domestic product by economically crippling amounts as early as 2030. By 2100, the Citigroup report says, unchecked global warming could erode world GDP by 23%.
ExxonMobil, which got to be the second largest company in the world by selling carbon in the form of petroleum, agrees that fossil fuel emissions cause warming and have to be reduced. The company states on its website that global warming could raise Earth’s surface temperature by a calamitous 6 degrees Celsius or more if steps aren’t taken now to slow the release of carbon. The Exxon website calls for a revenue-neutral tax on carbon-producing oil, gas and coal.
And speaking of China, in 2015 it spent $103 billion, more than any other country, on renewable energy, suggesting that America’s biggest business competitor sees global warming not as a Trumpian hoax, but as a threat to its economic interests.
Meanwhile, the process of harnessing renewable energy is achieving cost efficiency faster than almost anyone predicted, as technological breakthroughs in harvesting and storing energy generated by the sun and the wind outpace predictions. In the U.S., which can claim to be the birthplace of the entrepreneurial spirit, the shift from earth-warming fossil fuel-derived energy to renewable energy technology should be seen as an opportunity for history-making economic stimulus.
Worldwide, energy from renewable sources has risen to 15% of all energy production, a trend that could literally save the world if it continues.
Sen. Johnson must be aware of this. We’re pretty sure he doesn’t want any political tips from a community newspaper as he campaigns to keep his Senate seat, but we’ll offer some well meant advice anyway: Avoid insulting the intelligence of Wisconsin voters by denying climate change. In this (and in everything else) you can’t go wrong by being an anti-Trump Republican.