EDITORIAL: Pritzker’s climate order is all pain, no gain
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a January 23 executive order committing Illinois to the expensive energy sources and failed carbon-dioxide reduction goals of the United Nations and the Paris Climate Agreement. The scientific evidence shows there is no need for Pritzker’s costly plan. Moreover, Pritzker’s executive order would provide no climate benefits, even if is assumed carbon dioxide causes environmental problems.
In approving of the plan, Pritzker asserted climate change is harming Illinois, yet the objective available evidence does not support this claim. Data show extreme weather events are becoming less frequent and severe—the opposite of what many climate alarmists like Pritzker allege. And persistently low temperatures, which kill far more people than higher temperatures, are becoming less frequent and deadly. The prestigious medical journal The Lancet reports that 20 times more people die globally from persistently cold weather than from warm weather.
Further, our gradually warming climate is stimulating record crop production in Illinois, the United States, and the entire world—not harming it. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates Illinois farmers have set new records in 2018 for yields per acre for corn and soybeans. Farmers are producing record crops throughout the United States as well. “USDA’s latest estimates would break crop-production records nationwide and in Illinois,” Farm Week Now reported this fall.
Weather and climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirm climate conditions are becoming more ideal for Illinois crops. “Precipitation in spring and summer has generally been above average over the past two decades,” affecting agriculture in a “positive” way by providing desirable soil moisture, NOAA’s Illinois state climate summary reports.
Drought and poor crop conditions were at their worst nearly 100 years ago, long before man was supposedly causing global warming. According to NOAA, “The driest multi-year periods [in Illinois] occurred in the majority of years in the first half of the 1900s.”
There is no sign of an increasing number of summer heat waves or droughts, both of which global warming alarmists have for decades predicted would hurt farmers in Illinois and across the nation. NOAA data show temperature increases are occurring in the spring, allowing earlier and more conducive spring crop growth, while there has been no increase in summer temperatures or extreme heat events.
The lack of a global warming crisis extends beyond beneficial crop conditions in Illinois. During the past two years, records were set for the smallest percentage of the United States experiencing drought, the longest period in U.S. history without a major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricane strike, and the longest period in U.S. history without a major (F3 or stronger) tornado touching down.
Perhaps most importantly, even if our modestly warming climate were a problem, the United Nations and the Paris Climate Agreement do not offer an effective solution. U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions have declined by 14 percent this century, while global emissions have risen by more than 50 percent. How does abandoning our existing blueprint and joining the failed policies of the United Nations lead to more emissions reductions?
Pritzker would have Illinoisans surrender affordable coal and natural gas power and switch to expensive and unreliable wind and solar power to address a nonexistent problem in a completely ineffective way. Pritzker’s plan is all economic pain and no environmental gain.
Doom-and-gloomers attempt to play on people’s fears to justify government schemes to deprive us of affordable energy and economic freedom. Yet the science is clear that a warming world has made a better world and a better Illinois. There have been record crop yields, more consistent rainfall, warmer springs, and fewer extreme heat events, which begs the question: Why is J.D. Pritzker waging war on affordable energy, ideal climate conditions, and Illinois farmers?
The answer appears to be that Pritzker is ignorant of the science and merely parrots the talking points of the extreme environmental Left.
– James Taylor (JTaylor@heartland.org) is senior fellow for environment and climate policy at The Heartland Institute.