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Climate Skeptics Win by Revealing Costs Not Disputing Science

William L. Kovacs

December 2023

Climate Skeptics Win by Revealing Costs Not Disputing Science

(Part II of III parts) 

Part I discussed how the Progressive Left transitioned their climate strategy from one of oppressive regulations during the Obama administration to giving away massive amounts of money during the Biden administration. This policy change made all the difference in gaining general support from the American business community for the uncontrolled development of green technology. If the climate skeptics are to compete for public support, they must change their strategy from scientific studies that are largely unread to a clear presentation of the real costs of green technology to the general public.

Winston Churchill provided the world with sage advice on how to understand politics when he stated, “I no longer listen to what people say, I just watch what they do. Behavior never lies.” It’s time for the climate skeptics to transition from discussing scientific flaws in the Progressive’s climate policy to implementing a strategy that focuses on what changes the public’s behavior. To undertake this approach, the skeptics must recognize:

(1) their real opponent, in addition to the federal government, is now the American business community;

(2) the American people believe climate change is occurring; however, they are not willing to pay for costly climate change policies or bear the burden of hosting the massive facilities in their communities and

(3) the competitive market still works; skeptics must aggressively use it to defeat unprofitable projects before they harm the nation.

Adopting this approach requires the climate skeptics to lay bare the values of the American business community. Business is agnostic on principles. It does not care if our government is capitalist or socialist or a deep-state faux Republic. Business follows the money no matter who is giving it out, the federal government or the Chinese Communist Party that provides subsidized slave labor to U.S. businesses. Trillions flow from the government to corporations to produce what the government wants to be made and purchased, notwithstanding the costs to its citizens or the effect on a functioning society. Climate change is merely the vehicle the federal government uses to buy support to control society.

Understanding the greed of American businesses explains why automakers make more electric vehicles than they can sell, even when faced with significant losses such as Ford’s Mustang Mach E and its F-150 lightning. Subsidies explain why American businesses make lightbulbs, dishwashers, air conditioners, low-flush toilets, and dozens of other products that perform less effectively than older products and are considerably more expensive. It’s money, money, money that makes business go round.

As part of the federal global warming misinformation campaign that supports its green agenda, numerous federally funded groups reviewed 88,125 climate studies. Amazingly, more than 99.9 % supported the proposition that humans cause climate change. Unfortunately, few studies release the underlying data for peer review and reproducibility. Moreover, the federal government refuses to implement the Information Quality Act. Such refusals mean the federal government and its climate supporters can misinform the public about its science.

The climate skeptics cannot compete with the federal government’s propaganda machine and the greed of big business. A new approach is needed since the climate skeptics cannot give up and move to Galt’s Gulch.

Taxpayer support stops when they have to pay for or live with the consequences of government policies.

71% of Americans believe climate change is occurring and caused entirely or mainly by human activity. Gallup found that 80% of Americans believe they understand global warming very well or fairly well, and 58% want policies that dramatically reduce fossil fuels within 10 – 20 years. Yet, while firmly believing that human activity causes climate change, a Reuter poll found that only one-third of Americans would spend $100 a year to address it. Americans clearly do not understand they are already paying handsomely for the federal government’s green tech follies.

The adage “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree!” seems to be the prevailing American philosophy for addressing climate change.

Americans do not want to pay to address climate change and do not want the green energy facilities in their backyards. The “Renewable Rejection Database” proves this point. Between 2015 and 2023, 435 communities in the U.S. rejected or restricted big wind projects. The solar industry has seen local communities reject 173 big projects since 2021. The reasons are too much land utilized, noise, sleep disturbance, red-blinking lights all night, too ugly, conflicts with community growth plans, reduced food production, and fear of depreciating land values.

Markets still work, so the skeptics must find ways to allow them to work.

While the American business community loves free money from the government, it still hates losing money. Even with trillions in subsidies, an increasing number of wind and solar projects across the nation are running into problems that harm the economics of the projects. Thousands of these projects need help connecting to local power grids that might need more extensive power lines and new transformers. The high cost of these upgrades translates into canceled projects.

Other projects are abandoned due to a lack of credit. While the government shovels subsidies to green industries, many banks won’t extend the additional needed credit to complete construction because of a facility’s poor balance sheet. A cancellation of wind farms in New Jersey is a recent example. Orsted, a sizeable Danish wind farm developer, dropped two mega-projects offshore due to $4 billion in cost overruns.

The Wall Street Journal noted offshore wind power is “bleeding cash.” Today, offshore wind project costs are 49% more than in 2019. About  60% of all offshore wind projects awarded have been canceled or are at risk of cancellation.

The Li-Cycle battery recycling facility’s initial construction cost was $ 700 million. Today, its completion cost is estimated at $ 1 billion, a price so significant that it likely will force the federal government to honor its loan guarantees if the project is to be completed.

Overall, the green industry is in the proverbial toilet. The Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) woke investment funds, the baskets holding the industry’s stock for consumers to invest in, are having their worst year since 2011. The green industry is not a good investment. Over time, many of these government monuments to green technology will be abandoned across the national landscape, creating more of a drain on the treasury and local communities as they litter the nation with hazardous waste.

For the climate skeptics to bring sanity back to the climate change debate, they need to clearly explain to the American people the significant costs the government is imposing on them to implement its climate agenda.

William L. Kovacs has served as senior vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, chief counsel to a congressional committee, chairman of a state environmental board, and a partner in law D.C. law firms. His book Reform the Kakistocracy received the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change. Kovacs also led the business coalition’s lobbying activities against Obama’s legislative climate proposals. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Part I. Memo to Climate Skeptics: You’re Losing, Change Strategies