The unintended consequences of declaring a ‘climate emergency’

madison dibble


Posted: August 06, 2022 12:01 am

Opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

President Biden is toying with the idea of ​​declaring climate change a national emergency. Advocates want it to usher in drastic changes to address climate change, bypassing congressional approval.

But as the old saying goes, haste makes waste. We just need to remember the untested environmental policies that sounded good but ended up creating a bigger mess.

Consider California. The Golden State threw whatever incentives it could into solar power beginning in 2006. In turn, most new construction in California included solar panels. Even though lawmakers knew solar power hadn’t been proven. Solar power is significantly less efficient than fossil fuels, especially in a state known for rolling blackouts. And it has created a toxic waste problem.

according to a new report From the International Renewable Energy Agency, California’s hasty transition to solar power has created a toxic waste disaster for the state. Solar panels, especially those installed since 2006, only have an average lifespan of 25 to 30 years. When the first batch of solar panels reaches the end of its life cycle, only 10% have been recycled. A Harvard Business Review study revealed that California’s recycling capacity is “woefully ill-prepared for the onslaught of waste that is likely to come.”

And despite taxpayer subsidies, California only gets 15 percent of its electricity from solar panels.

Next, consider plastic. We have all heard of alternatives that are supposed to be better for the environment. Plastic water bottles have been a major target of environmentalists, with many cities and agencies banning the containers.

A new studio of McKinsey and Company throws cold water on this notion. The study suggests that alternatives to plastic may similarly lead to worse outcomes for the planet.

The study revealed that plastic products had a lower greenhouse gas footprint than their alternatives in 13 out of 14 cases.

And it wasn’t even close. Savings in greenhouse gas emissions ranged from 10% to more than 90%.

Those local government bans on plastic bottles are another example showing that governments are too often in the business of looking good rather than doing good.

Replace plastic with glass? research from the Imperial College London It estimated that replacing all plastic bottles used in the UK with glass would result in additional greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the output of 22 large coal-fired power stations.

Why not replace aluminum cans with plastic ones? Aluminum is obtained from bauxite mines while covering nearby cities with toxic dust. Those airborne particles lead to everything from the destruction of farmland to cancer in those who breathe the dust. The production of aluminum cans also generates two times more carbon dioxide as a plastic bottle and is a major source of global perfluorocarbon (PFC) emissions, which have 9,200 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Unlike glass, aluminum and plastic, boxed water cartons are almost impossible to recycle because they are made from glued layers of plastic, foil and paper. A study of Danish Environmental Protection Agency discovered that it is better for the planet to incinerate the cartons than to recycle them.

It’s not just about bottle alternatives. A report in the New York Times found that the rush by local governments to swap plastic bags for cotton bags is another unmitigated and unintended environmental disaster caused by the rush to judge. The emissions from producing a cotton bag are 20,000 times greater than the emissions from producing a single plastic bag.

iden has already used executive power to increase the production of solar panels. A national emergency declaration could allow you to take even more extreme stepshow to cut oil and gas imports, and put an end to offshore drilling. The vagueness of the emergency could allow Biden to limit the production of any “harmful weather products”, according to an expert.

It’s important that we get environmental policies right the first time, and the likelihood of unforeseen problems is high if Biden recklessly tries to declare an “Emergency!” Climate change is a slow problem. There is no need to rush headlong into another series of poor decisions.

Madison Dibble is director of communications for the Center for Accountability in Science.

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