Politically correct coal rally missed the target

Source: tauntongazette.com  

by Tom Harris

 The Obama administration must be relieved that speakers at Tuesday?s pro-coal rally in Washington, D.C., only brought up arguments that media will pay little attention to. Job losses and increased costs, the issues presenters cited as consequences of the Environmental Protection Agency?s (EPA) new coal plant emission regulations, are certainly important. But reporters have heard it all before. Most simply accept these sacrifices as necessary to ?fight climate change.?

Had the rally focused instead on attacking the most important, yet most vulnerable reason for the EPA?s so-called war on coal ? the science that backs fears of dangerous man-made climate change ?things would have been very different. Media coverage would have been intense with climate campaigners and miners squaring off on one of the most controversial issues of our time. Then, the impact of the administration?s plans on jobs and prices would have received far broader coverage as well.

Rally organizers would have had to prepare carefully for such an approach, of course. They would need to ensure that speakers were up to date on the basics of the science and that they made reference to solid research that supported their cause. To counter claims from climate activists that ?the science is settled?, presenters would have to cite documents such as those of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change in which thousands of peer-reviewed science papers are listed that reveal the problems with President Obama?s climate change plans.

To develop an effective strategy, coal proponents must consider the main forces driving efforts to destroy their industry. Accusations by some that Obama wants to ruin the economy are ineffective since most opinion leaders do not believe it. Neither are the ideas that he is intentionally destroying millions of jobs and risking the nation?s energy security likely to gain traction. Obama is seen by most commentators as genuinely believing that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-fired power plants are causing dangerous climate change. He knows that most journalists, not to mention the vast majority of his supporters, believe that CO2 must be severely reduced, no matter the cost. Regardless, Obama does not want part of his Presidential legacy to be that he ?ruined the climate?.

So the President tells the American people that the United States must lead the world in moving away from coal to sources that emit less CO2. He knows that this will be painful for those employed in the coal and related sectors.

Similarly, he has already accounted for the fact that energy prices will almost certainly soar as a result of losing coal, the country?s cheapest and most reliable energy source.

Consequently, while it was important for demonstrators to show Obama that they are angry about job losses and higher prices, these points will have limited influence on his decisions. He obviously accepts these costs as sacrifices the nation must pay in order to be responsible environmental stewards.

But what the President apparently doesn?t know, or at least assumes his supporters don?t, is that the switch away from coal is not necessary from a climate perspective. The science on which the EPA bases its drive to reduce CO2 emissions is regarded by many scientists as suspect or completely wrong.

We are still unable to properly forecast natural climate variability, let alone the extent to which humans contribute. And controlling climate will remain science fiction for the foreseeable future.

The reason rally organizers and speakers said essentially nothing about the science is obvious. They did not want to risk appearing politically incorrect on such an explosive issue. The Obama administration know that if the public and the press come to understand how uncertain the causes of climate change really are, then the primary justification for expensive plans to ?save the climate? evaporates.

 This is precisely why pro-coal spokespeople must focus on the science problems. None of the other issues ? job loss, cost, etc. ? have the potential to so thoroughly derail the administration?s climate plans as does generating widespread public doubt about the science of climate change.

Spokespeople who are too frightened to defend coal using this, their most effective weapon, must step aside. Then new leaders must be chosen who have the courage to do what needs to be done to win the war for America?s energy future.


Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (climatescienceinternational.org/).