This commentary is by Michael Bastasch, managing editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Something strange just happened in the pages of New York Times’ magazine. They published an eye-opening admission from renowned climate alarmist David Wallace-Wells, titled “Beyond Catastrophe: A New Climate Reality Is Coming Into View.”
What is this intriguing “new reality”? In short, as Wallace-Wells writes, the “worst-case temperature scenarios that recently seemed plausible now look much less so, which is inarguably good news and … a truly underappreciated sign of genuine and world-shaping progress.”
In other words, the apocalypse is canceled.
Now, Wallace-Wells is wrong that these worst-case climate modeling scenarios, collectively called RCP8.5, were ever “plausible” to begin with. They weren’t. RCP8.5’s scary results largely stem from already overheated climate models and highly unlikely projections that global coal use per capita will boom about six-fold.
As Roger Pielke Jr. and Justin Richie noted in a 2021 paper, “[i]n the latest version of the RCP8.5 scenario (SSP5-8.5), coal would even surpass oil and electric vehicles to become the dominant fuel for the world’s cars.” Do you foresee the return of steam engines?
Pielke and Ritchie blame RCP8.5’s unwarranted fixation with coal “to the beginning of the IPCC assessment process in the late 1980s and the influence on its early energy-use projections of flawed reports of virtually unlimited, very inexpensive coal in China and Siberia.”
Back in 2018, climate scientist Pat Michaels noted RCP8.5 “was obsolete when it was first published in the journal Climate Change by Riahi et al. in 2011″ as “the shale gas revolution was underway,” which changed the global energy landscape by allowing fuel-switching from coal to less carbon dioxide-intensive natural gas.
Likewise, Ritchie authored a landmark 2017 study, finding RCP8.5 contained “systematic errors in fossil production” and “should not be a priority for future scientific research or a benchmark for policy studies.”
There are more problems with RCP8.5, but you get the idea. It was never going to happen. Despite this, it became the most commonly used climate scenario used in studies, and its projected nightmare results have dominated news headlines. It even played a central role in the last U.S. National Climate Assessment and served as a basis for its more alarming predictions about future warming.
So, now that even New York Times Magazine is publishing lengthy screeds on why RCP8.5 is unlikely, will climate science and policy finally be rid of the baseless catastrophism that’s plagued it for decades? Will Wallace-Wells’ piece be a final nail in RCP8.5’s coffin? Fat chance! In fact, the Biden administration is still using this discredited climate projection to further its regulatory agenda.
The latest example comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which just announced emperor penguins of Antarctica would be listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. This is despite the fact the “emperor penguin is currently in high condition with high resiliency, redundancy, and representation … with no indication that their distribution is presently decreasing,” according to the Biden administration’s own regulatory analysis.
Likewise, the administration reports: “The satellite record over 40 years … reveals that the sea-ice extent in the Southern Ocean is currently within its natural range of variability. Thus, we determined that the emperor penguin is not endangered.”
That’s where RCP8.5 comes in. It, of course, projected the poor penguins would be “near extinction” by the century’s end, and the Biden administration, despite all the evidence, confidently declares this a real possibility. Coal-powered cars are apparently going to be the next big thing!
Now back to reality.
The real reason the Biden administration will continue to use RCP8.5 is simple – it increases its power. Catastrophic climate projections of cities being submerged by sea level rise and mass famine make it easier to justify concentrating more power and money in the hands of federal bureaucrats and the climate industrial complex.
In fact, The Washington Post gave the game away by noting environmental groups hope listing emperor penguins under the ESA will “lead to stricter limits on fishing for krill around Antarctica and compel U.S. officials to weigh the climate implications of federal projects before approving them.”
Now, imagine all the other ways RCP8.5 can be used — and is likely being used right now — to increase the size and scope of the regulatory state over your life, the energy sector and the economy at large.
Ultimately, this is not about science. It’s not even about what’s best for penguins, let alone American citizens. It’s about control. The less normal Americans have, the better for the elites in D.C. and elsewhere who want you to sit down, shut up, and eat your insects.
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