Is climate change actually causing a crisis, as many are saying? In the global warming debate, what is the actual “settled science” that most scientists agree on, and what exactly is being contested? And how will climate change factor into 2020?
Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, recently sat down with Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek to share his perspective on the climate change debate. Ebell highlighted the stark differences between climate change projection models and actual measurement data and also emphasized the role of China in greenhouse gas emissions.
He also spoke about the Green New Deal, the political interests behind the push for wind and solar energy, and how this broader debate will impact 2020.
Jan Jekielek: So something caught my attention yesterday. Some people might know I’m Canadian actually. And our parliament passed a motion yesterday in Canada, 182 to 70-something—so by a large majority basically—designating a national emergency around climate change. I thought that was interesting given that we were planning to do this interview today. It seems like a lot of Canadian parliamentarians believe there’s a crisis. What do you think?
Myron Ebell: Well, I don’t think global warming is a crisis, and I don’t think it’s a planetary or a national emergency. I do think that several countries have passed these resolutions, including Canada. But I think, generally, actions speak louder than words. And if you look at what’s going on in Canada, the government of Ontario was defeated in the last election. The main issue was whether they should have a carbon tax or not. That is a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, which result from producing and using coal, oil, and natural gas, which provide 80 percent of the world’s energy. Recently, in Alberta, the government lost the election because of a carbon tax. And so, I think what you see is that the elites in various countries think that they have to at least say that global warming is an emergency or a crisis. But the electorate at large, the general public is not convinced. And in my view, the general public is right and the elites have got it wrong.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ve been tackling these issues for decades actually. And I want to break it down a little bit, try to understand what the actual arguments are. Is there global warming? There’s people who say there is no global warming. There’s people [who] say there is, but it’s not a crisis. And then there’s global warming and climate change and the sort of change in the terminology. Is it the same thing or not? I think a lot of people are just confused around this stuff.
Mr. Ebell: It is confusing because there’s a lot of moving parts. The climate is very complex. And it’s not just the climate. It’s also the oceans, which contain most of the world’s heat that’s trapped from sunlight. And so what we have is an ever-changing weather system. And if you look at it over a number of years, we have an ever-changing climate. The climate is always changing. The question is, which direction is it changing, and what do human beings have to do with it? Because of natural factors, we’re in a period of an interglacial period of the last 13, 14,000 years where the northern, the upper latitudes have been habitable. But if you look back 15 or 20,000 years ago, we were in an ice age and there was two or three miles of ice over most of Canada. And it went down as far as places like Chicago.
So the climate does change quite dramatically. Obviously, an ice age is a bigger problem than a little bit of global warming. So the question is, are human beings having an impact on the climate? And I think the answer is undoubtedly yes, through two factors, land use changes and burning coal, oil and natural gas. When you burn those three fuels, you produce carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases. It’s not as important as water vapor in clouds in the atmosphere, but it does have an impact.
So the question is, are we having some warming? We are having some mild warming in the course of the last century and part of that—or maybe all of it—is probably due to human activity.
The next question is, is the rate of warming fast? No, it’s been quite modest. We have been adding a little bit of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. We’re now at up to 400 parts per million. That would be one part for every 2,500. So there’s a little bit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and it has probably added a little bit of warming to the climate. So I think that’s stage one.
Stage two is, is it a crisis or an emergency? Here I think that the reality and the science diverges dramatically from the rhetoric and the claims of what I would call the climate-industrial complex. The people who are advancing global warming as a crisis don’t rely on the facts or the data or the rate of warming. They rely on computer models that they have tuned to predict rapid warming. So this is really a debate between models and reality.
Mr. Jekielek: So it sounds like they’re tuned intentionally, right?
Mr. Ebell: Yes, they are. And then the next step is to say, well, how severe are the impacts of global warming going to be? Well, they have a lot of studies that predict that the impacts are going to be very severe, but in fact, if you look at what’s actually happened, the impacts have been very modest. They’ve been mild. And so we don’t have an increase in drought or flooding globally. There are cycles. There are many cycles in the climate so we have periods of drought and then we have periods of high precipitation. There’s no long-term trend in terms of storms.
There’s no long-term trend in terms of tropical storms like typhoons and hurricanes. And so the question is what’s the fuss about if there is no long-term trend in any of these impacts of warming? The claim is, well we have some predictions that it’s going to get much worse right around the corner. I think the evidence for those claims is very minimal. And I think the other flip side of it is that the biosphere, the plant life requires carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.
So one of the direct impacts—not indirect impacts—of higher carbon dioxide levels is the greening of the earth. And so what we’ve seen is—and you can see this by going to the NASA website webpage on this—there’s a dramatic greening of the earth, both in the forests and in the grassland since the 1970s, when the satellites went up and they started taking photographs. And of course the greening of the earth means higher food production as well. There’s a claim by the global warming crowd that food production is going to go down, but in fact, food production has been going up every decade for a long, long time. Part of that is better technology, plant science, and so on. But part of it is clearly due to the greening of the earth.
Mr. Jekielek: So this is fascinating what you’re saying, but it seems to stand in the face of a lot of what we’re hearing. For example, some of the more extreme things—we have 12 years left to turn things around. You’re saying there’s nothing to turn around. There’s a lot of room between there’s nothing to turn around and we have 12 years or it’s over.
Mr. Ebell: There’s a lot of room in the debate between the two camps—what I would call the climate-industrial complex and the climate realist camp. But there isn’t much middle ground to fight over in the policy arena because if you buy that global warming is a crisis and it presents all of these imminent threats, then you really have to sign onto the agenda that we have to turn the world’s economy upside-down.
Some people on our side seem to think, well, we can do a little bit to show that we care. But it won’t actually have any impact on global emissions. Because this debate has been going on since the late 1980s and yet greenhouse gas emissions have gone up steadily. So far all of the policies, the kind of halfway policies that have been adopted both nationally and internationally with the UN treaties, haven’t done anything to slow down the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. So if you believe it’s a crisis, the policies that we’ve had so far have done nothing to address the issue. And in fact, I really don’t believe that the people pushing these policies actually believe in it, that global warming is a crisis. Because if they did, they wouldn’t have been pushing the policies that we’ve seen for the last 25 or 30 years.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s a fascinating thing to say. So how are the policies that these folks, as you say, have been pushing versus the policies that would actually have an impact?
Mr. Ebell: We have international treaties starting with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, signed at the Rio Earth Summit, the Kyoto Protocol in ’97. There were various attempts in the early to mid-2000s to do something. And then finally in 2015, the Paris climate treaty, which is protocol to the underlying framework convention. So all of these treaties say that each country will adopt policies to reduce their emissions. So what have countries done? Well, they’ve said, well, instead of using coal, oil, and natural gas, we’ll start using windmills and solar panels.
If global warming really is a crisis, this can’t possibly be the way to solve it. Windmills and solar panels are very limited technologies. They can provide only a very small part of the energy the world needs. But the people who are behind this push and who promote windmills and solar panels as the solution, well, what’s in it? Well, there’s a huge redistribution of wealth to the people who provide wind and solar power. Nobody would adopt these technologies without massive government subsidies and government mandates. So in this country, for example, there’s a tax subsidy provided by Congress to anybody who builds a wind farm or a solar farm. And most of the states have mandates for turning part of the electric grid over to wind and solar power.
So a lot of this, of what’s been done so far, I would just call a racket. It has nothing to do with reducing emissions. It has to do with enriching people and companies who provided technology that’s commercially unviable. So if global warming really is a problem, this can’t possibly be the way to solve it. These technologies are a dead end. They’re very expensive, and they provide very little power.
On the other hand, if it really is a crisis, we do have one available technology that could power the world. And that’s called nuclear power. And yet you’ll see that many of the promoters of the climate-industrial complex and of global warming alarmism say, oh, no, no, it’s the worst crisis we’ve ever faced, but we can’t solve it with the one thing that would solve it, namely nuclear power. So I really don’t think that that large parts of the global warming establishment are really very serious. I think there, it’s a racket.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay. This is fascinating, obviously, because let’s assume exactly what you’re saying is true, right? We have—
Mr. Ebell: Well, it is true. So it’s an easy assumption.
Mr. Jekielek: Hundreds of millions of people are being taught that there is a crisis around the world, right, especially in Western countries, in the U.S. and Canada, certainly all throughout Western Europe, believing it. I was certainly taught that throughout my schooling many moons ago, and so forth. And this is purely to support this climate complex that you described?
Mr. Ebell: Well, the climate-industrial complex involves a lot more than wind beneficiaries and solar beneficiaries. There are political beneficiaries. I mean, this is about political control. It creates a huge amount of a necessity for larger government, institutions, more people working for government and more control over people in the choices they make about how they live their lives, namely what kind of energy they use and how much energy they use. So there’s a political dimension to it.
And then there’s also the scientific and academic angle that universities, we have an ideal about them, the various disciplines and everyone cooperating together to educate people and to do research. But in fact, a lot of the university system now is a bunch of programs and labs that are primarily funded by the government. And in every country in the Western world, in particular, you look in the United States, most of the university research funding comes from the federal government.
Well, if global warming is the issue that the government is interested in, then universities are very happy to provide whatever you want. And so we now have programs in not only just basic research in the climate but all kinds of social science, programs for how to convince people that global warming is a crisis. We could go through a long list of things. Most of it’s rubbish, I would say. And yet there’s a huge amount of funding there, and there’s a huge amount of academic advancement for the people who say the right things and provide the right results. So there’s a lot to the climate industrial complex just besides the profit motive. There’s also the political power, and there’s also the academic growth and advancement.
Mr. Jekielek: So let’s look at the Paris climate change accord for a moment. The U.S. withdrew recently. I know that you were an avid proponent of withdrawal. One of the issues is that a lot of the countries that have signed on to this, doesn’t look like they’re actually keeping or moving in the direction of actually keeping their promises.
Mr. Ebell: Well, of course the promises were across a broad spectrum. So the United States, under the Obama administration, and the European Union and several other countries like Canada undertook very significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that they promise to make in the next 15 to 20 years. China, for example, promised that their emissions would keep going up, but they would peak by 2030, so they don’t have to do anything. India made a very realistic promise. India said, well, if the world cares about greenhouse gas emissions and thinks that global warming a problem, we will be happy to do our part. However, India [said] we are a very poor country, and we are just starting to electrify the country. Most people do not have access to regular electricity, and most people don’t have air conditioning even though India is a very hot country. So we will be happy to cut our emissions, but it’s going to be very expensive to replace coal-fired power plants with more expensive alternatives. So we’ll do it if we’re paid to do it. That is, if the Western world pays India, they will be happy to make these changes, but they’re not going to sacrifice their own economic future and the wellbeing of their people. And there are now more than 1 billion people in India. They’re not going to sacrifice their people for a Western cause.
Mr. Jekielek: OK. Isn’t China producing something like a quarter of the global emissions? I can’t remember what the number is, but it’s something quite substantial.
Mr. Ebell: Yes. And, of course, China has the world’s largest population. So we would expect that since they’ve been in this economic growth mode for the last generation, that their emissions would go up. But they’ve gone up dramatically, I mean, much faster than the predictions by the energy gurus at OECD and the Department of Energy here that predict the future. So China’s emissions are now over 25 percent. That means that they are larger than the United States and the European Union combined. And they’re still going up, whereas ours and Europe’s are flat. So I believe that within 10 years, China’s emissions will be larger than the United States, the European Union plus Russia and Japan and Canada and Australia. So if you think that there’s a problem, the only way to solve it is if China decides to do something about it.
Mr. Jekielek: So this is exactly what I was thinking about because at the Epoch Times, China is definitely one of the areas that we focus on. We’re very, very interested in the topic. And there’s plentiful, abundant daily evidence that even if China were to promise to change or reduce, under the current regime that governs it, it’s unlikely to happen. They’re not known for keeping promises over there. So my big question is in a situation where Chinese emissions were to grow dramatically—let’s say I believe the folks on the climate-industrial complex as you call it—yet China keeps growing in this area and it seems like they intend to. Would it make any difference for the Western countries to implement these reductions as in the climate Paris change accord, while China overtakes [us] economically and then decides to implement its system on the rest of the world.
Mr. Ebell: It would make very little difference, even if United States emissions were cut to zero, which would mean replacing 80 percent of our energy mix, which we get from coal, oil, and natural gas. It would make very little difference because Chinese emissions are growing so rapidly. And there is strong evidence to support what you said that you can’t really believe what they say. We’ve got this other international environmental treaty called the Montreal Protocol, which is to supposedly save the world from the hole in the ozone layer. And that meant that one class of refrigerants, which are used in refrigerating and air conditioning, was replaced by another class. Well, there’s a lot of evidence, using satellite data, that China is still producing the class of refrigerants that were supposedly outlawed and banned by the Montreal Protocol.
Now there’s a new stage to the Montreal Protocol, which was signed a couple of years ago in Kigali, Rwanda. It’s called the Kigali Amendment. And this now would replace the new class of refrigerants with yet a third class of refrigerants. Why is that? Because the second class of refrigerants, the ones that were the replacements—
Mr. Jekielek: The original CFCs?
Mr. Ebell: Yes, they’re called HFCs. CFCs were the original ones. And then they were replaced by HFCs. Well HFCs don’t hurt the ozone layer, but they are greenhouse gases. And therefore they contribute to global warming. And so we’re now banning HFCs and replacing them with another class of refrigerants. Some of them are called HFOs. And just coincidentally, there are two companies in America that have the patents on these new class of refrigerants. And, of course, they’re much more expensive than HFCs. So there are two companies in the United States that are really pushing for banning HFCs so that their patents become very valuable. And in fact, the first factories that they set up to produce these new refrigerants were in China. But they’re selling it as something that will benefit America, because two American companies hold the patents, but in fact, they’re international companies, and they’re going to produce, they’re going to build their factories wherever it makes most sense. So I don’t know that it really—it’s being sold to the Trump administration as something that fits in with the Trump agenda. But I think it’s actually a scam.
Mr. Jekielek: Oh, fascinating. So is there actually a visible ozone hole over China? I remember reading something about this recently.
Mr. Ebell: Well, the ozone hole was supposed to come really at the poles. And there is a thinning in the ozone layer every winter over the poles, and that’s because of the temperature. It’s a long story, but it’s not clear that there was ever a crisis that the Montreal protocol was addressing. There may have been a potential problem.
Mr. Jekielek: Right. But these CFC detectors are picking up China basically not living up to its treaty obligations?
Mr. Ebell: Yes. Under the Montreal Protocol. So if they don’t do that with these chemicals that we use for refrigeration, why would we believe that they’ll do it for something much more important, namely, where we get our energy from? China gets its energy from coal, oil, and natural gas just like we do.
Mr. Jekielek: And it’s just this, forgive me, this whole thing sounds very bizarre to me because you’re saying basically that they really haven’t made any commitments anyway under the Paris climate change accord. The plan is to grow those emissions irrespective, and even if the U.S. were to cut theirs to zero, it still won’t impact the global situation. So—
Mr. Ebell: That’s right.
Mr. Jekielek: None of these policies are even going to work. Let’s say we implemented the Green New Deal here in America and, as you said, turn the economy upside down. The net impact on global climate change—if we were to believe that it’s going to be catastrophic—would happen anyway.
Mr. Ebell: Yes, that’s right.
Mr. Jekielek: Got to digest that. So this is obviously a highly, highly politicized issue. What do you make of the Green New Deal being a centerpiece right now or something similar being the centerpiece of many presidential candidates from what I can tell. I just did a cursory search recently.
Mr. Ebell: So I think there’s six Democrats in the Senate who are running for president, and all of them are sponsoring the Green New Deal resolution. And then there are some other candidates who aren’t in the Senate who are also supporting it. So, yes, it’s a big deal in the Democratic Party.
Well, it’s preposterous. The people behind the Green New Deal seem to have no idea of where stuff comes from. The fact is that our energy system, there are hundreds of billions of dollars invested in it, in a capital stock. And you can’t just change that capital stock in 10 years. You can’t even change it in 20 or 30 years.
And so we have people like Representative Ocasio-Cortez who is a very, I think, well-meaning, but somewhat naive freshman member of Congress who’s driving the debate. She seems to have no idea what you have to dig up in order to build several million windmills and tens of millions of solar panels. The amount of heavy metals and of cement that you have to produce to build all of these things—it’s just colossal. Now, even if they did it, it wouldn’t work because the grid can’t operate on 100 percent sources of power that are intermittent and variable and unpredictable. But let’s assume that it would work. There’s just no way to dig up all that stuff. It takes more than 500 tons of concrete for one base of one windmill, and we’re going to need to build millions of windmills. I mean there aren’t enough really good places in the United States that are really windy to put all these windmills. There aren’t enough sunny places outside of the Southwest to put all the solar panels.
There’s a proposed solar farm in Virginia, a very large one. Well, Virginia is not sunny. It’s cloudy most of the year, so it’s going to be a very unproductive place to have a solar farm. So, there’s a certain disconnect between the proponents of the Green New Deal and the material realities. And I think you see this in the global warming debate in general. The debate is one in which what I would call the bi-coastal urban elite—people who live in New York and Washington and Seattle and San Francisco. Those people—like me, I live here in Washington—we mostly go from an air-conditioned house or heated car to an air-conditioned or heated office building. And we sit in front of a screen all day manipulating information. The bi-coastal urban elite is, I believe, much more susceptible to the kind of propaganda that is put out by the global warming alarmists and are much more willing to believe it than people who actually live out in the weather, people in the heartland states who dig up stuff, make stuff and grow stuff for a living.
And I think you see this in the polling. And I think the Democratic candidates see it too because the Democratic base is urban and it’s bi-coastal. And they want to get the nomination, and so they’re going to appeal to that base. But I think regular working Americans who are out in the weather don’t buy the global warming religion, and they’re very skeptical of both the claims that it’s a crisis. And they also know a lot more about where our energy comes from and what it takes to produce it. So they don’t see a crisis, but they do see the costs of higher electric rates and higher gasoline prices that would result if these policies are implemented. And that’s why the polling shows that when Americans—and this is true of Europeans too—are asked to rate a whole bunch of issues of concern, the economy, health care, all the political issues, global warming always comes near the bottom of the list.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s fascinating. So, tell me, you mentioned climate change religion, and I want you to explain why you said that. But just before we do that, it was global warming and then it became climate change. Are these the same thing? I’ve been wondering about that.
Mr. Ebell: There has been an effort, by the promoters of radical action to reduce emissions, to find terminology that will resonate with people. So global warming was abandoned in favor of climate change based on polling and focus groups. And I don’t quite understand it all, but now, you’re actually a little bit behind. The new term, which is now being enforced by mainstream media, is the climate crisis or the climate emergency. And I believe that the Guardian, for example, in London, one of the major broadsheet newspapers, has decreed to the staff that they will no longer refer to climate change. It must be a climate crisis. So they’re trying to find words that people will react to.
Mr. Jekielek: Before we jump to this religion question, you often hear the term “settled science”—that climate change is settled science. But I think the implication is that the climate crisis—that it’s a crisis, that it’s an emergency—is the settled science.
Mr. Ebell: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: How does that work or is that just simply propaganda?
Mr. Ebell: Well, there is a consensus on climate change. That is to say that it’s understood that there are greenhouse gases that increase the temperature of the atmosphere and make life possible on earth. The principal one being water vapor in clouds, but also carbon dioxide and a few other trace chemicals. That’s agreed. It’s also agreed that the climate is always changing and that human beings—in burning coal, oil, and natural gas—increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And that should have some warming effect. Now, I think that’s where the consensus ends.
The first question is how much is the warming effect? And I think there’s a wide range of debate. Ten or 20 years ago, the research tended to indicate that the climate was quite sensitive to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And so maybe there was settled science on that 20 years ago. But more recent research suggests that the climate is much less sensitive to the level of carbon dioxide. And adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from 270 parts per million in say 1800 up to 400 parts per million today has had a very mild, minimal impact in terms of warming. So I remember 400 parts per million is one part in 2,500. So, we’re talking about very small changes in the amount of carbon dioxide. People say we’ll have a doubling. Well, the doubling actually doesn’t amount to very much, right?
So recent research is suggesting that the climate is less sensitive to changing levels in carbon dioxide than the research 20 years ago. So no, I don’t think climate science is settled at the level of do we have a crisis or not? There’s some basic science that’s agreed on, but the climate is a very complex system. For example, most of the world’s heat that we get from the sun is not in the atmosphere. It’s in the ocean. So therefore the oceans have a very big impact on the climate. And that isn’t very well understood. We do know that there’s some big long-term cycles. There’s the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, there’s the Atlantic Oscillation, and that these have big impacts. And then we have El Niños and La Niñas in the South Pacific, which also have a big impact on North and South America. So there’s a lot going on that isn’t very well understood yet.
Mr. Jekielek: So let’s jump to this—why do you call it the climate change “religion”?
Mr. Ebell: Well, I don’t very often. I think there are aspects of belief amongst the global warming alarmists—the people who are really committed to it—that are, in some ways, a kind of mimic of religious belief. That is they take certain things on faith, and they then try to convince other people to take those things on faith too, as if everybody agrees that they’re true. And if you don’t agree, then you’re somehow outside of the faith, and you’re a wicked person, and you need to be shut up and told to stop.
Mr. Jekielek: Presumably, you get that a lot.
Mr. Ebell: Oh, yeah, certainly. And everybody in the climate realists camp gets it a lot. I’m not unusual. And by the way, the environmental movement was very slow to get on the global warming bandwagon because they had all these other issues, and they said, well, if we get on global warming, what goes on with [the other issues]? But they did, I mean they eventually got on. And they basically dropped all the other [issues]. The real environmental issues have basically been put down at the bottom of the heap by the environmental groups.
And you see this particularly with windmills. Windmills are very destructive, right? They kill huge numbers of birds and bats, many of which are endangered species. And yet the groups that are wildlife groups like the National Audubon Society have basically taken a pass on this. They’ve just shut up and said, well, we have to have a lot of windmills. We’ll criticize other people. We’ll criticize people who own cats for bird deaths. We’ll criticize oil companies for killing a couple birds. But we won’t take on the windmills, the wind farms for killing millions of birds.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. Myron, we were talking earlier about how the actual increase in temperature or the actual global warming over past years is substantially less than the modeling predicted way back when, and it’s actually a stark difference. Can you tell me a little bit more, given the actual data that’s out there? How is it possible to say that, well, actually it’s a crisis at this point?
Mr. Ebell: The people promoting global warming as a crisis have very large megaphones. And so reality kind of gets obscured. I think that there is little doubt that this debate really is between modeling projections about what the future might be like, and what the data actually show. And the data is pretty clear. There is some warming, and it’s modest. The impacts so far have been mild. So this is really a debate between people who want to [say] show me, I want to see the data and the people who take on faith the computer models and the people who run the computer models, that you can trust them. And, so what you see in the scientific debate is a scientific community—they’ve all locked arms, and they’ve said, trust us, we’re scientists.
And you’ve got some other people who are not beneficiaries of this vast and very powerful and well-funded effort who were out there saying, hey, wait a minute, the emperor has no clothes. When you look at the actual data, it contradicts, it falsifies what the models have predicted. And, therefore, who are you going to believe? Predictions by scientists or data provided by scientists? And so I think this is a debate really about whether science is going to continue to be corrupted in the way it has, or whether the science will have to come back and say, hey, the reality is when we look at the data, our fantasies, our model projections just don’t match the reality. And we’re going to have to go back and look at the science again. But I don’t think the current generation of global warming alarmist scientists are ever going to come to that moment. I think they’re going to have to ride off into the sunset and be replaced by a new generation of people who are more attuned to reality and less to their own projections.
Mr. Jekielek: And the other thing that strikes me is any time there’s a hurricane or some sort of natural disaster or something of this realm that can, in any way, potentially be linked to global warming, we hear people talking about how climate change must be the cause of this. Is this the same vein of what you’re just talking about in your view?
Mr. Ebell: Oh, certainly. I wouldn’t really blame the scientific community as much as the PR community of the environmental pressure groups and governmental agencies. Every time that we have a winter where there isn’t very much snow, we get predictions like, well, we’re just not going to have any snow anymore. And then now this last winter we had just huge amounts of snow in the West, two or three times the average. Now we’re saying, well, this is what we’re going to have to get used to. Now some years we’re not going to have any snow and others we’re going to have too much.
We see the same thing. I think the most amusing one going on right now is a few years ago, the Great Lakes started to drop because of drought in the catchment area for the Great Lakes. And the Great Lakes are huge, right? They provide a very large percentage of the world’s fresh water, 15 or 20 percent. And so they were saying, oh, the Great Lakes are dropping, and this is a result of global warming. Well, the Great Lakes are now back up to normal and even above average levels. Now if you look through the press clippings, you’ll see scientists are wringing their hands—well, this is exactly what we expected with global warming. There’s just too much water in the Great Lakes. Well, this is all bunk, right? They make this stuff up. They don’t predict any of these impacts. Nobody predicted that the Great Lakes were going to drop. Nobody predicted that they were going to come back up. I’d like to see somebody actually make a prediction about future weather and then live up to it and stand up and say, well, I was right or I was wrong. But that never happens. It’s whatever happens, we had intimations that this was going to happen as a result of global warming. It’s all made up. They concoct this stuff.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s fascinating. So to finish up, how big of an issue do you think climate change is going to be for the 2020 election?
Mr. Ebell: Oh, I think we’ve had very few elections since the global warming bandwagon got going that were about global warming. So, for example, in 2000 with Al Gore, who was Mr. Global Warming, he didn’t run on it at all, but he still lost because voters in his own home state of Tennessee and West Virginia, which produces a lot of coal, and Kentucky, they figured out that he was not a good thing.
And so he lost the election. If he’d won West Virginia, he would’ve won the election. And yet, he didn’t even talk about global warming in the election. So it wasn’t an issue in 2004. It wasn’t an issue in 2008. President Obama, when he was a senator and running for president, didn’t bring it up. And, in fact, his Republican opponent, John McCain, had a much longer record on being in favor of doing something about global warming. He was the global warming candidate, the Republican in 2008. But remember as soon as President Obama got elected, he then said, well, global warming is the big issue. We’ve got to do something about it. And so Congress moved to pass a bill, the Waxman-Markey Bill, a cap-and-trade bill. It’s kind of like a tax, but it’s harder to see why your energy prices are going up than a tax.
It’s a way to conceal the tax nature of it. So cap-and-trade became a big issue. The House passed cap-and-trade in June of 2009. And in 2010, the Democrats lost the House of Representatives in the November election. Twenty-some members lost primarily because they voted for cap-and-trade. People figured out in the heartland states that the Democrats wanted to raise their energy prices.
So that was the first election that was ever about global warming, and the alarmists lost. The second one was in 2016 when Donald J. Trump made it an issue, and Hillary Clinton took it on as an issue. And Trump won. So again, the global warming alarmists lost. We’ve seen this all around the world. With a carbon tax in Australia, prime ministers have been toppled one after another because they support a carbon tax. In Canada, it’s been a huge issue to elect the anti-carbon tax party in Ontario and in Alberta. It’s likely to topple Prime Minister Trudeau in this year’s election because he’s a promoter of the carbon tax.
So I think it is going to be a big issue in the 2020 election. And I think it will definitely cut two ways. The Democrat who will be for—maybe not the Green New Deal—but at least dramatic action, radical action to cut emissions, they will really increase their vote. They will have solidified their base in California, Oregon, Washington, New York, and New England. And it will cut very definitely in favor of President Trump in the heartland states from Florida to Idaho and from Arizona to Pennsylvania. And those states will, I believe, once again, be a very hard sell for the global warming policies being promoted by whoever the Democratic candidate is.
Mr. Jekielek: So would your advice to the Democratic candidate be to leave this issue out of this if you want to have a shot?
Mr. Ebell: Well, I don’t get into partisan politics, but they do have a problem, which it appears that to win the nomination you have to subscribe to the Green New Deal or something like it. But to win the general election, you have to get as far away from it as possible. Because let’s face it, Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have lost California if she’d said, I really don’t think global warming is a big issue. But she might’ve won Michigan or Pennsylvania, and she would’ve been president. So I think the Democrats have a huge problem here because playing to their base isn’t going to help them win the states that they need to win.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.