Worst Scenario for Climate Change Doesn’t Look ‘Realistic,’ Says Bloomberg Columnist

December 30th, 2019 2:53 PM

You know it’s a cold day in hell when a liberal outlet like Bloomberg Opinion is critiquing the left’s climate armageddon.

Bloomberg Opinion columnist Noah Smith explained how the “Worst Case for Climate Change Doesn’t Look Realistic.” His December 23 op-ed summarized findings from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and critiqued one of several climate scenarios.

He focused on the “direst” scenario called RCP8.5, which “implies that the planet would warm by an average of 5 degrees Celsius (about 9 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 -- an absolutely catastrophic, civilization-ending level of warming.” But, Smith noted, “a growing chorus of climate scientists and energy policy analysts has begun to question whether the dreaded RCP8.5 scenario should be taken seriously.”

Smith wrote that the doomsday scenario assumes “that after a brief flirtation with natural gas and renewable energy, the world returns to fueling industrialization primarily with coal.” Smith said this outcome was “vanishingly unlikely.”

His reasoning was threefold: there’s not that much accessible coal in the ground; burning coal creates air pollution (giving countries an additional incentive to reduce its use); and dropping prices for renewables. Smith said that “as renewables get cheaper, it will become economical to retire existing coal and gas plants.” In turn, The IPCC’s “commonly cited doomsday scenario looks like a rash flight of imagination,” Smith said.

The CATO Institute gave a detailed critique of the IPCC’s doomsday scenario in 2018, arguing that it “is obsolete.” “It was obsolete when it was first published in the journal Climate Change by Riahi et al. in 2011. By then the shale gas revolution was underway, as can be seen from the plot below of shale gas production,” CATO concluded.

CATO continued, “By 2011, abundant shale gas had begun a wholesale displacement of coal for electrical generation, increasing natural gas’s portion of our energy portfolio and decreasing that of coal.”

But of course, Smith couldn’t let his entire column be “controversial,” given his outlet’s liberal bias, and proceeded to still push alarmism: “Now for the bad news: 2.5 degrees of warming will still be catastrophic for many people and countries, and 3 degrees even more so.”

He continued mouthing leftwing talking points:

“Instead of embarking on the fool’s errand of trying to dismantle capitalism, governments should utilize the combined resources of the public and private sectors. They should retire all coal plants as quickly as possible, steadily reduce natural gas usage and convert to all electric vehicles. Buildings need to be retrofitted to use electricity instead of gas. And new technologies for producing low-carbon steel and cement, and for carbon-free aviation, need to be researched, scaled up and disseminated internationally.

Interesting, given that liberal billionaire co-founder of Microsoft and climate activist Bill Gates had just stated this year that divesting from fossil fuels would have “zero” impact on climate change.

Smith also ignored reporting that “[t]otal U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 reached their lowest levels since 1992, according to the final Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse Gas Inventory,” which Energy In Depth, a research program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, reported on April 16, 2019.