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Scientifically Unjustified and Deadly

By Richard Lindzen, William Happer, CO2 Coalition

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Editor’s Note: Presentations and panels at The Heartland Institute’s recently concluded 15th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-15) discussed the dangers of the pursuit of “net zero.” Net zero policies are an attempt by ruling elites in governments, bureaucracies, international agencies, and global corporations to force people to reduce their CO2 emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions being reabsorbed from the atmosphere. In the real world, with present technologies, pursuing net zero requires a sharp, near-immediate reduction or full cessation of the use of fossil fuels. A presentation by Heartland Institute Trustee Steve Milloy argued “Net Zero Is Unachievable and Will Kill People,” as the title of his speech put it. On another panel, three presenters discussed “Why NetZero is Impossible: The Continuing Need and Value of Fossil Fuels.”

Although it is undoubtedly important to know whether net zero is achievable and what its relative costs and benefits are likely to be, one should first ask: Are goals or policies to obtain a net zero society necessary or scientifically justified to prevent catastrophic climate change?
There is no question that reaching a net zero steady state will require greatly restricting peoples’ liberties, impose huge economic costs, and probably have deadly consequences, both foreseen and unanticipated. Therefore, before embarking on such a wrenching societal transformation, we should be pretty sure the planet needs saving from climate change. If the science does not show catastrophic climate change is on the way, governments must seek other justifications for forcing people to change their lives radically to reach net zero.

So, is net zero necessary? According to a recent paper produced by the CO2 Coalition, the answer to that question is not just no but hell, no! The paper was written by two prominent, multi-award-winning physicists, William Happer, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Princeton University, and Richard Lindzen, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with geologist Gregory Wrightstone, executive director of the CO2 Coalition, each of whom presented on science and policy at ICCC-15.

The remainder of this essay provides a lightly edited excerpt from “Challenging ‘Net Zero’ with Science,” plus quotes from its authors about the paper’s findings.

Reliable scientific knowledge is determined by the scientific method, where theoretical predictions are validated by observations or rejected for failing to conform with reality. Agreement with observations is the measure of scienti?c truth. Scienti?c progress proceeds by the interplay of theory and observation. Theory explains observations and makes predictions of what will be observed in the future. Observations anchor understanding and weed out theories that don’t work.

Yet governments around the globe are taking actions to implement fossil fuel-free or “Net Zero” energy systems without a thorough examination of the scientific basis for doing so.
Net Zero—the global movement to eliminate fossil fuels and their emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases—is scientifically invalid and a threat to the lives of billions of people. Among the paper’s findings are:
Net Zero proponents regularly report that extreme weather is more severe and frequent because of climate change, while the evidence shows no increase—and, in some cases, a decrease—in such events.

Computer models supporting every government Net Zero regulation and the trillions of dollars subsidizing renewables and electric cars, trucks, home heating, appliances, and many other products do not work.

Scientific research and studies that do not support the “consensus” narrative of harmful manmade global warming are routinely censored and excluded from government reports such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment.

Conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that contradict the narrative of catastrophic global warming from fossil fuels are rewritten by government bureaucrats for public reports to support the false narrative of Net Zero.

The many benefits of modest warming and increasing carbon dioxide are routinely either eliminated or minimized in governmental reports.

Eliminating fossil fuels and implementing Net Zero policies and actions mean the elimination of fossil fuel-derived nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides, which will result in about half the world’s population not having enough food to eat. Many would starve.

The adoption of Net Zero is the rejection of overwhelming scientific evidence that there is no risk of catastrophic global warming caused by fossil fuels and CO2.
Net Zero, then, violates the tenets of the scientific method that for more than 300 years has underpinned the advancement of western civilization.

(To paraphrase Johnnie Cochran, “If the science don’t work, you must start again!” Net zero is not justified scientifically, ethically, or economically.—Editor.)

This commentary was first published by the CO2 Coalition on February 23, 2023.

Another note: This just in from the Associated Press: Communities around the world emitted more carbon dioxide in 2022 than in any other year on records dating to 1900, a result of air travel rebounding from the pandemic and more cities turning to coal as a low-cost source of power. 
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