Although global temperatures have only increased a mere 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Fahrenheit) in the past century, unproven computer-generated scenarios of drastic events such as rising sea levels, food shortages, spread of disease, and economic turmoil due to global warming have overwhelmed politicians and citizens alike. Because of these exaggerated scare scenarios, politicians frequently introduce bills that declare an emergency and attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing energy costs through a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade program, or by eliminating access to reliable and affordable sources of energy. These policies are the wrong solution to helping Oregonians with future changes in global climate and may greatly disadvantage Oregon if changes in climate were to occur.
Access to energy is the lifeblood of society. It helps our economy, contributes to our wellbeing and increases life expectancy. Drastically reducing access to energy and slowing down economic growth will cause more harm to Oregonians than any foreseeable damages that may arise from an increase in global temperatures and is a misguided policy to pursue. Entirely focusing on “saving” the planet through greenhouse gas reductions simply will not work.
Instead of potentially ruining Oregon’s prosperity through rationing energy, the state should be the leader in promoting market driven policies that will foster economic growth in order to generate wealth for Oregon citizens and businesses. With development and wealth, Oregon will be able to adjust and adapt to almost any change in climate that might occur in the near or distant future.
Todd Wynn is the climate change and energy policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.