Wood: Gov. Polis’ ‘Roadmap 2.0’ is not economically sustainable, equitable, environmentally balanced or fact-based

By PETE WOOD | Guest Commentary, Rocky Mountain Voice

This past February, Gov. Jared Polis introduced his “Roadmap 2.0” that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions in Colorado by 2050.

The governor said, “Colorado has been a national model in bold climate action that improves air quality and protects our precious resources and open spaces. This updated, comprehensive Roadmap continues pushing our state forward in ways that will save Coloradans money, protect our air, and water, and ensure a more sustainable future for Colorado.”

Gov. Polis has doubled down on this policy that drives many local climate action plans that subsequently drive bureaucracies and mandates that make housing, transportation and the general cost of living more expensive.

While some think this is a noble effort, an increasing number of people see this as a very misguided effort to “save the planet” from what many people have been led to believe is anthropogenic, or human caused, climate change. That’s not to deny climate change is happening, but it is to say that our government leaders and mainstream (traditional) media ignore key facts that must be considered about our approach to addressing climate change. 

First, there are countless factors that cause climate change and CO2 is but one. Earth’s cloud composition, ocean currents, volcanic activity, magnetic field, and the sun’s radiation all have a greater effect on climate than CO2. As a matter of fact, CO2 is but a trace chemical in Earth’s atmosphere.

Climate change adherents like to express increases in CO2 in the atmosphere in terms of tons instead of percentages. This results in a distortion of the impact CO2 has on our atmosphere. For example, the Earth’s atmosphere is estimated to weigh 5 quadrillion tons (5 followed by 15 zeros). Scientists estimate humans release about 30 billion tons of CO2 per year in the atmosphere. That amounts to 0.00003 percent of change, hardly an amount worthy of great concern compared to larger, overlooked factors.

Additionally, CO2 is not the demon chemical that climate change adherents claim it is. Remember, CO2 is plant food, and the world has become greener over the past two centuries coinciding with the Industrial Revolution. A warmer climate and more plants create more food abundance and less famine. 

Second, these distortions and misinformation are propagated by the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Earth’s climate is one of the most complex and mysterious systems in nature due to the countless factors that are involved. A single change in one factor will have an infinite number of possible outcomes that are unpredictable. The mathematics involved in climate change is nonlinear and chaotic, yet the models IPCC scientists use for predicting climate change use linear calculations which cannot represent the true climate. And, given the complexity of Earth’s climate, the notion that humans can affect climate change by ceasing the burning of hydrocarbons is absurd.

Third, the renewable solutions intended to mitigate climate change are a threat to our economy, environment and human rights. Wind and solar energy are much less efficient than fossil fuels. Because the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine constantly, they rely on batteries to store their energy. Unfortunately, technology does not yet exist that can store industrial-level amounts of energy to power an entire city from batteries. When wind and solar energy falters, hydrocarbon energy from coal, gas, or nuclear power plants is required to pick up the demand. Therefore, we will continue to depend on fossil fuels or nuclear power indefinitely.

Another factor to consider about wind and solar is the environmental impact. Industrial scale wind and solar facilities are a huge footprint on the landscape and encroach on many natural habitats and migratory paths. Each year thousands of birds are killed by rotating wind turbines and extreme heat from solar farms. Many are large birds of prey which are slower to reproduce and more at risk of endangerment. By comparison, an oil derrick has a much smaller footprint having less impact on natural habitats while also producing more energy on a consistent basis than wind or solar.

Wind and solar technology and the batteries required to store their energy require rare Earth minerals like cobalt, lithium and dysprosium that must be mined from countries with sensitive habitats and endangered animals. Many of these countries have poor human rights records and use child labor with poor working conditions. Currently, the Chinese Communist Party owns much of the world’s rare Earth mining operations. So, what’s most concerning is the demand for this mining will multiply dozens of times given government pressure to switch to renewable energy. 

Fourth, China is not held accountable for adhering to climate policies in Paris Climate Accords. Between 2015-21, China’s CO2 emissions increased by 11%, according to the Climate Action Tracker. Over that same period, the U.S. decreased CO2 emissions by 6%, largely due to our switch from coal to natural gas. As a matter of fact, China has no intention of addressing climate change. The country is reported to have over 300 new coal-fired power plants planned, under construction, or about to come online over the next year. China’s President Xi recently said their approach for achieving climate goals “must be determined by ourselves, and never under the sway of others.”

Considering 80% of global energy remains produced by hydrocarbon fuels and the demand for energy is expected to increase by 54% by 2050, we must be honest with ourselves about Earth’s climate and how we produce our energy. It is critical that we explore solutions that are economically sustainable, equitable, environmentally balanced and fact-based. Gov. Polis’s “Roadmap 2.0” and current climate action policy is none of these.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in commentary pieces are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the management of the Rocky Mountain Voice, but even so we support the constitutional right of the author to express those opinions.