Reducing carbon emissions seems like fool’s errand

September 5, 2023

Climate has changed since the beginning of time, being both hotter and colder many times. This is not a discussion of climate change’s existence, but what to do about it. How much can we mitigate its effects and how much of the world are we prepared to sacrifice to accomplish that goal? Is the incremental benefit worth the cost? If we fail, then what?

These are questions anyone concerned about climate should be asking, but few do. Almost the entirety of the discussion is about reducing carbon emissions, regardless of its cost and likely success in reducing global warming.

So how are we doing in reducing global emissions? Not very well. Any success achieved by the west has been more than erased by developing nations like China and India. You cannot fault these developing nations for seeking a better life, one that will only be achieved by increasing their carbon emissions. Any sacrifice the west makes will likely be erased by poor countries looking to escape poverty. I doubt humans will stop seeking a better life, and we are not morally justified in insisting they do.

Facing this conundrum, the west insists on imposing even harsher restrictions on its citizens. Everything from the car you drive to the appliances you use is being restricted in some way. Their acceptable replacements will be more expensive and will diminish the quality of your life. Sadly, it will do little to change the trajectory of the climate.

The latest climate focus is on reducing farming. According to John Kerry, farming is responsible for a third of all emissions. So, while we in Sussex County are trying to save farms, our state and federal governments are trying to eliminate them. If you think this won’t happen here, I suggest you look at what is happening in the Netherlands, where they are attempting to reduce farming by 50%.

If reducing carbon emissions will not save the planet, then what will? I don’t think we have any choice but to adapt to rising sea levels. The Netherlands will likely be the model. Twenty-six percent of the Netherlands is below sea level and 59% of the country is susceptible to flooding. To alleviate the problem, they built dykes, which have been very effective in virtually eliminating the problem. Dykes will not solve every problem here, but they will be part of the solution. It will be expensive, but so are the regulations the government is imposing.

Paying for flood mitigation will require a strong and vibrant economy. Sadly, government regulations are choking our economy. Sen. Brian Pettyjohn understands this issue well and feels that balance is needed. Putting all our efforts into reducing carbon emissions seems like a fool’s errand. We can certainly do some of that, but we will need to do other things too. A poorer country hobbled by regulations will not be up to the task; only ingenuity and prosperity will save us. Balance is a wiser approach.

Hylton Phillips-Page
Rehoboth Beach
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