By Michael Bastasch
Democrats are increasingly lining up behind New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s call for a “Green New Deal,” but few, if any, have talked about its actual impact on global warming.
Even if all the Green New Deal’s goals were achieved, it would have a negligible, and likely immeasurable, impact on projected global warming, according to climate model simulation provided by a libertarian think tank.
“I seriously think the effect would — at best — be barely detectable in the climate record,” Patrick Michaels, a climatologist with the Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Cato developed its own “Carbon Tax Temperature-Savings Calculator” to estimate the amount of warming that might be averted through reducing greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide.
The carbon calculator is based on the so-called “MAGICC” climate model simulator, developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency.
So, how much warming would a “Green New Deal” avert by the end of the century? Slightly under 0.14 degrees Celsius, according to Cato’s temperature calculator.
“The year-to-year variation is very close to the total amount of warming that would be ‘saved’ by 2100, according to EPA’s own model,” Michaels said.
And that assumes a climate sensitivity estimate of 3 degrees Celsius. Climate sensitivity refers to the amount of warming that can be expected from a doubling of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
The United Nations estimates climate sensitivity is anywhere between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius, though an April 2018 study suggested that climate sensitivity is likely on the low-end of the scale.
Indeed, if climate sensitivity is only 1.5 degrees Celsius, like the April study found, the Green New Deal would only avert about 0.08 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century, according to Cato’s calculator.
Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” calls for a House committee to draft legislation mandating the meeting of “100% of national power demand through renewable sources” within a 10-year window.
Dozens of Democratic lawmakers have endorsed the proposal, and the environmental group pushing it on Capitol Hill, the Sunrise Movement, calls the Green New Deal “the best chance we have to fight climate change.”
Neither the Sunrise Movement nor a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez responded to TheDCNF’s inquiry. TheDCNF asked if either had, or knew of, estimates into how much future warming the Green New Deal could avert.
Supporters have sold the Green New Deal as a way to create “green” jobs and be “the vehicle to truly deliver and establish economic, social and racial justice in the United States of America,” Ocasio-Cortez said in December.
“This is going to be the Great Society, the moonshot, the civil rights movement of our generation,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a panel event alongside 2020 presidential hopeful Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“This is the mechanism through which we can really deliver justice to communities that have been underserved,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
While the exact costs of a “Green New Deal” are uncertain, it would likely cost trillions of dollars and amount to the largest expansion of government authority in decades if enacted in its entirety.
“Also, the ‘100-percent renewable energy’ notion is fatuous,” Michael said. “The sun doesn’t shine at night and the wind often is calm over large areas when temperatures are extreme and the electricity demand is high.”
“So there has to be another source, most likely natural gas-fired generation,” Michaels said.
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