On this week’s episode, we cover IWF’s April policy focus: A Realistic Approach to Climate Change. We explore the common myths about climate change and how innovation has led to a cleaner environment. And we delve into the latest tactics by environmental alarmists who propose “solutions” that would destroy our country.
Julie Gunlock is director of Independent Women’s Forum’s center for progress and innovation. She is the author of the book From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back. Before joining IWF, Gunlock served as a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and on the House Homeland Security Committee, and on the staffs of Ohio Senators Mike DeWine, George Voinovich, and Tom Coburn. Gunlock writes about food and is a regular contributor to National Review Online, BlogHer and Huffington Post. She has offered political commentary on Fox News and other networks and is a regular guest on local, regional and national radio programs.
And welcome to She Thinks, a podcast where you’re allowed to think to yourself. I’m your host Beverly Hallberg and on today’s episode we delve into this month’s IWF policy focus, a realistic approach to climate change. You can find the brief on iwf.org, but Julie Gunlock, IWS, director of Independent Women’s Forum Center for Progress and Innovation joins us to break it down. We’ll get into the commonness about climate change and what policy changes can lead to a cleaner environment, but before we bring her on, we wanted you to know that during this time of uncertainty and unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 it’s more important than ever to show what America’s made up.
That’s why Independent Women’s Forum is highlighting American ideals of ingenuity, generosity, thoughtfulness, and kindness. From everyday Americans, sewing masks and donating blood to companies, providing free food and housing to those on the front lines, it’s a beautiful reminder that we’re in this together.
Visit iwf.org or check us out on Facebook and Twitter and follow our campaign using #inthistogether to learn more about the campaign, but Julie, I am glad that you’re on this podcast because we are in this podcast together. So thank you so much for joining.
Thanks for having me, glad to be on.
And of course, the policy focus that you wrote comes at a perfect time, the month of April when we just this week hit the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which seems to be a renewed focus, of course by activists across the country and across the globe on this idea of something that would resemble the Green New Deal. Talking more about the environment and the harms that we supposedly are creating.
So, I just kind of want to jump into the policy focus itself. What are some of the myths that have been perpetuated for quite a while and are definitely being discussed this week?
Well look, there’s lots and lots of myths. Everything from the obesity epidemic to the myth that polar bear populations are suffering, forest fires, everything is blamed on climate change. So no matter what the societal ill is, usually activists can tie it back to climate change. I mean, I’ve seen some pretty obnoxious claims like crime is going up because of climate change or… You name it, you name it, they can tie it back, but I think the most common one that we see tends to focus on extreme weather, and I mentioned forest fires or disasters. So extreme weather like tornadoes or hurricanes. Natural disasters like forest fires and other issues. That is a common method that’s promoted by activists.
Also we see a lot on sea levels and I’ll get into the details on these, and then the third one I highlight in the policy focus is the idea that fossil fuels themselves, so we’re talking about oil, that they are inherently bad for the earth and that is just not true, one… And also a lot of these myths, especially the one about fossil fuels, they never really delve into the fact that fossil fuels have lifted people out of poverty and have made the world a much better place to live.
So, I think it’s important that when you’re talking about, okay, you know these things, we might want to find alternatives, for instance for fossil fuels, but you also have to recognize what fossil fuels have done for our economies all across the world.
So, I can get a little bit into the specific myths that are promoted, the sea levels for instance. I think most people… I was looking back at when Al Gore predicted that… In 2006, Al Gore said that there would be a 20 foot rise in sea levels that he said polar caps would be completely melted, that we would have shifts and whole cities would be flooded and that we would have coastal shifts.
None of that has happened. And I think part of the reason, and what people have started to understand now is that sea levels have risen for thousands of years and it is at a much slower rate than what Al Gore predicted. And we’re talking about over thousands of years, it’s shifted just a really tiny amount that’s really had no real effect on coastlines and on some flooding.
But then again, you will see when there is, for instance, flooding in a city or flooding in a coastal area, you will see the climate alarmists immediately say, oh yes, because of climate change, when it really has nothing to do with that. That is whether it is not climate change.
So, the other one you often see as extreme weather, which is kind of tied into this, anytime there’s a tornado or there’s a hurricane or there’s some other form of extreme weather, you… Again, we’ll see the climate alarmists suggesting that it’s climate change.
But you actually have… The IPCC is reporting that there’s been no increase in extreme weather in the past 30 years. And really you can trace the sort of climate alarmists to about 30 years ago, I mean they’ve always been there, and frankly before it was sort of the world warming, the warming alarmist, it was the cooling alarmist. When I was a little girl, a little over 30 years ago, everyone was saying there was going to be a new ice age and we were all going to freeze to death.
And I remember this, I remember claims of population explosions to the point that we would run out of food and water. And so these alarmist claims, these myths, these suggestions that one variable, whether it be polar… the ice caps melting or extreme weather, one of these things is going to kill us and these have been around for generations. You can talk to your parents, you can test your grandparents crack open a history book, the alarmists have been with us for some time in memoriam and so this is nothing new, but the affect is the same. It really does scare the public. And I think as we’re going to get into here, it makes people worry enough that they tend to acquiesce more readily to government regulation.
A phrase that I’ve been hearing more and more is climate refugee. This idea that people have to leave where they live due to rising sea levels. And I just use that as an example because when you cite the data when you talk about the science, why is it that there aren’t more people showing that the claims that are made are inaccurate? Because as you were saying, people are scared I’ve actually even thought about our children in this country, I feel like we’re scaring them so much. If we tell them the world is ending in 12 years, why should they even try in school?
It is grotesque. It is truly grotesque. The types of things these activists will do to push the American population… And worldwide, it’s not just Americans, into sort of agreeing to giving up some freedoms or the so-called promise of reducing climate change or stopping climate change altogether.
You have Greta Thunberg out there. She is a young girl. I personally think that she is being greatly manipulated by the people around her, who says really terrifying things. Like she gets up at the UN and she talks about how she’s had to give up her… she won’t have a future essentially. She says the world is on fire. She says, how dare you not put in place policies that would actually destroy economies and return nations to… After sort of advancing and innovating and progressing, to essentially developing nations. It would destroy the US economy and none of that is ever considered.
Now that’s a child. So, I always try to be careful with Greta Thunberg, but you’ve got AOC who is out there saying the same thing. Regularly saying we have 12 years until the world is essentially destroyed. Now if you get her in an interview, she’s a little bit more nuanced. She’ll say something, well, we have 12 years and so we can really put in place some tough regulations. But she also says things like, we can never go back. It’s 12 years until we… Especially reached this point where we fall off a cliff, and you think about little kids who hear that.
I think a lot of grownups will hear that kind of roll their eyes and say, okay, it’s a little bit of hyperbole here, but you have kids hearing this and I actually have three kids in school right now and I am constantly having to correct some of the information that they hear in the public schools.
The public schools have really become sort of these incubators for climate hysteria and so kids are nervous and you see this in the research on kids. Kids are dealing with a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty and fear. I mean, this is well reported within psychological circles that kids nowadays are very worried about their futures and very worried about climate change and it does not match the reality of what we’re seeing out there. And so yeah, I consider it… It’s essentially child abuse, what we’re seeing out there from these class climate activists and why they’re doing that is to push, to push parents and to push people to just say, you know what, maybe this is so serious and we want to give our kids a future.
It’s a very, very, very compelling argument when you tell people that their actions or that some nation is putting out so much carbon emissions that it might destroy a generation’s future. That’s my children and that’s a lot of people’s children and their grandchildren and we want to give our kids a good life. So it’s a very compelling argument and activists use that to tug at the heartstrings.
So, I know you talk about, in this brief, about climate change being a real thing. You did just say the world is heating up. So what do we do when these claims come and they say that the science is proven? Why aren’t there more people pushing back? Because there does seem to be a lot of scientists out there who were claiming that the world is getting to a point where we can’t turn back. Why are the scientists out there talking about it in this way?
Oh look, I think that climate change, and I like the word climate change and not global warming, and to be honest with you, the activists were really smart to change it as well because we saw with… Many, many years ago there was a big scandal that happened called hide the decline, and then there was the hockey stick scandal in England with a scientist who was sort of cooking the books. And again, with the of the decline it was… Again, it was cooking the books. There had been a decline in temperature over a number of years and scientists just didn’t want to talk about this and what we’re seeing in terms of warming, yeah, the climate has warmed a little bit. Yeah, sure. Sure, it has and it hasn’t warmed that much, but what’s also important is that a lot of these scientists will base this sort of extreme warming on… They claimed thousands of years of data, well we weren’t… I mean there was a cave man out there measuring… I mean, they didn’t even know what the temperature was.
And so, we haven’t been measuring the temperature for many years. It started in the 1800s and so we have limited information. And when you look at the actual data that is collected from… Especially on, for instance, sea levels, that is measured at the coast, actual measurements and you compare it to the models that they do. And this is another issue that I don’t want to spend too long on, but when you compare… Models tend to show the worst case scenario, whereas the actual measurements are showing much slower sea level rise, much less warming, and so, yes there are scientists who claim that the planet is warming at much higher rates, but those, again are based on very flawed models.
And why I think it’s important to talk about model is we are currently fighting a pandemic, and I think everyone by now knows that the models were flawed. And particularly I live in Virginia, we were supposed to peak a while ago, were now going to peak in a few weeks. The mortality rate is much lower than what was predicted, the infection rate is much lower and we’re seeing this throughout.
I mean, I think there’s some model in Tennessee that was off like 2000% and so this has become kind of an issue, but it’s important, I think a lot of people who’ve sort of watched the climate change debate know that these models have always been unreliable. And so you’re then applying the model to a pandemic and again, you’re going to get unreliable numbers.
So, the other thing I want to say, and I think this is important, I really hate the phrase the science is settled. That is just not something scientists say. Science is always evolving and we are always discovering new things. Even in areas where we think, okay well we kind of figured this out. You know, for instance in diseases, we may find a treatment or we might find a drug that cures something, but often those drugs might have some side effects or we might come up… Scientists might come up in the medical profession, might come up with a better way of doing it. And so science is almost never settled. We can have the weight of the evidence and that’s important, but there is always more evidence to be added to the sort of collection of data that’s driving a decision.
And when it comes to climate change, we have… sort of since the height, what I would call the height of the climate hysteria around the Inconvenient Truth and Al Gore, we have seen a lot more moderate voices arise on climate change and really start to look at how innovation is a better way forward rather than harsh regulations. Of course, we now have Greta and we have AOC pushing and Bernie pushing for the Green New Deal on these sort of very, very onerous regulations that just would literally destroy America. But there are some rational voices… Much more rational voices on this. IWF is certainly one of the… Trying to be and is, I think, one of the rational voices on this. And there are some other people noted in the back of the policy focus that are good sources on this.
And I’m glad you brought up the models even in relation to Coronavirus because I think many people when they watch the news these days, they’re asking themselves what is the truth. They hear… especially since the news is focused on alarmist headlines. We’ve heard for years that, on your local news station, tune in at 11:00 because your child is going to die from X. And so there’s this alarmist mentality, which of course you write about quite often and I think people are craving truth.
And one of the things in relation to the oil industry and the crisis we saw this week where we had a collapse in oil prices, the lowest we have ever seen in this country, almost a celebration by those who consider themselves to be climate activists. You’ve been mentioning AOC. Her tweet is now deleted, but she did tweet on Monday that you absolutely love to see it, that is a quote. “You love to see this” and so I remember when they used to talk about no blood for oil, then America became energy sufficient and then now we’re seeing that they’re saying it’s great that the oil industry has collapsed. It seems even with the terminology of global warming to climate change, now what they’re fighting against keeps changing because we keep learning more.
Yeah, you know what AOC wrote is just astonishingly cool. It is completely tone deaf and really reveals that this has more to do with transforming the American system of democracy and free markets and capitalism than her so-called concern for the earth and so called climate change.
This is what we are seeing here, destroyed economies, massive record-breaking unemployment, and sustained unemployment and the very real possibility that we’re going to go into a sustained depression because of this is actually… The Green New Deal, it played out. It’s like we’re doing a little experiment here and we… If someone said, Hey, let’s give the Green New Deal a couple of weeks and we’ll see what happens. Well, this is what would happen. You would have industries collapsing, you have people losing jobs… massive job loss.
You would have incredibly high job of claims and unemployment claims and you would probably see limits in other things. The fact that, I can’t go to a restaurant right now and sit down with my family, you would see these kinds of alterations to human activities and Americans would have to just get by with less and have less and have a lower standard of living and just have to accept more inconveniences in their lives. That is not necessary. That is not necessary, and I want to be clear here under the Green New Deal, this sort of carbon… Zero carbon emission goals that they have, if the United States did it, let’s say we did it, let’s say, you know I was going to get up and say, you know what, I agree with AOC and Greta and I think that we need to do this.
It wouldn’t make one ounce of difference in global emissions because of the increased output from China and India. You have these countries that are signing onto the Paris climate accord and are not meeting them. They just flagrantly just… They say, you know what? We’re not going to meet them. In fact, they increased their carbon emissions and they ignore every other international treaty that they’ve signed on to.
Meanwhile, the United States is consistently lowering carbon emissions every year and we have been praised by the unlikeliest of sources, by the WHO, and from other international organizations that usually don’t like us, but they actually do praise us for reducing our carbon emissions. But you have countries like, again, like China and India that are just ramping up emissions. And so I want to be clear, if you like the life you’re leading right now with your school’s closed and your restaurant’s limited and every… I can’t get a bucket of paint. I am stuck in the house and I am so desperate to do some painting in my house. I can’t get a bucket of paint anywhere. I can’t order certain things that I would like to do around the house.
Now, if you liked that and I don’t, then sure get behind the Green New Deal because it’s going to be a whole lot of that, a whole lot of that for Americans, but it’s not necessary. And again, Americans need to understand it won’t make a difference. It won’t make a difference in anything to lower global emissions.
So, I think it’s really important that people understand that AOC and Bernie and many democrats… Look, it’s not just them. I mean all of the democrats, I think on that debate stage were signing on to Green New Deal. They want to put these incredibly onerous regulations on US industry and on your own life and it’s not going to in any way improve… it’s not going any way to improve the environmental situation for the United States or for the earth. So that’s quite a sacrifice for nothing in return.
And you brought up a good point which is the US is the leader when it comes to a clean environment. Often when people talk about the myths of climate change, I’m sure you hear this all the time, they automatically think you don’t care about the environment, that you are choosing your own lifestyle over the environment, but it doesn’t have to be that binary choice. So explain to me the ways that the United States has been a leader in a cleaner country, cleaner planet. What steps, what policies, what energy sources have we been able to get that have led to that? Because I think that’s a story that’s often buried.
So, The World Health Organization have very stringent air quality standards, and the US since 2005, we have met those and we’ve reduced our carbon emissions by 14%. So since 2005, we’ve reduced that by 14% maybe we could do better, sure, but we have reduced it by that much.
Just in that same time period, how much the rest of the world has reduced carbon emissions? None. In fact, the world has increased total carbon emissions by 20%. So, you have these combined emissions of six air pollutants, ozone [inaudible 00:21:44], particulate matter, nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Those have dropped by 74% in the United States and we’re seeing increases, again in China and India.
We have, as I have mentioned, we have been praised by the WHO for meeting these very stringent guidelines. In 1990, 50% of the US population lived in areas where the US met those incredibly stringent guidelines. That’s pretty good. Now, when I say… I’m not saying that the remaining 50% lived in polluted areas, they just… There was more particulate matter in the air. Today… So that was in 1990, 50% meeting these incredibly stringent WHO standards. In 2017, so 27 years later… yeah, 27 years, 97% of the population of the United States lives in areas that meet the WHO’s most stringent air quality standards. And again, these are very stringent. They’re set by the WHO.
So, we got 97% of the country living in, basically the cleanest air and our air is cleaner, our water is also cleaner since it’s been in the 1970s.
So, we live… When you see pictures of Beijing and when you see pictures of some cities in India, there is smog and the same used to be true in the United States. There are old pictures of LA in the ’70s and other big cities that had a lot of pollution and you could actually see it sort of hanging over the cities. That’s still true in many of these countries… Many of these cities in China and India. It’s not true here in the United States. Our air is remarkably clean and yet you don’t hear about that and when you… What frustrates me so much is Greta Thunberg comes over to the United States in her million-dollar boat that was donated by some rich person. You don’t have to come…
What is she doing over here? Go to China. Go to India. Talk to those governments and see what they’re doing because the United States is already on a good path to carbon emission reduction. We are on a good path to improving our waterways. We are on a good… we’re really not on the path. We’ve sort of reached the end… the Candy Land board game here. We’re doing really good, and so it’s frustrating I think… I think there is a lot to be done. I think there are countries that can be doing a lot.
I write about the ocean pollution and how here in the United States… Ocean solution is an absolutely huge issue. It is an important issue and we should be working to improve ocean pollution. And yet here in the United States, you have policies like Starbucks and Marriott hotels and airlines banning straws when straws make up 0.01% of the pollution in the ocean. What it is, is it is netting and fishing gear that is dumped into nine rivers that then make their way into the ocean, and those nine rivers are all located in Asia and Africa.
Why in the world Starbucks think it’s going to solve this problem by refusing to give me a coffee straw, which drives me up a wall, is not solving the problem. If it Starbucks and these other companies really wanted to solve these problems… And again, ocean pollution is a problem, they would be investing in the wastewater treatment facilities in these countries. They would be deploying people into these countries to try to help modernize these countries and find innovative solutions to the dumping problems that are really causing you some pollution problems. So, I think it frustrates me to see America and the United States blamed for so much of this stuff when in fact we’re really the good guys in this.
So final question for you, when it comes to policy solutions, are there things that we can be doing better? Is this more about letting the private sector work and innovate and continue to find cleaner sources of energy? Is a lot of this just trying to prevent things like the Green New Deal happening? Or do you make some certain policy suggestions for the current administration?
Well, look, I really think that the government messes things up. I really worry about government interventions. And look, I know that the government has set… For instance, certain clean water standards and clean air standards, and I’m not going to argue with that at this point, but I will tell you… And that’s also what the green activists and sort of extreme radical environmentalist like to say. They like to say it was only because of government action and government’s directive regulation and actual regulation that that industry ever cleaned up its act.
But you know what? Consumers have a lot of power here and… I mean, basically consumers have been demanding better, cleaner, safer sources of electricity and energy for a long time. And so it’s also sort of consumers demanding this. But I will tell you the thing that I always think is the better solution to the world’s problems is the human mind and out of the human mind comes innovation and good ideas and problem solving.
I mean we are seeing this live with this Coronavirus despite China and the WHO withholding information and delaying information that could have been useful when we were trying to discover or find a vaccine for this, despite all the delays and problems the US is on track to find a vaccine and to find proper treatments for this virus, and that’s great. I wish we would have had a little bit more time, but human innovation is the way that we’re going to solve climate change.
And one way that we can do that is the technology we already have. In fact, full disclosure, my father is a nuclear engineer and so the nuclear energy industry in the United States was really promising at one point, in the ’70s. In the ’60s and ’70s there were a lot of plants being built, nuclear energy seemed to be the way of the future, but there was a tremendous, tremendous misinformation campaign, very popular misinformation campaign that was very powerful.
And as a result, there hasn’t been a new nuclear power plant built in over 30 years, 40 years now. And my father who was part of a company that helped to build nuclear power plant, and that was very sad to see that industry kind of go belly up. And a lot of it was because of the mythmaking that we saw from activists. And in the ’70s actually, there were a lot of environmentalist who thought, hey nuclear, it’s this great clean… It’s perfectly clean, there is no pollution. There is no… nothing bad that comes out of nuclear energies. There is some waste that is… Yes, it needs to be properly stored, but it is easy to do so and it doesn’t produce that much waste. All of these things can be dealt with and so nuclear energy is very promising and we need to be more like France. You’ll never hear me saying that, but in this case we need to be more like France.
We need to do to encourage the building of more… In France, nuclear power is the main source of power and we need to be building more nuclear plants. We also make need to be looking into more creative and more innovative solutions. There’s this new thing called carbon capture and storage where carbon is actually captured and this sounds so Sci-Fi to me, but it’s fascinating. Carbon emissions are actually captured from the source, they can be stored, and then the ultimate act of recycling, that carbon can then be used for other applications. For instance, manufacturing. Manufacturers often need carbon and so they can actually use that carbon. Renewable… Hey, who doesn’t like a windmill? And a beautiful… Like you’re sitting on the beach and you look out and there’s a windmill and then it takes out a bird.
There’s nothing nicer than a windmill, but it does not have the capability to replace fossil fuels, nor does wind, nor does waterpower and nor does air power. So you’ve got these other… Again, these renewables, air, water and wind, and they are just not at this point, scalable to the point that they can replace fossil fuels.
I have no problem with increased research and development, as long as it’s not government funded, which as we know largely it is. But again, when you hear activist… Environmentalist and activist saying, hey, we can just run the country on algae power. I mean that’s just not going to happen.
And the other thing I would say, and I think this is one of the United States most powerful possessions is its ability to export our ideas. Once we develop these things, you should encourage other countries to do the same. We should encourage countries to increase innovation and reduce regulation because this is really the way that humans solve problems. It’s not being restricted in their ideas and their potential solutions, but really to set them free and to come up with the good ideas that do solve the world’s problems.
Well, I think we should all be glad that our Wi-Fi isn’t being run by windmill power right now because we’d have some major problems as many of us are teleworking and online learning, but Julie, it’s always fun to have you on, and I really do think that this is an important policy focus because there is going to be that continued effort from climate activists to try to institute something like the Green New Deal and it’s going to be taking the facts, dispelling the myths and pointing to things that have worked, innovation being one of the main ones of that. So for now, we just thank you so much for joining us.
Thanks for having me. It’s a great to be on this, a very important topic.
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