Opinion: Joe's dubious oil slick

Photo by Doug Mills of The New York Times / President Joe Biden speaks about climate change and clean energy at Brayton Power Station in Somerset, Mass., on July 20, 2022.

"Don't they know it's the end of the world " - Skeeter Davis, 1962

President Biden has repeated a story he has told before, but repetition does not necessarily make it true.

Speaking last week in Somerset, Mass., where a coal-fired power plant once stood, Biden again recalled growing up in Claymont, Del., where he said pollution was so bad "You had to put on your windshield wipers to get, literally, the oil slick off the window."

The Wilmington News Journal has records dating back to 1923. They contain no stories I could find about oil slicks on car windshields in Delaware. I emailed the Journal, and a reply came from Phil Freedman, regional editor for investigations and enterprise: "Dust and ash and other debris used to more regularly fall on cars and other horizontal surfaces there when those operations were running at full capacity. Biden has used this anecdote about the oil on the windshields before. I and a reporter who has covered him extensively, recall. But we cannot find the actual clips nor did we ever confirm it. It was just one of a bunch of stories he told."

Biden's hyperbole when it comes to end-of-the-world prophecies follows many similar predictions that failed to materialize. According to the American Enterprise Institute, a center-right Washington, D.C.-based think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare, none of the climate change prophecies made by climate alarmists over the last 50-plus years have come true, not even close.

Here are a few, compiled by AEI's Mark J. Perry:

- 1967: Dire famine forecast by 1975

- 1969: Everyone will disappear in a cloud of Blue Steam by 1989

- 1970: Ice age by 2000

- 1970: America subject to water rationing by 1974 and food rationing by 1980

- 1971: New ice age coming by 2020 or 2030

- 1972: New ice age by 2070

- 1974: Ozone depletion a "great peril to life"

- 1976: Scientific consensus planet cooling, famines imminent

- 1980: Acid rain kills life in lakes

- 1988: Maldive Islands will be underwater by 2018

- 1989: Rising sea levels will obliterate nations if nothing done by 2000

- 1989: New York City's West Side Highway underwater by 2019

These do not include more recent and contradictory statements by climate czar John Kerry and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., among others in politics and the media, who have variously said we have only weeks, months, or a few years to stymie Earth's extinction.

Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish author and president of the think tank Copenhagen Consensus Center, takes a pragmatic approach to changing weather patterns. In his book "False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet," Lomborg, a visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School and visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, though not a climate scientist, says while he believes the planet is slowly warming, "The science shows us that fears of a climate apocalypse are unfounded" and that politics, not science, is behind this worldview. "Many climate campaigners go further than the science supports," he writes.

Lomborg says the way forward is to "evaluate climate policy in the same way we evaluate other policy: in terms of costs and benefits." He argues that if current hyperbolic policies are implemented, the costs will be huge, the benefits few and they will crush the middle class and especially the poor.

Lowering the rhetorical temperature in our politics and among scientists would be helpful, since history has shown predictions are often more wrong than right on this and other subjects. These include contradictory statements about COVID-19 and now monkeypox, which the World Health Organization has just declared a "global health emergency."

Haven't we heard that before?

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