Charles Koch finds plenty of things scary. He’s alarmed by “rampant cronyism” in government (a phrase he’s used to veil his jabs at renewable energy) and by what President Obama’s reelection did to the American Dream. He is afraid for what the 2016 election holds in store and believes collectivist thinking will doom us. What the Koch Industries CEO doesn’t find alarming, however, is that humans are causing the planet to burn up.
In a recent interview with ABC News’ Powerhouse Politics podcast, Koch diminishes the impacts of our warming planet. He muses about our fate in a segment flagged by the liberal super PAC American Bridge:
Is the climate changing due to CO2 in a way that’s going to be catastrophic and unmanageable? Or is it changing in a mild and manageable way? I believe the evidence is overwhelming that it’s changing in a mild and manageable way.
These policies that are being introduced in the United States, as a matter of fact, under their own models would have virtually zero impact on the future temperature or other aspects of the climate. And in fact I think they make matters worse, because they get people going after the subsidies rather than innovating.
If this line of thinking sounds familiar, it’s because climate-denying politicians and others in the Koch-funded universe have all used similar talking points. It’s more clever than outright denying that carbon pollution is warming the planet – a fact Koch admits is true.
But Koch adds a key qualifier: Human activity, he says, has “contributed to much less than what [scientific] models projecting catastrophe show.” It’s foolish, he continues, to push policies that “are making people’s lives worse. They’re raising the cost of energy for no benefit and guess who suffers the most – the poorest people used three times the energy as a percentage of income than the average American.”
Never mind that utilities, corporations, and households are increasingly turning toward renewables in order to shave energy costs — alternative energy meets Koch’s criteria of “making people’s lives worse.”
It’s a modification of Koch’s past arguments on climate change, which have ranged from doubting scientific consensus to suggesting the warming will be good for us. With awareness of climate change back on the rise in the United States, it only makes sense that Koch is trying out another message.
The talking points might shuffle, but they serve the same purpose: delay. And like many arguments that came before it, this one is full of problems. Koch ignores that the poor in the United States and around the world are on the front lines of climate change, and are likely to be hardest hit by even the slightest changes in global averages. Indeed, they have already started to feel some dramatic consequences at an average 1-degree warming. Left unchecked, the planet is in for well over 4-degree C warming by the end of the century.
From his corporate headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, the 80-year-old billionaire has little reason to be fearful of climate change.