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Kennedy v Turk

02 Aug 2023 | OP ED Watch

In an embarrassing scene that further underlines the curious mix of certainty and vagueness of climate alarmist policy-makers, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana questioned Deputy U.S. Energy Secretary David Turk on May 23 as to when he thought the United States could reach carbon neutrality and was told 2050. Then he asked how much it would cost and was told “So the cost that I focus on even more is all the costs that will happen if we don’t get our act together.” Kennedy persisted and Turk said “It’s going to cost trillions of dollars and it’ll cost tens of trillions of dollars if we don’t get our act together.” So to borrow a line from Edmund Blackadder, one thing he hasn’t seen is a lot bigger than another thing he hasn’t seen. But how does he know?

Kennedy pressed him as to “How many trillions of dollars” and was told “I don’t have the estimate or the numbers in front of me. I’ve seen a variety of different estimates but it’s a large amount fundamentally transforming our energy economy.” The resulting exchange is worth quoting at length:

“Tell me the estimates that you’ve seen.” “I don’t have those numbers right on hand.” “So you’re advocating that we become carbon neutral but you don’t know how much it’s going to cost.” “So there’s an awful lot of estimates out there, it depends on technology improvement and other things.” “Yeah but you’re the deputy Secretary, you’re the expert, I’m asking you how much it’s going to cost.” “I know with the certainty of all the experts I’ve spoken about it’s cheaper to get our act together than it is to not get our act together on climate change.” “OK then tell me the cost if we don’t do it.” “I think it’s orders of magnitude different.” “I know that. But you don’t have a cost? You want us to get there but you can’t tell the American taxpayer how much it’s going to cost? Is that your testimony?” “It’s going to save us money and there’s a lot of jobs…” “Well how do we know if you don’t know how much it’s going to cost?” “I’d be happy to pull up the latest numbers that I’ve seen.” “How about 50 trillion dollars, is that right?” “It’s going to cost trillions of dollars, there’s no doubt about it.”

Kennedy then commented that “it disappoints me that you’re not willing to give me the estimates. I hope you’re not telling me you have no idea what it’s going to cost. That creates a whole new host of problems.” Indeed. But either Turk doesn’t know yet claims to be certain, or does know yet won’t say. And he wouldn’t even acknowledge that question either.

The Senator claimed “I’m all for carbon neutrality, by the way” then pointedly raised another very relevant issue. Namely if the U.S. manages at a cost of, say, $50 trillion “as some of your colleagues have testified” to get to Net Zero by 2050, “How much is that going to lower world temperatures, or how much is that going to reduce the increase in world temperatures?”

Turk clichéd that every country had to do it because the U.S. was only 13% of global emissions. But Kennedy asked him to give his estimate based on eliminating U.S. net emissions regardless of what happened elsewhere, and Turk reverted to pontificating about the net cost on the firm position that while he did not know what it would cost, or what it would do, or what it would cost if it were not done, he did know it was a bargain even at some multiple of total U.S. GDP because he’d compared three numbers none of which he knew.

Kennedy wasn’t buying it:

“Let me ask again. Maybe I’m not being clear. If we spend $50 trillion and become carbon neutral by 2050 in the United States of America, how much is that going to reduce world temperatures?”

After Turk continued babbling about everyone doing their part, the Senator asked bluntly “You don’t know, do you?” and Turk replied “You can do the math” though evidently he couldn’t. Kennedy repeated “You don’t know, do you, Mr. Secretary?” And then declared in exasperation:

“If you know, why won’t you tell me? You just want us to spend $50 trillion, and you don’t have the slightest idea whether it’s going to reduce world temperatures. Now I’m all for carbon neutrality, but you’re the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy, and you’re advocating we spend trillions of dollars to seek carbon neutrality, and you can’t, and this isn’t your money and my money, it’s taxpayers’ money, and you can’t tell me how much it’s going to lower world temperatures? Or you won’t tell me? You know but you won’t?”

It is possible that Turk knows the answer, according to the computer models, is a vanishingly small fraction of a degree. Or that he has no idea. But either way he wasn’t saying. Rather than answering, or even acknowledging the question’s content or legitimacy, Turk replied “In my heart of hearts, there is no way the world gets its act together on climate change unless the US leads.” Kennedy once again asked for numbers not clichés, and Turk repeated his clichés.

It’s not exactly deliberate evasion. It’s how alarmists talk among themselves, and they are not challenged from outside and do not challenge one another, because they’re so certain they are right that details don’t matter.

10 comments on “Kennedy v Turk”

  1. One thing for sure, it's not science. The Science, maybe, but not science. When will the world grasp, do you think, that these two things are not the same?

  2. I saw the video of the testimony in the Senate. Senator Kennedy told him he had seen an estimate of 0.1 degree C and the Undersecretary agreed with that number. So for a 50 Trillion investment we can expect a 0.1 degree C lowering of the world temperature. Wow.

  3. What if Happer, Van Wijngaarden, Lindzen and a whole host of others are correct, that additional amounts of CO2 have less and less effect on heat capture and retention? And what about the scientists that say mankind’s emissions are negligible compared to the earth’s natural carbon cycle and emissions. The world spends 100’s or possibly 1000’s of trillions of dollars with very little positive effect. Bankrupt the world, which means bankrupting the taxpayers of the world, for little to no gain. Does it matter if the so called ‘climate denier’ scientists are not correct when the self anointed climate experts best estimates are for near 0 net gains for hundreds of trillions of dollars. Bjorn Lomborg’s work shows the best dollars spent are more towards adaptation than trying for 100% CO2 mitigation (which can never really happen anyway).

  4. Net zero is a green piety (technically impossible this side of a depopulated hunter gatherer subsistence) turned into a political plank and defended by the best corrupted science community that hysteria-exclusive political funding can buy, all incorporated into the politically acceptable speech gatekeeping confines of an activist media. Only the electable political in-crowd that conduct themselves within such limits are considered "serious" contenders.

    “ The further a society drifts from the truth, The more it will hate those that speak it” - George Orwell.

  5. Net Zero is an eco-marxist fantasy aimed at impoverishing Canada and the Western world. Net zero is unnecessary, immoral and fantastical. Unnecessary because the minimal warming that CO2 might cause will be beneficial to mankind just like the Roman and Medieval warm periods were. Already the extra atmospheric CO2 has greened the planet by over 30% and is responsible in part for the significantly improved crop yields that we have witnessed. Net Zero is immoral because not using hydrocarbons will drive up the cost of energy, further impoverish the poor and prevent third world nations from having reliable grid electricity so that they can raise their standard of living to Western levels. Finally Net Zero is fantastical as hydrocarbons are the very basis of our high quality of life and longevity. Without hydrocarbons we would have no steel, no cement, no fertilizer and none of the versatile plastics that make our lives so convenient and our healthcare safe and effective.
    Net zero will return us to a medieval existence when life was nasty brutish and short.

  6. As a climate scientist (I'm sorry, I can't remember who) said, virtually all the evidence supporting climate alarmism consists of all the bad things that have happened in the future. Science cannot examine date from the future. The best it can do is look at the data encompassing the timeframe from when alarmist predictions began until know; and there is no evidence of actual increase in temperature, cyclonic activity, tornados, or wet/dry climate activity to justify spending BILLIONS of dollars on climate change schemes (which have so often failed in the past and will likely squander tax-payers hard-earned money in the future). When will people wake up from this popular delusion and see that their hard-earned dollars are being squandered on programs which are unnecessary, unrealistic, and unable to deliver future generations from the exorbitant debt we are saddling them within the name of something that no scientific evidence shows is a serious problem.

  7. Approximately 2 years after we all start having to wash pig s**t off the top surfaces of our automobiles.

  8. If we could reach Net Zero here and the US tomorrow,emissions would still rise largely due to China and India.And they have no intention of sacrificing
    their economies for virtue signaling.Meanwhile,this Deputy Secretary Turk(where was the Chief Secretary?) wants to spend unknown trillions for perhaps a 0.1 degree reduction in temperature?He couldn't answer how much it would cost,how much the temperature might be reduced,or what benefits may come out of all this.Net Zero is an economic suicide plan,period.

  9. And even that is a computer modeling. No guarantee that temperature will fall by hundred of a degree. 50 TRILLION?

  10. Well, $50 trillion is about $150,000 for every man woman and child in the USA today, based on a US population of 350 million. If it is to be done by 2050, that means a yearly cost to each US citizen of around $5,600. Don't forget this is for every person and not those that actually pay tax. According to Wikipedia, about 160 million are tax paying workers and thus the burden to each taxpayer is basically over $12,000 per year! Ludicrous? This is on top of their home loan, car loan, credit card loan and anything else they owe.
    I had heard estimates of up to $175 trillion, so those estimates can be multiplied by 3.5x for answers of a total per person of around $525,000 or close to $20,000 per person per year for 27 years. LOL. Or about $42,000 per tax paying person per year for 27 years.

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