Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intention to enforce regulations that would effectively ban new coal-fired power plants in the United States. As coal is by far America’s cheapest and most plentiful fossil fuel, and coal-fired power stations account for 45 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S., the destructive economic effects of this edict can hardly be overstated. It is therefore imperative to subject the EPA’s logic to a searching examination.
According to the EPA, despite their disastrous economic effects, regulations to prevent the U.S. from making use of its coal resources are necessary, because coal combustion produces carbon dioxide, which allegedly will cause global warming, which would allegedly be harmful to the Earth’s biosphere and human society. Others, wishing to avoid an environmentalist-created economic catastrophe, have challenged this argument’s first premise, to wit, that global warming is really occurring. Since there is no actual global temperature, but only an average of many different constantly changing local temperatures, this approach has led to convoluted debates revolving around data sets that can easily be based upon an unrepresentative mix of measurements.
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