Virtual Event: Environmental Climate Change, Contagion and Cataclysm

Last month, I participated in an event with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to discuss energy issues in a post COVID world. You can read more about the event below the video.


One would have thought that the worldwide pandemic was more than enough. But the people of Michigan have also just endured a once in 500 year flooding event that destroyed two dams and forced the evacuation of over 11,000 people. Elected officials and environmental groups are telling us that these events mean government must take up ownership of critical infrastructure and massively expand spending on renewable energy and climate change mitigation. But will an expanded government hand in energy and climate issues actually help? Join us as we host three energy and environmental policy experts to discuss what energy could (and should) look like in a pandemic and flood-weary country.

Joe Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center, will share opening remarks and be followed by our featured speakers:

  • Jason Isaac, senior manager of the Life:Powered project at the Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • Isaac Orr, policy fellow at Center of the American Experiment
  • Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Early in the coronavirus quarantines, media outlets began reporting on significant changes in the natural environment as a result of reduced human activity. We were told that wildlife was returning to urban areas and that the air was suddenly and dramatically cleaner, as was the water. We were told that CO2 emissions were dropping noticeably and that the reductions in human activity were actually a “silver lining” to the virus. Progressive greens trumpeted the economic slowdowns as something that should be made permanent to ensure a cleaner environment and a solution to climate change.

But we’ve had a bit more time to look into the actual changes caused by reduced human activity and we’re learning that these early reports were largely incorrect. Air quality reports are showing little to no impact from the quarantines. In fact, some areas actually have higher particulate matter readings due to natural events. We also learned that many wildlife “sightings” were misreported or that the wildlife seen was typical of that area.

In almost every case, the natural laboratory that the coronavirus quarantines have created is demonstrating that many of the progressive green movement’s most dearly held beliefs about the negative impacts of human activity are simply and profoundly wrong. Since that is the case, we have ample reason to question whether we should implement the green movement’s extreme policy suggestions, like the Green New Deal.