October 1997

Consumers, Seniors, Students Join Members of Congress
in Opposing Energy Restrictions

Washington, DC — On Thursday, October 30 the National Consumer Coalition held a rally at the Capitol in opposition to President Clinton’s proposals on global climate change.

Representatives from consumer groups, seniors groups, think tanks, tax reform groups, national defense organizations, conservative groups, small business groups, sound science groups, and student groups voiced their opposition to the proposals at the rally. The groups believe that President Clinton’s proposals will lead to a steep increase in the cost of energy and nearly every consumer product while serving no environmental purpose.

Marlo Lewis, vice president of policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and group leader of the “Cooler Heads” Coalition moderatored the event. Addressing the rally were Thair Phillips, CEO of the Seniors Coalition, Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy, Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business Survival Committee, Fran Smith, executive director of Consumer Alert, John Shanahan, vice president of Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, Dr. Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Analysis, Angela Antonelli, deputy director of policy studies for the Heritage Foundation, and Peter Ferrara, chief economist of Americans for Tax Reform.

Members of Congress who spoke at the rally included Senator Chuck Hagel and Congressman Bill Paxon.

The event coincided with a United Nations convention in Bonn, Germany to negotiate the global climate change treaty. This is the final formal negotiating session before the UN meeting in Kyoto in December which will attempt to reach an agreement on the treaty.


The National Consumer Coalition is an on-going coalition of groups concerned with public policy issues affecting consumers. The member groups of the coalition represent over 3 million Americans.

The Brookings Policy Briefing, by Warwick J. McKibbin and Peter J. Wilcoxen, discusses the currently favored U.S. proposal, to be presented at the Kyoto Conference later this year, for the reduction of CO2 emissions. The proposal suggests an international system of tradable emissions permits with the total amount of emissions kept at the 1990 level. International negotiators would decide how the permits are initially distributed among the participating countries. Each country could then decide for itself how to allocate the permits internally. These permits could than be freely traded on an international basis. The system would in the beginning only involve developed countries with the intention that the developing countries would join at a later date.

The proposal was endorsed by some well-known economists – Kenneth Arrow, Dale Jorgenson, Robert Solow, Paul Krugman, and William Nordhaus. McKibbin and Wilcoxen suspect that some of the enthusiasm about international trading permits is more related to the theoretical concept than to the practical application, and note that not enough attention has been given to the practical problems of such a system. The authors then consider why an international system of tradable permits looks so favorable in theory.

The principal idea is that any company which produces CO2 emissions has to obtain enough permits to balance the amount of CO2 emissions it produces. The decision of how the permits are distributed among the participating countries, for example according to population, or actual CO2 emissions, would be subject to international negotiation and agreement. How they are allocated domestically is free for every country to decide. After that companies could trade their permits world-wide without any restrictions.

The advantages seen in this theoretical concept are:

The emissions could be kept to a pre-determined level.

This level of emissions would be achieved with a minimum of costs.

This would be possible because firms with the lowest abatement costs would undertake the abatement and then sell permits to companies which face higher costs and therefore would rather buy permits.

The government can control how the burden of the abatement costs are distributed among companies.

The government can influence the distribution of the costs through the way it allocates the permits in the beginning, for example through free distribution or auctions.

The authors then examined the problems that would arise in the practical application of the concept, which seems so intriguing in theory. McKibbin and Wilcoxen consider the sulfur emissions trading scheme in the U.S. as an example that the system can work for domestic problems, but they foresee many problems for a CO2 emission permits trading system on a world-wide basis.

One of the problems they see is that the emissions would be cut back to 1990 levels and kept there without any concern about the costs such a reduction would imply. Estimates of the economic impact of such a policy range from -0.5 percent increase in GDP per year for the U.S. to up to 2 percent of decline in GDP per year. Most of the studies lay between 1-2 percent decrease of GDP per year.

In contrast, the benefit would be the avoidance of potential costs from climate change. However very little is known about these possible costs and the impact of reduced CO2 emissions on the climate. Some studies have tried to estimate the potential costs of climate change in a scenario with an increase in temperatures of 2.5 – 3 C. The studies say the costs could be as much as 1.3 percent of GDP every year for the U.S. around the year 2050. The benefits would be much smaller for a mere restriction of emissions to the 1990 levels.

McKibbin and Wilcoxen contend that the evidence suggests that there is no real need to keep the emissions at the 1990 levels, because most of the studies estimate that the costs would be far greater than the potential benefits. In addition, the costs would arise now, whereas the benefits would occur far in the future.

The second problem mentioned in the Policy Briefing would be the enormous transfer of wealth from the U.S. to other countries, particularly to developing countries, as a result of the system. Some regard this as a positive part of the agreement, but the sheer amount of the transfer sum makes it unlikely that there would be enough political support given the usual problems of much smaller foreign aid budgets in obtaining approval. The enormous transfer sums would lead to large distortions in the international trade system; the result could be more volatility in exchange rates and the widening of the U.S. trade deficit. Developing countries would receive a huge amount of transfer money, however, most of the money would have to be invested in “environmental technology” to reduce emissions, even though most of these countries are in urgent need of money to improve infrastructure, education and health care systems. Developing countries are not expected to participate from the start, but without these countries’ participation, probably the most important factor of the concept would be lost (the difference in abatement costs), and the cost savings thus would be much smaller.

An additional problem would be that none of the participating governments would have any incentive to monitor the agreement. The costs would fall on domestic firms while the benefits would mostly go to other countries. As a result, there might be a tendency by national governments to “overlook” violations by domestic companies. A complex and expensive international monitoring system would be needed to enforce the treaty.

The authors then explore a possible alternative: a scheme of national permits and emissions fees. Each country would receive permits according to its 1990 level of emissions, and these could be distributed among companies however the country wished to do so. Besides these permits, every company would be able to buy additional permits from its national governments for a specific fee, for example, $10. Therefore, companies could buy permits from two sources – other companies and the government.

This system would not insure a specific emission level, but companies would always have an incentive for abatement if it could be done for less than the fixed fee. The result would not be a cap on emissions, but the abatement would be done with a minimum of costs.

The authors compare the scheme favorably to a carbon tax, because it could save companies a lot of money if the government decides to give away the permits up to the 1990 level for free. A tax would start with the first ton of emission, while the fee would only apply to companies that exceed their 1990 emissions level. McKibbin and Wilcoxen think such a scheme would provide a clearer picture of what the real costs of abatement are and providing this information might be important for future policy decisions if there is less uncertainties about cost and benefits in financial terms of climate change policy. It would also provide greater incentives for monitoring on a national level, because revenues through the fees could be added to governments’ budgets.

McKibbin and Wicoxen also suggest that the system would be flexible enough to adopt a possible change in policy in case scientific evidence would emerge that climate change is a bigger or smaller problem than expected; and if more information become available about the real costs of emission reduction. It would also allow non-participating countries to join by simply adopting the policy at home without the need for further international negotiations.

McKibbin and Wilcoxen conclude that their proposal would be much easier to implement and politically acceptable to more countries. It would probably slow the growth of CO2 emissions without a big distortion to the international system of trade.

They see, therefore, the choice as being not between an international trading system and their proposal, because they think the international trading system has no chance of agreement – but between their proposal and no policy at all.

In a letter to Nature (March 13, 1997) James W. Hurrell and Kevin E. Trenberth questioned the reliability of the satellite temperature data which show a slight cooling trend over the last 20 years. They argue that the data contain significant discontinuities due to various factors, the most important being the replacement of worn out satellites. The main contention in the Hurrell/Trenberth paper is that there are two “spurious” downward jumps in the satellite record due to changes in satellites and that the real temperature trend is slightly positive.

There are some serious errors with the method used by Hurrell and Trenberth, however. Drs. John R. Christy, Roy W. Spencer, and William D. Braswell, who track and publish the satellite temperature data, point out those errors in correspondence to Nature (September 25, 1997).

There are two methods to directly measure the temperature of the lower troposphere (surface to 7 km). One is balloon-borne instruments known as radiosondes which rise through the atmosphere. The other are microwave sounding units (MSUs) mounted on satellites which measure the intensities of microwave emissions from atmospheric oxygen which are proportional to temperature.

There is strong agreement between the two records even over the periods where Hurrell and Trenberth claim that the spurious jumps take place. Another data set is also available from the NOAA-06 and NOAA-07 satellites which were measuring temperatures at the time of the breaks that Hurrell and Trenberth claim to have discovered. These also agree with the MSU data.

Hurrell and Trenberth ignore the balloon data and estimate atmospheric temperatures using sea-surface temperatures (SSTs). There are a couple of problems with this method, however. First, the regions where Hurrell and Trenberth find the greatest disagreement is in the Pacific and Indian Oceans where ship data are scattered. Buoy data have also been available since the early-1980s. But, as Christy points out in correspondence with The Cooler Heads Newsletter, “the SST dataset is not homogeneous for these critical regions. Ships and buoys do not measure the water temperature to the agreement necessary for the types of variations we look at for climate change over a decade or so.”

Second, Hurrell and Trenberth derive atmospheric temperatures from the SSTs using general circulation models (GCMs). Christy argues that “There is considerable evidence that SSTs and the atmospheric temperature do not behave in the rigid fashion believed by Hurrell and Trenberth and represented by their simple [linear] regression model. Several studies show that for long periods of (months to years) there are differences between SSTs and air temperatures due to the natural variability of the vertical structure of the atmosphere.”

Once again advocates of the global warming hypothesis use imperfect models to attack actual observed data, standing the scientific method on its head. In the past, when data contradicted the models, the models were rejected. With highly politicized global warming science, however, empirical evidence that contradicts the politically predetermined outcome is either ignored or explained away as anomalous.

What Do Scientists Say?

A survey of state climatologists by Citizens for a Sound Economy found that there is little support for the global warming hypothesis. When asked if they agreed with the statement by President Clinton, “The overwhelming balance of evidence and scientific opinion is that it is no longer a theory but now a fact, that global warming is for real. There is ample evidence that human activities are already disrupting the global climate.” 36 percent agreed, while 58 percent disagreed.

Asked whether “recent global warming is largely a natural phenomenon,” 44 percent said yes while 17 percent said no. Nine out of ten surveyed agreed that “scientific evidence indicates variations in global temperature are likely to be naturally-occurring and cyclical over very long periods of time.” Eighty-nine percent of the climatologists agreed that “current science is unable to isolate and measure variations in global temperatures caused only by man-made factors,” and 61 percent said that the historical data do not indicate “that fluctuations in global temperatures are attributable to human influences such as burning fossil fuels.”

Sixty percent of the respondents said that reducing man-made CO2 emissions by 15 percent below 1990 levels would not prevent global temperatures from rising, and 86 percent said that reducing emissions to 1990 levels would not prevent rising temperatures. Finally, by a 39 to 33 percent margin, more climatologists say that, “evidence exists to suggest that the earth is headed for another glacial period.” The survey can be found at www.cse.org/cse/ and www.globalwarming.org.

What Does the Science Say?

Dr. S. Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project has just released a overview of the current state of climate change science and asks whether drastic reductions in greenhouse gases are justified.

The objective of a global climate treaty would be to prevent “dangerous interference with the climate system.” But, according to Singer, there is no scientific evidence that would suggest what level of interference would be dangerous. An article appearing in Science argued that 350-400 ppm is a dangerous level of CO2. However, they base this on an arbitrary “dangerous” temperature increase of 2 degrees C.

Singer also challenges the claim in the 1996 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that it is now possible to discern the human influence among the noise on climate change. First, the “natural” variations are derived from computer models rather than actual observations. Second, the computer models exclude the cooling effects of mineral dust and of smoke and soot from burning biomass and the cloud production effects of sulfate aerosols.

Singer also contends that warmer weather would be beneficial to mankind. Warmer global temperatures, the models predict, would reduce the temperature gap between the northern and southern hemispheres reducing storm intensity at the mid-latitudes. Northern hurricanes, for example, have fallen in both frequency and intensity over the last 50 years. Rainfall has fallen worldwide for the last 40 years. As for rising sea levels Singer argues that they are correlated with falling temperatures.

Singer concludes there is little evidence to justify drastic reductions of greenhouse gases. The best way to avoid the adverse effects of climate change is to adapt. He notes that societies that are economically advanced are the least affected by changes in climate and more readily adapt to changes. Economic development (which will require greater emissions) then is necessary if we are to avoid adverse effects which may arise from climate change. The report is available by contacting SEPP at (703) 352-7535 or by e-mail at singer@sepp.org.

(Washington, DC) — A majority of state climatologists say reducing man-made carbon dioxide emissions to1990 levels or lower would not prevent warmer temperatures on earth, according to a new survey commissioned by Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) Foundation. That’s because, according to those surveyed, most climatologists believe global warming “is a largely natural phenomenon.”

“In the debate over global warming, we’ve recently heard from a lot of so-called experts that global warming is for real and that we humans are to blame,” says Paul Beckner, president of CSE Foundation. “While President Clinton and others might think so, those who deal with climate issues day in and day out disagree, and we think it’s important that the American people know that there are in fact climate experts in this country who do disagree with the conventional wisdom on global warming.”

Fifty-eight percent of the state climatologists surveyed said they disagreed with President Clinton’s claim that “the overwhelming balance of evidence and scientific opinion is that it is no longer a theory, but now fact, that global warming is for real” and with the statement that “there is ample evidence that human activities are already disrupting the global climate*” Only 36 percent of the climatologists agreed with Clinton’s assertion.

By a 44 to 17 percent margin, climatologists say that “recent global warming is a largely natural phenomenon,” while nine out of 10 of the climatologists surveyed agreed that “scientific evidence indicates variations in global temperature are likely to be naturally-occurring and cyclical over very long periods of time.”

Six out of 10 of the climatologists disagreed that actions by developed nations to reduce man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent below 1990 levels will prevent global temperatures from rising. An even higher number, 86 percent, disagreed that reducing emissions to 1990 levels will prevent rising temperatures. Interestingly, by a 39 to 33 percent margin, more state climatologists say that “evidence exists to suggest that the earth is headed for another glacial period.”

Eighty-nine percent of the climatologists said that “current science is unable to isolate and measure variations in global temperatures caused only by man-made factors.” Sixty-one percent of the state climate experts said historical data does not indicate “that fluctuations in global temperatures are attributable to human influences such as burning fossil fuels,” and nearly all said the earth “experienced large global temperature fluctuations with both warming and cooling periods prior to the beginning of the industrial age” and the advent of burning fossil fuels.

Countering claims by theorists that weather patterns have been changing due to global warming, 72 percent of state climatologists say weather events in their states in the past 25 years have not been more severe or frequent. Among the19 percent who said they were, less than a third attributed the changed weather patterns to global warming.

Among other findings in the survey, 72 percent say carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise, despite efforts to curb man-made sources. Eighty-six percent of the climatologists said that variations in solar output are a likely cause of long-term temperature fluctuations on earth, and an even higher 91percent said variations in the earth’s orbit are a likely cause of temperature fluctuations. The climatologists were unanimous in agreeing that “even if there were no human beings, the earth’s climate would constantly be changing.”

The survey was conducted by American Viewpoint of Alexandria, Virginia from September 23 to October 3, 1997. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percent. Forty-eight states have official climatologists. Of the 48, American Viewpoints was able to contact and survey 36 of them. Ninety-two percent of the climatologists said they did not receive direct funding from state or federal environmental protection agencies, and 86 percent said they did not receive direct funding from business or industry.

CSE Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan research and education organization established in 1984. It accepts no government funding.

[For more information or a complete copy of the survey questions and results, please call Peter Cleary at (202) 942-7608.]

To receive more information on CSE or CSE Foundation, or to comment on our publications, call, write, or E-mail:

Citizens for a Sound Economy
Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation
1250 H Street, NW, #700, Washington, D.C. 20005-3908
1-888-JOIN-CSE, (202) 783-3870, Fax (202) 783-4687

Gore Lore

Al Gore recently visited Glacier National Park in Montana to heighten fears about global warming. He warned that global warming is causing the glaciers to retreat, threatening Montana’s tourism industry. There’s just one problem, according to the National Climatic Data Center of the U.S. Department of Commerce, there has been no warming trend in Montana over the past century.

A 1989 article published in Science showed that more that 70 percent of mountain glaciers in the U.S., Soviet Union, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria and Italy were retreating while 55 percent of the same glaciers were advancing. According to Keith Echelmeyer of the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute, “To make a case that glaciers are retreating, and that the problem is global warming, is very hard to do. The physics are very complex. There is much more involved than just the climate response” (The Electricity Daily, September 9, 1997).

IPCC, Developing Nations Must Cut Emissions

A draft of a final report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that if global climate change is to be averted, developing nations must reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Even a large reduction of CO2 emissions would not prevent global warming or the rising sea levels that would result. According to the report, “Even under the strictest emission cut proposal [a 2 percent yearly reduction of CO2 emissions beginning in the year 2000], however, the sea level is projected to rise by more than 40 centimeters by 2100 from the current level and the global-mean temperature is expected to increase by 1.5 C or more . . .” (Japan Economic Newswire, September 4, 1997).

The Financial Times of London (September 17, 1997) reported that the U.S. “issued a stern warning that developing countries must this year join the industrialized world in agreeing to reduce greenhouse gases associated with climate change.” U.S. Undersecretary of State Timothy Wirth is quoted as saying, “If you get brutally realistic about climate change, the countries that are richer are for the most part less vulnerable to climate change . . . . Many developing countries are fast realizing it [greenhouse gas emissions reductions] is in their own self-interest.”

China and Others Support Australia

The Australian federal government has reported that China, Italy and Spain have come out in support of Australia’s position of differentiated greenhouse gas emission targets. Acting Prime Minister Tim Fischer said, “I happily enough was able to persuade, in a few seconds flat, China to be very supportive of our position. [China’s chief economic minister] Zhu Rongji found himself much attracted to our realistic, achievable targets process. Interlocutors in Italy and Spain likewise – as long as they’re a safe distance from Brussels – were also very much in support of achievable, realistic, differentiated targets rather than the Brussels connotation” (AAP Newsfeed, September 17, 1997).

Other International News

Japan, according to the Ahashi News Service (September 5, 1997), will likely propose a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of approximately 5 percent lower than 1990 levels at the UN conference it is hosting in Kyoto. There will be at least three distinct negotiating positions for Kyoto: Japan’s; the European Union’s call for a 15 percent reduction from 1990 levels; and Australia’s support of differentiated targets based on each country’s marginal abatement costs. The U.S. has not yet made a formal proposal, but it will probably fall somewhere between Japan and the EU with a tradable emission scheme to implement the proposed reductions. With such wide disagreement the parties may have to postpone signing a binding treaty for the future.

Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Ralph Goodale, has said that Canada will not promise big cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at the summit in Kyoto. Pointing to the world’s inability to reach the voluntary targets set in 1992, Goodale said, “That would be a very frustrating outcome for the world at large, to go through a process that doesn’t bring the results people want” (The Energy Daily, September 8, 1997).

Also in Canada, Environment Minister, Christine Stewart, is going to launch an education campaign to warn Canadians of the approaching danger of global warming. The campaign will be built upon six Environment Canada reports which purport to show the effects of climate change on each region of the country (Calgary Herald, September 6, 1997).

Australia’s Labor Party environment spokesman, Duncan Kerr, affirmed the government’s stance to not accept unfair emission reduction targets at the climate talks in Kyoto. While he did not endorse the government’s differentiation model, he did assert that Australia must seek accommodation for its dependence on mineral exports and fossil fuels. “We should work to ensure that any emerging global consensus is sensitive to the particular unique circumstances we possess,” he said (AAP Newsfeed, September 5, 1997).

Reassessment of the IPCC

The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has become the bible for those advocating immediate and heavy reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. An article which originally appeared in the New Zealand Science Review by Dr. Vincent Gray and republished by the Heartland Institute reassesses the claims made in the IPCC report.

One of the problems with the report is its projections of future CO2 emissions. The latest figures from the Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center at Oak Ridge show a 0.026 gigatons of carbon (GtC) per year increase in emissions from 1989 to 1994. Using the IPCC’s estimate of 6.25GtC for 1996 this would suggest that emissions will be about 6.35GtC in the year 2000, yet the IPCC predicts 7.0GtC for that year.

Although the IPCC report lists 69 sets of figures for monthly mean concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide from around the world it only uses data from the Mauna Loa and South Pole stations. It states, “Data from the Mauna Loa station are close to, but not the same as, the global mean.” Why then, asks Gray, do they not use the global mean figures. Moreover, the IPCC predicts that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will rise by 1.8 parts per million (ppm) each year, supposedly based on figures from the 1980s. However, Gray shows that in reality the average annual increase during the 1980s was 1.1ppm per year. From 1990 to 1994 the increase was only 0.08ppm per year. Instead of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations by the middle of the next century, if the rate of the ’80s persists, it will take 226 years for CO2 concentrations to double.

Gray also points out that the IPCC “isolates the only features of the global temperature record that suggest a possible agreement with greenhouse theory, but ignores those features that cast doubt on the theory.” He lists several of those features. For example, from 1910 to 1945 atmospheric CO2 rose about 3 percent but the world experienced the highest temperature rise this century (about 0.65 degrees C). The years between 1945 to 1978 saw a temperature decrease of 0.2 degrees C while atmospheric CO2 rose by 9 percent.

The article makes it clear that the IPCC took every opportunity to bias the report in favor of a predetermined conclusion. It documents many instances of selective use of data and biased interpretation of the data. At one point Gray states: “According to the IPCC, any climate change, however short, that agrees with greenhouse theory is a long-term trend. Any climate change, however extensive, that does not agree with greenhouse theory is either ignored (like the global drop in temperature between 1940 and 1978); too short to be representative; or an anomaly that has to be explained.”

A Whale of a Study

One of the predicted effects of global warming is retreating ice in the Antarctic. A new study in Science (September 4, 1997) by William de la Mare looks at sea-ice extent in the Antarctica. Estimates from satellite observations, beginning in 1970 have shown no clear trends in sea-ice extent in the Antarctica. However, de la Mare has examined whaling records which were kept for nearly every whale caught along the sea ice edge since 1931. The study shows that there was a decline in the area covered by sea ice of 25 percent from the mid 1950s to the early 1970s. Prior to this, records show that the sea ice was stable from 1931-1954.

An editorial about the article, appearing in the same issue by Eugene Murphy and John King, said, “There is now increasing evidence globally supporting the view that such rapid changes in the Earth’s climate systems can occur naturally, and indeed such changes have probably taken place in the past in the Southern Ocean. This evidence indicates that the variability inferred by de la Mare may be natural and not connected to any human-induced changes. But as yet we do not know.”

The study excluded some of the available data which did not fit the selection criteria. “The data from land stations at South Georgia were excluded, as were catches after the 1956/57 season for species other than minke whales. This resulted in 42,258 records. No records satisfied the selection criteria from 1960 to 1971 inclusive, when sei whaling predominated.”

It is also interesting to note that there was a fall in global temperature of 0.2 degrees C from 1945 to 1978, covering the time period of purported sea ice retreat.

Effects of Smoke Particles on Clouds and Climate

An article in Science shows that smoke aerosol particles generated from burning biomass can increase the cloud reflectance of sunlight. Using satellite data over the Amazon Basin and Cerrado, researchers Yoram J. Kaufman and Robert S. Fraser found that smoke increased cloud reflectance from 0.35 to 0.45, while reducing droplet size form 14 to 9 micrometers. Thus smoke particles appear to have a small cooling effect on the climate (Science, September 12, 1997).

Waffled Speech

In a speech at American University, President Clinton stated that, “We could reduce them [greenhouse gas emissions] 20 percent tomorrow with technology that is already available at no cost if we just changed the way we do things.” Later the White house had to backtrack, admitting that they could not find a single academic source to support the statement.

Elsewhere in the speech Clinton stated that the U.S. should “. . . continue our efforts to expand trade to the rest of the world.” He pointed out that, “We have less than 5 percent of the world’s people in this country; we have about 20 percent of the world’s wealth. We cannot maintain our wealth unless we sell what we have to the other 95 percent of the people in the rest of the world.” That’s odd, as the administration also likes to point out, the U.S. produces 20 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. Could there be a correlation between emissions, productivity and wealth? If Clinton is serious about expanding America’s wealth and trade he might want to rethink drastic cuts in U.S. CO2 emissions.

Texans Will Be Hard Hit by Climate Change Policies

A study by Glenn Schleede, sponsored by Consumer Alert, shows heavy economic losses for the people of Texas that may result from policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Coal, oil and natural gas supply 96.2 percent of the total energy needs of Texas. Furthermore, per capita energy use in Texas is 65.2 percent higher (in 1994) than the national average because of the state’s energy-intensive and agricultural activities. Some of the costs are the following:

Texans’ electric bills would increase 10.3 to 48.4 percent annually.

A $.50 per gallon tax on motor fuels would add $285 per year to each Texan’s tax payment to Washington.

A $100 per metric ton carbon tax would cost each household in Texas $491.

Small Steps Now, Big Steps Later

Writing in Nature (September 4, 1997), Biologist Stephen Schneider and Economist Lawrence Goulder, argue that although governments can wait to implement significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, they should begin to enact modest steps now to promote low cost carbon dioxide reductions. The authors propose a carbon tax as well as a subsidy to promote new energy technologies. “Introducing the carbon tax now could be a key factor in inducing the technological change that justifies deferring most abatement to the future.” They also argue that a carbon tax is the least-cost way to bring about reductions in CO2. Moreover, a carbon tax can be recycled or rebated by lowering other taxes, such as the income tax. A research subsidy, on the other hand, should be pursued only if it can be shown to be beneficial independent of climate change benefits.

We Have Time!

In response to a question posed by Sierra Magazine (Sept./Oct. 1997), “Are you concerned about global warming?” Robert Mendelsohn of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, answered, “As long as the warming scenarios remain mild, as predicted by climate scientists, the magnitudes of the benefits to the U.S. economy would exceed the damages by $30 billion to $40 billion. Although we should monitor global warming carefully, it does not require rash and expensive mitigation strategies. We have time to further study its impacts and determine prudent responses.”