August 1998

Kyotos Regulatory Burden II

In our last issue, we discussed a new study by Mark P. Mills of Mills-McCarthy Associates. It demonstrates that if the Environmental Protection Agency classifies carbon dioxide as a pollutant, over a million small businesses would become regulated stationary sources. This would include 28 percent of all schools and 25 percent of all health-care buildings.

Mills has now looked at the actual monetary costs of compliance. To comply, small businesses would have to hire staff “who will install, identify, evaluate, and operate emissions monitoring equipment; some other people to undertake record-keeping and documentation control; yet another team to become expert in and monitor regulatory compliance; still others to consider and implement engineering solutions to the problem of complying with emissions reduction.” Finally, legal staff will also be needed to “consider the entire trajectory of legal exposure and compliance under current rules as well as the interpretations of the regulations as they evolve through inevitable legal battles.”

Mills estimates that these compliance activities will require one person-year of effort. He assumes for the sake of his calculations that a small firm can meet its compliance needs by contracting one-half of a person-year of effort. This, Mills conservatively estimates, will cost about $30,000. Since the threshold for coming under the regulatory purview of the EPA is $8,000 in fossil fuel purchases this means that the cost of fossil fuel for small businesses will jump from $8,000 per year to $38,000 per year.

For firms that purchase $100,000 of fossil fuel their cost will rise by 30 percent. Assuming that a firm would need to use one person-year to comply (a far more realistic assumption) would raise costs by 60 percent. Mills calculates that the total collective cost to American businesses could reach $100 billion. The article is at

Joint Implementation to Offset CO2

A new report by the Government Accounting Office states that the 32 joint implementation (JI) projects that were approved under a U.S. pilot program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will offset 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and 1.3 million tons of methane over the next 60 years if fully implemented. JI allows developed countries to earn emission credits by funding projects in developing countries that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The reliability of the estimates are not known, according to the GAO. “Standard methods for estimating projects emissions reduction benefits specific to the U.S. initiative have not been developed,” the report said.

Seventeen of the approved projects would reduce emissions directly by, for example, reducing methane leakage in the natural gas distribution system in Russia. The other 15 would reduce emissions by planting trees or protecting forests from logging in developing countries (BNA Daily Environment Report, July 21, 1998).

Scientific research is all over the board on the global warming issue. Duke University botanists claim the American prairie will expand if the climate warms. But numerous other studies already claim CO2 is causing forests to encroach on the Prairie. Indeed, in the last year two state EPAs have burned off forested areas in an attempt, they said, to “recreate” prairie (1000 acres were torched in Michigan, 40 acres were slated to be torched in Maryland three months ago).

In the July 31, 1998 issue of the journal Science, climatologists at Florida State University say satellite studies of the Sahara indicate desertification– i.e., expansion of the desert–has nothing to do with human activities, global warming or otherwise. As the title explains: “The Sahara is Not Marching Southward: From a satellite perch, the supposed steady encroachment of desert into Africa’s Sahel appears instead to stem from climate variation.” The report, found on page 633, says “the scenario of the Sahara sands marching southward at the hands of humans is wrong” and “that “natural climate variation has shifted the desert’s edge, with no net effect on the amount of vegetation.”

This is “settled” science?

FYI, The Ecological Society of America, mentioned here, is the group administering, with the aid of Oregon State University, the $1.5 million Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellows program to train scientists to work the press on the global warming issue.

Global Warming May Expand Plains

Associated Press
By Joseph B. Verrengia — Tuesday, August 4, 1998

Global warming could yield drier conditions on the northern Great Plains, triggering drastic ecological changes during the next century, a new study shows.

Botanists at Duke University who conducted the study declined to specify exactly what might be in store for one of the nation’s productive grain and cattle regions, which also is a magnet for wildlife, especially migrating birds.

But they said warmer, drier conditions probably would result in grasslands spreading east into areas that now are woodlands, with a corresponding increase in wildfires.

“What’s important is that the sensitivity is there to global warming,” Duke botanist James Clark said. “This system is really responsive, with the grasslands expanding eastward into forests and an increase in burning of this prairie.”

Clark presented his findings Tuesday to the Ecological Society of America meeting in Baltimore. The convention runs through Thursday.

Other grasslands researchers said they generally agree with Clark’s scenario but questioned whether ecological changes would occur in the order he described.

Forests that were established during moist periods can endure for centuries even when the climate turns drier.

“The next fire that comes along to take out the forests is what will allow the grasslands to expand,” University of Colorado ecologist Tim Seastedt said.

The Duke study — which examined peat sediments, fossil pollen, and charcoal deposits from ancient wildfires — encompassed an area that includes eastern Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The region has flip-flopped between grasslands and forests during the past 8,000 years, depending on climatic changes.

Clark said the past 2,000 years have been relatively cool and wet, conditions favorable to woodlands.

That is, until the 20th century — the warmest in recent history, with the past several years being among the hottest on record.

Many researchers believe the rising temperatures are being driven to some extent by heat-trapping air pollution and other byproducts of human activities. Subtle atmospheric circulation shifts caused by global warming and other factors could favor drier weather, Clark said.

If the trend continues, today’s woodlands on the fringes of the Plains could recede to a point where sufficient moisture is available — perhaps hundreds of miles to the east.

“We’ve seen this region getting cooler and moister until this century,” Clark said. “We have seen a trajectory of cooler climate for over 4,000 years and there is good reason to believe it won’t continue.”

Other ecologists said the human-driven changes to the region’s ecology already may be occurring. The Plains have become an intensively managed environment which is now dominated by nonnative plants, including hybrid crops and yard landscaping.

Human activity is adding more carbon dioxide, nitrogen and other gases to the atmosphere, and the environment is considerably different than it was during previous centuries in more ways than just temperature, they said.

WASHINGTON, D.C., AUGUST 7, 1998 — Compared to natural climate changes spurred by the sun, any global warming resulting from increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would be slow and insignificant, according to astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Speaking today at a briefing for Congressional staff, Dr. Baliunas said the scientific evidence for the link between solar variability and shifts in climate only began to emerge in the last decade or so. The most recent studies have strengthened that view, creating a growing interest among scientists.

The sun-climate link casts new doubts on the reliability of computer models that base their climate change scenarios on changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. It has long been noted that actual observations of global temperatures have been inconsistent with model forecasts. Nearly all of the 1 degree F warming over the last century occurred before 1940; nearly all of the increases in greenhouse gas concentrations occurred after 1940. Dr. Baliunas pointed out that global temperatures over the last 19 years, according to satellite and balloon-based measurements, have been flat.

Dr. Baliunas scoffed at statements that temperatures have been the warmest in 600 years, saying that most scientists feel the climate has simply been recovering from the “Little Ice Age,” a 450-year period of much colder temperatures that destroyed settlements in Greenland and led to crop failures and famine over much of Europe.

“It’s true that it’s warmer today than in the year 1400, but so what,” she said. “That was the beginning of the Little Ice Age.” She displayed graphs showing that temperatures were warmer than today 1000, 3000, and 6500 years ago. The Earth, she said, has already experienced warmer temperatures and more rapid climate changes than those forecast by models.

She also pointed out that during those warm periods, carbon dioxide levels remained flat, and therefore could not have been the cause. Interestingly, she said, research indicates that during the last warm period, El Nino events were not stronger and more frequent, they disappeared.

Hasty, poorly thought-through policies are uncalled for, said Dr. Baliunas. Even under the most extreme, computer-generated scenario, a delay of 30 years would produce a negligible difference in temperature. It would make a very significant difference, however, in achieving a better understanding of climate change, man-made or natural, and would mean more affordable mitigation and adaptation due to technological advances.

Dr. Baliunas’ briefing for Congressional staff was hosted by the National Consumer Coalition’s Climate Change Working Group — the “Cooler Heads.” Asked if she had experienced any retaliation because of her research, she replied, “I am a very strong person. I would not stand for that.” She added, however, that she was “dismayed” by the incivility of the climate change debate. “This is straightforward science. The computer models forecast a warming [due to increased greenhouse gases]; the observations do not agree.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, a copy of Dr. Baliunas’ prepared speech, or to arrange an interview, call Emily McGee at (202) 331-1010.

# # #

The National Consumer Coalition’s Climate Change Working Group–the “Cooler Heads”–consists of consumer, scientific, and free-market economic organizations, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Policy Center, Americans for Tax Reform, Association of Concerned Taxpayers, Center for Security Policy, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Consumer Alert, Frontiers of Freedom, Heritage Foundation, Independent Institute, National Center for Policy Analysis, National Center for Public Policy Research, Pacific Research Institute, Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, Reason Public Policy Institute, Seniors Coalition, 60-Plus, Small Business Survival Committee, and the George C. Marshall Institute. Mr. Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is “Cooler Heads” chairman.

The Clinton White House will brook no dissent in its efforts to get the Kyoto climate treaty ratified. Just ask Frederick Seitz.

Seitz was the first president of the National Academy of Sciences and is a winner of the National Science Medal. Now he’s a prime target of a government smear campaign. He’s been slammed in government journals and the mainstream press for his departure from the party line on global warming.

Seitz’s sin? He signed a cover letter for the Petition Project, an effort by scientists skeptical of the global-warming mania. The petition urges the U.S. to reject the climate treaty drafted in Japan in December.

As the petition states, “there is no convincing evidence” that carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases are causing “a catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” To date, more than 17,000 scientists have signed on.

But such scientific free speech is too much for Kyoto’s backers. George Lucier, editor of a government “science” journal called Environmental Health Perspectives, has led the assault on Seitz.

“Seitz’s petition reminds us of the approach used by the tobacco industry over the decades when asked if tobacco is addictive and harmful,” Lucier wrote last spring.

Seitz is as bad as the tobacco industry? Let’s get real.

Seitz is a distinguished physicist. He worked on the Manhattan Project and was a consultant to the secretary of war during World War II. He was the science adviser to NATO in the late ’40s and, in ’64, he became the first president of the NAS. He has received 15 national and international prizes in addition to the National Science Medal, and holds more than 30 honorary doctorates.

And who is George Lucier? He’s a senior bureaucrat who has spent 28 years as a ward of the taxpayers at the National Institute for environmental Health Sciences. His only awards are from the federal agency that employs him. He is a toxicologist, and there is no reason to think he knows as much about the science of global warming as Seitz.

Lucier’s attack on Seitz fits into a broader effort to squelch scientific debate on global warming. Last year, Vice President Al Gore and his minions claimed that a consensus of 2,500 scientists supported the theory that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases were disrupting Earth’s climate.

But those 2,500 scientists hardly represented a consensus. First, they only helped assemble the ’95 U.N. report on global warming; they didn’t pass judgment on it. And few of those 2,500 scientists actually worked on the one part of the report that linked human activity to global warming -the executive summary. In fact, many of those same scientists are skeptics.

That hasn’t stopped the White House, U.N. bureaucrats and green activists from using this “consensus” mantra as part of their effort to discredit dissenters. But now, with Seitz’s help, 17,000 scientists have blown away the myth of any scientific consensus on global warming.

Since the petition was made public in April, the climate treaty’s backers have been in damage-control mode. The lawyer-filled Union of Concerned Scientists branded the petition as “a deliberate attempt to deceive the scientific community with misinformation.” The New York Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch have published stories and editorials attacking Seitz and other petition signers.

As for the NAS, it has distanced itself from its former president and touted its own ’91 report that gave credence to global-warming hysteria. Ironically, the NAS will release a report in spring ’99 about what additional research might reduce the scientific uncertainty about global warming.

Lucier calls Seitz’s petition “disingenuous.” Yet in the same piece, Lucier wrote, “Both sides of the global-warming question must be examined and discussed openly.” What could be more disingenuous than that?

It’s wrong for a tax-paid scientist writing in a tax-supported publication to smear another scientist. Seeing such tactics used against a scientist of Seitz’s caliber is clearly a warning to others who would consider opposing officially sanctioned science. Genuine science will suffer from this attempt to suppress dissent.

Steven J. Milloy publishes the Junk Science Home Page (http://www. Michael Gough is director of science and risk studies at the Cato Institute.