How to deal with Poseur Policymakers

by William Yeatman on December 11, 2007

Some citizens have inquired of me what they can do to force debate with towns, cities and states whose elected officials are seeking to fill a supposed vacuum of “action” to address climate change, in the absence of U.S. ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.  My response to them may be of help to others, so consider the following.


First, all such posturing – which is precisely what the gestures are – are driven by a myth.  Put aside “warming” for now and recall that it reflects the widespread adoration for rhetoric over substance, as further illustrated by, e.g., the Washington Post’s increasingly aggressive keening that the U.S. is “doing nothing” about greenhouse gas emissions or climate change, sitting on the sidelines, refusing to act, and otherwise falling behind in comparison with some subset of the rest of the world. Yet nowhere in its recent series of editorials, news articles and human interest stories covering the topic has the Post actually noted comparative U.S. and EU greenhouse gas emissions performance – Europe, the self-proclaimed “world leader”, being the most likely party in comparison to which we are not acting.  This reflects the mindset that if an emission drops and no bureaucrat was around to mandate it, it didn’t really drop.


Disappointed though the Post or others may be in all things Bush Administration, imagine how this malaise could be improved by acknowledging actual comparative performance, figures for which are publicly available.  Under any relevant modern baseline, e.g., the year Europe made its Kyoto promise (1997) or thereafter, U.S. emissions have risen far more slowly than those of its noisiest antagonists.  For example, International Energy Agency data show that over the past 7 years (2000-2006), the annual rate of increase for U.S. CO2 emissions is approximately one-third of the EU’s rate of increase (yes, increase; the EU is spending billions to watch emissions increase, faster than ours no less).  Indeed, over the same period even the smaller EU-15 economy has increased its CO2 emissions in actual volume greater than the U.S. by more than 20%, even while the U.S. economy and population also grew more rapidly.  In truth, mandates are not everything any more than Europe’s rhetoric amounts to policy.


In addition to bringing attention to facts, some Socratic questioning is in order, and it is fairly straightforward; the challenge is to be heard, and getting a public to motivate despite being conditioned to accept most anything policymakers heap on them with a shrug.

In response, btw, I am told that each effort to discuss the issue leads to the intellectually lazy appeal to authority, generally the claim of the IPCC and others that “thousands of scientists agree…”.  Respond that the greatest number of scientists having produced or agreed to any statement in any IPCC product is 51 [the Fourth Assessment Report’s Summary for Policymakers for its Working Group I (“science”), 33 authors, 18 contributing authors).[1][1]  The final Summary for Policymakers of the combined, Synthesis Report was “based on a draft prepared by” 40 scientists, who we will presume agreed to the product though they did not author it.[2][2]  No one else can claim to have authored or been asked to approve any of these, as is the case throughout the IPCC process.


Next, ask whether a cost-benefit analysis was done for the proposed gestures, if not then why not and what do they believe the costs to be, also what do they consider the benefits will be (since even Kyoto’s proponents acknowledge that it wouldn’t detectably impact climate you know they have to divide by zero).  And bang the drum of X costs for a known 0 benefit outside of spiritual contentment among a few (in short, these gestures are a more expensive example of, e.g., Berkeley declaring themselves a nuclear free zone during the Cold War).  They will downplay costs, so take a look at what they actually considered, as they usually exclude most relevant factors.  If they claim an analysis, let’s see it, because to date states have trotted out a group called the Center for Climate Strategies to give a patina of expertise and/or analysis, claiming “original economic analysis”, when in fact they offer anywhere from 49-74 cookie cutter proposals to all parties with which they work, never looked at by an economist (drafted by a poli sci grad student and a systems engineer…that is, activists w/an axe to grind, but no relevant experience and certainly nothing “original” or “economic” to say).  


Paul Chesser of North Carolina’s John Locke Foundation has revealed that this group, while often working through front groups (making that 2 layers), is a project of Rockefeller Bros., Ted Turner Foundation et al.  He has bird-dogged this stealthy program to force a “crazy quilt” of expensive bling on cities and states to force their political leaders to whine to DC that they’ve done something stupid and it isn’t fair that everyone isn't forced to do so.  The usual plan.

Finally, take a look at local temps.  They probably haven’t gone up materially – it is immaterial either way to “global warming”, though optically/rhetorically helpful when they haven’t risen.  Remember, the atmosphere hasn’t warmed since 1998 and 2007 is going to be the coolest year of the millennium.  Always, however, be aware of your baseline, knowing the clever ploy that the alarmists use (they start every analysis with the beginning year of a warming trend, e.g., 1860 or 1975).  has charts for local stations.  I say materially because this raises more issues – but one need not worry, digging this stuff isn’t that time consuming and it is great fun given what you'll see what you find about the local surface stations.  At least 2 papers (Goodridge 1996 and Michaels McKitrick 2007) show how warming is largely from the urban areas, and Christy et al showed how land use had led to warming in ag areas like the Central Valley.


Also check the temp station(s), at  I just did after hearing of CCS et al pushing their agenda through Gov. Huntsman in Utah, and it turned out the preponderance of stations are located in parking lots, on concrete pads, near swimming pools, above recently installed black rubber matting, and similarly corrupted.  So, scan your state’s sites for placement; including, has the area urbanized (it has, Q is how much)?


The alarmists and their ilk cannot make a persuasive case, which is why they bully, lie, shout down and pull stunts like the “appeal to authority” and claim “the science is settled…let’s move on”.  Citizens have every right and ability to be heard, and have the truth heard, before having this posturing shoves down their throats, after a trip through their wallets.



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