January 2008

My Favorite Year

by Julie Walsh on January 31, 2008

Chris Horner, CEI, posted on PlanetGore
With my internet in rural Virginia finally back up…again, for now…I cannot resist noting Bill Clinton's most recent re-insertion of himself into presidential politics, claiming that "We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy" to fight global warming".

This candor harkens back to an even more bizarre, if still remarkably similar, comment during a 2003 Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing. Then, according to colleagues in the room (I have not located a hearing transcript) Sen. Joseph Lieberman explained away 2002 temperatures not having come through as warm as some advocates had predicted with the rationale that, well, the economy had slowed down. Ah.

Each and every candidate should of course be immediately asked for a substantive response to the former president's argument, which really makes the climate realists' case that the economic pain from the various proposals is real even though no one claims any proposal ever tabled would yield climatic gain.

What with the raging debate about the key issue of the climate's sensitivity to greenhouse gas forcing, it may also be an opportune time to ask candidates if they accept Lieberman's claim of a remarkably responsive climate system and, if so, tell the voters what year they liked the weather best. We will then know their plan is to cap economic activity at the corresponding, previous year's level. It all just makes sense.

From National Review Online

Jonah, I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'm not sure Jake Tapper is being entirely accurate when he characterizes Bill Clinton's remarks on global warming yesterday as "We just have to slow down our economy."  Clinton's remarks actually suggest that doing that would not help as "China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren," which is an accurate assessment of the situation.  Bill could have gone further and said that it is actually immoral to suggest otherwise, but, hey, you take what you can get.

Where Bill goes off the rails is in his pie-in-the-sky vision of a green tomorrow, which brings to mind the end of the Goobacks episode of South Park:

If you want that in America, if you want the millions of jobs that will come from it, if you would like to see a new energy trust fund to finance solar energy and wind energy and biomass and responsible bio-fuels and electric hybrid plug-in vehicles that will soon get 100 miles a gallon, if you want every facility in this country to be made maximally energy efficient that will create millions and millions and millions of jobs, vote for [guess who?]

The idea that completely changing our energy system will create millions of new, extra jobs, is like suggesting, as one commentator noted in The Guardian of all places, that the permanent abolition of the wheel would lead to a bonanza of new jobs in the blacksmithing, livery and farriery (?) industries.  Planet Gore's own Ken Green noted in Congressional testimony recently that the promise of green jobs is largely illusory, and yesterday drew attention to the fact that current global warming legislation will actually lose jobs:

Economist Anne Smith testified to Congress that her state-of-the-art economic modeling estimates that Warner-Lieberman would cause net reduction in 2015 GDP of 1.0% to 1.6% relative to the GDP that would otherwise occur. That loss rises to the range of 2% to 2.5% after 2015. Smith found that the annual loss in GDP would increase to the range of $800 billion to $1 trillion, which is serious money. By 2020, Smith estimates losses of 1.5 to 3.4 million jobs – and that is net jobs, after adjusting for the new "green" jobs that might be created by the bill.

So while Tapper isn't entirely accurate in characterizing what Bill said, he's pretty accurate in summarizing the effects of the policies he recommends.  Bill Clinton's economic stimulus plan is to slow down our economy.

Bye, Bye Miss American Pie

by Julie Walsh on January 31, 2008

Sheldon Richman, in his article “Most presidential seekers want energy socialism” makes this comment: “One of the great unnoticed curiosities of the presidential campaign is that even the party that claims devotion to free enterprise is full-out socialist — or, more precisely, fascist — when it comes to energy policy.” He continues, ‘At a recent ABC forum, these candidates recited a list of things “we must do to end our dependence on foreign oil.” “We” means the “we who are forced by government.” Not one of the five showed even a glimmer of understanding that a truly free market would be more than up to the task of ensuring steady and plentiful supplies of energy.’

“And good ol’ boys were drinking whisky and rye, singing this’ll be the day that I die.”

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

Okay, so it's not a major daily, but it is the newspaper of Maryland's seat of government, The Capital of Annapolis. Pretty fair treatment of the controversy behind the Center for Climate Strategies, which I (and others) have written about ad nauseum on opinion pages, but until now did not get a sniff from reporters. Pamela Wood does a pretty good job summarizing the conflict between the global warming panic-stricken who love CCS's work and those of us who have exposed the group for the alarmist advocates that they are:

The disagreement started with frustration over the commission's interim recommendations in November, to slash carbon-dioxide emissions in the state and promote energy efficiency.

Then, global-warming critics were galled to find out the center is controlled by another group that makes no bones about its environmental advocacy.

Mark Newgent of Baltimore has written extensively about the center and the climate commission on the Red Maryland blog as well as on his personal blog. He said Maryland is getting a raw deal by "essentially farming out its policy discussions to an advocacy group."


Nature 451, 286-288 (17 January 2008)

Climate models predict that the ocean's circulation will weaken in response to global warming, but the warming at the end of the last ice age suggests a different outcome.

There is an old truism in climate circles that the cold climate at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), which occurred 21,000 years ago, had stronger winds. This idea fits with the common observation that it is windier in the winter than in the summer because there is greater thermal contrast within the atmosphere in the winter hemisphere. Temperature reconstructions from the LGM show that Equator-to-pole gradients in sea surface temperature were indeed larger — that is, the polar oceans were colder than the tropical ocean at the LGM in comparison with the temperature differences today.

It is now becoming clear that the winds in the atmosphere drive most of the circulation in the ocean.



International Climate Conference in New York, March 2-4

Hundreds of the world's leading "skeptics" of the theory of man-made global warming will meet in New York City on March 2-4 to present their case and discuss the latest scientific, economic and political research on climate change.

For more information, visit the conference web site, by clicking here.

In the News

Coal is the New Gold
Nick Trevathan, Reuters, 31 January 2008

Climate Politics: Who Will Pay? Who Will Profit?
Jeffrey Ball, Wall Street Journal, 30 January 2008

Russia Clears Way for Carbon Profits
Simon Shuster, Reuters, 28 January 2008

The Dangerous Rise of Carbon Fundamentalism
Brad Allenby, GreenBiz, 27 January 2008

Congress Carbon Offset Scam?
David Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 27 January 2008

Where Blackouts Become a Way of Life
Businessday, 28 January 2008

The Polar Bear Express
Wall Street Journal, 28 January 2008

Isn't All This Talk about Apocalypse Getting Boring?
Chris Berg, The Age, 27 January 3008

News You Can Use
Bill Clinton Gets Real about Costs of Climate Policies

California Senator Barbara Boxer continues to cling to the fantasy that curbing greenhouse gas emissions will somehow spur economic growth, but at least former President Bill Clinton is willing to acknowledge the stark economic realities of fighting climate change.

According to ABC news, Clinton yesterday told an audience in Denver, CO, that "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions…"

Inside the Beltway
CEI's Myron Ebell

President George W. Bush did not come out in favor of cap-and-trade legislation in his State of the Union address to Congress on Monday night, nor did he say whether the EPA would find that carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health or welfare and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act or whether Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne would decide to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The president did say that the U. S. should, "complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases." He then added that, "This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride."

The way I read this is that Bush is relying on China and India to save us from the stupid and colossally expensive policies that would be needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hiding behind China and India will probably work, but it would be much better for the U. S., as the world's leading developing economy, to lead the developing countries against the policies of economic decline being pushed by the European Union. The Bush Administration should be making the moral case against putting the world on an energy starvation diet.

The Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dale Hall, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday on the proposed listing of the polar bear under ESA. The rumors from the Interior Department are that Hall, Secretary Kempthorne, and Under Secretary Lynn Scarlett are pushing for the listing against the scientific evidence presented by FWS field biologists. The ESA requires that a listing be based on the "best available scientific data". Since most of the Arctic's 19 bear populations have been increasing, the data suggests that the bear is not threatened. But computer models suggest that global warming will threaten the bear in the future. To my mind, computer models do not provide the best available scientific data. In fact, their speculative conclusions do not meet the minimal demands of the Federal Data Quality Act.

Although Hall may be pushing for the listing, he made some sensible comments at the hearing. He said that listing under the ESA will do little more to protect the polar bear than is already being done under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. And he said that he didn't think using the ESA was the right regulatory tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So perhaps the decision hasn't yet been made to list the bear. As always, the most sensible remarks at the hearing were made by Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the committee's ranking Republican.

Around the World
CEI's Marlo Lewis

C. Boyden Gray, the U.S. Envoy to the European Union, said Tuesday (Jan. 28) that U.S. and EU adoption of carbon "offset" taxes (aka carbon tariffs) is "inevitable" if China, India, and other developing countries refuse to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

Gray spoke to European-based reporters in a telephone news conference. As reported by Joe Kirwin of BNA (Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.), Gray said the United States and the EU would "have no choice" but to impose carbon tariffs on products from developing countries to remain competitive in the global economy. To illustrate, he cited the import penalty provisions of S. 2191, the climate bill introduced by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.).

Such talk can only encourage European countries, which are considering a carbon tariff proposal put forward by the European Commission, to restrict trade and impede development in poor countries.

It is unclear whether Mr. Gray was speaking for the Bush Administration or just giving his own opinion. Only two weeks ago (January 17), U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab warned that "attempting to force others to act on climate change through trade saber-rattling carries enormous risks." She characterized measures like Lieberman-Warner as "threats to the global trading system—a system that has delivered prosperity to billions around the world."

The United States—for very good reasons—declined to ratify the Kyoto treaty. U.S. officials can't go around calling for carbon tariffs on products from China and India without building a case for the EU and Japan to slap carbon penalties on U.S.-made goods.

Two things have become painfully obvious. First, Kyoto cannot actually reduce global emissions—much less stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels—unless China, India, and other key developing countries also limit their emissions. Second, the developing country exemption creates strong incentives for energy-intensive industry, jobs, and carbon emissions to migrate from carbon-constrained countries to China, India, and other emerging industrial powerhouses.

In the Home
Bye, Bye Miss American Pie
CEI's Julie Walsh

Sheldon Richman, in his article "Most presidential seekers want energy socialism" makes this comment: "One of the great unnoticed curiosities of the presidential campaign is that even the party that claims devotion to free enterprise is full-out socialist — or, more precisely, fascist — when it comes to energy policy." He continues, 'At a recent ABC forum, these candidates recited a list of things "we must do to end our dependence on foreign oil." "We" means the "we who are forced by government." Not one of the five showed even a glimmer of understanding that a truly free market would be more than up to the task of ensuring steady and plentiful supplies of energy.'

"And good ol' boys were drinking whisky and rye, singing this'll be the day that I die."

Former President Bill Clinton was in Denver, Colorado, stumping for his wife yesterday.

In a long, and interesting speech, he characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."

Coal prices are set to rise by more than 50 percent this year as demand for power to fuel growth in China and other emerging economies helps make it a recession-proof commodity, a top analyst said on Wednesday.

In China alone, power generating capacity is expected to rise to 950 gigawatts in 2010, up from current capacity of 713 gigawatts. Coal supplies 80 percent of current capacity, and will contribute even more to the expansion.

RWE AG is halting investments in new German power plants over concerns that rising costs of processing carbon dioxide emissions will lower profitability, Ulrich Jobs, head of RWE's power unit, told Financial Times Deutschland.

Differences between the United States and other parties might hinder the on-going Major Economies Meeting on Energy Safety and Climate Change from reaching long-term goals, a U.S. representative hinted here Wednesday.

"We're not trying to pick a number (of issues) for long-term goals but just to accelerate the process" in efforts to combat climate change, said Boyden Gray, U.S. special envoy to the EU.