September 2009

Over at the Big Hollywood blog, “Not Evil Just Wrong” co-producer Phelim McAleer shows (on video) how hypersensitive climate alarmist celebrities are when asked about their flying habits. He walked around at the premiere of “The Age of Stupid” — a documentary that claims the human race will be extinct by 2055 because of climate change — with a microphone and camera, and it wasn’t long before he was whisked from the media area (despite having credentials). Director Franny Armstrong, who apparently has jetted around at a good clip to promote the film, claimed that she’d been absolved by the high priest of climate condemnation thanks to the purchase of carbon offset indulges.

Ah, but we knew that already, at least when it comes to global warming stories. Today brings yet another production from the template of the Society of Environmental Journalists, this time delivered by Southeast Asia correspondent Seth Mydans. The scientific researchers: the communist Vietnamese government (press release titled “Climate change scenarios will guide Government’s planners”). Chief danger: sea level rise. Those threatened: virtually the entire country.

At least…they could be

In a worse-case projection…more than one-third of the (Mekong River) delta…could be submerged if sea levels rise by three feet in the decades to come.

In a more modest projection, it calculates that one-fifth of the delta would be flooded, said Tran Thuc, who leads Vietnam’s National Institute for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Sciences and is the chief author of the report.

Storm surges could periodically raise that level, he said, and experts say an intrusion of salt water and industrial pollution could contaminate much of the remaining delta area.

The risks of climate change for Vietnam go far beyond the Mekong Delta, up into the Central Highlands, where rising temperatures could put the coffee crop at risk, and to the Red River Delta in the north, where large areas could be inundated near the capital, Hanoi….

If the sea level rises by three feet, 11 percent of Vietnam’s population could be displaced, according to a 2007 World Bank working paper.

If it rises by 15 feet, 35 percent of the population and 16 percent of the country’s land area could be affected, the document said….

In addition to rising seas in the Mekong Delta, climatologists predict more frequent, severe and southerly typhoons, heavier floods and stronger storm surges that could ultimately drive hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

Climate refugees could swell the population of Ho Chi Minh City….

But the city itself is also at risk, says the government study, prepared by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (undoubtedly part of a joint UN-Vietnamese government project). Up to one-fourth of the city’s area would be threatened by rising floodwaters if the sea level rose by three feet.

And so on. Considering possibilities that the New York Times never would, however, it could be that there is no threat from sea level rise, as World Climate Report suggests:

The question for climate change experts is not “Is sea level rising” but rather “Is sea level rise accelerating?” In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote “No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected”, while in 2007, IPCC wrote “Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 [1.3 to 2.3] mm per year over 1961 to 2003. The rate was faster over 1993 to 2003: about 3.1 [2.4 to 3.8] mm per year. Whether the faster rate for 1993 to 2003 reflects decadal variability or an increase in the longer-term trend is unclear.” To say the least, the IPCC has been very cautious on the issue of accelerated sea level rise.

But to the Times, that doesn’t make for very good reading:

But the potential disruptions and the tremendous cost of trying to reduce [sea level rise] impact could slow Vietnam’s drive to emerge from its postwar poverty and impede its ambitions to become one of the region’s economic leaders.

Once again, this nation, which has spent much of its history struggling to free itself from foreign domination, finds itself threatened by an overpowering outside force.

Hey Seth, did it ever occur to you that the slowness with which Vietnam is emerging from poverty has to do with its own communism and Third World corruption? Perhaps, an “overpowering” internal force? And that this particular UN/Vietnam “report” might have something to do with justifying a wealth transfer from developed countries to developing countries in a final global climate treaty?

Just askin’ — maybe in a part two of your report?

No data, no science

by Marlo Lewis on September 24, 2009

in Blog

In “The Dog Ate Global Warming,” published yesterday in National Review Online, Cato Institute scholar and climatologist Patrick J. Michaels delivers a body blow to the “science is settled” dogma.

There are three core issues in climate change science: detection (Is it warming, and if so by how much); attribution (What’s causing the warming we observe?); and, sensitivity (How much warming will a given increase in greenhouse gas concentrations produce?). As I argue in a previous post, all of these issues remain unsettled, and more so today than at any time in the past decade.  

Although climate sensitivity is the most important issue (because if climate sensitivity is low, then there is no “planetary emergency,” hence no need for “urgent action”), detection is in a sense primary, because without reliable temperature data it is impossible to resolve the other two issues.

The claim that the latter half of the 20th century was warmer than any comparable period during the past 1300 years is largely based on surface temperature records subject to several well-known warming biases. Urbanization generates artificial “heat islands.” Agriculture and irrigation in places like California’s Central Valley also produce local warming effects. Retired meteorologist Anthony Watts has documented that nearly nine out of every 10 U.S. weather stations fail to meet the U.S. Weather Service’s minimum requirement that temperature sensing equipment be placed at least 30 meters (about 100 feet) away from artificial heat sources such as air conditioner exhaust vents, waste water treatment plants, and parking lot pavements.

Michaels now exposes the shocking fact that the data allegedly underpinning the most influential surface temperature record are missing and apparently have been destroyed. The record is known as Jones-Wigley for its authors, Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU) and Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The IPCC relied exclusively on this record until its 2001 report.

For years, Jones and Wigley declined to share the raw data from which they constructed their record. Recently, however, Jones told University of Colorado Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. that they could not share their data with him, because the data no longer exist:

Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality-controlled and homogenized) data.

 Michaels says the “data storage availability” excuse is “balderdash,” since “All the original data could easily fit on the 9-inch tape drives common in the mid-1980s.”

The bigger point, of course, is that if other scientists cannot examine the raw data, they cannot assess the accuracy and objectivity of the “value-adding” adjustments Jones and Wigley made to produce their global temperature record.

In addition to providing another reason to reject the “science is settled” dogma, disappearance of the Jones-Wigley data is of direct relevance to EPA’s pending endangerment finding. The Jones-Wigley temperature record is part of the evidence on which EPA bases its judgment that “air pollution” from greenhouse gas emissions “endangers public health and welfare.”

Use of the Jones-Wigley temperature record in a rulemaking clearly flouts federal data quality standards. Under OMB guidelines implementing the Federal Data Quality Act, data quality consists of four elements: objectivity, utility to users, integrity of information, and reproducibility in the case of “influential scientific or statistical information.”

Now, if the original Jones-Wigely data have been destroyed, then it is impossible to assure “integrity of information.” For all we know, Jones and Wigley goofed in their calculations or choice of methodologies, or even manipulated the data to produce a pre-determined result. By the same token, it is impossible to “reproduce” the Jones-Wigley temperature record, because there are no data to reproduce it from. Yet, as a factual basis of both the IPCC reports and the EPA endangerment finding, Jones-Wigley indisputably qualifies as “influential scientific or statistical information.”

Michaels’s terse conclusion speaks volumes: “No data, no science.” For decades, Jones-Wigley has been a mainstay of the alleged ”scientific consensus” supporting Kyoto-style energy rationing. Warmists have a lot of explaining to do.

Patrick Michaels today has a thought-provoking piece on NRO about the reliability of the temperature record. According to Michaels,

In the early 1980s, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia established the Climate Research Unit (CRU) to produce the world’s first comprehensive history of surface temperature. It’s known in the trade as the “Jones and Wigley” record for its authors, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley, and it served as the primary reference standard for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) until 2007. It was this record that prompted the IPCC to claim a “discernible human influence on global climate…

…Jones and Wigley, however, weren’t specific about what was done to which station in order to produce their record, which, according to the IPCC, showed a warming of 0.6° +/- 0.2°C in the 20th century.

Now begins the fun. Warwick Hughes, an Australian scientist, wondered where that “+/-” came from, so he politely wrote Phil Jones in early 2005, asking for the original data. Jones’s response to a fellow scientist attempting to replicate his work was, “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?

It doesn’t take a scientist to recognize that this last statement makes a mockery of the scientific method. After all, the entire point of peer review is to find something wrong with a scientist’s research, so as not to propagate inaccurate conclusions in academic journals. All of which begs the question: What is there to hide?  Stay tuned. Steve McIntyre, who exposed the fraudulent “hockey stick” temperature history, is working on the CRU issue.

On a related note, my colleague Marlo Lewis blogged on the inadequacy of the U.S. surface temperature record in this excellent post.

In the News

The Truth About the Treasury Trove
Chris Horner, Planet Gore, 17 September 2009

Climate Change and National Security Part 1, Part 2
Marlo Lewis,, 16 September 2009

Fantasizing about a Low Carbon Future
Myron Ebell,, 15 September 2009

Newsweek’s Begley Flunks Calculus, Science and Politics
Joseph D’Aleo,, 15 September 2009

Something’s Rotten
Chris Horner, Planet Gore, 15 September 2009

Allies Abandon U.S. at Climate Confab
John Zaracostas, Washington Times, 15 September 2009

When It Comes to Pollution, Less (Kids) May Be More
David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 15 September 2009

Beware Cap-and-Trade
Senator James Inhofe, Clean Skies, 14 September 2009

Carbon Market Hit as UN Suspends Clean Energy Auditor
Danny Fortson, The Sunday Times, 13 September 2009

News You Can Use

The Obama administration concedes that the economic costs of a cap-and-trade “are equal in scale to all existing environmental regulations,” according to Treasury Department documents uncovered by the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner with a Freedom of Information Act request.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Can We All Agree Now? It’s Gonna Cost a Bundle

The big news this week is furnished by my colleague at CEI, Chris Horner, who released some interesting documents he obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Treasury Department.  Chris’s initial blog post was picked up first by Amanda Carpenter in the Washington Times and then by Declan McCullough at  There has been a flurry of stories since then, most of them trying to explain why it isn’t really a news story.  (I wish more reporters spent more time explaining why what they are writing can be safely skipped.  It would save a lot of time.)

It turns out that a busy team of economists hired by Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to devise a better cap-and-trade program were fully aware that it would be very costly for consumers.  Treasury’s upper end estimate works out to $1761 for the average household per year.

That’s in line with what President Obama said when he was running for President (“Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”), but a lot less than what EPA and the White House have been saying about the Waxman-Markey bill.

quick to point out that Treasury’s $1761 estimate couldn’t possibly apply to the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House in June on a 219-212 vote because, first, Waxman-Markey didn’t exist when Treasury was making its estimate and, second, Treasury assumed that all the ration coupons would be auctioned whereas Waxman-Markey gives most of the coupons away to big business special interests in the early years of the program.

That argument is specious.  As Peter Orszag, now director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, explained in congressional testimony last year when he was head of the Congressional Budget Office: “Under a cap-and-trade program, firms would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances, but instead would pass them along to their customers in the form of higher prices. Such price increases would stem from the restriction on emissions and would occur regardless of whether the government sold emission allowances or gave them away. Indeed, the price increases would be essential to the success of a cap-and-trade program….”

The most interesting thing about the documents Chris obtained from Treasury are the bits that are redacted.  For example, a paragraph headed Overview says: “[I]t will raise energy prices and impose annual costs on the order of [rest of sentence is blacked out].”  Perhaps the folks in the FOIA Compliance Office at Treasury didn’t get the January 21st memo from President Obama on increasing transparency in his administration.  The memo says in part: “The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve.”

MPG Madness

The Obama Administration proposed new rules on Tuesday to increase vehicle fuel mileage by nearly 40% by 2016.  The anti-energy bill passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress and signed into law by Republican President George W. Bush in 2007 required automakers to reach an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, but the Obama Administration has moved that target up four years.

The 1227-page rule will be open for public comment for sixty days.  It is supposed to harmonize federal standards with the tougher ones first adopted by California in 2004 and then by a number of other States.  However, officials in California have already talked about adopting more stringent standards in order to force the federal government to follow.

The U. S. Chamber and the National Automobile Dealers Association have filed suit in the D. C. Circuit to overturn the California waiver on the grounds that legally waivers can only be granted to California to address local air pollution problems, whereas global warming is a global problem.

The new mileage standards apply to cars and light trucks, which category includes SUVs and pickups.  The Administration estimates that it will raise new car prices by an average of $1,100, but save an average of $3,000 in gasoline over the life of the vehicle.  These average estimates may be accurate, but conceal the fact that prices for bigger vehicles are going to have to go up a lot because manufacturers won’t be able to make the 35 mpg standard if they sell very many of them.

Carbon Dioxide, A “Pollutant”

There are more major rules on the way.  It is rumored that the endangerment finding will be finalized by the end of October.  On April 16, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  More than twenty-thousand public comments were filed, so EPA has been working overtime if they are going to be able to finalize the rule so quickly.

Another rule covering non-highway mobile sources of emissions is reportedly going to follow soon after the car and light truck rule.  That should make construction companies, off-road vehicle users, and snowmobilers happy.

Robin Bravender and Noelle Straub reported in Friday’s Energy and Environment Daily that Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is considering offering an amendment that would block EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions.  If enacted as part of the Interior (and other agencies) appropriations bill currently being debated on the Senate floor, EPA would be prevented from regulating stationary sources (such as coal and gas power plants) during the 2010 fiscal year, which begins October 1st.  EPA’s planned regulations of new vehicles would not be affected.

Across the States

New York Green Jobs Bill for ACORN

This week New York Governor David Patterson signed “Green Jobs, Green New York,” legislation that would leverage $100 million in revenue from a regional cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme into $5 billion worth of guaranteed loans for weatherization projects conducted by partisan activist groups, including the disgraced ACORN, which was exposed recently for having facilitated the establishment of underage brothels with public money. Sounds like a risky loan.

California Adopts Yet Another Anti-Energy Mandate

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week vetoed SB 14, legislation that would have mandated that California utilities use renewable energy for 33% of electricity sold by 2020. While Schwarzenegger supports the 2020 renewable energy standard, he objected to language in the bill that restricts energy imports. Schwarzenegger instead issued an executive order to reach the same target with fewer restrictions on interstate trade. A recent study by the California Public Utilities Commission estimates that achieving the 33% renewable energy mandate would raise utility bills more than 20%. California already has the some of the highest rates for electricity in the country, due to 30 years of anti-energy policies.

Around the World


Last week the Cooler Heads Digest reported that all signs point to failure at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change this December in Copenhagen, where international policymakers hope to agree on a global warming treaty to succeed the failed Kyoto Protocol.

The dismal outlook for success in Copenhagen actually worsened this week. President Barack Obama had hoped that the U.S. Senate-which would have to ratify any treaty-would pass legislation before Copenhagen. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this week told reporters that the U.S. Senate isn’t likely to address climate legislation until 2010. The Senate’s inaction makes it difficult for the Obama administration to commit to binding emissions targets at COP 15.

And Yvo de Boer, the chairman of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, all but conceded failure in Copenhagen by ruling out a “comprehensive” treaty.

India Leads the Way

Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Environment Minister, announced this week that India will adopt greenhouse gas emissions targets.  The government plans to introduce legislation in parliament to set numerical goals for future emissions that will allow future economic growth of 8 to 9% annually.  The new targets will be voluntary.  It also appears that meeting the targets will still depend on transferring tens of billions of dollars a year from developed economies.   Although it has been suggested that this puts pressure on the United States, the European Union, and Japan to agree to a new treaty in Copenhagen at COP-15 in December, it could also be argued that India is leading the way for other nations to adopt voluntary targets and timetables.

On February 25, 2009, Dr. James Hansen of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville testified on “Scientific Objectives for Climate Change Legislation,” before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Dr. Hansen is probably the world’s most influential scientist in the climate alarmist camp. His 1988 congressional testimony, which projected significant increases in global temperatures over the next two decades, gave birth to the warming movement.

At the Ways and Means hearing, Christy testified that datasets he and his colleagues have developed contradict the climate model hypotheses and surface temperature records on which alarmism rests. His leading example was the discrepancy between Hansen’s 1988 model forecasts and actual temperatures as measured by two independent satellite monitoring systems.


“GISS” A, B, and C are Hansen’s 1988 global warming model projections. “A” and “B” are model projections assuming business-as-usual emission levels similar to what happened (actually a bit lower than what occurred). ”C” is a model projection assuming drastic CO2 cuts. ”UAH” and “RSS” are, respectively, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems satellite records.

Christy comments:

All model projections show a high sensitivity to CO2 while the actual atmosphere does not. It is noteworthy that the model projection for drastic CO2 cuts still overshot the observations. This would be considered a failed hypothesis test for the models from 1988.

 Ancient history, you say? Maybe, but Christy also compared the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report’s (AR4) climate model warming projections with actual temperature data.


The red and orange lines mark the upper and lower bounds of 95% of the global warming projections calculated by 21 IPCC AR4 models for multi-year segments ending in 2020. The blue and green lines show temperature trends calculated from the UAH satellite record and the U.K. Hadley Center surface temperature record, respectively.

Christy comments:

The two main points here are (1) the observations are much cooler than the mid-range of the model spread and are at the minimum of the model simulations and (2) the satellite adjustment for surface comparisons is exceptionally good. The implication of (1) is that the best estimates of the IPCC models are too warm, or that they are too sensitive to CO2 emissions.

By now you may be wondering what any of this has to do with peer review at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Patience, grasshopper.

At the hearing, Hansen declined to address Christy’s critique of model sensitivity assumptions on the merits. Rather, he asserted that climate sensitivity is “crystal clear,” and advised the Committee to ask the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to produce a report and accept its verdict as “authoritative.”

Now, if you’re like me, you probably assume that the National Academy insists on the most rigorous standards of peer review for PNAS, the organization’s flagship publication. But an article in the current (19 September 2009) issue of Science magazine (subscription required) suggests otherwise.

The article, “PNAS Nixes Special Privileges for (Most) Papers,” reports that:

National Academy members, as elite scientists, could shepherd their own work through peer review with less vetting than at other publications by “contributing” a paper. They could also “communicate” a paper on behalf of colleagues who had not been elected to the academy’s august ranks.

The article goes on to explain that:

In practice, “communicating” a colleague’s paper meant that a member lined up referees to review it before PNAS ever saw it. This increased the chance of a favorable reception — and looked suspiciously like cronyism to outsiders.

Because of that perception, PNAS announced last week that it will end the “communicated” option for submitting papers by July 2010. However, Science reports, “The move will not affect the privileges of academy members to line up reviews before they submit their own papers to PNAS …”

I don’t know about you, but my college GPA would have been higher had I been allowed to ”line up” friends to grade my term papers and tests. And wouldn’t it be nice if, during job performance reviews at work, we could “line up” allies to decide whether we deserve a raise and a bonus?

Science further reports that the “rejection rate for communicated or contributed papers that reach the PNAS is a few percent, whereas the rejection rate for standard submissions is 80%.” Membership doth seem to have its privileges at the National Academy.

Having spent a few years in institutions of higher learning, both as a student and a teacher, I have seen how our alleged bastions of academic freedom breed conformity and group-think. 

First, there’s the quest for tenure. A young professor serious about his career dare not challenge the methodological or ideological pieties of his colleagues, lest they deny him the coveted job security he seeks. And if the acolyte makes it into the ranks of the tenured, he will think twice about offending colleagues with whom he may be stuck for decades, and he’ll take care not to jeopardize his department’s research contracts and grants by offending the political pieties of grantmakers in Washington, D.C.

Most people admitted into the august ranks of the National Academy will have been shaped by the conformity mills that our institutions of higher learning have become. Moreover, once ensconced in the club, they will be loathe to offend other members, many of whom may have voted to admit them in the first place.

So it should come as no surprise that “the rejection rate for communicated or contributed papers that reach the PNAS is a few percent, whereas the rejection rate for standard submissions is 80%.” 

Even apart from these considerations, cronyism seems to be a significant problem in climate-related research. The IPCC reports are collections of literature reviews in which the lead authors often review their own work. Statistician Edward Wegman noted in his assessment of the infamous “hockey stick“ reconstruction of global temperatures (which allegedly proved that 1998 was the warmest year of the past 1,000 years) that “authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus ‘independent studies’ may not be as independent as they seem on the surface.” 

So when National Academy member James Hansen declines to debate John Christy on the merits, and instead advises Congress to let the NAS decide the scientific basis of climate legislation, he is actually asking Congress to let the old-boy network to which he belongs call the shots.

That Hansen would proffer such self-serving advice rather than debate the core issue on the merits is reason enough to be skeptical of the science he espouses.

In his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama talked a lot about “bipartisanship,” but in office, he has governed from the far left, on both domestic and foreign policy, by meddling overseas in favor of left-wing would-be dictators, and at home in support of powerful left-wing unions, at the expense of taxpayers, airline security, the Constitution, and the rule of law.  (One possible exception to his left-wing path is his support for the obscene Wall Street bailouts, which disgusted left and right alike, although those bailouts showered billions of dollars on the liberal Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, which was so rich that it didn’t even need the money).

The Wall Street Journal criticizes Obama for seeking to force Honduras to accept the return of its ex-president and would-be dictator, Manuel Zelaya, a demand backed by left-wing Latin American dictators. “Mr. Zelaya was deposed and deported this summer after he agitated street protests to support a rewrite of the Honduran constitution so he could serve a second term. The constitution strictly prohibits a change in the term-limits provision. On multiple occasions he was warned to desist, and on June 28 the Supreme Court ordered his arrest. Every major Honduran institution supported the move, even members in Congress of his own political party, the Catholic Church and the country’s human rights ombudsman. To avoid violence the Honduran military escorted Mr. Zelaya out of the country. In other words, his removal from office was legal and constitutional, though his ejection from the country gave the false appearance of an old-fashioned Latin American coup. The U.S. has since come down solidly on the side of—Mr. Zelaya.”

The Weekly Standard criticizes Obama for blocking travel to the U.S. by Hondurans, even while inviting to the White House, and giving a visa to, an official of Burma’s genocidal government, which has used mass rape and massacres against ethnic minority groups, and used torture and murder against Buddhist monks protesting oppression. The Obama Administration earlier imposed travel sanctions on the people of Honduras to punish them for their Supreme Court’s ruling refusing to allow the return of Honduras’s ex-president dictator to office.  Michael Barone, the dean of American political commentators, chides Obama for undemocratically “opposing the elected Congress, courts and civil society of Honduras.”

The Washington Times calls it “the worst foreign policy ever.” It notes that Obama has bullied “Honduras, which is desperately trying to stave off a socialist takeover by an anti-American autocrat whom the State Department has concluded is worthy of full U.S. support. This has delighted Cuban dictators Raul and Fidel Castro and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, who are very willing to let the United States carry their water. Venezuela, meanwhile, has signed a major arms deal with Russia, continues to build the anti-Gringo “Bolivarian” bloc, bullies U.S. ally Colombia and plans to launch its own nuclear program.” (Obama’s actions have also emboldened Nicaragua’s corrupt, bullying President Daniel Ortega to behave dictatorially).

The Washington Times reports that “President Obama’s diversity czar at the Federal Communications Commission” has praised Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and his crackdown on independent media, in remarks in which he “described Hugo Chavez’s rise to power in Venezuela as ‘an incredible revolution.’” (Chavez recently closed 240 radio stations in Venezuela, and his regime has shot unarmed demonstrators).  Other Obama appointees have Marxist roots or sympathies.   Obama’s green jobs czar was the race-baiter Van Jones, “a self-avowed communist” who remained in office for months, desite controversy, until revelations that he was a Truther who believed that George Bush may have been behind the 9/11 attacks. Obama’s nominee to be Assistant Secretary of State, Arturo Valenzuela, has a reputation as a loud defender of Venezuelan dictator Chavez’s terrible record on freedom of the press.

The Times also criticizes Obama’s congressional allies for moving to unionize airline security screeners and authorize collective bargaining at the TSA, making it more difficult for lazy or careless employees to be fired for incompetence.  The unions have “urged TSA Acting Administrator Gale D. Rossides to suspend use of the agency’s skills test for screeners. Failure rates this year reached more than 50 percent and were as high as 80 percent at some airports. The skills test shows that large numbers of airport screeners are failing at jobs that are intrinsic to keeping our airports and commercial airplanes secure, and the union’s response is to get rid of the test. The government employees union is also pushing to have failed screeners’ records cleared because pay and bonuses are tied to performance and unsatisfactory employee records prevent those who were fired for poor performance from being reinstated. So much for worker accountability.”

Obama also wants to introduce union-backed collective bargaining at the TSA. (A study found that the TSA is more than twice as likely to fail to detect a bomb as the private security firms it replaced. And TSA’s failure rate is three or four times as high as the few remaining private firms still allowed to handle airline security.)

The Obama administration is also undermining the security of railroad passengers by gutting an expert, highly-rated, anti-terror agency at Amtrak, which Amtrak’s unions hate, despite its efficiency, because it is not unionized.  Political cronyism is also playing a role in the gutting of Amtrak’s Office of Security Strategy and Special Operations (OSSSO).  Ultimately, OSSSO’s “highly-specialized officers” will likely be replaced by unionized employees with ”alarmingly low pass rates” in “basic” classes.

Earlier, the Obama administration ripped off taxpayers and retirees in the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts, in order to enrich the left-wing United Auto Workers union, in unnecessary bailouts that have cost at least $70 billion, drawing criticism even from the liberal Washington Post.  Many commentators argued that the auto bailouts were illegal, such as the Heritage Foundation and Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

In the Washington Post, George Will criticizes Obama for caving in to demands by left-wing unions for protectionist policies like tire tariffs that will harm consumers without saving jobs.   The stimulus package passed earlier this year contained protectionist provisions that backfired, destroying thousands of U.S. jobs by triggering massive retaliation against our export industry while doing little to reduce imports.

The Obama administration has now ordered a private provider of Medicare Advantage services to remain silent about how the Obama health-care plan would destroy the Medicare Advantage programs relied on by millions of seniors.  Eugene Volokh, a leading expert on First Amendment law, says that this violates the First Amendment.

Obama’s congressional allies have decided to conceal the exact language of their health-care bill until after it is voted on in committee, preventing the public from learning about controversial provisions buried in it.  (Earlier versions of ObamaCare have contained lots of provisions that do nothing to enhance health care, like racial preferences that were criticized as unconstitutional by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights).

Obama’s Energy Secretary likens the American people to unruly “teenage kids” who don’t know what’s good for them, and need to be told what to do.  (The cap-and-trade bill he backs to fight global warming would be devastating for the economy and do nothing to protect the environment).

Obama’s health care plan would raise taxes, break promises, harm people with insurance, explode the budget deficit, destroy many inexpensive health-care plans, and take away important freedoms.

Two good pieces of work at the Washington Examiner today about those who profit from a carbon-capping economy:

1. David Freddoso provides a sampling of salaries of executives at some top environmental activist nonprofits, including Environmental Defense, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, and others. I’ve done some of this kind of thing in this space in the past, but David offers a handy list.

2. Reporter Tim Carney explains why some of the nation’s largest utilities, responsible for burning large percentages of our overall coal consumption, lobby in favor of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-tax bill despite the certain increased costs it will spur. The main utility under Carney’s scrutiny is American Electric Power:

Waxman-Markey would give away 85 percent of the credits initially, allocating the credits among different industries. AEP, a diverse company, might be able to tap three of the bill’s piles of free credits — the 30 percent going to electricity distributors, the 2 percent going to electric utilities, and the 5 percent going to merchant coal generators.

While AEP would get credits for free, that doesn’t mean they’re worthless. If the company has more credits than emissions, AEP could sell these credits to needy companies. That means Waxman-Markey could spell profits.

Also, because much of AEP’s business is as a regulated utility — meaning it effectively faces no competition, and the state government sets its rates — some of its costs can be passed onto consumers.

Carney goes on to document AEP’s eleven-fold increase in lobbying expenses since the beginning of 2007. Now, as Marlo Lewis so excellently explained yesterday, they are “reaping what they sowed.”

Today’s ClimateWire (subscription required) carries an analysis by reporter Lauren Morello that begins:

Say goodbye to “greenhouse gases.” Say hello to “carbon pollution” and ”heat-trapping gases.”  

Morello observes a shift in the vocabulary U.S. government officials are using to talk about global warming — a change much in evidence in President Obama’s climate speech yesterday at the U.N.

Obama officials increasingly avoid the non-pejorative (although somewhat metaphorical) term “greenhouse gas” to describe carbon dioxide and instead refer to “carbon pollution” and “heat-trapping gases.”

Morello quotes NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco’s explanation that these terms are emphasized to “make what’s happening more understandable and more accessible to non-technical audiences.”

Fortunately, she also quotes CEI’s Myron Ebell, who cuts to the chase: “The cleverest thing that the global warming alarmists have done is to categorize carbon dioxide emissions as pollution, because it’s not true.”

The Obama administration’s shift to this terminology is actually way behind the green bamboozle curve. Al Gore repeatedly called carbon dioxide “global warming pollution” in his 2006 film and book, An Inconvenient Truth. Major environmental groups have been denouncing “greenhouse pollution” and “global warming pollution” for years.

The Supreme Court takes the cake, however, deciding in Massachusetts v. EPA (April 2007) that carbon dioxide is an “air pollutant” merely by virtue of the fact that it is “emitted into” the air. By that logic, even zero-pollution, completely clean air is an “air pollutant,” provided it is “emitted.”

This sort of terminological confusion is not harmless. By defining CO2 as an “air pollutant” merely because it is “emitted,” the Court set the stage for a gigantic regulatory chain reaction under the Clean Air Act that could easily dwarf Waxman-Markey and the Kyoto Protocol in cost and scope, as I explain here.

If Lubchenco really wants to demystify the climate debate, she might start by describing CO2 more accurately. Here’s my pick: ”a plant-fertilizing, biosphere-greening, colorless, odorless, non-polluting, trace gas.”

Funny, That

by Ryan Young on September 23, 2009

in Blog

An article in today’s New York Times laments the difficulty of “building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years.”