December 2009

The cover of Al Gore’s new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, features a satellite image of the globe showing four major hurricanes – results, we’re meant to believe, of man-made global warming. All four were photoshopped. Which is nice symbolism, because in a sense the whole hurricane aspect of warming has been photoshopped.

As I note in my article in Forbes, it was all really based on just two data points – with the names “Katrina” and “Rita.”

Now with both greenhouse gas emissions and levels in the atmosphere are at their highest, but this year had the fewest hurricanes since 1997, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For the first time since 2006 no hurricanes even made landfall in the U.S.; indeed hurricane activity is at a 30-year low.

Whoops! So much for Gore’s cover and all the hullabaloo.

In a 2005 column, I gave what now proves an interesting retrospective.

“The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name was global warming.” So wrote environmental activist Ross Gelbspan in a New York Times op-ed that one commentator aptly described as “almost giddy.” The green group Friends of the Earth linked Katrina to global warming, as did Germany’s Green Party Environment Minister.

The most celebrated of these commentaries was Chris Mooney’s 2007 book Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics and the Battle Over Global Warming. Mooney, for the record, is also author of the best-selling book The Republican War on Science.

Yet there were top scientists in 2005 such as Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, publishing data showing the Rita-Katrina blowhards had no business building a case around two anomalies. But his paper was squelched by Kevin Trenbarth of “Climategate” fame.

It’s fascinating stuff. Read it!

Richard Morrison, William Yeatman and Ryan Young join forces to bring you Episode 74 of the LibertyWeek podcast. We talk about the COP-15 post-game and China’s changing reputation with the climate change crowd starting around (7:00).

In the News

To save the Earth, Encourage Economic Freedom
Terry Miller & Anthony Kim,, 29 December 2009

Cap-and-Trade Would Strain Food Supply
Edward Felker, Washington Times, 29 December 2009

GW Alarmists Target Family Pets
Christopher Orlet, American Spectator, 29 December 2009

The New Climate Litigation
Wall Street Journal
editorial, 28 December 2009

Biased Reporting on Climategate
Washington Times
editorial, 28 December 2009

Copenhagen: A Historic Failure that Will Live in Infamy
Joss Garman, Independent, 27 December 2009

NYT: Copenhagen Outcome “Worth Savoring”
New York Times
editorial, 21 December 2009

Senate Dems to Obama: Please Drop Cap-and-Trade
Lisa Lerer, Politico, 27 December 2009

Three Cheers for the Holiday Lights!
Robert Bradley,, 25 December 2009

The Twelve Days of Global Warming
Edward John Craig, Planet Gore, 24 December 2009

Questions over Business Deals of UN Climate Guru
Christopher Booker & Richard North, Telegraph, 20 December 2009

EPA Delivers a Lump of Coal to Appalachia
William Yeatman, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 20 December 2009

News You Can Use

Let It Snow

According to, 877 snowfall records were broken in the United States last week.

Around the World

Myron Ebell

COP-15 in Hopenchangen: Summary and Outcome

I wish I had more to report firsthand from the fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-15) in Copenhagen.  Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive until the Tuesday of the second week, 15th December, attended one full day, Wednesday the 16th, and then was banned for the final two days of the conference.  This, however, was a small price to pay for the banning of twenty-some thousand other registered NGO delegates, of whom all but a handful were in the alarmist camp.  It turns out that the hundred-and-ten or so heads of state and prime ministers who arrived on Thursday didn’t want to have to put up with the riff-raff who drive the alarmist agenda.

The outcome was as good as could be imagined.  It has been clear for many months that the Bali Action Plan would not be completed on schedule in Hopenchangen.  But everyone expected that some agreement would be cobbled together that promised a final deal in the near future on a new treaty to follow the Kyoto Protocol.  But at the end, everything went sour.  President Barack Obama and the heads of China, India, Brazil, and South Africa signed a “Copenhagen Accord” which the whole conference noted, but did not endorse.  The accord does not commit the countries signing it to much of anything.  COP-15 ended with no promises about when a successor to Kyoto would be completed or what targets and timetables it would contain.

Instead of being the conclusion of two years of negotiations, President Obama described the accord as a good first step.  My view is that COP-15 is not a step forward, but a large step back from COP-13 in Bali in 2007.  It’s going to take months to repair the damage, let alone begin to make any progress in the negotiations.  By then, the global warming bandwagon could be sliding back downhill.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Cap-and-Trade Dead in 2010

The failure of COP-15 and the continuing Climategate fraud scandal have killed the already very small chance of enacting cap-and-trade legislation in 2010.  A number of Senators said as much before leaving Washington for the Christmas recess.

Lisa Lerer reported in Politico that, “At a meeting about health care last month, moderates pushed to table climate legislation in favor of a jobs bill that would be an easier sell during the 2010 elections, according to Senate Democratic aides.” Lerer also quotes Democratic Senators Ben Nelson (Neb.), Kent Conrad (N. D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), and Evan Bayh (Ind.) advising the White House that they don’t want to vote on cap-and-trade next year.  That’s more than enough political weight to keep the Kerry-Boxer or any similar cap-and-trade bill off the floor.

Climategate Continues to Heat Up

The Climategate fraud scandal continues to grow as more of the files are analyzed and publicized.  It now appears that at least some of the modest global warming trend in the twentieth century is a result of data manipulation.  The effect on the public debate is only going to get much bigger.  This is not just my view.  Several candid reactions from the alarmists have been reported.  For example, here is the end of a long story, “Climategate: Anatomy of a Public Relations Disaster” by the well-known science writer Fred Pearce, which appeared on Yale Environment 360.

“I have been speaking to a PR operator for one of the world’s leading environmental organizations. Most unusually, he didn’t want to be quoted. But his message is clear. The facts of the e-mails barely matter any more. It has always been hard to persuade the public that invisible gases could somehow warm the planet, and that they had to make sacrifices to prevent that from happening. It seemed, on the verge of Copenhagen, as if that might be about to be achieved.

“But he says all that ended on Nov. 20. ‘The e-mails represented a seminal moment in the climate debate of the last five years, and it was a moment that broke decisively against us. I think the CRU leak is nothing less than catastrophic.'”

For good summaries or lists of the juicier bits that have been unearthed in the scandal so far, check here and here.

EPA Endangerment Finding Update

My CEI colleague Marlo Lewis has submitted a comment on the EPA’s proposed “tailoring rule” for regulating stationary sources of greenhouse gases.

Across the States


The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported this week that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has launched a coordinated attack against the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. On Monday, Jindal and the secretaries of the Departments of Natural Resources and of Economic Development filed objections with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on economic grounds. According to CEI’s Marlo Lewis, the EPA’s endangerment finding triggers an economically ruinous “regulatory cascade” under the Clean Air Act.

The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary check out the Coalition’s website,

Today, I submitted a comment on EPA’s proposed Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule.  The gist of my argument is as follows:

In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court legislated from the bench, authorizing and indeed pushing EPA to control emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) for climate change purposes. This is a policy decision of immense economic and political magnitude that Congress never intended or approved when it enacted and amended the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act).

Regulating GHGs under the CAA leads inexorably to “absurd results,” including an economically-chilling administrative quagmire. To prevent GHG regulation from overwhelming agency administrative resources and stifling economic development, EPA proposes to suspend, for six years, the “major” source applicability thresholds for the CAA pre-construction and operating permits programs. That is, EPA proposes to amend the Act. This violation of the separation of powers compounds the constitutional crisis inherent in the Court’s substitution of its will for that of the people’s elected representatives.

The small-business protections proposed in the Tailoring Rule are temporary, legally dubious, and incomplete. Even if courts uphold the Tailoring Rule, despite its flouting of clear statutory language, it will not avert the most absurd result of the Court’s misreading of the CAA:  regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program.

EPA runs enormous political risks leading the charge for GHG regulations not approved by Congress. It is in the Agency’s best interest not to oppose legislative action to overturn the endangerment finding and Mass. v. EPA.

The full text of my comment is available here.

Here is my op-ed published in the Detroit News on December 23.

Climategate: What e-mail really means

Daniel Compton

By now, most people are aware of the scandal surrounding the leak of thousands of e-mails and other documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU). Among these is an e-mail exchange involving several of the world’s leading climate scientists, dated October of 2009, in which the admission is made that even their best models cannot account for the last decade of temperature data. “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t,” said Kevin Trenberth, one of the world’s preeminent climate scientists and lead author of the 2001 and 2007 IPCC reports.

Significantly for public policy, the admission implies that efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions — including the EPA’s endangerment finding, all forms of cap-and-trade-style legislation, and any possible resolution to emerge from the recently convened Copenhagen conference –have no basis in science .

Trenberth’s statement is compelling on its own, but the subsequent discussion is even more illuminating. Later in the same e-mail thread, fellow climate scientist Tom Wigley replies that he does not agree with Trenberth’s assertion. Trenberth then responds to Wigley, clarifying and expounding upon his earlier claims:

“How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!”

This comment requires some scientific translation for its significance to be fully understood. The “energy budget” is the total energy gains and losses incurred by the Earth. The overwhelming majority of the energy entering the Earth comes from the Sun. Some of that energy is reflected back out into space by the atmosphere, clouds, and the Earth’s surface, while the remaining energy is absorbed, and is later reradiated as heat. The amount of energy the Earth gains is approximately equal to the amount it loses, which is why global temperatures remain relatively stable from day to day.

We have fairly good estimates of how much energy is entering the Earth, and we know from the laws of thermodynamics that energy cannot cease to exist, so “balancing the energy budget” simply entails accounting for where all that energy is going. “Global warming” refers to the condition in which the Earth as a system is taking on slightly more energy than it is losing for a sustained period, causing it to heat up over time. Therefore, it is highly significant when one of the world’s leading climate scientists asserts that we are “no where close to knowing where energy is going” and “not close to balancing the energy budget”.

In this context, “geoengineering” refers to any deliberate effort to affect net energy gains or losses to achieve a desired result, such as a cooler planet. The energy income of the planet is approximately static, and also well beyond our control, so affecting net energy flow necessarily involves changing systemic energy losses.

Greater atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide (CO2), can reduce energy loss, so reducing CO2 emissions is one method of geoengineering. Indeed, Trenberth, in a letter published in the February 2009 issue of Physics Today defined “geoengineering” to include all efforts to “reduce emissions … or reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” Therefore, using his own definition of “geoengineering,” Trenberth’s remark could be interpreted thus:

The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration to reduce emissions … or reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not!

All policy actions that would be required under the EPA endangerment finding, cap-and-trade legislation, and any global climate treaty amount to attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Thus, by his own admission, Kevin Trenberth appears convinced that all these efforts are quite hopeless indeed.

Daniel Compton is a research associate at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and contributor to

CEI has a gift for Al Gore, arriving just in time for the holidays.  You may recall that CEI last month rushed to the cause of Lord Christopher Monckton, in his public challenge to Al Gore to debate global warming.  Inspired by Saturday Night Live’s famous effort to entice a Beatles reunion for only $3000, CEI settled on this considerably less improbable goal.  In CEI’s original YouTube video-message, we offered Mr. Gore a check for $500, plus proceeds from a pledge-a-dollar-to-debate campaign, plus the “street cred” earned by such a fearless debate.  Surely, it’s a win-win proposition for Gore.
Alas, in the wake of the burgeoning Climategate email scandal that called into question the work of the ”leading scientists” sounding the global warming alarm, Mr. Gore failed to respond to our lucrative debate challenge.  So, today, CEI has again sweetened the pot – we are now offering, not just the $500 check plus the extra donations ($200, so far), but also a $25 pre-paid gas card! (Especially in these difficult economic times, who would want to pass up over $700 in extra pocket change – and just in time for the holidays!)
Now that we’ve upped the ante, how much longer can Al Gore resist?  What do you think?

An historic agreement has apparently been reached at COP-15 in Hopenchangen.  Having read the draft text, it appears to be nearly as historic as some of the earlier historic agreements achieved after heroic efforts at the last several COPS.  It seems that President Barack Obama has made almost as much progress by attending the COP as President George W. Bush made at earlier COPs without attending.  The world will now congratulate and thank President Obama for pulling the world back from the brink just as they expressed their gratitude to President Bush.

Of course, as President Obama said at his press conference, it’s going to take a lot more work and–surprise–many more meetings.  Here’s what the President said: “We hope [these decisions] will bring about a result which, if not what we expected from this meeting, may still be a way of salvaging something and paving the way to another meeting next year.”

Hopenchangen has thus guaranteed the future of future meetings!  If the UNFCCC wants to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, I hope they will consider teleconferencing.  If they don’t, then they are soon going to run out of glamorous cities and resorts in which to meet.  They’ll have to start revisiting the locations of past COPs.

There was one little ray of hope in President Obama’s remarks at his press conference.  In thanking India for their role in the negotiations, the President observed that hundreds of millions of Indians don’t have more electricity and that he understood that they need more energy, not less, in order to reach decent standards of living.  Yes, the world is not energy rich.  It’s energy poor.  That is a much bigger challenge than global warming, and focusing on global warming obstructs progress on increasing access to energy.

I was intrigued with a reference in Wes Pruden’s Washington Times column today that the Copenhagen COP15 delegate from Tuvalu, weeping while pleading for energy restrictions (and money) to keep the tiny Pacific island from sinking into the sea, is really a Ph.D. student in Australia, who lives in New South Wales.  The source for this information is The Australian newspaper, which carried an article about the Tuvaluan representative, Ian Fry, on December 17.  Here’s an excerpt:

But the part-time PhD scholar at the Australian National University actually resides in Queanbeyan, NSW, where he’s not likely to be troubled by rising sea levels because the closest beach at Batemans Bay is a two-hour, 144km drive away. Asked whether he had ever lived in Tuvalu, his wife told The Australian last night she would “rather not comment”.

A career environmentalist who once worked as a Greenpeace political liaison officer, Mr Fry has found his niche in global climate change talks over the past 10 years, representing small Pacific nations and running the climate negotiations for the Association of Small Island States.

What’s also interesting is that Tuvalu is the poster child for rising sea levels caused by global warming, but as this article in Science magazine notes, the sea level around the island has actually been declining for nearly 50 years.

Is there no shame among global warming zealots?

In the News

How To Manufacture a Climate Crisis
Pat Michaels, Wall Street Journal, 18 December 2009

Russian Temps Turn Heat Up on Warmers
Sean Higgins, Investors Business Daily, 18 December 2009

The Crack-Up in Copenhagen
Myron Ebell,, 17 December 2009

Obama and the Senate in a Danish Standoff
Iain Murray, Science, 17 December 2009

Why Climategate Just Got Much Bigger
James Delingpole, Telegraph, 17 December 2009

A Green Woodstock
William Yeatman, Washington Times, 16 December 2009

Coping With Copenhagen
Jennifer Harper, Washington Times, 16 December 2009

Greenpeace Ambushed by Skeptics
Baltimore Examiner
, 16 December 2009

Hide the Decline…and More
David Harsayni, Denver Post, 16 December 2009

Video: Skeptic Assaulted by Enviros at Copenhagen
Fox News
, 15 December 2009

Beware Those Trying To Save Us
Ben Stein, American Spectator, 15 December 2009

Fire and Ice in the Global Warming Debate
Myron Ebell, Washington Post, 11 December 2009

Beyond Debate?
Martin Cohen, Times Higher Education, 10 December 2009

News You Can Use

Poll: Support for Obama’s Green Policies Is Plummeting

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 45 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s work on the global warming issue, with 39 percent of respondents disapproving. Last April, 61% of Americans approved of Obama’s green policies.

Inside the Beltway

Julie Walsh

Opposition to Endangerment Gathers Steam in Congress

On Monday at 3:30pm Senator Lisa Murkowski will introduce a Disapproval Resolution to overturn EPA’s recently finalized “endangerment” finding on greenhouse gases. Then the Environment and Public Works Committee will have 20 calendar days to vote on it or it proceeds to the Senate floor, if Murkowski has 30 signatures to discharge it from the committee. Representative Joe Barton, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will also introduce a Disapproval Resolution in the House. Of course if it passes both houses, the President would veto it.

A frequently used reason to pass a cap and trade bill is that otherwise EPA will regulate. As Senator Kerry recently said to Congressional Quarterly, “Months ago, Lindsey Graham and I warned that if Congress does not pass legislation dealing with climate change, the administration will use the Environmental Protection Agency to impose new regulations.”  However, Obama’s EPA still intends to regulate even if Congress does a pass a cap and trade bill. EPA’s Lisa Jackson recently said this: “I do not believe this is an ‘either-or’ proposition. I actually see this as a ‘both-and.’ I believe the Clean Air Act can complement legislative efforts.” This Disapproval Resolution therefore makes clear that “the EPA’s decision appears to allow members of Congress to deflect blame toward the administration. But this is a charade. In fact, by not acting to rescind the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases, Congress is completely responsible for whatever action EPA takes.”

Around the World

Myron Ebell (from Copenhagen)

Obama Cometh

For a moment it appeared that President Obama was bringing a dose of reality to Hopenchangen. He noted that the nations of the world have been negotiating on global warming for approaching twenty years and don’t have much to show for it. That is absolutely correct. But I didn’t hear the President draw the correct conclusions from that observation. The “process” keeps rolling along and promise after promise is made. But promises are cheap and actual reductions in emissions are proving much more expensive than forecast by the econometric models. At some point, some major leader is going to have to point that out. President Obama it appears is happy to join the EU fantasy club and be a jolly good fellow rather than spoil the party with some harsh truths.

As for what President Obama’s appearance might do to change the outcome of COP-15, I think it makes it puts pressure on ministers to reach some rough sketch of a deal on Saturday. What he said at the private meeting at a hotel with twenty-some leaders before his speech will have much more effect on the content of the deal agreed to than the vague platitudes in his speech. But what they come up with won’t be much different than earlier COPs, which as I wrote at the beginning of COP-15 always end in total triumph. Weary negotiators emerge after all night negotiations with tears in their eyes to announce that after immense efforts we have managed (barely–you can’t imagine how close we were to giving up) to pull the world back from the brink. They announce the deal: “We have all agreed that in the very near future we will all agree on all outstanding issues.” For whatever it’s worth, President Obama should take the credit.

To read more of Myron’s reports from Copenhagen, click here.

Cato’s Pat Michaels, one of the scientists attacked in the Climategate emails, has an excellent editorial in the Wall Street Journal today with examples of how the scientists promoting catastrophic global warming shut out dissident voices in supposedly peer-reviewed journals.

Michaels notes that the EPA finding of endangerment from CO2 emissions, based on the tainted research of the Climategate emailers, should be called into question.  He writes:

The result of all this is that our refereed literature has been inestimably damaged, and reputations have been trashed. Mr. Wigley repeatedly tells news reporters not to listen to “skeptics” (or even nonskeptics like me), because they didn’t publish enough in the peer-reviewed literature—even as he and his friends sought to make it difficult or impossible to do so.

Ironically, with the release of the Climategate emails, the Climatic Research Unit, Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley have dramatically weakened the case for emissions reductions. The EPA claimed to rely solely upon compendia of the refereed literature such as the IPCC reports, in order to make its finding of endangerment from carbon dioxide. Now that we know that literature was biased by the heavy-handed tactics of the East Anglia mob, the EPA has lost the basis for its finding.