February 2010


The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) this week released a paper by Dr. Edward Long, “Contiguous U. S. Temperature Trends Using NCDC Raw and Adjusted Data for One-Per-State Rural/Urban,” examining the surface temperature data adjustments by U.S. Government-funded scientists.

In the News

U.S. Climate Data Compromised
Joseph Abrams, FoxNews.com, 26 February 2010

British Blogger Finds Errors in Met Temperature Record
Paola Totaro, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 February 2010

Easy, Cheap Green Energy? Just the Reverse!
Kenneth Green, MasterResource.org, 26 February 2010

Push to Oversimplify on Climate Panel
Jeffrey Ball & Keith Johnson, Wall Street Journal, 26 February 2010

Climate Change Data Will Face Independent Scrutiny
Nicholas Kralev, Washington Times, 25 February 2010

Al Gore’s 9 Lies
Investor’s Business Daily
editorial, 24 February 2010

World Cools toward Warmists

Paul Chesser, Washington Times, 24 February 2010
Climate Change and Open ScienceWall Street Journal
editorial, 23 February 2010

Move-On Is Way-off on Landrieu
William Yeatman, Alexandria Town Talk, 20 February 2010

News You Can Use

Poll: Alarmism in Decline

The Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University released a poll this week showing that the percentage of Americans “alarmed” by climate change has decreased from 18% to 10% from 2008 to 2010, while the percentage of Americans “dismissive” of climate change has increased from 7% to 16%.

As incredible as it may sound, Science Daily reports that Maxwell Boykoff, a professor at the University of Colorado, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science that the growing skepticism is due to the mainstream media’s use of “non-credible” sources on climate change stories. Mr. Boykoff might be right, albeit unwittingly. The more Americans hear from nonscientist alarmists like Al Gore, the more skeptical they become.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

EPW Hearing on EPA Budget

There were several appropriations hearings on Capitol Hill this week. Most notable was EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s appearance before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) began his opening statement by releasing a report prepared by the committee’s minority staff on the Climategate scientific fraud scandal. It’s an outstanding report, which I highly recommend; but before you download it, be warned that it’s over eighty pages and the summary is thirty. The report makes an overwhelming argument that the scientific case for alarmism is based largely on hokum. In particular, the broader revelations in the scandal seriously undermine the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment reports. They are clearly documents manipulated for political ends (which is what we’ve been pointing out for years).

Senator Inhofe and other committee Republicans asked Jackson repeatedly about the reliance of the EPA on the IPCC reports for making the finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare. Her answers were inadequate and, to my mind, misleading.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist from Vermont (who caucuses with the Democrats), was his usual charming and buffoonish self. He said that people who were still in denial about global warming reminded him of all the people in the 1930s who refused to see the threat posed by Hitler and the Nazis. He didn’t mention that Nazi is short for National Socialist Party or that the people who were most deeply in denial were communists, socialists, and other Soviet sympathizers on the left after the Hitler-Stalin Pact. That treaty allowed Hitler to turn all his attention to the Western front and to defeating Britain.

Powerful House Members Move To Block Endangerment

Representatives Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) introduced a resolution of disapproval of the EPA’s endangerment finding on 25th February.  H. J. Res. 76 is significant because Skelton is Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and Peterson is Chairman of the Agriculture Committee and are thus in the House Democratic leadership.  Senator Lisa Murkowski’s resolution of disapproval, S. J. Res 16, is still awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.  Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cannot prevent a vote on it, and it requires only a simple majority to pass.  In the House, resolutions brought under the Congressional Review Act are not privileged and therefore Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) can block a floor vote.

Around the World

China: “No Intention” of Cutting Emissions

Su Wei, China’s chief negotiator for international climate change policy, told the China Daily this week that China “could not, and should not” set a target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions. China is the world’s number one emitter.

Climate Bill Too Expensive Even for Socialists in Hungary

The ruling Socialist Party in Hungary this week decided to shelve major climate legislation requiring greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 80% by 2050. According to Euractiv, the Hungarian Parliament’s economics committee chair, socialist György Podolák, told reporters that the bill was killed because it would weaken Hungarian industries, encourage plants to relocate outside the country and increase unemployment.

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, www.globalwarming.org.

I am posting Benchmarking US Air Emissions (2006), a joint report by Ceres, NRDC, and PSEG, because it apparently is no longer available on the Internet, and it contains research relevant to the climate policy debate. For example, many of the nation’s biggest CO2 emitters (e.g. American Electric Power) are also leading advocates of cap-and-trade. Does this make Waxman-Markey a “polluter-crafted” bill, and recipients of AEP campaign contributions “polluter-funded” politicians? Yes, if you apply green “logic” without fear or favor.

In today’s Financial Times, noted trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati strays again into the climate change debate – and he doesn’t apply his usually sharp analysis of some unintended consequences of his proposed government actions.

Bhagwati rightly rejects the Copenhagen approach to restricting carbon emissions, but then offers the World Trade Organization model to control both “stock” – previous emissions – and “flow” – ongoing ones.  He sees the WTO’s challenge and dispute settlement mechanism as a way to hold countries “feet to the fire” and force them to live up to their commitments.  In the WTO, when a dispute is settled against a country, the WTO mandates that the country within a reasonable period of time has to change its laws or policies to conform to its agreed-to obligations.  If no action is taken, the country that brought the complaint may take retaliatory action.

Just imagine the can of worms this would open up in the carbon emissions area.  Would the dispute-settlement body have the right to dictate how the offending country’s laws and policies should be changed?  Suppose a country wants to lower the competitiveness of a rival by constricting its energy use, wouldn’t bringing up a dispute be a logical way to go? And in what areas could a country retaliate? Could it get a wedge in the international trade area through border tariffs – instituting carbon taxes against the offending country?

Perhaps the most puzzling proposal in Bhagwati’s article is his recommendation to follow the Superfund model by introducing tort liability for past carbon emissions.

“The US in addressing domestic pollution created the superfund after the Love Canal incident, where a successful tort action was filed against Pacific Gas & Electric in 1996 for leaking toxic chromium into the ground water. Under the superfund legislation, hazardous waste has to be eliminated by the offending company. This tort liability is also “strict”, such that it exists even if the material discharged was not known at the time to be hazardous (as carbon emissions were until recently). In addition, the people hurt can make their own tort claims.

Rejecting this legal tradition in US domestic pollution, Todd Stern, the principal US negotiator, refused to concede any liability for past emissions. This stand is even more astonishing given that Barack Obama, the US president, belongs to a party that thrives on contributions from tort lawyers.

Evidently, the US needs to reverse this stand. Each of the rich countries needs to accept a tort liability which can be pro rata to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-estimated share of historic world carbon emissions.”

Perhaps Bhagwati isn’t that familiar with Superfund’s notorious history in arbitrarily finding anyone remotely connected with a declared site to be financially responsible for its cleanup. As CEI’s Angela Logomasini has written:

The federal Superfund law (also known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA) is allegedly designed to hold parties responsible for polluting property. Instead, the law arbitrarily holds anyone remotely connected to a contaminated site liable for cleanup. Responsible parties include waste generators (anyone who produced waste that eventually contaminated property), arrangers for transport of waste, waste transporters (anyone who simply transports wastes for legal disposal), operators (those who manage waste landfills), and property owners (anyone who owns the land). Under the law’s strict joint and several liability scheme, each party can be held liable for 100 percent of the cleanup costs. Liability also is retroactive, applying to situations that occurred long before Congress passed the law. Accordingly, parties ranging from small businesses, schools, and churches to large manufacturing plants have been held accountable for sites that were contaminated decades before Superfund became law.

Also, see what CEI adjunct fellow Jim DeLong had said:

The continuing possibility of Superfund liability makes it a leper from the standpoint of investors. The post-remediation liability threat is so great that no one will touch a site even though it is declared clean. Congress made every individual Superfund site into a tarbaby, exposing anyone with any connection to it to liability for all cleanup costs. No “potentially responsible party” (PRP) can defend on the grounds that it acted legally and responsibly. This regime gives PRPs strong incentives to engage in costly litigation, delaying cleanups and wasting financial resources.

Jagdish Bhagwati is rightly recognized as one of the most astute trade economists and has staunchly defended the importance of multilateral open trade without tying it to environmental and labor mandates.  His climate change proposals, however, may open the door to just that.

Richard Morrison, Jeremy Lott and Marc Scribner collaborate to give you Episode 81 of the LibertyWeek podcast. Among other topics, we look into the rising uncertainty about sea levels and other cousins of Climategate (segment starts ~16:20).

Richard Morrison, Jeremy Lott and Marc Scribner collaborate to give you Episode 81 of the LibertyWeek podcast. We cover the political adventures of CPAC 2010, Toyota’s chilly reception in Washington, the crackdown on credit cards, rising uncertainty about sea levels and the peeping laptops of high school officials.

Today’s Washington Post editorial on global warming (”Climate Insurance”) is especially ridiculous.  You can certainly read it for yourself, but I’m going to do you the favor of translating it into plain English here for you now.  I’ve put a few bits of the editorial’s language in italics for you.

Climate science is complex, and there is much that we still do not understand. On top of that, there have been some really embarrassing screw-ups and misdeeds (and, frankly, if we were forced to admit it, maybe some outright lies) on the part of key global warming scientists.  First, there was Climategate, and now there’s the snafu surrounding how and when the Himalayan glaciers might melt away.  All that – it’s not helped the cause.

It’s true that we don’t  know for sure how many degrees warmer the Earth will be, on average, by 2050 or what effect this will have on the ferocity of storms or coastal flooding or starvation-inducing drought. It’s also true that we, the opinionated writers here at the elitist Washington Post, are troubled by the cogent argument suggesting that government action aimed at stopping this possible bad stuff from happening is hopeless.  That wrenching the economy away from its dependence on oil and coal would be expensive, and the resulting benefit so minimal, that it’s not worth trying.

However…come on, people!!  We still want to use the strong arm of government to force a bunch of taxes on you. A gradually rising carbon tax made sense even before “global warming” entered most people’s vocabulary. The global warming scare just gave us some added ammo to make the case for a carbon tax.  We’re not going to spend time in this brief editorial explaining to you people why we want to tax you.  But we thought you’d find it convincing if we just say that taxing you *might* (really, who’s to say?!) prevent a bunch of the aforementioned storms, flooding, and starvation.  And, for good measure, we will merely suggest that imposing a carbon tax or a cap-and-rebate tax system that requires industry (i.e. consumers) to pay for greenhouse gas emissions would reduce American dependence on dictators in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  How’s that?  We couldn’t be bothered to say right now.  But, if politicians can’t bear to stand behind an increased tax, the revenue from either proposal could all be returned in a fair and progressive way.  In other words, we want to force you to give money you earned to people we like better than you.  We’re the Washington (freakin’) Post, for Pete’s sake, and we know best.

Global warming as religion

by Michael Fumento on February 21, 2010

in Blog

Everything I write that I plan to place in a publication I first run past my best friend Matt, a truly gifted editor. One of his special “talents” in my case, though, is that he has no great expertise in science or health or really any of the topics I write about. Therefore things I often assume the reader will understand he’s able to help me reframe wording and arguments to make them more comprehensible.

What Matt does well is religion. He’s very much a C.S. Lewis fan, but has an extremely broad background in theological writings. He’s more into the moderns than the classics.

As it happens, of all the science and health issues I do write about, which is a lot, the one that’s truly caught Matt’s imagination is global warming. Mind you, sometimes I catch onto things instantly that other people never grasp. It’s part of my forte. But other times I can be a bit slow to grasp what others might more quickly. So I had to ponder Matt’s fascination with global warming whereas you, gentle reader, might have latched onto it pretty quickly.

The answer, of course, is that global warming is a religion.

Mind, I’m not saying it doesn’t have scientific aspects.

The earth has measurably warmed since the mid-1800s. And there is validity to the greenhouse effect theory. We just don’t know why the earth has warmed, save that it also warmed during medieval times without any need for man-made greenhouse gases.

As to the greenhouse effect theory, as I understand it it suffers in two major ways. First, there are all sorts of natural phenomenon that serve to counteract the effect of GHGs reflecting heat back into outer space. Second, we don’t know what concentrations are required to do this reflecting. It could be vastly higher levels than we’re at or in fact will ever reach, because every ton of GHG released into the atmosphere has slightly less of an effect than the ton before.

But many religions have a lot of truth at the core, even as others were made up by a single person out of whole cloth.

The idea of global warming as religion is hardly new, insofar as a Google search on the term brings up seven million references. It appears to have been popularized by the late novelist Michael Crichton whose 2003 essay on it can be found here.

I’m not going to summarize it for you, but save to say global warming has at least two major features associated it with religion.

First is the tremendous reliance on faith. No matter how many times the warmists are refuted on the data, they never waver in their faith. But the second, and the truly obnoxious aspect, is the fanaticism. Religious wars tend to be the bloodiest, and these people tend to be incredibly vicious in every way, whether trying to identify all serious skeptics as being associated with industry (I’ve been “linked to” ExxonMobil in a dozen ways, yet I’ve never gotten a bit of support, financial or otherwise, from any petroleum company) or merely being crackpots.

Today I read we’re “the same people who told you smoking wasn’t harmful.” Golly, I don’t recall ever saying that. I’ve have said smoking is just about the stupidest thing healthwise an individual can do.

Apologies to those of you for whom this is nothing new (but nobody forced you to read this far!), but I thought that what was novel was that my friend, whose tremendous love in life is theology, picked up on this aspect probably without anybody overtly suggesting to him that global warming was a religion. Like the canary in the coal mine, he simply picked up on the danger.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbmnODQPFcM 285 234]


Tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. EST, CEI’s Myron Ebell and Christopher Horner address the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on “Saving Freedom from the Hoax of Global Warming.”  Also featured on the panel are Steve Milloy of JunkScience.com and Ann McElhinney, producer of the documentary, Not Evil Just Wrong: The True Cost of Global Warming Hysteria.  Watch it live on Townhall.com/cpac.

CEI this week released the first ever music video in the skeptic rock genre. Watch “How I Wasn’t Gored into Submission,” by Marlo Lewis.

The Heritage Foundation will host Bruce Allen, co-founder of SOS California, who will speak on “How Offshore Oil & Gas Production Benefits the Economy and the Environment,” on February 24th from noon-1:30 PM. To learn more and RSVP, click here.

In the News

The Sound of Alarm
Richard Lindzen, Boston Herald, 19 February 2010

Rep. Boucher Struggles To Quell Voter Anger over Cap-and-Trade Vote
Amy Gardner, Washington Post, 18 February 2010

Senator Inhofe Responds to Tom Friedman
EPW Minority Press Blog
, 18 February 2010

DOD Ignores Climate Policy Risks
Marlo Lewis, National Journal, 18 February 2010

Trump Tells Gore: You’re Fired!
, 17 February 2010

The Disappearing Science of Global Warming
Peter Ferrara, American Spectator, 17 February 2010

The Continuing Climate Meltdown
Wall Street Journal
editorial, 16 February 2010

IPCC’s Missteps
Juliet Eilperin & David Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 15 February 2010

It’s Not a Dirty Air Act
William Yeatman, Fargo Forum, 14 February 2010

Boulder Struggles with Green Dream
Stephanie Simon, Wall Street Journal, 13 February 2010

What To Say to a Global Warming Alarmist
Mark Landsbaum, Orange County Register, 12 February 2020

News You Can Use

Drill, Baby, Drill

E&E Greenwire (subscription required) reported this week that U.S. gross domestic product would lose $2.36 trillion and American consumers would pay an additional $2.35 trillion for energy if oil and gas on federal lands remain under moratoria through 2030, according to a study recently released by the National Association of Utility Regulatory Commissioners. Click here to read the report.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Big Businesses Jump from SS Cap-and-Trade

The big news this week was the withdrawal from the U. S. Climate Action Partnership by BP America, Conoco Phillips, and Caterpillar.  I have written blogs for Fox Forum and Pajamas Media on the significance of these defections from the principal big business coalition lobbying effort for cap-and-trade. Tim Carney has also written a column for the Washington Examiner that analyzes the motives of major corporations seeking to raise energy prices and diminish economic growth by enacting cap-and-trade.

Lots of Lawsuits Challenge Endangerment Finding

I promised last week to list the lawsuits filed by the deadline Tuesday that challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare and therefore must be regulated using the Clean Air Act.  Luckily for me, Robin Bravender of Greenwire wrote an article doing my work for me.  The New York Times picked it up and posted it on their web site here.  Sixteen separate lawsuits were filed, according to Bravender.  Most of the suits have more than one plaintiff.  For example, the suit filed by my group, CEI, also includes the Science and Environmental Policy Project and Freedom Works.  A number of industry groupings have filed suits, as have three States-Texas, Alabama, and Virginia.

The federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals will now consider the cases.  According to CEI counsel Sam Kazman, the Justice Department may move to have them all dismissed on the grounds that the endangerment finding doesn’t actually regulate anything.  If the court agrees, then the plaintiffs will re-file them when the first regulations-the “tailoring” rule and the new vehicle fuel efficiency standards become final in March.  The court will role all the suits into one case, but may allow a number of briefs to be filed by the various plaintiffs.  On the other side, sixteen States and New York City have asked to be allowed to intervene on EPA’s side.

CEI, Fred Singer of the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change, and Kenneth Haapala of the Science and Environmental Policy Project filed a petition with EPA on 12th February to reconsider the endangerment finding, but new revelations in the Climategate scientific fraud scandal over the weekend caused them to amend their petition with new materials on Tuesday.Obama Announces Nuclear Subsidies

President Barack Obama went to a union job-training center in Prince George’s County, Maryland this week to announce that the administration had approved an $8 billion loan guarantee to the Southern Company to build two new nuclear power plants in Georgia.  The guarantee depends on Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval of construction and operating permits for the two plants.

The loan guarantee was made under authority of the 2005 omnibus energy act, which is intended to jump-start a new generation of nuclear power plants in the U. S.  President Obama said that the federal guarantee was necessary so that the U. S. would not fall behind other countries in the race to develop energy sources that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Over fifty new nuclear plants are being built in other countries.  John Broder of the New York Times reported that Obama’s support for nuclear is one of the reasons that environmental pressure groups are losing their enthusiasm for him.

Graham Releases Draft of Energy Bill

Now that cap-and-trade is dead in Congress, various piecemeal energy-rationing proposals are moving to the front burner.  Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is circulating a draft bill that would require utilities to produce an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable sources.  New nuclear plants and coal-fired power plants equipped with carbon capture and storage would qualify as well as wind, solar, and biomass.

CEQ Announces that NEPA Will Include Climate Change

The White House Council on Environmental Quality this week proposed that federal agencies should consider greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of possible global warming when preparing Environmental Impact Statements and Reviews required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

Across the States

WyomingWind Tax

This week the Wyoming House Revenue Committee passed H.B. 101, the nation’s first proposed excise tax on wind power. H.B. 101 runs counter to the efforts federal government and most states, which offer generous taxpayer subsidies to “green” energy sources like wind power, but Governor Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, told the Casper Star-Tribune that wind power producers “are not entitled to a free ride.”

Around the World

Wrong Resignation at Wrong Job

Yvo de Boer, the head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, announced this week that he will step down in July. It is widely perceived that the resignation was prompted by the UNFCCC’s failure to achieve a legally-binding international energy rationing scheme at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, and while that may be true, one wonders if this was the right resignation at the right job. After all, it has been revealed in the last month that the UNFCCC’s sister body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, used shoddy science to produce its supposedly definitive assessment reports on global warming (see: Himalayan-gate, Amazon-gate, North Africa-gate). In light of these egregious errors, shouldn’t IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri also resign?

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, www.globalwarming.org.

Eugene Robinson in today’s Washington Post protests that global warming skeptics are using the current (though very long) cold snap in the mid-Atlantic region, which encompasses the nation’s capital, to confuse weather – a short-term phenomenon – with climate.

Robinson, who last year won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, correctly notes that, “the Earth is really, really big. It’s so big that it can be cold here and warm elsewhere – and this is the key concept – at the same time. Even if it were unusually cold throughout the continental United States, that still represents less than 2 percent of the Earth’s surface.”

True enough. And he adds:

Those who want to use our harsh winter to ‘disprove’ the theory that the planet’s atmosphere is warming should realize that anecdotal evidence always cuts both ways. Before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, crews were using earth-movers and aircraft to deposit snow on the ski runs – the winter had been unusually warm. Preliminary data from climate scientists indicate that January, in terms of global temperatures, was actually hotter than usual. Revelers participating in Rio de Janeiro’s annual carnival, which ended Tuesday, sweltered in atypical heat, with temperatures above 100 degrees. Fortunately, the custom during carnival is not to wear much in the way of clothing.

Again, true enough. And regrettably I once again missed going to the Rio Carnival, but hope springs eternal.

But here’s what he doesn’t say. His people have long played exactly the same game.

There’s a wonderful website that keep a more or less comprehensive list of all the things that warmists have attributed to “global climate change” – and mind you, the very term “global climate change’ was coined precisely to be able to tie any change, including things associated with cooling – to the effects of greenhouse gases. One glance at the site blows you away. I want you to click on this link right now and not continue with this blog until you have.

No. Stop. You didn’t click on the link. Do it now.

Okay, the point is made, isn’t it? It includes everything from “acne” to “yellow fever” with “short-nosed dogs endangered” in between. And there are lots of instances of weather change.

In fact, time and again cold weather and its fall-out, including blizzards, have been attributed to “global climate change.”

This is from an article of mine that appeared 13 years ago:

But there it was, the cover of the Jan. 22 Newsweek: “Blizzards, floods & hurricanes: Blame global warming.” There also was the New York Times front-page article by William K. Stevens headlined “Blame global warming for the blizzard” and a nationally syndicated article by environmentalist Jessica Matthews that ran under titles such as “Brrr, global warming brings our blizzard.”

Moreover, I note. Moreover, I say for emphasis, while this was a perfect opportunity for Robinson to show he was playing fair, he could have pointed out they’re doing it even now.

Moreover, Robinson could have seen it in his own newspaper from just days ago.

There it was, right in the headline of a column by uber-environmentalist Bill McKibben, “Washington’s Snowstorms, Brought to You by Global Warming.”

Time magazine also argues “climate change could in fact make such massive snowstorms more common, even as the world continues to warm.”

And of course I could go on and on, but point made.

If you live in the mid-Atlantic, don’t go out without a coat. But hypocrisy is a mantle never worn well.