August 2010

The Obama Administration’s EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSHA) are proposing new rules “labeling each passenger car with a  government letter grade from A to D based on its fuel efficiency and emissions,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The new rules “would be the most substantial changes in 30 years to the familiar price and mileage labels afixed to new cars on sale at dealership,” the article continues. Only in the make-work world of bureaucrats would the addition of the letters A, B, C, or D to product labels be considered “subtantial changes.”

The WSJ goes on to point out the obvious: “Currently the labels must show how many miles per gallon a car gets and its estimated annual fuel costs. Under the rules proposed Monday, new labels would carry a letter grade assigned by regulators.” Electric vehicles and hybrids would get the highest grades while big, heavy, gas-guzzling SUVs would get the lowest grades. “We think a new label is absolutely needed to help consumers make the right decision for their wallets and the environment,” explained Gina McCarthy, EPA’s assistant administrator for air and radiation.

“Absolutely needed” — as in, we’d be lost without them.

The proposed rules imply two judgments about Americans. One is that we’re too stupid to understand how miles-per-gallon and estimated annual fuel costs affect our wallets. Our math skills are so poor that quantitative information must be supplemented with letter grades labeling “this car good, that car bad.”

The second judgment, closely related to the first, is that Americans are school children and EPA/NHTSA are the Nation’s teachers. The agency folks apparently think that no matter how old we get, we still want to be teacher’s pet.

I propose an alternative rule — a “substantial” change in the titles of both agencies to ”School Marms R Us!”

Am I going to comment on the proposed rule? Maybe I’ll just submit a bumper sticker with the words: “Honk if you’ve outgrown school marms.”

In the News

Media Mogul James Cameron Chickens out of Climate Debate
Washington Times editorial, 26 August 2010

AP Fact Check: Green Stimulus Benefits Overestimated
Frederic Frommer, Daily Caller, 26 August 2010

Obama’s Green Initiatives Lobbied for by Same People Who Profit from Them
Amanda Carey, Daily Caller, 26 August 2010

The Gulf Spill in Perspective
Paul Schwennesen., 25 August 2010

Americans Want More Offshore Drilling
Ben Lieberman, New York Post, 24 August 2010

The National Security Risks of Biofuels
Marlo Lewis,, 24 August 2010

Newly Discovered Microbe Feasting on Gulf Oil Plume
Gerald Karey, Platts, 24 August 2010

AP Spins for Obama’s Electric Car Program
Greg Pollowitz, Planet Gore, 24 August 2010

Wind Power Won’t Cool Down the Planet
Robert Bryce, Wall Street Journal, 23 August 2010

News You Can Use

Sockeye Salmon Return

After a few years of historically low salmon runs in British Columbia’s Fraser River, environmentalist pressure groups such as Greenpeace and Sierra Club were quick to blame global warming. Clearly, they jumped the gun, because this week the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced that the Fraser River will have the largest sockeye salmon run since 1913 at more than 25 million fish.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Enviros to Obama: “We feel stabbed in the back”

The Department of Justice this week filed a brief arguing that the Supreme Court should overturn the decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to allow a public nuisance lawsuit against major emitters of greenhouse gases to go to trial. The Department of Justice brief points out that the common law remedy against public nuisances has been superseded by the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Clean Air Act.  The Second Circuit’s decision was based on the lack of EPA regulation.

Environmental pressure groups were flabbergasted and outraged.  Gabriel Nelson in Greenwire quoted Matt Pawa, one of the attorneys for the environmental plaintiffs: “We feel stabbed in the back.  This was really a dastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of the environment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?”

Besides being right that positive law has superseded common law in respect to regulating greenhouse gas emissions, I expect the White House was making a political calculation.  If nuisance suits against electric utilities, energy companies, and major manufacturers were allowed to proliferate, there could an overwhelming backlash.  By relying solely on EPA regulations, the Obama Administration can control the process and keep the opposition down to a manageable level.

Coal State Democrats Running against Obama

The congressional election campaign continues to trend sharply against the supporters of cap-and-trade legislation and other energy-rationing policies.  Patrick Reis had a long story in Greenwire this week on House Democrats from Appalachian coal-mining districts running for their electoral lives against the anti-coal policies of the Obama Administration and the House Democratic majority.  Freshman Democrats Zack Space (D-Ohio) and Tom Perriello (D-Va.) voted for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.  Both are now likely to lose.

Republicans Running Against Energy Rationing

Stories continue to appear about Republican candidates being global warming “deniers.”  All six Republican Senate candidates in New Hampshire are skeptical of alarmist claims and oppose the energy-rationing agenda.  In New Mexico, Susana Martinez, the Republican nominee for Governor, is a skeptic.  The funny thing is that her Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has been backing away from New Mexico’s participation in the Western Climate Initiative.  The three Republican nominees for New Mexico’s House seats are global warming skeptics who oppose cap-and-trade.  Former Rep. Steve Pearce is likely to defeat freshman Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM) in the second district.  That’s largely because Teague voted for Waxman-Markey.  Oil and gas production is by far the largest industry in southern New Mexico.  Pearce was one of the House’s ablest opponents of global warming alarmism and cap-and-trade when he was in the House (he left in 2008 to run for the Senate and lost to Tom Udall).

Probable Upset in Alaska

The big election news of the week was Joe Miller’s probable victory in Alaska’s primary over Senator Lisa Murkowski.  The result won’t be known for sure until all the absentee ballots are counted, but Miller was ahead by 47,027 votes to 45,359 with all precincts reporting.  Murkowski is the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  Murkowski has been all over the board on global warming and energy.  She did a great job promoting the Murkowski Resolution to block EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Act.  Her resolution failed in June by 47 to 53 vote, but only after the Democratic leadership peeled away several Democrats by promising them a vote on an amendment to delay EPA regulations for two years.  On the other hand, Murkowski has shopped draft legislation to put a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.

There has already been speculation that Murkowski will try to run in the general election as the Libertarian Party nominee.  This would be ironic: Murkowski is probably the most liberal Republican Senator west of Maine.  Miller, on the other hand, is a hardcore conservative and civil libertarian as well as an articulate global warming skeptic.

Around the World

Ray Evans, Lavoisier Group


Australia’s  federal election of August 21 has given us a hung parliament in which neither the governing Labor Party, nor the opposition Liberal-National Coalition, has the 76 seats required to form a majority in the House of Representatives. It will take nearly a fortnight to determine the final composition of the House.

Kevin Rudd led the Labor Party to a huge victory in November 2007. A feature of his campaign was “climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time”. By May 2010 his polling was dreadful and in a by-election on June 19 for the formerly safe State Labor seat of Penrith in outer Sydney, the swing against Labor was 26%. This so alarmed the Labor Party chiefs in Sydney that within five days Kevin Rudd had been deposed, and Julia Gillard, his Lady Macbeth in political crime, had been installed on the throne.

At first it seemed that this had been a master stroke. Gillard’s polling looked fantastic, so she called an early election for August 21. However, her misdeeds from the past and her complicity in regicide pulled the polls down, and for a week prior to the federal election it was clear that it would be a close result.

Tony Abbott, the leader of the Coalition elected on 1 Dec 2009, led a vigorous campaign, but failed to drive home to the electorate the facts regarding the forthcoming electricity crisis which will drive electricity prices through the roof and lead to shortages of supply.

The Greens have done well, increasing their Senate representation from 5 to 9. Australia is moving into uncharted and possibly dangerous waters.

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,

Those amazing Idsos who run the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change review a paper recently published in AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment by Mulder et al. (2010), who assess the energy return on water invested (EROWI) of several renewable and non-renewable fuels.

In the paper, provocatively titled “Burning Water,” the Mulder team find that “the most water-efficient, fossil-based technologies have an EROWI one to two orders of magnitude [10 to 100 times] greater than the most water-efficient biomass technologies, implying that the development of biomass energy technologies in scale sufficient to be a significant source of energy may produce or exacerbate water shortages around the globe and be limited by the availability of fresh water.”

The Idsos note that these findings “will not be welcomed” by those who promote biofuels as a means of combating the alleged national security risks of global climate change.

We often hear, for example, that climate change will increase the risk of “water wars” by intensifying summer heat and drought. There’s not much evidence to support this alarm. About 90% of global fresh water consumption is for agriculture. As British scientist Wendy Barnaby found to her surprise when she set out to research a book about the coming “century of water wars,” nations in water-stressed regions typically do not come to blows but instead cooperate and import “virtual water” in the form of grain, leaving more water available for drinking and bathing. Even in the water-stressed, conflict-prone, Middle East, nations do not go to war over water. Nonetheless, to the extent that water stress undermines stability and peace, government policies ramping up biofuel production are likely a “cure” worse than the supposed disease.

In addition, some biofuel policies can increase food prices and world hunger, fostering instability and strife, especially if scaled up enough to make a meaningful difference in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  

Princeton researchers Stephen Pacella and Robert Socolow estimate that avoiding 1 gigaton (gt) of carbon emissions per year by 2050, by replacing gasoline with biofuels, would require 250 million hectares of high-yield energy crop planations, “an area equal to about one-sixth of the world’s current cropland.”

Let’s put this in perspective. One gigaton of carbon = 3.67 gt of CO2. Achieving the EU/UN emission stabilization target of 450 parts per million would require global CO2 emissions to decline roughly 38 gt below the baseline (business as usual) projection by 2050. In other words, the 3.67 gt reduction in CO2 that Pacala and Socolow say we can get via biofuels would achieve less than 10% of the reduction required to meet the target. Not a whole lot of environmental bang for all that land area buck. Indeed, dedicating 250 million hectares to energy crop production would likely squeeze many species out of their habitats.


Source: Stephen Eule, Scale and Scope of the Challenge to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Institute for 21st Century Energy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, February 2009

Note also that significant research indicates that converting grassland and forest land into biofuel plantations increases net greenhouse gas emissions over many decades by releasing the carbon stored in forests and soils. Growing biofuel on 250 million hectares of land might very well emit more CO2 than the gasoline it replaces.

The larger point, though, as Dennis Avery explains, is that the world is not well-fed now, and the demand for food and feed on farmlands is expected to more than double by 2050. Requiring biofuel production on 250 million hectares would be a recipe for disaster. Putting the equivalent of one-sixth of current cropland off limits to food production represents a much bigger decline in global agricultural productivity than is anticipated from drought in high-end global warming scenarios

Warmists warn that climate change is a “threat multiplier” or “instability accelerant.” However, the national security risks of climate change policy likely exceed those of climate change itself. 

For further discussion, see my CEI paper, DOD Should Consider the National Security Risks of Global Warming Policies, and economist Indur Goklany’s comprehensive study, Trapped Between the Falling Sky and the Rising Seas: The Imagined Terrors of the Impacts of Climate Change.

* When I first posted this, I failed to notice that Pacala and Socolow were measuring emission reductions in tons carbon whereas Stephen Eule was measuring reductions in tons CO2.

In the News

“Think about What’s Happening in Countries Like Germany….”
Chris Horner, Planet Gore, 20 August 2010

Cancer of Tropic
Jay D. Homnick, American Spectator, 19 August 2010

Is GOP Opposition to Cap-and-Trade Self-Contradictory?
Marlo Lewis,, 18 August 2010

The Economic Costs of the Off-Shore Oil Moratorium
Eric Lowe,, 16 August 2010

Primer on Extreme Weather Mortality
Marlo Lewis,, 16 August 2010

More Gore in the Climate Debate?
Myron Ebell, Politico Energy Arena, 12 August 2010

News You Can Use

Sea Level Rise: Insignificant

According to a new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, “The global mean sea level for the period January 1900 to December 2006 is estimated to rise at a rate of 1.56 ± 0.25 mm/yr which is reasonably consistent with earlier estimates, but we do not find significant acceleration.”  As noted by The Hockey Shtick, the 1.56 mm/yr non-accelerating rate of sea level rise would result in sea levels 6 inches higher than the present in 100 years.

The Real Motive for the “Scientific Consensus”

“Urgent and unprecedented environmental and social changes challenge scientists to define a new social contract … a commitment on the part of all scientists to devote their energies and talents to the most pressing problems of the day, in proportion to their importance, in exchange for public funding.”

From Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Administrator, 1997 American Association for the Advancement of Science presidential address. [The quote above was posted this week at ICECAP by Joe D’Aleo]

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Politico ran a revealing story by Darren Samuelsohn this week on Republican candidates for the Senate and House who are openly dismissive of global warming alarmism.  Politico’s Energy Arena then asked its participants to comment on the possible ramifications of this development in the 112th Congress.  Specifically, what does it say for the chances of enacting energy-rationing next year?  This is a slightly-edited version of what I wrote for the Energy Arena.  It will be posted here.

Not only are there more Republican candidates this year who don’t believe in global warming, I have yet to find a Republican nominee for the House or the Senate who is running in favor of cap-and-trade.  Nearly all Republican nominees are running against cap-and-trade, and most are trying to make an issue of it against their Democratic opponents.

This is true even in some liberal congressional districts.  For example, Star Parker is running against Rep. Laura Richardson in California’s 37th congressional district, which includes Compton and most of Long Beach.  Parker has made opposition to cap-and-trade the top issue in her campaign.  Parker may be a long shot in a strongly Democratic district, but she has found that opposing the higher energy prices that will result from enacting cap-and-trade resonates with poor voters.

Even the seven Republicans who voted for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill on 26th June 2009 aren’t publicizing this fact. (Rep. John McHugh of New York was the eighth, but he is now the Secretary of the Army in the Obama Administration). I checked out their campaign web sites, and not a single one mentions cap-and-trade or global warming as an issue.  The web site of Michael Castle, who is favored to win Delaware’s open Senate seat, only mentions that he’s in favor of energy independence.

Rep. Mark Kirk backed away from his vote within a week of making it when he discovered that he couldn’t possibly win the Illinois Republican nomination for the Senate if he supported cap-and-trade.  And according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun, Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California, in a debate on 19th August with her Democratic opponent, Steve Pougnet, did not make clear whether she would vote for cap-and-trade again.

A fair number of Democrats are also running against cap-and-trade, including most of those who voted against Waxman-Markey and a fair number of challengers.  Very few who voted for Waxman-Markey are mentioning that fact in their campaigns.

My conclusion is that cap-and-trade is an election loser and is already completely dead in the 112th Congress.  The Obama Administration apparently agrees.  It was recently reported that all mention of cap-and-trade was removed earlier this summer from the White House Energy and Environment web site.

Across the States


Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) is taking heat from the Legislature for buying into climate alarmism. In December 2009, Gov. Beshear created the Kentucky Climate Action Plan Council, and charged it with developing “an action plan to address the causes of climate change, prepare for the likely consequences and impacts of climate change to Kentucky, and establish firm benchmarks and timetables for implementing the KCAPC recommendations,” according to its website. KCAPC then hired the Center for Climate Strategies for $200,000 to manage its meetings, set its agenda, provide all its ideas, and write all its reports. As has been reported by the Heartland Institute’s Paul Chesser, the Center for Climate Strategies is a global warming alarmist advocacy group that has devised energy rationing schemes in States across the country. Unfortunately for the Governor, the people of Kentucky-a major coal-producing state-do not share his enthusiasm for energy rationing, which is why the State Senate Government Contract Review Committee last week voted 6-0 to disapprove of KCAPC’s contract with the Center for Climate Strategies. The Governor this week defended the contract.

New Jersey

Despite the fact that the people of New Jersey already pay the seventh highest electricity rates in the country, Governor Chris Christie (R) this week signed a “green energy” bill that will raise utility bills even higher. According to Energy & Environment News (subscription required), the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act requires the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to set up a program requiring utilities to buy offshore renewable energy credits for approved wind farms. Ultimately, the credits would finance 1,100 MW of offshore wind energy, costing rate-payers $6 to $8 billion (before transmission costs are accounted for). Taxpayers are also on the hook: The bill creates $100 million in tax incentives for wind power manufacturers.

Around the World


This week China surpassed Japan to become the second largest economy in the world. A month ago, China surpassed the United States to become the largest energy user in the world. These two facts are directly related. According to the International Energy Agency, “Coal has underpinned China’s massive and unprecedented growth in output, fueling an economic miracle….” Coal-fired power plants provide approximately 80 % of China’s electricity.

Climategate Update

Hockey Stick Debunked, Again

The Annals of Applied Statistics, a highly respected statistical journal, has accepted for publication a searing critique of Michael Mann’s infamous “hockey stick” global temperature reconstruction by statisticians Blakeley McShane and Abraham Wyner. It’s titled, “A Statistical Analysis of Multiple Temperature Proxies: Are Reconstructions of Surface Temperatures Over the Last 1000 Years Reliable?” You can read a draft at Climate Audit. It states in the abstract:

“We find that the proxies do not predict temperature significantly better than random series generated independently of temperature. Furthermore, various model specifications that perform similarly at predicting temperature produce extremely different historical backcasts. Finally, the proxies seem unable to forecast the high levels of and sharp run-up in temperature in the 1990s either in-sample or from contiguous holdout blocks, thus casting doubt on their ability to predict such phenomena if in fact they occurred several hundred years ago.”

For more on the Hockey Stick, check out this excellent book review of Andrew Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion, by John Dawson in this month’s Quadrant.

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,

Betsy Moler of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and Phil Sharp of Resources for the Future would like Republicans to think so. After all, if GOP opposition to cap-and-trade is self-contradictory, then it is unstable, hence reversible.

Few Republicans will be gulled by this line of chatter, but just to make sure, I posted a column debunking the Moler-Sharp argument on MasterResource.Org, the free-market energy blog.  

Republicans like markets (or say they do), and cap-and-trade is “market-based,” according to Moler and Sharp. In fact, cap-and-trade is politics-based. The demand for the traded commodity (the emission allowances) is entirely a creature of the cap, which is itself created not by the market but by politicians.

People posting comments on my column made astute observations, which suggest the following definition. Cap-and-trade: Government creation of a market in a commodity that everyone makes and nobody wants; from which a rent-seeking few gain windfall profits at consumers’ expense; and in which opportunities for corruption and creative accounting abound.

Former Vice President Al Gore is the gift that keeps on giving to opponents of global warming alarmism and energy rationing policies. He leads what I think of as the Dream Team: Gore is the public leader; James Hansen is the go-to scientist; Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pushed through a cap-and-trade bill in the House that killed cap-and-trade; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was the main promoter in the Senate; when he dropped the ball, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was in charge for awhile; and she has now been replaced by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) with help from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

I used to think that we were just incredibly lucky that the alarmist movement was led by this group of second raters.   I now realize that it isn’t luck.  Global warming alarmism attracts incompetents, know-nothings, and looney tunes.

We have missed Al Gore in the debate, but luckily Kerry and Graham were fully up to sinking cap-and-trade in the Senate (not that it had much chance anyway) without any help from the leader of the forces of darkness. So it was good to see that Gore returned this week on a conference call sponsored by Repower America (aka the Alliance for Climate Protection).

Gore on the conference call acknowledged that cap-and-trade was dead and that the alarmists had lost in 2010.  He bitterly blamed the usual suspects: Big Oil, King Coal, right-wing media, and professional deniers (I believe that is where he would put me and CEI).  This is boilerplate nonsense.  Three of the big five oil companies (BP, Shell, and Conoco Phillips) support cap-and-trade, as well as most of the big electric utilities (Duke Energy, P G and E, Exelon, PNM Resources, Entergy, etc.) and many other major corporations, such as General Electric, Dow Chemical, General Motors, and Ford Motor.  Cap-and-trade died when the American people found out that it was a colossal transfer of wealth from them to corporate special interests (see the list in the previous sentence).

Gore even said that our system of government was not working as the founders intended it to work.  In fact, in the debate over cap-and-trade the system of checks and balances in the Constitution is working exactly as the founders intended.  It has prevented an elite from hijacking the economy for its own enrichment.

I can see why Gore is bitter.  His comparatively modest investments in green energy promised to make him a global warming billionaire if cap-and-trade were enacted. Unluckily for him, the American people have said no emphatically.

[This was originally posted on Politico’s Energy Arena here.]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) mothballed cap-and-trade legislation when it became apparent that he could not muster the three-fifths super-majority required to end a Republican filibuster. Because coal-state Democrats don’t like cap-and-trade either, assembling the requisite 60 votes to stop a filibuster was never easy. It became more difficult after Democrats lost their 60-seat majority with the election of Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

Unsurprisingly, sore losers are now calling for a change in Senate rules to abolish the filibuster or lower the number of votes required for cloture.

Congressional Quarterly Online reports that the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor unions and environmental organizations hawking cap-and-trade as a font of ”green jobs,” and a group of freshmen Democratic Senators led by Tom Udall of New Mexico, are calling for a change in Senate rules.

There’s just one small problem. It takes a two-thirds (67-vote) supermajority to change Senate rules. To belabor the obvious, two-thirds is more than three-fifths. If cap-and-traders were strong enough to change the rules, they wouldn’t need to change them — they could already easily overcome GOP filibusters.

If BlueGreenies can’t see what a pickle they’re in, they should try reading Aristophanes, the master of Greek comic poetry. 

Aristophanes’ play Ecclesiazusae, “Assemblywomen” or “Congresswomen,” is a ribald satire on egalitarian excess. Although written millennia ago, it is spot-on relevant in the Age of Reid, Pelosi, and Obama. 

As the play opens, a cabal of women led by Praxagora don fake beards, sneak into the Athenian Assembly, and agitate for a law to establish the rule of women. They gain the support of enough men to pull it off, because Athenians crave change and the rule of women is the only thing they have not yet tried.

Praxagora and her cohorts claim their agenda is to end all injustice, i.e., inequality. They set up cradle-to-grave welfare and institute a regime of free love in which every man may sleep with every woman.

To ensure that not even the natural assets of youth will be allowed to create inequality, Praxagora decrees that before a young man may sleep with a beautiful young woman, he must first sleep with an ugly old hag. Conversely, before a young woman may sleep with a stud, she must gratify a geezer. 

But, as Orwell was to observe centuries later, under socialism, some are more equal than others. Praxagora, you see, is married to a flatulent dotard named Blepyrus, so she has already done her duty to the elderly. She is now free to consort with as many young bucks as she pleases. It’s kinda like cap-and-trade, in which energy-rationing profiteers reap windfalls (regulatory rents) at public expense in the name of saving the planet.

To pass the Kerry-Lieberman bill, BlueGreenies would have to sneak into the Senate, don Republican disguises, and give Tom Udall and his pals a 67 vote super-majority.

Obviously, that’s not gonna happen, not this Congress or next, because fake beards only work in comedy.

The indomitable Indur Goklany — “Goks” to his friends — has just posted a primer on extreme weather-related mortality entitled, Global Death Toll From Extreme Weather Events Declining

If you are one of the hapless millions who watched Al Gore’s scare-you-mentary, An Inconvenient Truth, with its ad nauseum footage of hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, and floods, you might think that carbon dioxide emissions are making the world a more dangerous place.

Goks’ primer demolishes this falsehood. It also reaches the heretical conclusion that restrictions on carbon-based energy would actually impede progress in reducing deaths and death rates related to extreme weather.

Herewith a few excerpts:

Mortality Risk Declining

Based on 2000–08 data, extreme weather events are responsible for about 0.05% of all global deaths (31,700 deaths vs. 58.8 million, annually). That is, despite the media attention to such events, extreme weather events have a minor impact on global public health.

Long term (1900–2008) data show that average annual deaths and death rates from all such events declined by 93% and 98%, respectively, since cresting in the 1920s. These declines occurred despite a vast increase in the populations at risk and more complete coverage of extreme weather events.

Deaths and death rates from droughts were responsible for the majority (58%) of all deaths due to extreme weather events from 1900–2008. They also peaked in the 1920s. Since then, they have been reduced by 99.97% and 99.99%, respectively.

For floods, responsible for another 34% of aggregate deaths, deaths and death rates have declined by 98.7%–99.6% since the 1930s.

For storms (including hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, typhoons), responsible for 7% of extreme weather event deaths from 1900–2008, deaths and death rates declined by 47.0%–70.4% since the 1970s. 

“Blame” Fossil Fuels for Improving Safety

First, the decline in the death toll from droughts, in particular, is that global food production has never been higher than it is today (Goklany 1998, 2007). This is largely due to improved seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and farm machinery. This entire suite of technologies also enabled the Green Revolution.  But fertilizers and pesticides are manufactured from fossil fuels, and energy is necessary to run irrigation pumps and machinery. Without them, the benefits of improved seeds would be for naught. And in today’s world, like it or not, energy for the most part is synonymous with fossil fuels.

Additional CO2 in the atmosphere has also contributed to higher yields and food production (IPCC 2001: 254–257, 285) because it provides carbon, the basic building block of life, and also increases the efficiency with which plants use water helping offset declines in water availability, if any.

Another factor critical to reining food prices and reducing hunger worldwide is trade within and between countries which enables food surpluses to be moved to food deficit areas (Goklany 1995, 1998).  But it takes fossil fuels to move food around in the quantities and the speed necessary for such trade to be an integral part of the global food system, as it indeed is.  Moreover, fossil fuel dependant technologies such as refrigeration, rapid transport, and plastic packaging, ensure that more of the crop that is produced is actually eaten by the consumer. That is, they increase the overall efficiency of the food production system, which helps lower food prices and contain hunger worldwide.

The second important factor is better disaster preparedness, and more rapid response and delivery of humanitarian aid when disaster strikes.  Timely preparations and response are major factors that have contributed to the reduction in death and disease that traditionally were caused by or accompanied disasters from extreme weather events (Goklany 2007b).  Their success hinges on the availability of fossil fuels to move people, food, medicine and critical humanitarian supplies before and after events strike. 

Economic development also allowed the US (and other developed countries) to offer humanitarian aid to developing countries in times of famine, drought, floods, cyclones, and other natural disasters, weather related or not. Such aid, too, would have been virtually impossible to deliver in large quantities or in a timely fashion absent fossil fuel fired transportation.

Carbon Rationing Is Counter-Productive

Currently many advocate spending trillions of dollars to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gases, in part to forestall hypothetical future increases in mortality from global warming induced increases in extreme weather events.  Spending even a fraction of such sums on the numerous higher priority health and safety problems plaguing humanity would provide greater returns for human well-being (Goklany 2009a, 2009b).

No less important, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would slow, if not retard, economic development and/or make fossil fuels scarcer and more expensive thereby militating against the very factors that have reduced deaths and death rates from extreme weather events.

In the News

Japan Owns up to Costs of Green Economy
Chris Horner, Planet Gore, 13 August 2010

What’s Going on with the New “Skeptical Science” Website?
John Droz, Jr.,, 13 August 2010

The Real Nuclear Option
Iain Murray, Washington Examiner, 12 August 2010

The Real Gulf Disaster
Lou Dolinar, National Review, 12 August 2010

Spinning the Defeat of Cap-and-Trade
Marlo Lewis,, 11 August 2010

What the Chinese Really Think of Global Warming
James Delingpole, Telegraph, 11 August 2010

The Dejected Greens
Paul Chesser,, 10 August 2010

Smart Grid and the Electricity Market
William Yeatman, The Oklahoman, 7 August 2010

News You Can Use

Sierra Club Is Spending Big Bucks To Make Energy More Expensive

The Politico reported that the Sierra Club is spending $18 million this year and has 100 employees across the country working on challenges to coal-fired electricity, said Michael Brune, the group’s executive director. He hopes to increase the budget to $25 million next year.

California Cold

Daily July temperatures in Southern California averaged about 5 degrees below historical norms, and overall summer temperatures are flirting with all-time cold records.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

EPA Plots To Regulate Carbon

The EPA this week issued two more proposed rules designed to implement the agency’s decision to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  The first rule deals with thirteen States that are not legally prepared to begin issuing permits for greenhouse gas emissions.

The Clean Air Act requires that stationary sources of listed pollutants be regulated if they emit more than 250 tons of that pollutant per year.  The EPA has already released the so-called Tailoring Rule that changes the limit for greenhouse gas emissions to 75,000 tons.  That change is being made without any legislative authority.

The first of EPA’s proposed further rules tells the 13 States that they need to change their laws so that they can now regulate stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions, but only such sources that emit more than 75,000 tons annually.  Some States have the 250 ton limit written into their own state air pollution laws.  A few other States prohibit regulating any pollutants not specifically listed in their own state laws.  Under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration program, state environmental agencies are responsible for issuing New Source Review permits.

The States that EPA is telling to comply are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas.  The chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Attorney General sent a letter last week telling the EPA why Texas will not change its laws in order to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and explaining why what the EPA was doing was illegal.  The Digest covered this humdinger of a letter last week.  If you didn’t read it, we have posted it on here.

The EPA’s second proposed rule would deal with States that refuse to comply by taking permitting authority away from state environmental agencies and creating a federal permitting process for those States.  Regulatory chaos is only a couple years away now.

Gore Hijinks

Former Vice President Al Gore returned to the public debate this week in a conference call held by his group Repower America (which is also known as the Alliance for Climate Protection).  Gore was realistic about the next-to-nil chance for passing cap-and-trade in the 111th Congress.  He bitterly blamed a long list of the usual suspects: Big Oil, King Coal, the dominant right-wing media, professional deniers (that’s us!), and even the Senate.  According to Gore, the greedy corporations who oppose energy rationing spent hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat cap-and-trade.

This is of course fantasy.  Big corporations hoping to make billions and billions of dollars off the backs of consumers through the higher energy prices caused by cap-and-trade are the ones that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting their own self interest.  Moreover, three of the five biggest oil companies-BP, Shell, and Conoco Phillips-support cap-and-trade.

Gore’s Generation Investment Management and Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers are among the companies that hope to strike it rich.  Gore is understandably bitter because his dream of becoming a global warming billionaire based on comparatively modest investments in green energy made golden by cap-and-trade have gone poof.

Gore even claimed that cap-and-trade had died in the Senate because our system of government wasn’t working the say the Founders intended it should work.  If he meant Thomas Jefferson (founder of the Democratic Party), he’s probably right.  But luckily for us, Jefferson didn’t attend the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and had little influence on our system of checks and balances, which are designed to thwart both the mass of people from robbing the rich and the elites from robbing the people.

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,

Our government spent as much money bailing out foreign firms as some countries spent on stabilizing their entire financial system.  Much of the money in the $140 billion AIG bailout actually went to mismanaged foreign firms that dealt with AIG.  The government also used that bailout to give billions to the Wall Street investment firm Goldman Sachs, an immensely rich and profitable company that didn’t even need the money.  (While harming most banks, and the productive  sectors of the economy, the recent financial reform bill will benefit politically-connected Goldman Sachs, which endorsed it.  Goldman Sachs is one of the biggest donors to liberal politicians.)

Earlier, the Obama administration devoted $6 billion in taxpayer money to bailing out Greece, which ran into trouble because of generous pensions that let many occupations like hairdressers retire at age 50.

American workers are also suffering due to the stimulus package.  It is using taxpayer subsidies to replace U.S. jobs with foreign green jobs. It also destroyed thousands of jobs in America’s export sector.

Even more jobs will end up overseas if the Obama administration’s poorly conceived global warming legislation passes.

Reason magazine has an insightful article called “Five Lies About the American Economy.”