Cooler Heads Digest 21 February 2014

by William Yeatman on February 21, 2014

in Blog

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In the News

EPA Misses Key Concerns over Sue and Settle Secrecy
William Kovacs, U.S. Chamber Blog, 20 February 2014

Free Speech for Mann, But Not for Thee
Robert Tracinski, RealClearPolitics, 20 February 2014

Legacy-Seeking Politicians Preach the Gospel of Global Warming
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 20 February 2014

Why Kerry Is Flat Wrong on Climate Change
Richard McNider & John Christy, Wall Street Journal, 19 February 2014

Who’s the Real Flat-Earther?
Marlo Lewis,, 19 February 2014

Tom Steyer’s Hypocrisy
Alec Torres, National Review Online, 19 February 2014

Oil Is Where the Growth Is, So Let’s Drill
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, RealClearMarkets, 18 February 2014

EPA’s Wood-Burning Stove Ban Deals Blow to Rural Homes
Cheryl Chumley, Newsmax, 18 February 2014

News You Can Use

Study: Fracking Is the Real Stimulus

According to a new Manhattan Institute study by Mark Mills, America’s oil & gas boom has added $300–$400 billion annually to the economy since 2009. Without this contribution, GDP growth would have been negative and the nation would have continued to be in recession.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Hedge Fund Billionaire To Raise $100 Million to Elect Alarmists

California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer announced this week that he would be putting at least $50 million of his own money in the 2014 elections and raising at least another $50 million from like-minded plutocrats to elect candidates who support strong government actions to stop global warming. Most if not all the cash will be funneled through Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action Fund.

Steyer has spent heavily opposing construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries and has made Keystone into a litmus test.  In Steyer’s view, those who don’t oppose Keystone are not serious about global warming.

In the 2013 gubernatorial election in Virginia, Steyer spent $8 or $11 million (reports vary) to elect Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee.  That campaign included appearances by climate scientist and activist Michael Mann, the fabricator of the notorious hockey stick.  It is not clear whether Mann will be invited to attack the intelligence, character, and motives of Republican opponents of energy-rationing policies in the 2014 elections.

It was initially thought that Steyer might include a pro-Keystone, pro-energy Democrat in his list of candidates to defeat.  NextGen Climate Action included Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) earlier this month on a list of potential targets.  That makes sense because her re-election race will be tough.  If Landrieu loses and Steyer was involved, then Steyer could claim credit and send a strong signal to other straying Democrats.  Of course, any Republican elected to replace Landrieu would be just as strong a supporter of the oil and gas industry.  Landrieu remarked that Steyer’s opposition would probably help her in Louisiana.

But, as Michael Bastasch reported in the Daily Caller, Steyer quickly made it clear that all his spending will be directed at defeating Republicans who oppose energy rationing policies and electing Democrats who support them. Likely races that Steyer will target include Senate races in Iowa, New Hampshire, Georgia, South Dakota, and Florida and gubernatorial races in Florida and Pennsylvania.

Debra Saunders has an enjoyable column in the San Francisco Chronicle on Steyer and the threat big money poses to our democracy (at least when the big money supports conservatives).

Across the States

Myron Ebell

Nebraska County Judge Blocks Keystone Pipeline

Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy in Lincoln, Nebraska ruled on 19th February that the law enacted in 2012 giving the governor authority to permit the Keystone XL Pipeline through Nebraska was unconstitutional.  Judge Stacy decided that the law violates the Nebraska Constitution by shifting control over routing decisions and eminent domain authority from the Public Service Commission to the governor.

The judge ordered the State to take no action on Governor Dave Heineman’s decision to approve the Keystone route last year.  The Attorney General’s office immediately filed notice to appeal the ruling with the state Supreme Court.

Although this is likely to be a minor hiccup in the long Keystone saga, it does provide President Barack Obama another excuse for not making a decision on the permit that will allow construction of the pipeline across the Canada-U. S. border.  It thereby aids his strategy of delaying the pipeline to death.

Around the World

Myron Ebell

Secretary Kerry Calls Climate Change “Perhaps the World’s Most Fearful Weapon of Mass Destruction”

U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a very long speech in Jakarta on climate policy on 16th February claimed that, “[C]limate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”  The rest of Kerry’s speech was almost as silly and misinformed.

The scientific “facts” on climate change and its impacts that the Secretary of State laid out were particularly grotesquely misinformed.  It sounded as if he believed everything Dr. John Holdren, a well-known crank (and the President’s top science adviser), told him.  Richard McNider and John Christy, professors at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, corrected some of the egregious errors in Kerry’s speech in a Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined “Why Kerry Is Flat Wrong on Climate Change.” For those who don’t have access to the Journal, my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis summarizes the key scientific points in McNider and Christy’s op-ed in a post on

Secretary Kerry devoted part of his speech to those who disagree with his views of the scientific case for global warming alarmism.  He stated: “First and foremost, we should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact….  I have to tell you, this is really not a normal kind of difference of opinion between people. Sometimes you can have a reasonable argument and a reasonable disagreement over an opinion you may have. This is not opinion. This is about facts. This is about science. The science is unequivocal. And those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand.”

Thus, Kerry went on, President Obama and I “…do not have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society. One of the arguments that we do hear is that it’s going to be too expensive to be able to address climate change. I have to tell you, that assertion could not be less grounded in fact. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Serious analysts understand that the costs of doing nothing far outweigh the costs of investing in solutions now. You do not need a degree in economics or a graduate degree in business in order to understand that the cost of flooding, the cost of drought, the cost of famine, the cost of health care, the cost of addressing this challenge is simply far less – the costs of addressing this challenge are far less than the costs of doing nothing.”

The Secretary of State then doubled down by claiming that the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions would still be worth it even if the dire impacts of global warming never happen: “If the worst-case scenario about climate change, all the worst predictions, if they never materialize, what will be the harm that is done from having made the decision to respond to it? We would actually leave our air cleaner. We would leave our water cleaner. We would actually make our food supply more secure. Our populations would be healthier because of fewer particulates of pollution in the air – less cost to health care. Those are the things that would happen if we happen to be wrong and we responded. But imagine if the 97 percent of those scientists are correct and the people who say no are wrong. Then the people who say no will have presented us with one of the most catastrophic, grave threats in the history of human life. That’s the choice here.”

Kerry reported that his meetings with the Chinese government just before he arrived in Jakarta had been productive: “Now I am pleased to tell you that the leaders of China agree that it is time to pursue a cleaner path forward. And China is taking steps, and we have already taken significant steps together through the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group that we launched in Beijing last year….  Just yesterday, we announced a new agreement on an enhanced policy of dialogue that includes the sharing of information and policies so that we can help develop plans to deal with the UN climate change negotiation that takes place in Paris next year, in planning for the post-2020 limit to greenhouse gas emissions.”

Kerry re-affirmed the Obama Administration’s commitment to conclude a new UN treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol at COP-21 in Paris in December 2015.  And while the U. S. and China would take the lead, Kerry went on to lecture his Indonesian hosts that they were going to have to take strong actions as well to limit their use of fossil fuels.  It’s not clear why this was needed if the economic benefits of reducing emissions are as clear as Kerry claims.

And as Andrew Revkin noted in a New York Times blog, this was a strange approach to take with a nation whose per capita emissions are one-tenth of those of the U. S.  Revkin wrote: “I’m hoping that someone can identify some smart strategic angle behind Secretary of State John Kerry’s climate speech in Jakarta on Sunday pressing Indonesia, in essence, to forsake its ample reserves of fossil fuels in its push to develop its economy. I can’t.  You might say the aim was to push the tropical country to curb deforestation, but that issue was barely mentioned. …[T]he long speech was mainly focused on Indonesia itself and had a chiding tone that I can’t see doing anything to further Kerry’s goal of leading efforts to craft a new international climate agreement by late 2015.”

The United States Department of State last week submitted its proposals for how the new agreement should be structured.  The submission has been posted on the web site of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change here.  The U. S. was the first government to submit its ideas and suggestions.

A Rasmussen telephone poll taken after Kerry’s speech found little support for his global warming claims.  Only 31% agreed that global warming was “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”  54% disagreed.  And likely voters were divided almost evenly on whether global warming is scientific fact.

Science Update

Marlo Lewis

Methane Bomb Fizzles – Again

There are three main global warming doomsday scenarios – Atlantic Ocean circulation shutdown plunging Europe into an ice age, Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheet disintegration raising sea levels 10 feet or more in a century or less, and runaway climate change from melting permafrost methane deposits.

The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), published last year, basically rules out any such catastrophe in our lifetimes or those of our children. In the 21st century, Atlantic Ocean circulation collapse is “very unlikely,” ice sheet collapse is “exceptionally unlikely,” and catastrophic methane release is “very unlikely” (AR5, Chapter 12, Table 12.4).

Let’s take a closer look at the dreaded methane bomb. Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas, trapping 21 times more outgoing heat from the Earth’s surface than an equal mass of carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period.

Al Gore and other doomsayers warn that melting permafrost could release vast deposits of frozen methane, which would cause more warming, which would release more methane, in a climate-destabilizing feedback loop, wiping out millions of species. Should we be worried? No.

Schultz (2011) found that even under the most extreme climatic scenario tested, permafrost thaw in the Siberian shelf will not exceed 10 meters in depth by 2100 or 50 meters by the turn of the next millennium, whereas the bulk of methane stores are trapped roughly 200 meters below the sea floor.

Kessler et al. (2011) found that microbes digested the methane released during the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, indicating that any warming-induced “large-scale releases of methane from hydrate in the deep ocean are likely to be met by a similarly rapid methanotrophic [methane-eating] response.”

Yes, I know, climate change is always supposed to be “worse than scientists thought.” But both global temperatures and atmospheric methane concentrations are increasing much more slowly than IPCC climate models predicted. Indeed, the IPCC had to reduce its methane concentration predictions three times since 1990, yet even the lower bound of its most recent (2007) prediction overshoots observations (leaked “second order” AR5 draft, Figure 1.6, p. 42).

And this just in – Gao et al. (2013) find that methane from melting permafrost presents a “low risk” of “warming feedback.” The researchers estimate that “the additional warming, across the range of climate policy and uncertainties in the climate-system response, would be no greater than 0.1°C by 2100.” They conclude that methane feedback from permafrost degradation will be “relatively small whether or not humans choose to constrain global emissions.”

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