President Obama has not yet unveiled EPA’s final “Clean Power Plan” rule, but EPA has posted six so-called fact sheets. A few whoppers and rhetorical tricks in the preview “fact sheet” jump out at me.
Much of it is devoted to preaching the message that climate change endangers public health and welfare:
2014 was the hottest year in recorded history, and 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the first 15 years of this century. Recorded temperatures in the first half of 2015 were also warmer than normal.
Not so fast. If 2014 was the warmest year, it was so by 0.02ºC — one-fifth of the 0.1ºC margin of error in surface temperature records. Accordingly, NOAA assigned 2014 a 48% probability of being the warmest year; NASA, a 38% probability.
Based on more reliable satellite data, 2014 was the 3rd or 6th warmest year in the record.
Besides, what really matters in assessing climate change risk is how fast the planet is warming compared to the forecasts on which scary-sounding climate impact scenarios are based. Here’s the big picture you won’t see in EPA’s “fact sheets”:
In the latest (UAH V.6) version of the University of Alabama in Huntsville satellite record, the lower atmosphere warming rate of the past 36 years is 0.114ºC/decade — about the same rate the IPCC projects in its most aggressive emission-reduction scenario (RCP2.6). Is this a great atmosphere, or what?*
The “fact sheet” claims “Climate impacts affect all Americans’ lives – from stronger storms to longer droughts and increased insurance premiums, food prices and allergy seasons.” Other facts tell a different story.
There has been no trend in the frequency or strength of land-falling hurricanes globally since 1970:
Global insured losses as a percentage of GDP have not increased since 1960:
As for droughts, according to the latest IPCC report (Chapter 10, p. 913): “[T]here is low confidence in detection and attribution of changes in drought over global land areas since the mid-20th century.”
Raising energy costs by shuttering coal power plants is far more likely to increase food prices than lower them. If Obama officials really care about rising food prices, they should ask Congress to abolish an existing climate policy, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which burns about 40% of the nation’s annual corn crop in gas tanks.
EPA claims climate change increases “allergy seasons.” Well, if climate change does that, it also increases growing seasons. Which means more food production and lower food prices. EPA can’t have it both ways.
EPA projects $20 billion in climate benefits from the Clean Power Plan (CPP) but does not say when it expects those benefits to be realized. The final rule calls for a 32% reduction in power-sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030 — roughly the same as the proposed rule’s 30% reduction target.
As discussed previously on this blog, according to EPA’s MAGICC model, the proposed CPP would avert less than 0.02ºC of global warming by 2100. Such a vanishingly small temperature change would make no practical difference to farmers, coastal communities, or polar bears in 2100. The climate benefits in 2030 would be even punier.
Obama administration officials never tire of telling us it’s all for “the children.” But as Anne Smith of NERA Economic Consulting found, EPA does not expect the CPP’s putative climate benefits to materialize until long after our kids have gone to a better place:
When correctly presented, USEPA’s estimates indicate the present value of CPP [compliance] spending through 2030 will exceed $180 billion while climate benefits are not expected to exceed that cost until about 100 to 125 years after the spending has been sunk. . . .Because there are such small expected climate benefits until long after the compliance spending is sunk, the present value of accumulated net benefits does not become positive until sometime between 2131 and 2155. This implies a payback period of 100 to 125 years on a societal investment about $200 billion dollars. That is, the global societal return on the CPP investment will still be negative more than a century after the regulation has been completely implemented.
* As Patrick Michaels observed years ago about a climatological point I can’t recall.