Fran Smith

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez couldn’t resist another opportunity to bash capitalism — and the COP15 Copenhagen Conference on global warming gave him a perfect setup. Protesters against globalization, capitalism, energy use, and other aspects of modern life thronged in the streets, while in the conference center, leaders from rich nations that want to “level the playing field” for CO2 emissions and poor countries looking for massive handouts gave Chavez a warm response.

In his harangue posted on YouTube, Chavez hit the “group of countries who think they’re better than us” and that provide a “world imperial dictatorship.” He, of course, made reference and deference to his hero Karl Marx:

There’s a ghost lurking…and Karl Marx said…a ghost running through the streets of Copenhagen.  And I think that ghost is silent, somewhere in this room…amongst us…coming thru the corridors and underneath.  And that ghost is a terrible ghost.  Nobody wants to name him or her…it’s capitalism.  Capitalism is that ghost.  (applause)

Chavez got a lot of applause here too. He tied capitalism to the degradation of the earth: “the destructive model of capitalism is eradicating life.”

President Robert Mugabe, credited with destroying the economy of his own country,  Zimbabwe, also railed against Western countries and capitalism:

“When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it’s we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp and sink and eventually die.”

And this is the conference where “world leaders” are supposedly coming together to plan the world’s energy future?  It’s a scary thought.

Sarah Palin’s op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday on ClimateGate and the Copenhagen conference has spawned a blizzard of comments from Post readers.  Almost 4,000 comments as of this morning.  Many of them – no friends of free speech — attack the newspaper for publishing Palin’s article at all. Huffington Post sycophants are similarly energized in their hatred for Palin and for free speech.  Their comments on a cross-posting of Palin’s article number 5,750. Here’s an example:

“someone like palin who does not even understand the difference between climate and weather should not be allowed to do the forecast on a local tv news station, let alone write an op-ed piece for a once respected newspaper like the washington post. . . .”

Interesting that instead of commenting on the substance of the article, detractors are more interested in ad hominems.  May sound familiar to skeptics of catastrophic global warming or the “deniers” as they’re often referred to.

This, I think, has to go down as one of the creepiest “editorials” written by global warming alarmists recently. Clive Hamilton, ABC News in Australia’s public “intellectual,” has an open letter to the child of someone who works for the fossil fuel industry. Here are some selections:

“Hi there,

There’s something you need to know about your father.

Your dad’s job is to try to stop the government making laws to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution. He is paid a lot of money to do that by big companies who do not want to own up to the fact that their pollution is changing the world’s climate in very harmful ways.

Because of their pollution, lots of people, mostly poor people, are likely to die. They will die from floods, from diseases like dengue fever, and from starvation when their crops won’t grow anymore.

The big companies are putting their profits before the lives of people. And your dad is helping them.

. . . . .

I am sure it’s hard for you to hear these words, but there is something you can do to help. Why not sit your dad down and have a good talk to him. Tell him you want him to stop helping the big companies that are spoiling the future for you and all the other kids at school. Tell him that the family would rather have less money if he had a different job, one you could be proud of.

Tell him that you know he will feel much happier inside if he is doing something to make Australia and the world a better place, instead of going to work every day to make it a worse one.

Your dad has lost his way, and you might be the only person in the world who can help him find it again. So talk to him.

Yours sincerely”

This is on par with the official opening video for the  COP15 meeting in Copenhagen –  full of nightmare visions of a child caught in a global-warming-produced  catastrophe – producing earthquakes, no less.  (It’s very well-produced, of course.)

Do these people have any idea what their fear-mongering is doing to the minds of children – other than making them terrified, anxious, and sleep-deprived?

ClimateGate is serious.  When prominent climate scientists fudge results, refuse FOIA requests, take steps to restrict publication of dissident views, etc., it’s serious business, especially when their global temperature records were used by policymakers to call for a transformation of modern economies.

However, there is some humor in ClimateGate.  Here’s some odd stuff a commenter on the website Climate Audit picked up as a result of checking out the file HARRY_READ_ME.txt – one of the hacked files.  The “Harry” file tells the tortured story of a programmer at CRU struggling to make sense of inconsistent, missing, and incompatible data files and seemingly to try to replicate them.  Many of those files had earlier been compiled by someone named “Tim,” who seems to have really made a mess of things.  According to the commenter, this “Tim” seems to be Tim Mitchell – who worked at the Climactic Research Unit at University of East Anglia when he was a Ph.D. student and then received his degree.  At the time, he also was a member of — no joke — South Park Evangelical Church, as he notes in his religious writings on climate change and religion.

Here’s an example:

The government urges us to reduce our energy usage so that we may indulge ourselves in other ways, but we have a higher motive for reducing waste (1 Timothy 6.17-19). Although I have yet to see any evidence that climate change is a sign of Christ’s imminent return, human pollution is clearly another of the birth pangs of creation, as it eagerly awaits being delivered from the bondage of corruption (Romans. 19-22).

That does make me a little uncomfortable about this guy being in charge of global temperature records to show we’re destroying the earth.  Can’t check out his academic/research papers at CRU.  Surprisingly, they’ve been taken down.

Experiments in science that don’t reinforce scientists’ hypotheses can be vitally important in understanding complex systems. Serious scientists don’t fudge the results or hide the data.

Here’s a recent example of a global warming study to show the effects of CO2-caused ocean acidification on the shells of crustaceans.  Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that, contrary to their expectations, many of the crustaceans built tougher shells in waters that were more acidified from higher levels of CO2.

According to the press release,

“We were surprised that some organisms didn’t behave in the way we expected under elevated CO2,” said Anne L. Cohen, a research specialist at WHOI and one of the study’s co-authors. “What was really interesting was that some of the creatures, the coral, the hard clam and the lobster, for example, didn’t seem to care about CO2 until it was higher than about 1,000 parts per million [ppm].” Current atmospheric CO2 levels are about 380 ppm, she said. Above this level, calcification was reduced in the coral and the hard clam, but elevated in the lobster.

The “take-home message, “says Cohen, is that “we can’t assume that elevated CO2 causes a proportionate decline in calcification of all calcifying organisms.” WHOI and the National Science Foundation funded the work.

Sounds like a useful project to add to the knowledge about CO2’s effects. Also, sounds like they’re following the scientific method.

H/T Julian Morris on Facebook


Thomas L. Friedman’s op-ed in the NYT today could have been written by Paul Krugman.  And that’s not a compliment.

Friedman, like Krugman, waxes hysterical about those who are opposing  the cap-and-trade energy bill – those “deniers.” And, also like Krugman, he sets up those opponents as straw men that he can readily knock down.  In today’s article, Friedman worries about U.S. dependence on foreign oil supplied by  ”petro-dictators” and he fears ever-rising prices for increasingly scarce fossil fuels.

So either the opponents of a serious energy/climate bill with a price on carbon don’t care about our being addicted to oil and dependent on petro-dictators forever or they really believe that we will not be adding 2.5 billion more people who want to live like us, so the price of oil won’t go up very far and, therefore, we shouldn’t raise taxes to stimulate clean, renewable alternatives and energy efficiency.

Friedman’s terror about world population growth, especially growth in developing countries, is Malthusian.  (See Julian Simon on population and natural resources in “The Ultimate Resource II.”) . And Friedman  doesn’t seem to want those people to use energy to improve their standard of living.  Here’s what he says about that dream for a better life:

The world keeps getting flatter – more and more people can now see how we live, aspire to our lifestyle and even take our jobs so they can live how we live. So not only are we adding 2.5 billion people by 2050, but many more will live like “Americans” – with American-size homes, American-size cars, eating American-size Big Macs.

Such horror one can’t imagine for a person living at a subsistence level in India or China.

In his article, Friedman says that “clean energy” is the answer to the world’s energy problems.  He embraces  “E.T.” (no, not that visitor from another planet), but “energy technology”  that is carbon-less and efficient.

And we believe the best way to launch E.T. is to set a fixed, long-term price on carbon – combine it with the Obama team’s impressive stimulus for green-tech – and then let the free market and innovation do the rest.

His solution then is to tax conventional energy and subsidize alternative energy sources. Right.  That’s clearly an innovative solution that nobody has thought of.  And how would this affect the population bomb he fears?  Undoubtedly, raising the price of fossil fuels could indeed have an effect on developing countries’ populations.  While waiting for those alternative energy sources to develop, they’ll  continue to face poverty and resultant devastating diseases.  Not surprisingly, Friedman doesn’t address that problem.

Oh dear!  Staunch trade proponent Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute is in bed with radical trade opponent Lori Wallach of Public Citizen in a joint op-ed in the Washington Post today.  It seems Bergsten thinks there’s no chance of a legislative cap on CO2 emissions unless the U.S. does something to address the competitiveness issues, and he’s against “border tax adjustments” because of its potentially devastating effect on the world trading system.

That’s the good part.  The bad part is that both he and Wallach want to combine the two issues – global warming and trade – and deal with them together. That was a recommendation that the Peterson Institute for International Economics made in a study earlier this year. What that would mean still seems a bit vague.  According to the op-ed, this synthesis would involve –

. . . a new code of “best practices” on greenhouse gas emission controls, including establishment of “policy space” for countries to limit emissions without sacrificing the competitive position of their industries. The institute also recommended that countries adopt a time-limited “peace clause” in which pursuit of new trade barriers would be suspended while the negotiations proceeded, and that a global climate accord be linked to a new global trade accord.

The synthesis would seem to involve  countries agreeing to a “code” that would address restrictions on CO2 emissions  and be generally consistent with WTO rules even if some technical rules would be violated.  Countries signing up for the code would agree not to bring those technical issues to the WTO for dispute resolution (the “peace clause”).

Those “technical” issues, in practice, however, are likely to become substantive issues, as countries enact  a broad array of restrictive  measures to protect their own industries.  But, never fear, the Peterson Institute also recommends in its book that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or some international arbiter decide when a code member isn’t in compliance with its international commitments.  Then, if that’s the case, other code members could take trade reprisals against that non-complying member.

Does this sound like a simple plan that would run smoothly?  Not in my book.

The article concludes with a bit of hyperbole — that the “only way to solve our problems is to treat them together.”  Otherwise, we’ll have “paralysis.”

Given the fact that global warming policy prescriptions have been extremely controversial even before the Kyoto Protocol 12 years ago, and the fact that the WTO’s Doha Round for 8 years has been mired down in disagreements among rich and poor countries, does it seem likely that putting these two divisive issues together will produce harmony?

Uh-oh.  Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) is raising the stakes on a U.S. climate bill by endorsing the idea of some sort of tariff on goods from countries that haven’t taken steps to suppress fossil fuel use.  According to Reuters, Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, yesterday said:

“We must push our trading partners to do their part to curb harmful emissions and we must devise a border measure, consistent with our international obligations, to prevent the carbon leakage that would occur if US manufacturing shifts to countries without effective climate change programs.”

Currently the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer, has rushed through its own bill without minority input to try to catch up with the House, which passed its cap-and-trade bill – H.R. 2454 — on June 26, 2009. The House bill contains a border tax adjustment measure, while the Senate bill does not.  At least, yet.  But Baucus’ comments are a strong signal that the Senate bill will also include tariffs or border “adjustments,” i.e., taxes.

This unfortunate idea is gaining greater traction among global warming advocates as a way to maintain U.S. competitiveness for industries, such as steel and cement, that would be facing higher costs if an energy suppression bill to address global warming is passed.  Proponents of “border measures” also see this as a way to curtail so-called leakage of carbon-intensive industries and related jobs to other countries without similar constraints. Of course, the common justification for those who want to hobble their competition is the refrain: “Level the playing field.”  In Washington politics, that usually means bringing your competitors down to your level.  Check out this article for some possible consequences.

These endorsements could portend a carbon tariff push in Copenhagen when world climate pukkas gather on December 7, 2009. Luckily for people in the U.S., it’s not likely that a newly minted global warming bill will be in their pockets.

Today’s New York Times carries an article, “Hopes fade for comprehensive climate treaty.“  It’s not that important an article about the lead-up to Copenhagen.  What’s most interesting are the comments from these NYT readers — many expressing skepticism about catastrophic global warming, confusion about the science, and linkages between energy use and economic growth. Here are some examples of those views – of course, the usual “sky is falling” comments are there too.


Maybe some day, someone will finally say, “Global warming is a fraud perpetrated by Al Gore and other green technology invested twits to make themselves rich at tax payers expense” and it fall and die and turn into “Global cooling”… again..

Dan DiLeo

Faced with the pressing desire of their citizens for improved living standards,it is hard to imagine the leaders of poor and emerging countries to do anything that might conceivably inhibit the most rapid and most well-tested possible path to development. The only conceivable way to get them to sign on is through some enormous and very reliable transfer of wealth to those countries. Very hard to envision.


Good news! I knew we could count on the international bureaucrats to disagree and throw a monkey wrench into this farce called global warming. As the world starts a cyclical cooling trend maybe they will come to their senses, if that is even possible for these people.


[Excerpt from lengthy comment]… My suggestion? I would love for a news source like the New York Times to host a series of debates between the scientists on both sides of this issue. No politicians or other loudmouths allowed. I’d like to see an agenda created ahead of time, negotiated by both sides so the issues are framed properly and also have the encounters structured so that the key issues are given enough time to be thoroughly explored. If the AGW folks win this hands down – as they should if the debate it’s structured properly, than folks like me can feel more assured in demanding the very difficult policy decisions that we must make from our leadership.

Finally, I know that the Gore’s of the world, and many other’s, say “the debate is over” but clearly, in the real world, it’s not, otherwise we’d be seeing different behavior. Let’s do this, let’s make it global and make it a learning experience for all of us. Instead of cursing the darkness and hoping our government can force policy on folks who don’t believe in AGW, let’s lead people to understand this issue more clearly. I think that may be the only chance we have, and if the planet is really at risk, then of course the effort is worth it.


The USA march toward European Socialism will result in the colapse of our ecconomy and way of life. Countries like Brazil, India, China, and Russia are growing because the have and is energy as a way of growing their ecconomy. The USA can not shrink its self to propserity. Renewable energy – Yes. Energy indepentence – Yes. Cap and Trade (tax) – NO NO!!

Even before publication, the book SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance is the topic of hot debate – on economists’ blogs, including Krugman’s, on Amazon, and, of course, on environmental sites.  SuperFreakonomics’ authors are Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and Stephen J. Dubner, a former writer and editor at The New York Times Magazine.

The heat was generated by Chapter 5 of the book, which deals with global warming and mitigation techniques, such as geoengineering.  Since the chapter is no longer available for perusal on Amazon, it’s hard to take part in the debate.  But here’s one of the co-authors, Dubner, defending the chapter:

Our global-warming chapter has several sections. We discuss how it’s a very hard problem to solve since pollution is an externality – that is, the people who generate pollution generally don’t pay the cost of their actions and therefore don’t have strong incentives to pollute less. We discuss how even the most sophisticated climate models are limited in their ability to predict the future, and we discuss the large measure of uncertainty in this realm, given that global climate is such a complex and dynamic system. We discuss some of the commonly held misperceptions about climate and energy, including the fact that the historic relationship between global temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide is more complicated than is generally thought.

The real purpose of the chapter is figuring out how to cool the Earth if indeed it becomes catastrophically warmer.

Here’s how Krugman, with his usual understatement, puts down the authors:

. . .they didn’t even look into the debate sufficiently to realize what company they were placing themselves in.

And that’s not acceptable. This is a serious issue. We’re not talking about the ethics of sumo wrestling here; we’re talking, quite possibly, about the fate of civilization. It’s not a place to play snarky, contrarian games.

Here’s a review of the whole book in the Financial Times this past weekend.