[Editor’s noteThis is the latest in a semi-regular series whose purpose is to correct the record whenever New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes a story about climate change politics or policy]

Earlier this month, Jonathan Chait penned a cover story for New York Magazine on climate change, which he has since described thusly:

My story in the magazine describes how political pressure and technological innovation are feeding into each other, producing a virtuous cycle of affordable green energy and stronger willpower to reduce emissions.

As always, Chait’s climate change story is peppered with factual inaccuracies. For example, writes Chait:

[I]n 2010, President Obama, temporarily enjoying swollen Democratic majorities in both houses, tried to pass a cap-and-trade law that would bring the U.S. into compliance with the reductions it had pledged in Copenhagen. A handful of Democrats from fossil-fuel states joined with nearly every Republican to filibuster it.

For starters, President Obama did not “try to pass a cap-and-trade law.” In fact, the “cap-and-trade” in question never made it out of the democrat party caucus in the Senate. More to the point, the President effectively killed the effort by punting on a meeting about the measure with Senate democrat leadership. Also, while it’s true that opposition to the bill was bipartisan, there was never a filibuster. Again, the bill never made it out of the democrat Senate caucus, due to intra-party opposition. Republicans didn’t have to lift a finger. So Chait’s history is totally wrong (again).

Of course, there are more mistakes in the piece, but the two most prominent errors undercut his thesis altogether. Chait’s argument is that we should be optimistic because green energy is taking off, and also because China is fervently doing everything it can to reduce emissions. As fate would have it, both of Chait’s primary talking points were refuted by events in only the 17 days since he published his ill-destined article. [click to continue…]

Post image for ‘Moderate’ Rs Call for ‘Action’ on Climate (Crank Me-Too Amplifiers Up to Eleven)

Climatewire (subscription required) reports that Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and at least nine other ‘moderate’ Republicans will introduce a Sense of Congress Resolution today on “conservative environmental stewardship.” The resolution includes the usual warnings about climate change adversely affecting extreme weather, public health, agriculture and tourism, federal and state budgets, and international peace and stability. It calls upon the House to work “constructively . . . to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported public and private solutions.”

As if that were not vague enough, the resolution also affirms that efforts to mitigate climate change “should not constrain the economy of the United States, especially in regards to global competitiveness.” Climatewire helpfully notes that two of the nine co-sponsors, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and Dave Reichert of Washington, were among the 8 Republicans who voted for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in the 111th Congress.

Two questions leap to mind. First, what sort of bipartisan “solutions” could Gibson et al. conceivably negotiate with the Obama administration? Are they saying that the Clean Power PlanHeavy Truck Greenhouse Gas rule, Oil & Gas Methane Rule, and the President’s UN Pledge go too far, so now’s the time to work with Democrats to develop “solutions” that split the difference between Obama’s initiatives and the GOP policy of ‘inaction’? Of course not. For the President and the environmentalist base of the Democratic Party, the administration’s climate initiatives are legacy policies and not open for negotiation or compromise.

Second, just how do the co-sponsors propose to do something “meaningful” about climate change without constraining an economy in which carbon-based fuels supply 82% of annual energy consumption? If policymakers knew how to square that circle, climate change would not be the intensely controversial issue it has been for two-plus decades.

It’s hard to imagine House leadership or any committee of jurisdiction scheduling time to debate or mark up this latest Constructive Republican Alternative Proposal. Nonetheless, given the administration’s increasingly shrill anti-carbon campaign, the impending Papal visit to preach climate alarm to congressional skeptics, and the looming pitched battles over the Clean Power Plan and O’s climate treaty agenda, we should not be complacent when a group of GOP lawmakers decides to crank the Me Too amplifiers up to eleven.










Leadership should have upstaged and preempted the Tweedle Dums by sponsoring its own sense of Congress resolution on climate and energy policy. To encourage such an effort, CEI published a model Sensible Sense of Congress Resolution on Climate Change back in June. Perhaps the Me Too resolution will languish in obscurity after today’s unveiling. But if co-sponsors start piling on, congressional constitutionalists, free-marketers, and affordable energy advocates will need to pass their own resolution to marginalize that of the Tweedle Dums.

As explained in more detail in CEI’s model resolution, the fundamental points to be stressed are: [click to continue…]

In response to the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, Congress in 1975 passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which directs the President “to promulgate a rule prohibiting the export of crude oil” produced in the United States. Congress’s oil export restrictions, like virtually all limits on international trade, are bad policy. Nonetheless, in this instance, the Congress at least was heeding the prevailing political winds (if not reason): the OPEC embargo caused public panic, and banning oil exports was a knee-jerk response to the political mood at hand.

As time passed from this initial panic, legislative prohibitions on oil trade made decreasing sense. And during the past five or so years, a time when American production has boomed thanks to a technological revolution colloquially known as “fracking,” the export ban has become downright stupid. It is, therefore, a welcome development that House of Representatives leadership today in Houston is expected to announce a strategy to advance H.R. 702, legislation that would forbid federal officials from imposing or enforcing restrictions on the export of oil. This *common sense* bill was introduced by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and enjoys healthy bipartisan support.

During a briefing yesterday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked whether the Obama administration has a position on H.R. 702, and his response says a great deal about the sorry state of energy policy in the age of Obama. I’ve reposted his answer below:

MR. EARNEST:  [W]e’ve got a position on this, which is that this is a policy decision that is made over at the Commerce Department.  And for that reason, we wouldn’t support legislation like the one that’s been put forward by Republicans.  And so this is — so for an update on our position, if one is necessary, you can consult with the Commerce Department.

The one thing that I would note is that this policy announcement is being made by Leader McCarthy in front of an organization in Houston that is largely funded by four or five of the biggest oil companies in the United States.  So it is pretty clear, once again, where Republicans in Congress and their political benefactors stand when it comes to their energy policy priorities.  

[Editor’s note: Here, Earnest is referencing how House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is expected to announce leadership’s support for H.R. 702 today at an oil and gas trade association in Houston.]

The fact is I think Leader McCarthy has an opportunity to demonstrate some true political courage where he could go and stand before that organization and actually offer up something bold but also common-sense, which is to end the billions in subsidies that oil and gas companies in the United States already enjoy, and actually use that money to ensure the long-term success of our economy and the energy sector in this country by making important investments in things like wind energy and solar energy — investments that even some of those oil companies themselves have bragged about making.

Earnest’s extraordinary response has two components that warrant exploration.

First, he states that the administration will oppose H.R. 702, because the purpose of the legislation—ending export restrictions—is “a policy decision that is made over at the Commerce Department.” Let’s unpack this a bit, because it says a lot about this administration’s tendency to accrue power.

As I explain above, Congress in 1975 passed a law (EPCA) whose purpose is to restrict the export of oil produced in the U.S. Today, congressional leadership wants to pass a law that would lift such restrictions. Congress passes a law; Congress rescinds the law. That makes sense to me, but not to the President. According to the Obama administration, it’s not Congress’s place to amend its prior laws. Instead, any such alterations are properly “a policy decision that is made over at the Commerce Department.” That is, these decisions are best left to the Executive Branch. Of course, the administration’s “position” is totally impermissible from a constitutional perspective (separation of powers and all that). Nevertheless, Earnest’s response speaks volumes about Obama’s approach to governance. This administration thinks policy should originate in a second term president, by phone or pen, rather than Congress. [click to continue…]

retrieved by from Papal dumpster

received by from our Vatican contacts

Pope Francis will visit Cuba and the United States from 19th through 27th September.  The Vatican’s official schedule for both visits has been published on the Catholic Herald’s web site.

It has since been reported that the Pope will meet with former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, if Fidel is well enough, as well as current dictator Raul Castro while in Cuba.

The White House announced this week that President and Mrs. Obama will meet the Pope on his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base on 22nd September. Pope Francis will address a joint session of Congress on the morning of 24th September.  He is then likely to appear on a balcony of the West Front of the Capitol to speak to a “Moral Action for Climate Justice” mass rally on the Mall. The Pope will address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Summit in New York City on the 25th.

International climate diplomacy is necessarily a joke.

Here’s the cold, hard set-up to the joke: The international system of world states is defined by self-help. This is because there is no global policeman to enforce lofty international goals set by high minded cosmopolitans. Nations of the world may one day by reason bind together and achieve perpetual peace and harmony, but we’re nowhere near there yet. And until then, nation states will conduct their relations with one another based on their selfish interests alone.

UNFCCC: Bigger carbon footprint than even the Pope

UNFCCC: Bigger carbon footprint than even the Pope

With this maxim in mind, now consider the scope of the climate diplomat’s task. According to the International Energy Agency, it would cost $45 trillion to control the world’s thermostat. And this is likely a lowball. Remember, 90% of the world’s energy production is derivative of combusting fossil fuels, the “cause” of supposedly terrifying global warming. Energy, in turn, is a necessary component of all acts of economic production. Therefore, in order to “do something” about climate change, the entire global economy would have to be reordered in accordance with the commands of some centralized entity. Global communism is not an inapt parallel for climate change mitigation policy.

Given the cold, hard truth set forth above, and accounting as well for the hugeness of the undertaking that is seeking to set planet’s temperature, and you are left with an inescapable conclusion: Not Gonna Happen. There is simply no precedent for interstate burden sharing on the order of $45 trillion, short of world war. While wrong-way Jon Chait deems AGW to be a threat as big if not bigger than Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, his ridiculous viewpoint is shared by no one save for environmental zealots, and perhaps climate diplomats.

What, for example, does Jon Chait and his ilk think could happen this December in Paris, which is hosting the latest UN-sponsored conference to “save the plant”? The U.S. position is set. President Obama can pledge emissions cuts commensurate with the regulations his administration imposed. Nor does the President have an independent kitty of cash he can put on the table. Similarly, the European Union position is set. They’ve committed to 40% reductions through 2030; that’s not going to change. Japan and Canada blew through their Kyoto Protocol targets, and have since embraced coal use and unconventional oil production, respectively.

So, what’s going to change? What could Paris accomplish? Will the developed countries, with their unmovable goals and priorities, browbeat rapidly developing countries like China and India into submitting to the west’s green demands?

Fat chance!

[As an aside, I’m here reminded of President Obama’s most humiliating moment abroad. In December 2009, at the last UN-climate confab to “save the planet,” President Obama made a dramatic and unexpected visit, the lowlight of which was his banging on the door of a meeting with Chinese and Indian delegations and demanding entrance, having to sneak in, and then being ignored in front of a gaggle of reporters.]

When the world is seen through the realist lens, climate diplomacy is rightfully identified as absurd theatre. There is no possible endpoint, so jet setting climate diplomats must get busy pretending to make progress. And because there’s only a limited number of ways to make believe diplomatic progress, these pretensions soon become hilarious. [click to continue…]

Amid much fanfare, the Obama administration on August 4th unveiled the “final” Clean Power Plan in a rollout that took place at the White House, before a crowd of environmentalists. To be sure, the rule is popular with the green set; however, it is also hugely controversial, due to the fact that it would subject the entire U.S. electricity *system* to EPA control, whereas before electricity markets were the exclusive preserve of States and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

States thus are faced with a usurpation of their authority, and, accordingly, they are champing at the bit to challenge the rule in court. Moreover, bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress are opposed to the EPA’s broad grant of power to itself, and GOP leadership appears to be keen on challenging the regulation using the Congressional Review Act, which allows simple majorities in the House and Senate to pass a legislative check on major agency regulations.

Here’s the thing: States can’t sue, and Congress can’t pass a legislative veto, until the Clean Power Plan is published in the Federal Register.

When the rule was announced, EPA said that the rule would be published in normal course. According to Politico:

“We’ll be publishing as soon as practicable,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said in an email, explaining, “Typically publication can take anywhere from two weeks to a month. The bigger the print job, often times, the longer the time between signature and publication.” While EPA wouldn’t give an exact date, it has said it will not delay in publishing the rule, as some had previously speculated.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy seconded this notion, saying that the rule’s publication in the Federal Register would “follow a standard process,” as reported by InsideEPA.

So…in early August, concomitant with the announcement of the pre-publication version of the Clean Power Plan, EPA officials publicly stated that the rule would be published in normal course (“anywhere from two weeks to a month”).

But when late August came around—right about the time EPA said the rule would be published and become final—the agency started singing a new tune. On August 31, the Department of Justice filed a court document, on behalf the EPA, regarding an ongoing effort by 15 States and a coal company to arrest the Clean Power Plan before it goes final. In fact, that controversy hinges on when the Clean Power Plan is published in the Federal Register. And Justice’s August 31 memo spoke to this dispositive matter by claiming that

“Consistent with the Agency’s customary practice, EPA is in the process of conducting a final review [of the rule]…prior to transmitting the rule to the Office of the Federal Register… EPA intends to complete this final review process and transmit the rule to the Federal Register no later than September 4…EPA expects, based on past experience with other large rules, that the final rule will be published in the Federal Register by late October.”

Obviously, Justice’s submission gels poorly with EPA’s prior statements. For starters, EPA claimed the rule would be published around late August. Then, when late August came, EPA claimed the rule would be published in late October—three months after the rule was announced at a White House ceremony, and two months after the agency initially said it would be published. EPA states that the cause of the delay is the agency’s “customary practice” of reviewing a final rule after it has been signed by the administrator, but why weren’t EPA’s top officials aware of this “customary practice” when they said the rule would be ready in a month? Also, doesn’t this customary practice raise the spectre of post hoc rationalizations? [click to continue…]

Post image for What Has the Pause Done to the Warming Rate?

Christopher Monckton of Brenchley has a must-read post today on Watts Up With That. “The long and model-unpredicted Great Pause of 18 years 8 months in global mean lower-troposphere temperature as recorded in the RSS satellite monthly dataset is inexorably driving down the longer-run warming rate, when the IPCC’s predictions would have led us to expect an acceleration,” he reports.

Monckton Pause RSS 18 Years 8 Months (Sep 8 2015)




The bright blue line shows the 440-month lower-troposphere temperature trend in the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) record. The green line shows the zero degree warming trend during the 224-month “pause” since December 1997, which, as Monckton notes, is “more than half the entire 440-month record.”

Here’s the cool thing (literally). Thanks to the pause, the trend during the full satellite record works out to just 1.21ºC per century. That is substantially below the IPCC’s central estimate in 1990, which (along with NASA scientist Jim Hansen’s overheated prediction in 1988), put global warming on the political map.

Monckton comments:

In 1990, the IPCC had predicted near-straight-line warming of 1 K to 2025, equivalent to almost 2.8 K/century. Of this warming, more than 0.7 K should have happened by now, but only 0.26 K has actually occurred. The IPCC’s central estimate in 1990, though made on the basis of “substantial confidence” that the models on which it relied had captured all the essential features of the climate system, has proven – thus far, at any rate – to be a near-threefold exaggeration.  

The IPCC knows its models are predicting too much warming. In the graph below, Monckton enlarges the right-hand corner of Figure 10.1(a) from the IPCC’s 2013 Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). CMIP3 is the ensemble of models used in the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), CMIP5 is the ensemble used in AR5. Although CMIP5 predicts less warming than CMIP3, it still increasingly diverges from reality.

Monckton IPCC 10.1(a) Enlarged Sep 8 2015







Note also that a 21st century warming of 1.21ºC is well within the bounds (0.3ºC-1.7ºC) of the IPCC’s lowest projection (RCP2.6), which assumes a 70% reduction in cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 to 2100 compared to baseline projections. In short, the RSS data show about the same warming rate that climate campaigners urge policymakers to achieve via draconian restrictions on carbon-based energy.

What is to be done?

[click to continue…]

Post image for Economic Growth Is the Best Climate Insurance Policy

Declining vulnerability to river floods and the global benefits of adaptation” is the cheery title of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and reviewed this week by Craig Idso on CO2Science.Org. What caught my attention is the study’s rather obvious albeit unstated implications:

  • Richer is safer.
  • Economic growth is the best climate insurance policy.
  • Climate policies that hinder growth would also reduce investments that make our naturally dangerous climate more livable.

The study, by Brenden Jongman of Amsterdam University and five colleagues, examines three factors affecting flood-related deaths and damages around the globe: hazard (the natural frequency and intensity of floods, without human interventions), exposure (the population and assets located in flood-prone areas), and vulnerability (the susceptibility of exposed population and assets to death and damages). The researchers use high-resolution modeling and empirical data to compare changes in hazard and exposure to changes in vulnerability. The metrics for vulnerability are mortality rates (fatalities as a percentage of exposed population) and loss rates (economic damages as a percentage of exposed GDP).

From the abstract:

We find that rising per-capita income coincided with a global decline in vulnerability between 1980 and 2010, which is reflected in decreasing mortality and losses as a share of the people and gross domestic product exposed to inundation. The results also demonstrate that vulnerability levels in low- and high-income countries have been converging, due to a relatively strong trend of vulnerability reduction in developing countries. Finally, we present projections of flood losses and fatalities under 100 individual scenario and model combinations, and three possible global vulnerability scenarios. The projections emphasize that materialized flood risk largely results from human behavior and that future risk increases can be largely contained using effective disaster risk reduction strategies.

India provides a telling example of the power of adaptation to reduce flood-related vulnerability. Two similar tropical cyclones struck eastern India in 1999 (Cyclone 05B) and 2013 (Phailin). “Exposed population was greater in 2013 due to population growth and development in cyclone-prone areas. However, the vulnerability in the region had drastically decreased with the implementation of a disaster management authority; cyclone shelters and early-warning systems ensured that only a small fraction of the population was vulnerable to this event.” As a consequence, “fewer than 50 lives were lost in 2013, whereas the cyclone in 1999 was responsible for more than 10,000 lives lost.” [click to continue…]

This blog repeatedly has stressed the phoniness of President Obama’s climate agenda.To wit:

  • During his 2012 reelection campaign, he conspicuously skirted mention of climate change. Now he calls global warming the most urgent threat in the world today, on par with war and terrorism.
  • During the 2012 debates, candidate Obama tried to outflank Romney’s right on energy policy. That Obama—the one who was trying to get elected—took credit for booming American oil and gas production. Last week, by contrast, 2nd term Obama claimed that Big Oil was conspiring with the Koch brothers to undermine his green goals.

In short, the President cares about climate change only insofar as he desires a legacy for which he has to pay no electoral price. o-tap

That’s the context for the President’s current itinerary. You might be forgiven for thinking the President is still on vacation (see below), but in fact, he’s in the midst of a “two-week global warming messaging sprint,” as described by Politico.; The Washington Examiner calls it a “climate change tour.”

It started in Las Vegas on the 24th of August, with an evening speech to extol a supposed green energy revolution. Then it moved to New Orleans, where the President talked up his administration’s efforts to render the country more resilient in the face of runaway AGW. The final leg of the trip is now unfolding in Alaska, where yesterday he “stare[d] down a melting glacier,” according to the AP, in a scene that evokes Reagan at the Brandenberg Gates (in bizarro world).

But did the President’s staring contest with a giant block of ice inspire Americans to drop everything and fight climate change? After all, that’s the idea behind his trip—to draw attention to the urgency of solving the climate “crisis.” My limited purpose with this post is merely to demonstrate empirically that the President’s PR tour has changed few to zero hearts, due to the simple fact that no one seems to be paying any attention. [click to continue…]

Post image for Obama’s Alaska Trip: Do We Have a Climate Change Problem or a Russia Problem?



Is the glass half empty or half full? If you listen to climate activists, melting polar ice can only mean trouble, with competition for previously inaccessible resources setting the stage for great power conflict, a return to Cold War tensions, or worse.

Yet, as noted in a previous post, activists also warn that climate change will promote conflict by making resources scarcer. The Arctic contains 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30% of its undiscovered natural gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. If Arctic ice melt leads to greater global energy supply, opens the fabled Northwest Passage, and facilitates trade, it could also foster cooperation and peace.

Here’s my two cents. Whatever happens to the polar ice cap in coming decades, nations are more likely to cooperate and resolve disputes peacefully if the United States possesses the capability and will to deter aggression. As factors determining national security risk, potential adversaries’ longstanding geopolitical ambitions and evolving capabilities are likely to matter more than climate change.

The Obama administration, it seems, is worried about Russia’s expanding presence in the Arctic, but wants the public to think we have a climate change problem rather than a Russia problem. Staring down a melting glacier is just so much easier than standing up to Vladimir Putin.

Today is the second day of the President’s three-day trip to Alaska “to shine a spotlight on the impacts of climate change.” As reported in the New York Times by Julie Herschfeld Davis, Obama will “propose speeding the acquisition and building of new Coast Guard icebreakers that can operate year-round in the nation’s polar regions, part of an effort to close the gap between the United States and other nations, especially Russia, in a global competition to gain a foothold in the rapidly changing Arctic.” 

Russia is far ahead of us in ice breakers, and the “gap” is growing:

The aging Coast Guard fleet is not keeping pace with the challenge, the administration acknowledged, noting that the service has the equivalent of just two “fully functional” heavy icebreakers at its disposal, down from seven during World War II. Russia, by contrast, has 41 of the vessels, with plans for 11 more. China unveiled a refurbished icebreaker in 2012 and is building another.  

Russia is also building military bases. Davis quotes Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, who traveled with the President on Air Force One yesterday:

“It’s the biggest buildup of the Russian military since the Cold War,” Mr. Walker said, noting Alaska’s proximity to Russia. “They’re reopening 10 bases and building four more, and they’re all in the Arctic, so here we are in the middle of the pond, feeling a little bit uncomfortable.”

Constructing new ice breakers and “evaluating the feasibility” of extending the port in Nome, Alaska, don’t seem like much of a strategy to counter the Russian military buildup, and the White House is not describing them as such.

The map below, from an Aug. 31 NYT article by Stephen Lee Meyers, shows the Arctic areas with a >50% chance of large undiscovered oil and gas reserves, each country’s exclusive economic zone, international waters (“high seas”), and Arctic waters under Russian control.

Arctic Exclusive Economic Zones






Portions of the region are still in dispute, Wikipedia reports:

Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States all regard parts of the Arctic seas as national waters (territorial waters out to 12 nautical miles (22 km)) or internal waters. There also are disputes regarding what passages constitute international seaways and rights to passage along them.

Russia, for example, views the Northern Sea Route (NSR) stretching from the Bering Sea to the North Atlantic “as internal waters, and thus subject to transit fees, while the international community views the NSR as an international passage,” note Heather Conley and Carolyn Rohloff of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Meyers of the NYT paints a vivid picture of “Russia’s scramble for the Arctic.” [click to continue…]