Craig Idso

Post image for Why Is Congress Lethargic about Energy?

This week National Journal’s Energy Experts Blog poses the question: “What’s holding back energy & climate policy.” So far 14 wonks have posted comments including yours truly. What I propose to do here is ‘revise and extend my remarks’ to provide a clearer, more complete explanation of Capitol Hill’s energy lethargy.

To summarize my conclusions in advance, there is no momentum building for the kind of comprehensive energy legislation Congress enacted in 2005 and 2007, or the major energy bills the House passed in 2011, because:

  • We are not in a presidential election year so Republicans have less to gain from passing pro-energy legislation just to frame issues and clarify policy differences for the electorate;
  • Divided government makes it virtually impossible either for congressional Republicans to halt and reverse the Obama administration’s regulatory war on fossil fuels or for Hill Democrats to pass cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, or a national clean energy standard;
  • Democrats paid a political price for cap-and-trade and won’t champion carbon taxes without Republicans agreeing to commit political suicide by granting them bipartisan cover;
  • The national security and climate change rationales for anti-fossil fuel policies were always weak but have become increasingly implausible thanks to North America’s resurgence as an oil and gas producing province, Climategate, and developments in climate science;
  • Multiple policy failures in Europe and the U.S. have eroded public and policymaker support for ’green’ energy schemes;
  • It has become increasingly evident that the Kyoto crusade was a foredoomed attempt to put policy carts before technology horses; and,
  • The EPA is ’enacting’ climate policy via administrative fiat, so environmental campaigners no longer need legislation to advance their agenda.

[click to continue…]

Post image for Sen. Whitehouse vs the ‘Deniers’ – Addendum on Ocean Acidification

As discussed in an earlier post, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) took to the Senate floor in December last year to lash out at climate ‘deniers.’ Among other allegations, Whitehouse said “deniers tend to ignore facts they can’t explain away.” He cites “the increasing acidification of the oceans,” which ”is simple to measure and undeniably, chemically linked to carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. So we hear nothing about ocean acidification from the deniers,” he claims. Not so, I explained.

Prominent skeptics Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger of the Cato Institute discussed the subject on their old blog, World Climate Report. Another leading skeptical Web site, CO2Science.Org, maintains an ocean acidification database, and the researchers – Drs. Craig, Sherwood, and Keith Idso – review another scientific paper on acidification just about every week. My earlier post concluded: “They don’t share Sen. Whitehouse’s alarm about ocean acidification, but they do not ignore it. The Senator should check his facts before casting aspersions.”

It’s a familiar pattern. Al Gore would have us believe that if we acknowledge the reality of anthropogenic global warming, then we must also believe in his ”planetary emergency” and embrace his policy agenda as a moral imperative. Similarly, the Gorethodox would have us believe that if CO2 emissions make sea water slightly more acidic (actually, slightly less basic), then corals and other calcifying organisms are headed for disaster and, again, we have a moral imperative to stop mountaintop coal mining, block the Keystone XL pipeline, etc.

Here I’d like to reproduce in full the Idsos’ latest review of an ocean acidification study, because it clearly demonstrates the difference between facts and alarmist interpretations of facts.

Growth, Calcification and Mortality of Juvenile Mussels Exposed to Ocean Acidification
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Reference
Range, P., Pilo, D., Ben-Hamadou, R., Chicharo,M.A., Matias, D., Joaquim, S., Oliveira, A.P. and Chicharo, L. 2012. Seawater acidification by CO2 in a coastal lagoon environment: Effects on life history traits of juvenile mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 424-425: 89-98.

Background
Ocean acidification is considered by climate alarmists to be detrimental to nearly all sea creatures; and the early life-stages of these organisms are generally thought to be the most sensitive stages to this environmental change.

What was done
In a study designed to explore these assumptions, the authors tested the effects of seawater acidification by CO2 addition, leading to reductions of 0.3 and 0.6 pH units, on six-month-old juvenile mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis), which they obtained from a mussel raft on the Ria de Ares-Betanzos of Northwest Spain, focusing their attention on growth, calcification and mortality. [click to continue…]

Post image for Carbon Tax? Sorry, I Already Gave at the <strike>Office</strike> Gas Pump

Carbon tax advocates say Congress should slap a price penalty on fossil fuels to make consumers bear the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) — the damage carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions allegedly inflict on public health and welfare via their presumed impacts on global climate.

What is the SCC? Depends on who you ask. Climate “hot heads” like Al Gore think the SCC is huge. “Lukewarmers” like Patrick Michaels think the SCC is less than the cost of the tax or regulatory burden required to make deep cuts in CO2 emissions. “Flatliners” like Craig Idso think the SCC is negative (i.e. CO2′s net impact is beneficial), because a moderately warmer climate is healthful and CO2 emissions nourish the biosphere.

In February 2010, the EPA and 11 other agencies issued a Technical Support Document (TSD) on the SCC. The TSD’s purpose is to enable federal agencies to incorporate the “social benefit” of CO2 emission reductions into cost-benefit estimates of regulatory actions.

The TSD recommends that agencies, in their regulatory impact analyses, use four SCC estimates, ranging from $5 per ton to $65 per ton in 2010:

For 2010, these estimates are $5, $21, $35, and $65 (in 2007 dollars). The first three estimates are based on the average SCC across models and socio-economic and emissions scenarios at the 5, 3, and 2.5 percent discount rates, respectively. The fourth value is included to represent the higher-than-expected impacts from temperature change further out in the tails of the SCC distribution.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Both the federal and state governments levy taxes on motor fuel. Motor fuel taxes are not called carbon taxes but their economic effect is the same – impose a price penalty on consumption. Moreover, via simple arithmetic any carbon tax can be converted into an equivalent gasoline tax and vice versa.

The point? Americans in every state except Alaska already pay a combined federal and state gasoline tax that is higher than a carbon tax set at $5, $21, or $35 per ton. Americans in five states pay a combined gasoline tax that is higher than a $65 per ton carbon tax. Americans in several other states pay a combined gasoline tax that is nearly as high as a $65 per ton carbon tax.    [click to continue…]

Post image for Was the Medieval Warm Period Confined to Europe?

That’s what the self-anointed ‘consensus of scientists’ claims. As noted in a previous post this week, right after the IPCC famously declared that the 1990s were likely the warmest decade of the past millennium, they stated: “Evidence does not support the existence of globally synchronous periods of cooling or warming associated with the ‘Little Ice Age’ and ‘Medieval Warm Period’” (Third Assessment Report, Chap. 2, p. 102).

But those remarkable Idsos, Shirwood, Craig, and Keith, keep reviewing studies that find evidence of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) not only in Europe but also in Asia, Africa, Australia/New Zealand, North America, South America, the Oceans, and even Antarctica. What’s more, the preponderance of these studies indicate that the MWP was warmer than the current warm period (CWP). The Idsos divide these studies into two categories, Level 1 Studies, which attempt to quantify the difference between MWP peak temperatures and CWP peak temperatures, and Level 2 Studies, which indicate whether the MWP peak temperatures were higher than, lower than, or the same as CWP peak temperatures.

This week on their Web site, CO2Science.Org, the Idsos review a study, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, that attempts to reconstruct the temperature history of the Antarctic Peninsula from ikaite crystals (an icy version of limestone) in marine sediments. [click to continue…]

Post image for Antarctica: New Evidence Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age Were Global

Did the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) occur only in Europe, or were they global in scope?

This is a hotly debated question, because it is harder to make the case that the warmth of recent decades is “unusual,” ”extraordinary,” or “unprecedented” and therefore something to stress about if global climate oscillates naturally between warming and cooling periods. The catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) crowd tend to write off the MWP (~1000-1200 A.D.) and LIA (~1300-1850 A.D.) as regional phenomena, largely confined to Northern Europe. A new study finds evidence of the MWP and LIA in a region 10,000 miles south of Northern Europe: the Antarctic Peninsula. [click to continue…]

Post image for DeSmog Blog’s Bogus Exposé of the Heartland Institute

Updated February 18, 12:34 a.m.

Earlier this week, the climate hysterics at DeSmog Blog and ThinkProgress tried (but failed) to manufacture a scandal by posting board-meeting and fund-raising documents stolen under false pretenses from the Heartland Institute, the Illinois-based free-market think tank. You can read Heartland’s response to the document heist here.

In the climate debate, Heartland is perhaps best known as organizer and host of six international climate conferences and as publisher of Climate Change Reconsidered: The Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

The Heartland conferences transformed the disparate ranks of climate-alarm skeptics into a confident, energized, networked movement. The NIPCC report and related publications not only debunk Al Gore’s “planetary emergency” but also provide the only comprehensive, fully-documented alternative to the alleged “scientific consensus” represented by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

So it’s not hard to understand why eco-bloggers are desperate to sully Heartland’s good name and damage the Institute’s funding. But, it turns out, one of the documents is a fake, one of the facts headlined in the exposé is an error, and all that the documents show is what everybody already knows: Heartland seeks financial support from like-minded individuals, foundations, and corporations to combat climate alarmist propaganda, and, to its credit, generously seeks to help fund other worthy organizations to build the larger movement of which it is a part. [click to continue…]

On April 6, 2011, 50 Senators voted for S. 482, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, a bill to stop EPA from ‘legislating’ climate policy under the guise of implementing the Clean Air Act. Supporters needed 60 votes to pass the bill. “Senate Definitively Beats Back Efforts to Restrict EPA Climate Rules,” declared the title of Inside EPA’s column (April 8, 2011) on the vote. That is spin masquerading as news.

Let’s review some not-so-ancient history. In 2003, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced S. 139, the Climate Stewardship Act, a carbon cap-and-trade bill. It was defeated by a vote of 43-55. In 2005, McCain and Lieberman introduced a revised version, S. 1151, the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. It went down in flames by a bigger margin: 38-60. In 2007, McLieberman introduced yet another iteration (S. 280), which never even made it to the floor for a vote.

In three different Congresses, the McLieberman bill died in the Senate. After these continual defeats, did Inside EPA, the bill’s sponsors, or any environmental group declare that the Senate “definitively” rejected cap-and-trade?

Of course not. Yet S. 482 garnered more votes than any cap-and-trade bill the Senate has ever debated. Sponsors of S. 482 say they will press for other opportunities to hold additional votes. The day after the Senate vote, the House passed an identical measure (H.R. 910) by a vote of 255-172, a large victory margin that should improve prospects for eventual passage in the Senate. 

Another vote could occur as early as next month when Congress debates whether to raise the national debt ceiling. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested last week that legislation to raise the debt ceiling — a key priority for Team Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed (D-Nev.) – might have to include curbs on EPA’s regulatory authority (The Hill, April 16, 2011). 

Since reports of S. 482′s demise are greatly exaggerated, it is useful to examine the tactics of leading Senate opponents. Previous posts review California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s tirade against S. 482 and Montana Sen. Max Baucus’s alternative legislation to codify EPA’s ever-growing ensemble of greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. Today’s post offers a running commentary on New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s floor statement opposing S. 482 (Congressional Record, April 6, 2011, pp. S2170-71). If Lautenberg’s rant is the best opponents can do, they have “definitively” lost the debate. [click to continue…]

The scariest part of the global warming scare is the prediction of rapidly accelerating sea-level rise. In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore warns that if half the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and half the Greenland Ice Sheet melted or broke off and slid into the sea, sea levels could rise as much as 20 feet. Gore implies this could happen within our lifetimes or those of our children, stating, in the book version of AIT (pp. 204-206), that some 100 million people living in Beijing, Shanghai, Calcutta, and Bangladesh would  “be displaced,” “forced to move,” or “have to be evacuated.”

I debunk Gore’s sci-fi doomsday scenario in earlier posts.  Suffice it to say here that the UN IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report projects 18-59 centimeters (7-23 inches) of sea-level rise by 2100. To be sure, some scientists, such as Scripps Institute of Oceanography researcher Dr. Richard Somerville, who testified recently before the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, claim the IPCC estimate is too low and that sea levels will rise by 1-2 meters.

Drs. Shirwood, Craig, and Keith Idso, our colleagues at the Center for Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, have posted an editorial on sea-level rise that reviews a new study based on global tide gauge data.

The study, Houston and Dean (2011), finds that the rate of sea-level rise over the past 80 years has not accelerated and, in fact, has slightly decelerated. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on sea level rise ending up near the low-end of the IPCC projection — about 7 inches, roughly the same amount as occurred in the 20th century. Clearly, now is not the time to sell the beach house!

The Idsos’s editorial follows in full: [click to continue…]