New York Times

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The New York Times today ran its second editorial scolding the Obama Administration for its decision to delay a tightening of ozone standards in response to a lengthy article by John Broder who exhaustively detailed the big players in this decision and their thought processes. Though there are critiques of the science behind the evidence of harm from ozone concentrations of ~75 parts per billion, I’d like to focus on an outcome of the ozone tightening that the NYT implies is nothing but an industry talking point:

This page was not impressed by those arguments then and is no less skeptical of them now in light of John M. Broder’s exhaustive account in The Times on Thursday of the steps that led up to the decision. The article paints a picture of an aggressive campaign by industry lobbyists and heavyweight trade groups like the American Petroleum Institute that began soon after it became clear that Ms. Jackson was determined to tighten the rules governing allowable ozone levels across the country.

The standards governing ozone — the main component of harmful smog — are supposed to be set every five years. But because the standards proposed by the Bush administration in 2008 were seen as inadequate by the scientific community and had been challenged in court, Ms. Jackson decided to set her own standards, tough but achievable. Their health benefits would approximate their costs, and they would not begin to bite for several years, giving industry time to prepare. [click to continue…]

Post image for Lighting Specialists Stockpiling Incandescent Bulbs

Via The New York Times

Unsurprisingly, the article takes a holier-than-thou tone towards those Americans who (*GASP*) won’t just roll over and let Washington bureaucrats tell us what’s best, and those who don’t feel that it is the government’s business to tell them what kind of lighting they can use in their home.

However, this attack on us mere commoners who actually appreciate consumer freedom runs into a problem: many hotshot interior decorators and lighting specialists also like the incandescent bulbs, thus the stockpiling. It’s an interesting contrast — it is okay for experts who appreciate light to stockpile incandescent bulbs but everyone else is overreacting, possibly succumbing to the right-wing media machine:

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A staple of climate alarmism is the claim that snow pack in the arid West is shrinking and melting earlier in the spring season, diminishing supplies of water needed for irrigated agriculture in the hot summer months. But this year, snow pack is at record highs. Indeed, snow is piled so high that the big worry is not about summer drought but flash floods.

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Over the weekend, Atlantic/MSNBC pundit Ronald Brownstein wrote an atrocious column on energy policy for National Journal. It was so bad that he usurped Thomas Friedman at the top of my shit list for awful commentary on energy.

In instances such as Brownstein’s A Mayday Manifesto for Clean Energy, wherein every sentence is either dross or wrong, there is only one way to set the record straight: Brownstein must be Fisked*.

* Fisk [fisk]

an Internet argument tactic involving a reprinting of an article or blog post, interlarded with rebuttals and refutations, often intended to show the original is a sandpile of flawed facts, unfounded assertions, and logical fallacies. Named for English journalist Robert Fisk (b.1946), Middle East correspondent for the “Independent,” whose writing often criticizes America and Israel and is somewhat noted for looseness with details. Related: Fisked ; fisking .

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Mr. Brownstein is Fisked in the footnotes to each paragraph of his piece.

Ronald Brownstein, A Mayday Manifesto for Clean Energy
National Journal, 12 May 2010

The horrific oil spill staining the Gulf of Mexico is an especially grim monument to America’s failure to forge a sustainable energy strategy for the 21st century1.

1 By the same token, hospitals and schools are especially cheerful monuments to America’s conventional energy strategy of the 19th and 20th century. Yes, the Gulf spill is horrific, but so is a life of immobility. Let us remember, oil is good.

But it is not the only one.

Another telling marker came in a jarring juxtaposition this week. On June 10, a group of technology-focused business leaders — including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr1, and the current or former chief executives of General Electric2, DuPont3, Lockheed Martin, and Xerox — issued a mayday manifesto urging a massive public-private effort to accelerate research into clean-energy innovations. Without such a commitment, they warned, the United States will remain vulnerable to energy price shocks4; continue to “enrich hostile regimes” that supply much of the United States’ oil5; and cede to other nations dominance of “vast new markets for clean-energy technologies6.” At precisely the moment these executives were scheduled to unveil their American Energy Innovation Council report, the Senate was to begin debating a resolution from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to regulate the carbon dioxide emissions linked to global climate change.

1 According to USA Today, Doerr’s firm placed “big bets” on green technology, so it’s not terribly shocking that he would endorse public policies that force consumers to use green energy.
2GE is a world leader in the manufacture of green energy technology, and spends millions of dollars every year lobbying for government policies to force consumers to use green energy.
3Due to business as usual decisions on manufacturing processes, DuPont stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars in “early action” carbon credits under a cap-and-trade energy rationing system.
4Green energy is more expensive than conventional energy! By forcing consumers to use expensive energy, government imposes a green energy price shock.
5I hate this jingoistic blather, but if Brownstein wants to play this game, then the obvious solution to “energy dependence” is “drill, baby, drill.
6Of all the pseudo-facts proffered by green energy advocates, the idea that we are losing a global, mercantilist race for green energy supremacy is the stupidest. There is only one source of demand for green energy technologies–first world governments–and inefficient, statist markets are never the subject of global great games.

However the Senate vote turned out (after this column went to press)1, the disapproval resolution has virtually no chance of becoming law because it is unlikely to pass the House2 and would be vetoed by President Obama if it ever reached him. But the substantial support that Murkowski’s proposal attracted highlights the political obstacles looming in front of any policy that aims to seriously advance alternatives to the carbon-intensive fossil fuels that now dominate the United States’ energy mix. Her resolution collided with the Innovation Council report like a Hummer rear-ending a hybrid.

1The resolution failed, 47 to 53, with 6 Democrats joining the entire Senate Republican Caucus in support.
2Not true; a companion disapproval resolution offered in the House by powerful Reps. Colin Peterson (MN) and Ike Skelton (MO) already has been cosponsored by 23 other Democratic Representatives. If the Senate had passed the Murkowski Resolution, all the tea leaves point (Blue Dog support, an upcoming election year, the need for many Reps. To atone for last summer’s “aye” vote on cap-and-tax) to a close House vote.

It’s reasonable to argue that Congress, not EPA, should decide how to regulate carbon1. But most of those senators who endorsed Murkowski’s resolution also oppose the most plausible remaining vehicle for legislating carbon limits: the comprehensive energy plan that Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., recently released2. Together, those twin positions effectively amount to a vote for the energy status quo in which the United States moves only modestly to unshackle itself from oil, coal, and other fossil fuels.

1 Yes, it is. After the Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v EPA (2007) that greenhouse gases could be regulated under the Clean Air Act, Michigan Rep. John Dingell, who authored the Act, said that, “This [regulating greenhouse gases] is not what was intended by the Congress.” Moreover, the Congress considered but ultimately removed emissions requirements from a 1990 Clean Air Act update. Despite the absence of a Congressional mandate, Obama’s EPA is pressing ahead with greenhouse gas regulations. For many Senators-including 6 Democrats-this is an unacceptable power grab by the executive branch.
2Doesn’t this stand to reason? Cap-and-trade repeatedly has failed to pass through the Congress-why would legislators vote down a policy and then stand pat while unelected bureaucrats enact that policy?

The Innovation Council proposes a more ambitious course. (The Bipartisan Policy Center, the centrist think tank where my wife works, provided staff support for the group.) The council frames the need for a new energy direction as being as much of an economic imperative as an environmental one. It calls for a national energy strategy centered on a $16 billion annual federal investment in energy research — as much, the group pointedly notes, as the United States spends on imported oil every 16 days1.

1Blah-we’ve already wasted billions of dollars on government-funded energy research. Sad to say, but $16 billion is but a drop in the bucket.

Equally important, the group urges that government catalyze the development of energy alternatives by sending “a strong market signal” through such mechanisms as mandates on utilities to produce more renewable energy or “a price or a cap” on carbon emissions1. Such a cap is precisely what the Senate resolution sought to block. But the business leaders said that it is one of the policies that could “create a large, sustained market for new energy technology.”

1ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!?? Renewable energy mandates (a.k.a. soviet style productions quotas) and “a cap” on carbon emissions (a.k.a. Soviet style energy rationing) ARE NOT “market signals”!!!! They are tools with which the government picks and chooses winners in the enrgy industry.

One of the council’s key insights was to recognize that expanded energy research and limits on carbon (or other mandates to promote renewable power) are not alternative but complementary policies: One increases the supply of new energy sources; the other increases demand for them1. Earlier this month, the nonpartisan Information Technology & Innovation Foundation echoed this conclusion in a report warning that the United States is already faltering in the race for new markets. With the world readying to spend $600 billion annually on clean-energy technology by 20202, the group noted, the United States is now running a trade deficit in these products and facing “declining export market shares” virtually everywhere.

1Indeed, all statist market machinations are complimentary.
2 Again, this supposed $600 billion demand is wholly derivative of first world governments. Absent government supports and mandates, the renewable energy industry is not viable.

Other nations are seizing these opportunities faster. In China, stiff mandates to deploy renewable sources domestically are nurturing local companies capable of capturing international markets1. It’s revealing that even as venerable an American firm as California-based Applied Materials, which produces the sophisticated machinery used to manufacture solar panels, opened a research center last fall in Xian, China. “If the U.S. becomes a bigger market for us, definitely we’d have to readjust our strategy,” general manager Gang Zou recently told visiting journalists. “But today, our customer market is in Asia.” Like the devastation in the Gulf, that stark assessment underscores the price that the United States is paying for the debilitating energy stalemate symbolized by this week’s Senate showdown2.

1 This is hogwash. China is building 3 coal fired power plants every two weeks, and the government is aggressively locking up oil and gas reserves in other countries.
Brownstein finally gets it right-Americans will pay a steep price for last week’s Senate vote. The EPA is trying to dictate its own regulatory pace, but it doesn’t have a choice. According to the text of the Clean Air Act, the feds must regulate all sources larger than a mansion. That would include YOUR small business, YOUR apartment, or YOUR office. Naturally, the EPA wants to avoid such an onerous regulatory regime, and it has devised a legal strategy to that end. The courts, however, have little leeway when it comes to interpreting the statutory text of the law. As a result, the EPA will be forced to regulate virtually the entire economy. The Senate could have stopped a runaway regulatory nightmare by voting for the Murkowski resolution, but Senate leadership is beholden to environmentalists, so it engineered an 11th hour defeat of the legislation. Now there’s nothing standing between you and the green police.

[This is a slightly-edited version of a blog first posted on Fox News Forum.]

The New York Times published a doozy of a front-page story by John M. Broder on Wednesday on the Climate-gate scientific fraud scandal. Those who have been lambasting our national “paper of record” for months for largely ignoring the scandal, while every London paper has run multiple big stories full of juicy new revelations, can now relax. The wise and good Grey Lady has finally taken notice.

Well, not exactly. Broder’s story, headlined “Scientists Take Steps to Defend Climate Work,” is all about how the climate science establishment have realized that they “have to fight back” against critics who have used the Climategate revelations to call into question the scientific case for global warming alarmism. Those whose only source of news for the past three months has been the Times will have a hard time figuring out exactly what they have to fight back against.
Broder’s analysis follows the party line that has been worked out among the leading alarmist climate scientists since the scandal broke on November 19, 2009. And Broder makes no effort to conceal where his sympathies lie. He writes: “But serious damage has already been done,” and then discusses polling data that shows increasing public disbelief in the global warming crisis. From my perspective, that’s serious good that has been done, not damage, but then I’m not an unbiased, fair-minded Times reporter.

Broder further opines on his own behalf: “The battle is asymmetric, in the sense that scientists feel compelled to support their findings with careful observation and replicable analysis, while their critics are free to make sweeping statements condemning their work as fraudulent.” That, of course, is not reporting, but agreeing with one of the alarmists’ talking points.

And it is untrue. Anyone who has ever seen some of the leading scientific proponents of alarmism in action knows that they are not about “careful observation and replicable analysis.” In fact, the major revelation of Climate-gate has been that top climate scientists refused to share their data and methodologies because they were concealing intentional data manipulation as well as incompetence. Which is exactly what their critics have maintained for years.

But blatant bias in news stories from the New York Times is not news. What makes Broder’s story unintentionally compelling is the cast of characters that he quotes to represent the calm, objective voice of establishment science.

First up is Dr. Ralph Cicerone, President of the National Academies of Science (NAS). That is an august position, and the principal reason Cicerone occupies it is because he is a wily political operator. As President of the NAS, he has worked overtime to enforce the alarmist “consensus”.
When Professor Michael E. Mann’s hockey stick graph came under suspicion, Cicerone craftily convened a National Research Council (or NRC—a government-funded scientific consulting company closely affiliated with the NAS) panel to investigate and appointed Professor Gerald R. North of Texas A. and M. University as chairman. The deceptively affable North has proven to be a reliable water carrier for whoever is in authority.

Cicerone did not share with the panel the probing questions that had been sent to him by then-Chairman of the House Science Committee and then the House’s leading green Republican, Sherwood Boehlert. Instead, Cicerone provided his own loaded questions.

When the panel’s report was nonetheless quite critical of the hockey stick research, Cicerone arranged a press release and conference that put a deceptive spin on the panel’s conclusions. Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media reported what they were told at the press conference.

Cicerone is now using the NRC to rush out a report to minimize Climate-gate and defend the alarmist establishment. A group of NAS members led by Stanford Professor Stephen H. Schneider, who has long been the alarmist scientists’ chief political organizer and strategist, asked Cicerone for the study. It is clear that it is intended to be a whitewash.

Broder’s story also quotes Dr. John P. Holdren, now the White House science adviser and a long-time collaborator with Stanford Professor Paul R. Ehrlich of Population Bomb fame. Holdren has made a career of bending science to support left-wing politics and has an unblemished forty-year record of wild doomsday predictions that have all proven wrong.

After a quick quote from Dr. Rajendra K Pachauri, the Chairman of the U. N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who is a railway engineer by profession, Broder concludes by consulting Dr. Gavin A. Schmidt, a climate modeler at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City:

“Climate scientists are paid to do climate science,” said Gavin A. Schmidt…. “Their job is not persuading the public.”

If only that were so, even in the case of Dr. Schmidt. True, his salary is paid by American taxpayers, but it is almost certainly the case that over the past few years he has been spending a good part of his time during office hours and using government equipment to produce political propaganda for, a web site run by Schmidt and Michael E. Mann. has received help from Fenton Communications, the key P.R. firm for the Soros-funded left.
Thus Broder portrays Schmidt as just a scientist trying to be left alone to do his job, but in fact Schmidt is primarily a modestly-skilled political operative working to promote global warming alarmism. Here is Broder quoting Schmidt again:

“What is new is this paranoia combined with a spell of cold weather in the U. S. and the ‘climategate’ release. It’s a perfect storm that has allowed the nutters to control the agenda.”

“Nutters” is English (and Schmidt is English) slang equivalent to “nut” in the sense of crazy person. Well, Schmidt should know—his boss is the director of GISS, Dr. James E. Hansen. Hansen is widely considered to be the leading scientific promoter of global warming alarmism and as such is a highly political animal. He is also increasingly kooky and extreme.

Hansen claimed a few years ago that the Bush Administration was censoring him. It turned out he had given over 1,300 interviews during the Bush years! Hansen predicted over twenty years ago that much of Manhattan would be under water by now as the result of sea level rise caused by global warming.

Last year, Hansen, a federal employee, was arrested for protesting at a coal mine in West Virginia. He has endorsed industrial sabotage as justified by the climate crisis we are facing and said that oil company executives should be put on trial for “high crimes against humanity and nature.”

So Schmidt has it right: the nutters are in control–of the global warming alarmist agenda. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the New York Times to publish that story.

(Myron Ebell is director of Freedom Action. Freedom Action is a Web-based grassroots activist group dedicated to putting freedom on the offensive. Mr. Ebell may be contacted at

The nation’s best science reporter, John Tierney, today publishes a great piece on Climategate on the front page of the New York Times’s Science section.  He goes through some of the hilarious comments in one of the juiciest files unearthed in the scandal so far, the “Harry Read Me” file (which I earlier wrote about here). Anyone who thinks that the “world’s leading climate scientists” don’t have anything to hide might want to read Tierney’s article.  Forget about the likely possibility that fraud was being commited.  Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit, must have known that the data was a mess and hopelessly compromised by ad hoc fixes, yet presented the Hadley/CRU historical global temperature dataset as authoritative.  Phil Jones has now been removed as director of CRU. I think the new operating principle for dealing with climate research should be former President Ronald Reagan’s motto for dealing with the Soviet Union (AKA the Evil Empire): “Trust but verify.”   With emphasis on verify.