A free-market energy blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — Climate politics/setbacks

Presidential Debate: Climate Change Cheat Sheet

“[T]he climate effect of greenhouse gas emissions from the production from fossil fuels appears to be less than it is being projected by the world’s best climate models. Yet all climate models agree that U.S. actions alone in reducing greenhouse gas impacts will not have practical impact on the climate. Ipso facto, arguments about energy policy should not be grounded in terms of real-world climate change, present or future.”

With the first presidential debate this Wednesday, and since both candidates have made recent high profile references to climate change and its impacts, perhaps this is a good time to review some basic climate change talking points that each candidates should have at his disposal.

Climate During the Obama Administration

• Over the course of the Obama presidency the rate of global warming has declined.

• Over the course of the Obama presidency the rise of the global sea level has slowed.

• Over the course of the Obama presidency the emissions of greenhouse gases from the U.S. have declined.

None of the above are a result of Obama Administration policies. [Read more →]

October 1, 2012   20 Comments

Ignored Science, Neglected Economics: D.C. Circuit Upholds EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules

“The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision affirming EPA’s first round of greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations in all respects.”

Last year, I outlined  the case being made against the EPA’s issuance of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regulations. The case was being brought before the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by a group of petitioners which have become collectively known as the Coalition for Responsible Regulation, and made up of large number of businesses, business associations and several states. The petitioners argued on several different grounds that the EPA was wrong in the way that it determined that GHGs were an endangerment to the public health and welfare as well as in the manner in which it was going about issuing regulations.

Earlier this week, the Court handed down its decision—a unanimous finding in support of the EPA on virtually all counts. This was very disappointing. For starters, there are at least two major points of science where the Court went terribly astray. The first deals with whether or not the EPA had to consider such things such as adaptation when making its endangerment finding. And the second deals with whether or not the EPA was “reasonable” in its consideration of the science of climate change.

In the first case, the Court decided that such considerations were not part and parcel of what the EPA had to take into account when determining whether or not greenhouse gas emissions may “reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” From the Court’s decision:

The additional exercises State and Industry Petitioners would have EPA undertake—e.g., performing a cost-benefit analysis for greenhouse gases, gauging the effectiveness of whatever emission standards EPA would enact to limit greenhouse gases, and predicting society’s adaptive response to the dangers or harms caused by climate change—do not inform the “scientific judgment” that § 202(a)(1) requires of EPA.

And the Court further deferred to the EPA on the issue:

As EPA stated in the Endangerment Finding, such inquiries “muddle the rather straightforward scientific judgment about whether there may be endangerment by throwing the potential impact of responding to the danger into the initial question.”

But both the Court and the EPA fail to consider that gauging “public health and welfare” is not strictly a matter of “straightforward scientific judgment.” In fact, human adaptation is an integral part of “public health and welfare.” Public health and welfare grows out of the human response to environmental factors, and cannot be judged in isolation as the EPA and the Court seem to think. You cannot remove the human adaptive response in assessing the impact of an environmental change. If you were to do so, humans would have gone extinct hundreds of thousands of years ago. In fact, our survival and conquest of all climates of the earth grows directly out of our adaptive nature. It is part of us. The Court errs in its opinion otherwise.

A full consideration of human adaptive response is a necessary part of any assessment of the potential human impact of climate change. And, as I have pointed out previously, it is likely that public health and welfare may improve under at least some aspects of a global warming.

Secondly, the Court errs when it considers the EPA consideration of the science of climate change “reasonable.” The IPCC, USGCRP, and NRC assessment reports are neither independent of each other, nor particularly transparent and fair. They are geared towards implicating human GHG emissions in virtually all manner of climate and climate change—despite a large body of scientific evidence that points to other influences, many of them of human origin but unrelated to GHG emissions (such as landscape changes, large-scale irrigation, aerosol emissions) that produce a climate change signal that is quite similar to that anticipated by climate models run under increases in GHG emissions.

And such evidence continues to grow. The Court contends that “EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question” but the science of climate change is not at the same stage in its evolution as is the science of the existence of the atom. Instead climate science is subject to a rapidly evolving scientific knowledgebase, and, by no means is it certain that for some key aspects related to human endangerment, what we know today will be the same as what we know tomorrow.

Thus, the EPA should be required to justify its endangerment finding each and every time it issues regulations, and such justification must be supported by an assessment of the very latest and up-to-date scientific findings—and an assessment that is not influenced by the preconceived agendas of agencies outside the EPA (e.g., USGCRP, IPCC, NRC).

I am sure many other folks have many other issues with the ruling.

Certainly, this will not be the last challenge that will be brought against EPA GHG regulations.

An excellent synopsis of the Court’s decision has been produced by Troutman Sanders LLP, one of the legal firms that was representing the petitioners. That synopsis is included below, in its entirety.

From Troutman Sanders, LLP: [Read more →]

June 28, 2012   7 Comments

State Climatologist of Georgia Ousting: Was It Justified? (‘Skepticism’, not only alarmism, can get political)

The political battle to control the flavor of scientific discourse claims another victim. This time it was Dr. David Stooksbury, the 12-year veteran State Climatologist of Georgia whose middle-of-the-road opinions about climate change apparently ran afoul of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s more conservative views.

In an executive order issued last week, Governor Deal stripped Dr. Stooksbury of his title and conferred it to a current employee of the state’s Environmental Protection Division—a position under direct government control, unlike Stooksbury’s rather independent office at the University of Georgia.

Certainly, the Governor can do as he chooses. And the newly tapped Georgia State Climatologist, Bill Murphey is seemingly qualified for the job. But, the move has all the signs of haste, and none of an orderly, well-thought out and coordinated transition. Which hints of something fishy going on.

It is worth bearing in mind that politics should consider scientific opinion, not shape it.

Stooksbury’s ouster is just the latest in a string of State Climatologists have been “replaced” in recent years for what seem like political reasons. [Read more →]

September 19, 2011   9 Comments

Climate Hearings in the 112th Congress: GOP Chairmen Will Need Talent Like Jim’s

Next year, Republicans will be the majority party in the House of Representatives, which means they’ll hold the committee chairmanships and run the hearings. They’ll have opportunities aplenty to review the Obama administration’s global warming policies and the alarmist “science” that supposedly justifies cap-and-trade, renewable energy mandates, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. 

They would do well to study how in the 105th and 106th Congresses, a GOP House committee chairman from Missouri single handedly debunked the Clinton-Gore administration’s economic analysis of the Kyoto Protocol. 

Kyotoism: Down but Not Yet Out

Politically, the last eighteen months have been remarkable. In June 2009, the House passed H.R. 2454, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act,” popularly known as the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill. Waxman-Markey’s passage was the culmination of a 20-year PR/lobbying campaign waged by U.N. officials, regulatory bureaucrats, environmental activists, lefty politicians, and corporate rent seekers.

Many of them crowed that ultimate victory was inevitable. With Barack “Blueprint for Change” Obama in the White House, Speaker Pelosi and Chairmen Waxman and Markey running the climate show in the House, and Majority Leader Reid and Chairman Boxer setting the agenda in the Senate, expectations ran high in green circles.

Their optimistic scenario went as follows: Congress would finally enact cap-and-trade, which would shame China into accepting binding emission limits at the Copenhagen conference, which would then remove the chief obstacle to U.S. ratification of a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol.

Things did not turn out that way. [Read more →]

December 14, 2010   4 Comments

The Death Spiral for Climate Alarmism Continues

“We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions.”

- James Hansen, “The Threat to the Planet,” New York Review of Books, July 13, 2006.

“Desperation is setting in among climate alarmists who by their own math can see that the window is rapidly closing on ‘saving the planet’.”

- Kenneth Green, “A Death Spiral for Climate Alarmism, Redux?” MasterResource, September 30, 2009.

As I have written in a previous post, the trend toward abject panic over climate change seems to have reversed course. For all intents and purposes, climate alarmism – which I define as the reflexive tendency to assume worst-case scenarios generated by climate models are automatically true (and to enact public policy based on that belief) – is locked into a death spiral. The public policy implication is profound: substituting adaptation and wealth creating strategies for tears-in-the-ocean mitigation policies in the U.S. and abroad.

On the political front:

The IPCC’s reputation as a serious scientific institution continues to hemorrhage as a nearly endless string of errors and/or bad practices relating to the Fourth Assessment Report come to light.

As Newsweek put it recently,

Some of the IPCC’s most-quoted data and recommendations were taken straight out of unchecked activist brochures, newspaper articles, and corporate reports—including claims of plummeting crop yields in Africa and the rising costs of warming-related natural disasters, both of which have been refuted by academic studies.

Further, Newsweek opines, the case for policy-development based on climate alarmism is also off the rails,

There are excellent reasons to limit emissions and switch to cleaner fuels—including an estimated 750,000 annual pollution deaths in China, the potential to create jobs at home instead of enriching nasty regimes sitting on oil wells, the need to provide cheap sources of power to the world’s poorest regions, and the still-probable threat that global warming is underway. At the moment, however, certainty about how fast—and how much—global warming changes the earth’s climate does not appear to be one of those reasons.

Internationally, things are not much better for the alarmists. The negotiations in Copenhagen were a complete shambles, resulting only in a non-binding, let’s-meet-again memorandum that the various participating countries “recognized” having seen.

Greenpeace activist, and Independent Commentator Joss Garman characterized the “Copenhagen Accord” thus:

This “deal” is beyond bad. It contains no legally binding targets and no indication of when or how they will come about. There is not even a declaration that the world will aim to keep global temperature rises below 2 C. Instead, leaders merely recognise the science behind that vital threshold, as if that were enough to prevent us crossing it.

The only part of this deal that anyone sane came close to welcoming was the $100bn global climate fund, but it’s now apparent that even this is largely made up of existing budgets, with no indication of how new money will be raised and distributed so that poorer countries can go green and adapt to climate change.

In the EU, the vaunted European Trading System continues to come apart at the seams. According to James Kanter at the NYT:

Carbon traders, for example, have been arrested for tax fraud; evidence has emerged of lucrative projects that may do nothing to curb climate change; and steel and cement companies have booked huge profits selling surplus permits they received for free.

And the EU is backing away from previous plans to tighten its carbon reduction targets. According to Greenwire, [Read more →]

June 2, 2010   14 Comments

The Rapidly Melting Case For Carbon Legislation

What a difference 12 months makes. Almost exactly one year ago, the popular, newly minted president, Barack Obama, was telling Congress that he wanted “legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.”

The Democrats, fully confident of their new president and their grip on both houses of Congress, were certain that they could pass yet another big energy bill that would finally push hydrocarbons off their pedestal and replace them with wind turbines, solar panels, and every other type of alternative energy.

An Unstimulated Economy

But a lot has happened since Obama delivered his first State of the Union address. The global economy has continued to show lackluster growth. And perhaps most important: unemployment rates in the U.S. remain stubbornly high and are expected to stay high for at least the next two years. The massive stimulus, in short, has been expensive and unstimulating.

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that “roughly 2.7 million jobless people will lose their unemployment check before the end of April unless Congress approves the Obama administration’s proposal to extend the payments.” The same story, written by Peter S. Goodman, also contained this astonishing fact: Some 6.3 million Americans have “been unemployed for six months or longer, the largest number since the government began keeping track in 1948. That is more than double the toll in the next-worst period, in the early 1980s.”

Real estate foreclosures in the U.S. are soaring, with up to 3.5 million homeowners facing the threat of foreclosure this year. And of course, there’s the changing balance of power in Congress. The Democrats’ brief stint with a super majority has ended in the Senate, where a Republican, Scott Brown, now sits in the chair held by the late Ted Kennedy.

Other Problems for Climate Alarmism

Meanwhile, sloppy work has tarnished the reputation of the UN-sanctioned Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), perhaps irretrievably so. [Read more →]

February 23, 2010   6 Comments