At a recent conference in Oslo, Al Gore pounded one of his favorite drums. “We have to act, and we have to act quickly because we don’t want to cross this tipping point,” he warned. This particular tipping point (among the many tipping points in Mr. Gore’s collection) is the proclaimed melting of the world’s polar ice packs and glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere.
Mr. Gore regularly worries about ice melting in the Southern Hemisphere as well. In recent testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Gore warned:
“We already know that the Antarctic Peninsula is warming at three to five times the global average rate. That is why the Larsen B ice shelf, which was the size of Rhode Island, already has collapsed. Several other ice shelves have also collapsed in the last 20 years.
“From the East Coast to the West and across the political spectrum, House lawmakers remain divided over how to protect America from losing a competitive edge to China and other nations under climate change legislation.
“At issue is how to prevent cement, steel, aluminum and other energy-intensive industries from responding to proposed new laws that could have the effect of slashing emissions by shuttering factories only to reopen them in countries unfettered by costly regulations.”
– Lisa Friedman, “Climate law poses trade risks; lawmakers unsure how to respond” E&E News, April 28, 2009 (subscription)
Marlo Lewis’s post, Is Cap-and-Trade Inherently Protectionist?, linked carbon dioxide regulation, U.S.-side tariffs (“border adjustments”), and international protectionism. Indeed, the interventionist dynamic–regulation expanding from its own complications and shortcomings–is a major theme of political economy.…
Now that the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced intent to find that greenhouse gas emissions (primarily carbon dioxide) from human activities lead to the “endangerment of public health and welfare,” the question arises: What could EPA theoretically do about it? (I’ll leave the politics to others.) In other words, can a U.S.-side agency conceptually protect U.S. citizens from the endangerment of their health and welfare from the global issue of global warming?
It turns out that they cannot do much of anything. EPA is simply saber-rattling to get Congress’s attention. If the agency was forced to actually draw their weapon in battle, they would be holding a rubber sword against a massive and growing global force. The bottom line: the EPA is brandishing only about 0.0033ºC/yr-worth of global temperature influence—and that is only if it managed to shut down all greenhouse gas emissions from U.S.…