“As another financial/commodity trading scheme, [cap-and-trade] will find favor. As a means of changing the weather, I would not bet on it.”
Has my first letter-to-the-editor, published in the Wall Street Journal, in June 2007 stood the test of time? I’ll let you decide. But for me, eight years later, I feel a mixture of “I told you so” and bit of dismay.
Some background. A few years after moving to Charlottesville, Virginia, I realized that the University of Virginia here had been home to a several notables in climate science such as Professors S. Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels, and, of course, Michael Mann. I became emboldened by the power of my new computer and my enthusiasm to do something to counter the full blast of climate alarmism then being propagated by Al Gore, his disciples, and his film, An Inconvenient Truth.
Training in engineering and medicine had imbued me with a sense of, and respect for, logic. It has been disappointedly, then, to notice how emotional arguments have been resorted to in order to capture the attention of the general public.
This letter of June 7, 2007, under the heading “Global Warming: Irrational Assumptions and Speculation,” is not available on the Internet, so I present it as it appeared.
After reading and re-reading R. Glenn Hubbard’s “Capitalism Against Climate Change” (editorial page, May 31), I think a more honest title would have been “How to Profit from a Climate of Fear.” The Journal and Mr. Hubbard both could be said to be concerned with economics, and so his opinion piece is quite at home here. Your readers and I presumably wish to invest and profit from investment opportunities as well.
Mr. Hubbard does not credential himself as a recognized climatologist. However, in his support of the legislation proposed by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Arlen Specter, he justifies the need for this emissions trading program by stating that “the case for action to combat global climate change has grown increasingly compelling,” that “we know that concentration of…carbon dioxide has increased significantly due to human activity,” that “we also know that the surface temperature of the earth is warming…partly to that increased concentration,” and that “most serious students of climate change believe that the likelihood of adverse climate change is sufficiently great to warrant action.”
Of the total CO2 greenhouse gas, mankind contributes about 3 percent, and that has increased a small fraction. Not that it has not been much higher in the past when the weather was hotter and also colder. Yes, the weather is always changing, nothing new here. The head of NASA has recently said as much.
Some of Mr. Hubbard’s statements are blends of facts and scientifically unjustified conclusions. While not as vehement as Mr. Gore’s film and rhetoric, they perpetuate speculation as dogma. I refer Mr. Hubbard and your readers to commentaries on your pages, such as “There is No ‘Consensus’ on Global Warming” by Richard S. Lindzen (June 26, 2006) and “Climate of Opinion” (Business World, April 4, 2007) by Holman W. Jenkins Jr., which offer a scientific analysis rather than the politically correct media line. Gregg Easterbrook is quoted as predicting that the next cooling cycle in global weather is due around 2010, or sooner.
The public is being warmed up by these various scare tactics to accept arbitrary carbon caps, i.e., limited energy usage and higher prices for all forms of energy. Who will set the caps? The EU would like to. The energy companies would like to. They presumably will profit by offering more expensive energy to customers, under the guise of complying with their self-imposed caps. Does Mr. Hubbard expect us to believe that the “safety valve” price caps he mentioned are to be set and never revised upward?
I agree with Mr. Hubbard that we should not be “betting the bank” on climate change. As another financial/commodity trading scheme, this proposal will find favor. As a means of changing the weather, I would not bet on it.
Since 2007, the money feeding frenzy has only gotten more pervasive and has become entrenched in our “free capitalist” economic system; in politics (all levels); and globally as on display at the current UN COP-21 (what I labeled “Clowns On Parade” in my latest essay.