Much ado about global warming
10/26/15 Filed in: Energy
Some reader feedback is posted at the end of this entry.
SAFE has taken the position that (1) the manmade global warming theory (MMGWT) confuses correlation (there has been a generally warming trend since the start of the Industrial Revolution) with causation; (2) a forced switch to wind and solar power would be very costly; and (3) the effect of such a switch on global temperatures would be miniscule. We are more than willing, however, to consider contrary evidence and arguments (other than those of the “we’re right and you’re wrong” variety). An update on global warming (cooling?), 1/21/08.
If it ever did become clear that the combustion of fossil fuel needed to be restricted, a switch to nuclear power might make more sense than a switch to wind and solar power. But the alternative energy sources to be used should be determined by suppliers and customers, not by the government. Coal succession planning, 6/4/12.
For their part, global warming alarmists claim that the MMGWT is proven science, global warming is being caused by emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, and there is little time left to avert catastrophic consequences. They advocate greatly increased use of wind and solar power plus energy conservation. Despite contrary evidence, global warming alarmists stick to their guns, 1/27/14.
Our intellectual opponents generally ignore nuclear power as an alternative, probably due to exaggerated concerns about associated risks. Japanese nuclear plant damage: a big setback for nuclear power, 3/21/11.
Alarmists have worked tirelessly to publicize their concerns and seek government support for measures to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, gaining some traction in Europe and the United States. On a global basis, however, said emissions have continued to rise. US Energy Information Administration, international energy statistics, 2008-2012.
Numerous conferences have been held under UN auspices to discuss a coordinated international response to the alleged global warming threat, e.g., at Copenhagen in 2009. The result has been a series of diplomatic protocols, which have had limited effects. See, e.g., Two crises and a partridge in a pear tree, 12/21/09 (crisis 2).
Given strong support from the current US administration and professed interest of the Chinese government, it’s possible that more substantial commitments will be made at the meeting in Paris coming up at the end of November. Here are some organizational details about this event from the COP21 website.
The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP21, will be held from November the 30th to December the 11th, 2015 on the Paris-Le Bourget site, bringing together around 40,000 participants in total - delegates representing each country, observers, and civil society members. It is the largest diplomatic event ever hosted by France and one of the largest climate conferences ever organized.
The time, energy and resources being invested in this effort may warrant some reflection on our part. How have the alarmists gotten this far if the logic they are relying on is fallacious, and is there any reason for us to reconsider our position or our strategy?
A. Paris conference – It takes a lot of planning and advance work for some 40,000 people from around the world to assemble in a given venue and spend over a week discussing a complicated and amorphous subject like global warming (aka climate change). What is the goal of the meeting, what points will be on the agenda, and who will be allowed to address the group? If someone says something that is not deemed constructive, what will be done about that? How will the conclusions of the conference be memorialized and followed up on?
It would be interesting to know who is paying the travel expenses (transportation, meals and lodging) for participants at the conference, which could easily amount to several hundred million dollars in the aggregate. We doubt that many of the attendees are paying their own expenses; governments, nonprofit organizations and “clean energy” firms are probably picking up most of the tab.
The prime goal (aim) identified on the COP21 website is to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Centigrade. The starting point for this measurement is identified as the average global temperature at the end of the pre-industrial era (“about 1850”). There is no explanation as to why the average global temperature at that point should necessarily be considered ideal, what temperature data series will be used (most of them don’t go back to 1850), or why an increase of up to 2 degrees (but no more) was deemed acceptable.
A second goal is to create a fund of some $100 billion per year, which would be used to enable developing countries to curb CO2 emissions while simultaneously pursuing their economic development programs. (This would dwarf the $10.2 billion “Green climate fund” that is currently being raised, reportedly with some difficulty. And in other statements that we’ve seen, the “per year” part was omitted from the $100 billion by 2020 goal.) It is contemplated that the future funding would come from public and private sources in developed countries.
Another goal is preserving biodiversity, given the theory that climate change threatens many existing species. And this is just one of the slickly designed “fact sheets” that are provided on various issues, so in effect visitors can select the goal(s) that interest them. COP21 webzine.
Have you ever heard about "ocean acidification"? Did you know that 20 to 30% of animal and plant species are under threat of extinction? To learn all about COP21 main issues, browse through our webzine and download the following fact sheets.
Before the conference, every country is supposed to publish its “national contribution” to preventing global warming and mitigating warming that has already occurred. Developed countries will be expected to set higher goals than developing countries in view of their greater resources and responsibility for current atmospheric CO2 levels, witness the statement that each country’s contribution shall be consistent with its circumstances.
Decisions are to be unanimous, yet it is envisioned that the conference will produce a universal, legally binding agreement to become effective by 2020. The difficulty of achieving such an agreement among nearly 200 countries seems obvious. Compensation and economic coercion would presumably be required, with a much smaller number of countries calling the shots. How to get climate deal? Only way is use of force, [Manhattan Institute] report says, John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 10/15/15.
B. US leadership – In the run-up to the Paris conference, global warming alarmists in this country and elsewhere have been laying the groundwork for a big push. Notably absent from their campaign has been persuasive new evidence or rational arguments to support reduction of CO2 emissions; the intent seems to be to either ignore critics or bulldoze them out of the way. Here are some representative examples involving US actors.
#The president has spoken loftily about the perils of global warming and the need for action to save the day. In addition to touting US progress, he characterizes global warming as an issue on which this country can and must lead the world. See, e.g., Remarks at UN Climate Change Summit, 9/23/14.
Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution by more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to do more. Last year, I issued America’s first Climate Action Plan to double down on our efforts. *** And today, I call on all countries to join us -– not next year, or the year after, but right now, because no nation can meet this global threat alone. *** In each of our countries, there are interests that will be resistant to action. And in each country, there is a suspicion that if we act and other countries don't that we will be at an economic disadvantage. But we have to lead. That is what the United Nations and this General Assembly is about.
#Since the mid-term elections in 2010, there has been little chance of getting new US laws enacted to curb CO2 emissions. The administration is therefore relying on the issuance of regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency et al. In our view, most of these regulations are unjustified and/or needlessly strict. Global warming cures that aren’t needed, cost a bundle, 9/1/14.
Another objection to these regulations (notably the EPA’s Clean Power Plan re the operations of existing power plants) is their dubious legality, i.e., the agencies concerned are usurping the powers of Congress. SAFE letter to the members of Congress, 6/16/14.
Also, the CPP represents an attempt to legislate (make national policy), which invades the primary function of Congress under the Constitution. There have been several other examples of Executive Branch overreach lately, and the time has come for Congress to make clear that it is not going to be reduced to a subordinate, increasingly marginal role.
#A two-degree cap on global warming was recently confirmed by the G-7 leaders (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US) despite questions about its feasibility. World leaders stick to two-degree warming target, Zack Colman, Washington Examiner, 6/8/15.
"Mindful of this goal and considering the latest [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] results, we emphasize that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century," the G7 leaders said Monday.
Critics groused, however, that this declaration wasn’t accompanied by financial pledges to aid developing countries. Eco-groups: G-7 leaders should fund climate change solutions, Zack Colman, Washington Examiner, 6/9/15.
#Having considered public comments on the proposed CPP, the EPA announced in early June that this rule – and several others – would soon be going into effect. EPA has begun a regulations blitz, Zack Colman, Washington Examiner, 6/13/15.
The White House is rushing to get a suite of rules out the door because the Obama administration wants to defend the regulations against any legal challenges, as Obama is increasingly viewing climate change as his legacy. Getting the power plant rule finalized soon is also key to Obama staking his claim as an international climate leader heading into United Nations negotiations in Paris in late November.
Following White House approval of the finalized CPP, the EPA took its time getting the plan published in the Federal Register. This had the effect of delaying legal challenges (suits based on the proposed CPP had previously been found premature); when this step was finally taken last week, the challenges swiftly followed. Mining industry asks court to freeze Obama climate rules; 24 states sue EPA over climate rules, John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 10/23/15.
#The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reportedly been adjusting temperature data (from surface measurement stations) to support the administration’s narrative of relentlessly rising global temperatures. Satellite data show no significant global warming trend over the past 18 years (see chart below), however, suggesting that the oft acknowledged global warming “hiatus” is real. NOAA massively ramps up their temperature fraud ahead of Paris, wordpress.com, 9/17/15.
#A former US vice president is indoctrinating organizers who will “spread his environmental gospel ahead of key climate talks in Paris later this year.” He has reportedly been involved in the training of more than 5,000 people in the last 18 months. Al Gore training army of organizers to spread “climate gospel,” Newsmax, 9/29/15.
#Other administration officials have chimed in on the perils of global warming, which is presented as an economic, social, and national security threat that will require a strong international response. See, e.g., remarks by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Stanford University, 10/12/15.
14 of the hottest years on record in the past 15 years – 2014 was the hottest year and there is a 97% chance of a new record this year – those who remain unconvinced are either not paying attention or live on a different planet – direct threat to the prosperity and safety of the American people – will impact our national defense – climate change is a threat multiplier – over 100 million people live less than one meter above seal level – spreading diseases and threats to human health – worst-case scenarios of catastrophic, irreparable damage from melting ice caps and ocean acidification – “but I’m not here today to preach gloom and doom” – US has been taking action and making progress – president has elevated climate change to a defining imperative of both our foreign and domestic policies – to truly meet the challenge, we need the rest of the world to act with us – world leaders will be meeting in Paris soon and a lot of the groundwork has been laid already – US and China have agreed on ambitious new emissions targets – US will commit to reduce our emissions by some 27% versus 2005 levels by 2025 – China will commit to peak [stop increasing] its total emissions by 2030 and set ambitious targets for rolling out clean energy – more than 140 countries have committed to ambitious post-2020 targets – Paris must pull it all together and also support poor countries as they continue developing on a low-carbon trajectory.
#There has been a big push to line up private sector support for the campaign against global warming. On October 19, the White House announced that 81 companies – including Apple Computer, AT&T, Coca-Cola, General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart - had signed an American Business Act on Climate pledge.
We applaud the growing number of countries that have already set ambitious targets for climate action. In this context, we support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.
We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.
#Opinions about the MMGWT and related policies are intensely political. Liberals favor strong action to curb “carbon pollution,” while most conservatives disagree. If the Paris conference produced an international agreement to curb CO2 emissions, congressional approval would be unlikely. The administration would therefore repeat the ploy used for the Iranian Nuclear Deal, i.e., characterize the resulting compact as “an executive agreement” rather than a “treaty.” How Obama is planning to bypass Congress on international climate change regulations, Rachel Bovard, dailysignal.com, 10/9/15.
#With the president’s time in office dwindling, liberals are endeavoring to ensure that the next president will carry on the global warming fight.
Before the first Democratic presidential debate, billionaire Tom Steyer and four Democratic governors (including DE Governor Jack Markell) urged that the candidates decry global warming and discuss their plans for addressing it. Governors, Steyer make climate pitch ahead of debate, John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 10/13/15.
Judging from what was said during the debate, all of the candidates but Jim Webb (who has since dropped out of the Democratic race) were firmly on board. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton, for example, told a story about her participation at the 2009 meeting in Copenhagen. Climate change takes the stage at Democratic debate, Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner, 10/13/15.
Clinton said she and Obama "literally" hunted down the Chinese representatives at the conference to pin them down on an agreement. The Copenhagen conference did not result in an agreement to decrease the causes of climate change, but Clinton hailed it as proof that she's willing to work with governments around the world to solve the issue.
For his part, Secretary of State John Kerry has railed about Republican politicians who don’t endorse the MMGWT and suggested they are unfit for high political office. Believing in climate change – a litmus test to run for president, Mack Stetson, 10/23/15.
#The president continues to talk about the fight against global warming, including what his administration has done thus far and his hopes for the Paris conference. Weekly address, 10/24/15.
. . .because America is leading by example, 150 countries, representing over 85% of global emissions, have now laid out plans to reduce their levels of the harmful carbon pollution that warms our planet. And it gives us great momentum going into Paris this December, where the world needs to come together and build on these individual commitments with an ambitious, long-term agreement to protect this Earth for our kids.
C. The path forward – Should conservatives conclude from the foregoing that they have been fighting a losing battle? If scientists say it’s getting hotter, they presumably know what they are talking about – surely government agencies would never fudge the data. And goodness knows there have been some natural disasters lately: Tropical Storm Sandy, the drought in California, and now Hurricane Patricia striking the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Burning fossil fuels is a dirty business; wind and solar would be much cleaner and these energy sources are inexhaustible. Etc.
If wind and solar power were truly superior, however, wouldn’t these technologies be embraced without government mandates or subsidies? Level the playing field and let free market forces decide what energy sources will be used instead of turning such choices over to regulatory agencies and perhaps even international agencies.
Are conservatives ignoring science? Not at all! Remember that science is a search for truth, not an exercise in consensus building. For all the efforts to stifle dissent about global warming, there are still scientists around who don’t buy into the MMGWT and have sound reasons for their opinions.
We were struck, for example, by the argument of one undeniably brilliant physicist that the alarmist case is not simply wrong – it is delusional. Top boffin Freeman Dyson on climate change, interstellar travel, fusion, and more, theregister.co.uk, 10/11/15.
An Obama supporter who describes himself as "100 per cent Democrat," Dyson says he is disappointed that the President "chose the wrong side." Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere does more good than harm, he argues, and humanity doesn't face an existential crisis. Climate change, he tells us, "is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that a whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts?"
Dr. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, recently noted at a UK global warming conference that the Earth was much warmer 50 million years ago. Greenpeace founder says Earth is [experiencing] extreme cooling! Oran Coca, lastresistance.com, 10/20/15.
The Earth was an average 16C warmer then, with most of the increased warmth at the higher latitudes. The entire planet, including the Arctic and Antarctica were ice-free and the land there was covered in forest. *** The ancestors of every species on Earth today survived through what may have been the warmest time in the history of life. It makes one wonder about dire predictions that even a 2C rise in temperature from pre-industrial times would cause mass extinctions and the destruction of civilization.
Here’s one more example of principled dissent: an eminent scientist’s protest of “green energy” corruption. Professor Emeritus Hal Lewis Resigns from American Physical Society, UK Telegraph, 10/9/10.
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist. So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it.
As previously noted, most Democratic leaders (and their counterparts in other countries) appear deeply committed to the MMGWT. No surprise, as this theory provides a convenient rationale for expanding the government and giving it ever-growing control over the economy. Clinton’s Keystone kill, Wall Street Journal, 9/23/15.
. . . government control over energy production in the name of climate change has become the main priority for the Democratic left. With health care increasingly an arm of the state, and higher education getting there as a new entitlement, limiting fossil fuels is the next great progressive frontier.
Among Republicans, there has been considerable reluctance to reject the MMGWT. So many Americans have been conditioned by the media or the schools to believe in a connection between “carbon pollution” and global warming, after all, and who wants to be labeled a denier, flat earther or whatever?
Some GOP candidates have implied (Donald Trump) or flatly stated (Ted Cruz) that the global warming threat is a hoax, but others would like to have it both ways. Thus, Senator Marco Rubio is reportedly saying (a) global warming is real and human activity has something to do with it , but (b) the proposed responses would be too costly and hurt poor people so try something else.
We doubt a middle of the road approach will work. Either manmade global warming is a huge problem, in which case government-mandated programs might be required, or it isn’t. Note how a liberal commentator cut Rubio down to size in this piece. Rubio’s energy plan fights market forces, Paula Dwyer, bloombergview.com, 10/19/15.
There is plenty of evidence to challenge the global warming action plan, and we think conservatives should do just that. Satellite data shows warming has been stopped for 18 years – clean energy is unquestionably more expensive and less reliable – regulatory burden has been a prime cause of US economic malaise – the best thing we could do for the economy is to eliminate artificial restrictions on the energy sector
As for the Paris conference, any long-term agreement that results should be considered a treaty requiring Senate ratification (2/3 approval) in accordance with Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution.
Liberal writer David Siegel became interested in climate science and decided to bone up on it. He wound up becoming a confirmed skeptic about the MMGWT, as related in this story. Moral: it will be an uphill battle to beat the climate alarmist information machine. – Retired investment adviser