Monday, June 18, 2007

The Evolution of Fuel

The 1940’s movie The Proud Valley—starring Paul Robeson, depicts a community in South Wales whose economic sustenance depends on coal. Set in the depression era, the film echoes the declining need for coal worldwide. At the time, England was accustomed to being one of the leading providers of coal despite the fact that she occupied only .04% of the world’s land mass.

Long before The Proud Valley story was conceived, Stanley Jevons’, in his book The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal Mines, predicted the fall of England’s industrialism and global might due to a limited supply of coal. With the benefit of history on our side, we can see that while economics did shift over time, England has hardly lost its place as a world leader.

Despite the fear that England would run out of coal—causing its ruin, more than 100 years after Jevons’ pronouncement, England has yet to run out of coal. It is still being mined and used in the UK today. The World Coal Institute says, “The UK has proved coal reserves of around 220 million tonnes however total reserves could be well in excess of 1 billion tonnes.”

What happened to coal in England? How was Stanley Jevons—and other notable thinkers of his day, and Robert Malthus of days past—so wrong? Other fuels emerged and began to replace coal for industrial boilers and electricity generation—stretching its supply. Additionally, advanced technology allowed for the discovery of new coal reserves.

Like Jevons in the mid 1800’s, we have our own doomsayers today. Just this morning a link to an article in the June 25 issue of Business Week landed in CARE’s “inbox.” The article, titled From Peak Oil to Dark Age, declares that “peak oil represents a mortal threat to the US Economy.” The author, Eugene Linden, goes on to say, “Alternatives are still a decade away from meeting incremental demand for oil. With nothing to fill the gap, global economic growth would slow, stop, and then reverse; international tensions would soar as nations seek access to diminishing supplies, enriching autocratic rulers in unstable oil states; and, unless other sources of energy could be ramped up with extreme haste, the world could plunge into a new Dark Age.” He concludes the article by suggested a new oil tax.

However a quick review of the history of fuel leads to the conclusion that just as Jevons was wrong, so is Linden and the cadre of other modern-day pessimists. The missing link in the evolution of fuel is human ingenuity.

In his 29 page article in The Review of Austrian Economics, CARE’s Energy Council Member, Robert Bradley, offers an insightful view of various economic models as they relate to the fuel supply. In reading this historical look, one cannot help but to go back to fuel’s ancient history.

Fire was one of man’s earliest inventions. With the thinking capacity that is unique to mankind, early humans discovered that wood would burn—generating heat to stave off the cold and to allow for cooking. Later, man discovered the whale as a source for oil with which he could generate heat and light. Taking a quick jump though history, American settlers had nearly stripped the local forests of wood in their attempts at heating and cooking. Coal was discovered in the 16th century, saving the forests. The whale was nearly extinct when oil from the earth was found and used to light lamps. These are just two examples of orderly transitions between primary energies in world history.

Moving back to England, the starting point of this progression, there was wide-spread and well-founded fear that coal would run out. But before this prediction came true, a new fuel source was developed: oil and gas—allowing the life of the coal supply to be extended (something Jevons could not have imagined). Additionally, as previously mentioned, technology improved to discover new reserves. What we see in this brief history is “resource expansion,” new resources are developed and new techniques created to allow us to make better use of known supplies.

Looking at history, we can assume the same will happen. Despite Linden’s gloom and doom, he suggests that the wide scale use of alternative fuels is ten years off. With human ingenuity, chances are very high that we have ten years worth of oil and gas available. We have time for whatever “the alternative” becomes to be developed. Linden says, “Policymakers can hide behind the possibility that vast troves will be available from unconventional sources.” It is not just policymakers who may cling to that belief, but anyone who studies history. Linden apparently holds to the fixity/depletionism model, believing that there is a limited supply that will run out. On the flip side is mineral resourceship, which is much like manufacturing—the making of capitol goods; the distinction between depletable and nondepletable resources for the sciences of human action.

In its short life (three years) CARE has seen this first hand. We have seen both human ingenuity and the development of new resources come together. Canada’s tar sands and Shell’s oil shale project are just two examples of new resources—both of which required human creativity. Interestingly, exploiting fixed resources promotes future progress because wealth is created from present usage. Higher prices signal the market to develop substitutes. Enforced conservation in ages past would have held back the progress responsible for today’s high standards of living and the capacity to mine new resources. (Industrial development would have been greatly retarded it sixty or eighty years ago the warning of conservationists about the threatening exhaustion of the supply of coal had been heeded.) Again, we have seen this principle ring true at CARE. One of our members has been working on entering old, abandoned wells. These wells once produced oil but were closed when the easy oil was obtained. With modern technology, this group is able to reenter these wells and reap the rewards that higher prices make cost-effective. The tar sands, the oil shale and the reentry of previously mature wells are simple examples of how modern technology, through improved geological techniques and through the incentive of the market, has been finding new petroleum reserves at a rapid rate. Each invention gives rise to numerous others—though the sister resources that can perform the same or similar function may be at a higher cost (at least for the transition period).

In creating the better, we must often destroy the good. Look at history, you’ll see that the bulk of man’s resources are the result of human ingenuity, aided by slowly, patiently, painfully acquired knowledge and experience. The constraints toward particular resources are overcome by the propensity of human capitol to expand the family of resources. If we exhaust creative imagination, we will exhaust resources. However, this is where America leads! This is the vital role of capitalism: the savings and investment generated by a market economy to locate and produce new deposits at stable or declining cost. The countries rich in oil, are not rich in human ingenuity. They are not rich in creativity.

One must acknowledge that the total supply of any mineral is unknown and unknowable because the future knowledge that would create minerals cannot be known before its time. Therefore the distinction between renewable and non-renewable resources is tenuous.

The resources of the future are waiting for us. They are waiting for the forces of economics to come together with human ingenuity. We have the creativity, we have the energy, to again make America great—a leader in mineral resources. America can once again be a world leader. Do we need to worry about peak oil? What does history tell you? The future is likely beyond your imagination!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Energy Restrictions Would Hurt Low Income Individuals

For those who question whether or not modifying America’s lifestyle to meet the proposed standards that are thought to impact the warming of the earth will have any financial impact on the average person, this action--aimed at Caterpillar--is worthy of reading about. As the global warming advocates are beginning to be taken seriously, more and more is coming out from those with opposing view points. The following piece is from the National Center for Public Policy. These opinions and researched arguments are largely ignored by the major news sources. As the global warming noise and the mandates it is apt to impose drastically affect energy and its role in the American way, we will continue to bring you views you may not hear/see in the mainstream media. What do you think?

Deneen Borelli of the African-American group Project 21 will confront Caterpillar Inc. management at the corporation's shareholder's meeting Wednesday, demanding it explain why it joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), which lobbies for energy restrictions on the U.S. economy that would hurt both low income individuals and Caterpillar customers.

The Congressional Budget Office found that the restrictions USCAP seeks would hurt the poorest fifth of the population more than other income groups. As a percentage of wages, the poorest quintile would pay nearly double the costs borne by the richest quintile.

The "cap-and-trade" system for which Caterpillar is lobbying also would target major Caterpillar customers. (Please read a pervious blog posting on cap-and-trade.)

"Caterpillar's participation in the United States Climate Action Partnership is an example of both corporate financial and social irresponsibility," said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli. "Financially, cap-and-trade regulations will harm the mining industry -- a key customer of Caterpillar's products -- thereby hurting future profits and shareholders' interests. In addition, cap-and-trade will have a negative economic impact on consumers, especially lower-income households. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 'most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers,' disproportionably harming fixed- and lower-income households. What kind of CEO would intentionally cause financial hardship to his company and millions of consumers?

"Caterpillar's stance has already cost it money: Robert E. Murray of Murray Energy Corporation has stopped doing business with Caterpillar: "Caterpillar has joined with some of the most radical environmentalists who have been enemies of mining, including coal, for decades... As a result of this, I sent [Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens] a letter a couple of months ago telling him that Murray Energy Corporation will no longer do business with Caterpillar. This will result in the loss of millions of dollars in business to Caterpillar."

Farmer Joyce Morrison says, "Where Caterpillar used to think first about American agriculture, they have now joined with groups that have been consistently opposed to the growing of America's food, and opposed to the use of Caterpillar machinery. It is difficult to understand why Caterpillar would work with groups who are unfriendly to agriculture when agriculture has been a source of Caterpillar's success." (Read what others have said on this issue.)

70+ public policy organizations and affected companies sent a letter Tuesday to Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens urging him to immediately withdraw Caterpillar from USCAP. The letter is available at

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, D.C.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The “Coal is Filthy” Ad-Scam

If you have visited CARE’s website, you’ve seen that we repeatedly use the phrase “Presenting the public with a clear view of the complete energy picture.” Yet, if you’ve been reading our newsletters and this blog, you’d see we have hardly presented a complete view as we have virtually ignored coal—despite the fact that our home page says, “Coal is still a great resource and clean coal technology is rapidly becoming a reality.” Coal is the “ugly step-sister” no longer. We were thrilled when one of our Energy Council Members, Paul Driessen, sent us this commentary that puts coal into the picture.

Ad Campaign Could Impact US Energy Policies and Consumers
Perhaps you’ve seen the prominent advertisements in major US papers featuring an ethnic spectrum of smudge-faced California models, whose misleading claims about emissions from coal-fired electrical generating plants were reinforced by a website. The campaign urged citizens to tell government officials, “No more filthy coal plants.”

The hope is that new laws would make it harder to build more coal-fired plants or retrofit old plants to meet tougher air quality standards, and force massive switching to natural gas. As demand rose and supplies tightened, gas prices would surge. Consumers, especially poor families, would suffer.

Every $1 increase in gas prices costs US consumers an additional $22 billion a year for heating, air-conditioning, food, consumer goods and services—many of which use natural gas for energy or raw materials—says the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Indeed, consumers paid $140 billion more in 2006 for gas and electricity than they did in 2000—an extra $1900 a year for every family of four.

That hit poor families especially hard, and the US manufacturing sector lost 3 million jobs.

But America doesn’t have enough gas to supply needs that energy demand and legislative air quality mandates have helped stoke. Demand has outstripped domestic production since 1985, forcing us to import the difference, largely from less than friendly countries, and in competition with other nations. Following the disingenuous ads’ prescription—substituting gas for coal-fired electricity—would send tsunamis rippling through our economy. Hardly responsible energy.

America certainly could produce more gas. Geologists say the US Outer Continental Shelf could contain 420 Tcf—enough to meet current demand for 15 years. But over 85% of these areas are off limits to drilling; the situation is similar with onshore public lands; and eco purists want to keep it that way.

Electricity provides 40% of all the energy we use, and the EIA and other analysts say the United States will need 100,000 megawatts of new electricity by 2020. Colorado alone will need another 5,000 Mw; Texas, over 25,000. Conservation and efficiency efforts could pare that back somewhat. But growth in population and technologies that use electricity mean we will need every available source of energy: gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, biofuel, waste-to-energy—and coal. Right now, coal generates 50% of all the electricity we consume, and we have no viable alternatives in the near term.

The ads and environmental group websites say coal-fired power plants are responsible for scary-sounding portions of total US air pollution. While burning coal obviously does generate pollution, some inconvenient truths make their Pollution Monsters look more like Sesame Street Cookie Monsters.

Between 1970 and 2004, the US population grew by 40% … its Gross Domestic Product by 187% … miles traveled by 171% … electricity consumption by 115% … and coal burning by 80 percent. And yet, during this period, our aggregate air pollution was cut in half, thanks to steady advances in efficiency and pollution control, air quality expert Joel Schwartz points out. Lead and certain other pollutants were reduced by 90% or more.

Since 1998, annual power plant SO2 emissions have declined 28% and NOx 43 percent, he notes. New rules require large additional reductions during the next decade that will eliminate most remaining power plant emissions. The ads also fail to mention that:
* total air pollution is now so low that it poses no significant health risks, even for children;
* asthma prevalence has been rising even as all types of air pollution have been falling, so air pollution cannot be a factor;
* even eliminating all human-caused ozone would reduce respiratory hospital visits by at most a few tenths of one percent; and
* coal-generated electricity costs much less per kilowatt hour than alternatives—leaving families with more money to spend on nutrition and healthcare.

Coal-fired power plants are now the primary source of US mercury emissions, not because their emissions are large or increasing, but because the real sources of mercury (incinerating wastes and processing ores containing mercury) have been eliminated. The US reduced total mercury emissions by over 80% since the early 1980s; America accounts for only 2% of global mercury emissions; two-thirds of mercury deposition in the States comes from other countries; 55% of global emissions come from volcanoes, oceans and forest fires; and Americans’ mercury exposure is a tiny fraction of levels necessary to cause brain damage.

Nevertheless, new EPA rules require a further 70% reduction in mercury from power plants over the next decade. That’s tremendous bucks for the bang, but it will be done.

Climatologist John Christy points to another consideration. In 1900, the world supported 56 billion human life years: 1.6 billion people times a 35-year average life span. Today it supports 429 billion life years: 6.5 billion people times a 66-year average life span – and they are living far better than anyone in history.

For that we can thank energy, primarily fossil fuels. And in exchange for this incredible progress—if fossil fuels are a primary cause of global warming—we have had a net increase in average global temperature, over the past 100 years, of about 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.7 degrees Celsius. (As a percentage of Earth’s atmosphere, carbon dioxide emissions from US coal-fired power plants equal the thickness of a single human hair on a football field.)

All in all, the ad campaign added greatly to the pervasive misinformation that drives so much US energy, health and environmental policy. It will doubtless be used to justify global warming legislation, such as the Sanders-Boxer bill (S. 309) that a new MIT study concludes would impose a tax-equivalent of $4,500 annually on every family of four by 2015—and more thereafter.

As Congress conducts additional experiments on constituents—with mandates, cap-and-trade, tax incentives and other pork-laden “environmental” legislation—the problem will only get worse. Unless citizens demand a change in business-as-usual.

Paul Driessen, Senior Policy Advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power ∙ Black death (

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Is Today's Climate Optimal?

Omigosh! This is a day of computer work and online research. Having already posted two new items here on CARE’s Blog, an effort was being made to hold a couple of items for another day—then the following arrived in CARE’s “inbox.” Since one of the items being held was the transcript of Michael Griffin’s interview on NPR, and this piece is fresh, we could resist no longer. Here’s one more item for today—from one of our favorite sources The Business and Media Institute. A link to the edited transcript is included so you can check it out yourself. Better yet, follow the link to listen to the complete interview. It will give you a much clearer idea of Griffin’s actual comments—in context.

ABC Attacks NASA Skeptic with 'Incensed' Scientists
Offer any skepticism of global warming and the media quickly line up experts to discredit you.

That’s exactly what happened on “World News with Charles Gibson” on May 31. Correspondent Bill Blakemore’s report was about a “controversy” over recent skeptical remarks made on NPR by NASA administrator Dr. Michael Griffin.

“I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with,” Griffin told NPR.

Blakemore called Griffin’s remarks “startling,” before summarizing Griffin’s main point: that is “arrogant to assume today’s climate is the best climate for humans.”

“World News” then quoted two “incensed” scientists to attack Griffin’s opinion, including “NASA’s top climate scientist” James Hansen.

“I was shocked,” said Hansen in an interview. “I almost fell off my chair because it is a statement of which indicates and ignorance of what has been learned over the last few decades, primarily from NASA observations.”

Hansen has been referred to by the media as the “leading research on global warming,” but his liberal politics is not always included.

He openly supported George W. Bush’s previous two Democratic opponents. Hansen says he voted for Kerry "because he recognized global warming problem" and he also stated that he had great respect for former Vice President Al Gore, noting that he met with Gore in January 2006 and ended up consulting for Gore on his climate change slide show presentations.

Blakemore also quoted a second upset scientist.

“I think the administrator ought to resign,” said Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School. “I don’t see how he can be an effective leader of a science agency if he doesn’t understand the threat.”

Oppenheimer is hardly the voice of reason when it comes to sound environmental policy. In an article published in Science on March 23, Oppenheimer co-authored an article that favored the implementation of a cap-and-trade system of carbon credits. Oppenheimer suggested in the article “a market-based system with a economy-wide cap on emissions and trading of emissions allowance would do the same. The article favored this policy over carbon taxes or the use of carbon subsidies to stimulation innovation, but didn’t rule them out.

Blakemore neglected to include anyone who would support Griffin’s claim, saying there are only a “tiny” number of scientists who agree with him. However, Fox News Channel’s Hannity & Colmes was recently able to produce a list of scientist critical of the global warming hysteria.

Blakemore, himself, is a vocal proponent of the notion global warming is a manmade phenomenon, having attacked companies about the issue earlier this year.

Jeff Poor, Business and Media Institute

People or the Planet?

When one looks at the environmental movement, one has to question, “Are we here for the planet—or is the planet here for us?” Of course, the real answer is complicated as each is interdependent. We could not survive without the planet, and it could survive without us—but what would it survive for? A Bible believer knows that in Genesis 1:26, God gives man dominion over the earth, it is here for us. But repeatedly, the environmental extremists attempt to make their views the law—and their views hurt mankind. “How could pushing for clean air, fresh water and a safe food supply hurt mankind?” you might ask. One ongoing case in point is the CAFE Standard, about which a recent Wall Street Journal article said, “Not one voter in ten thousand can be expected to learn how the CAFE rules work and their real consequences.” But we want you to be that one voter in ten thousand!

CAFE stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy and is a government mandated fuel economy program. In pushing for these standards on the grounds that we must cut emissions to curb global warming, cars have become so light that automobile accident death rates have gone up. Published in April, the Institute for Highway Safety’s report on driver deaths offers the numbers from which we can make this conclusion: we may be saving the planet, but we are killing people. The statistics reinforce—again—the argument that occupants of heavy passenger cars have a better chance of surviving a collision than drivers of small sedans. Yet increasing these standards seems to be Washington’s primary gesture to show they are doing something for global warming.

Here is what one of our Energy Council Members has to say (as was posted in the New York Sun) about the new push for increased CAFÉ Standards: (Edited slightly for brevity.)

Skip This CAFE
Most of us love to stop at a café for a latte, but here is one you’ll want to skip: the CAFE standards that were voted out of the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this month. Warning: Congress is after minivans and pickup trucks.

Enacted in 1975, CAFE generally requires automakers to calculate average fuel economy—miles per gallon—across their fleets. For Democratic senators Barack Obama and Dianne Feinstein, as well as President Bush, more CAFE is better than less.

If the proposed bill becomes law, CAFE standards would rise to an average of 35 MPG in 2020 for cars, SUVs, minivans, and light trucks, defined as pick-up trucks, from levels of 27.5 MPG and 22.2 MPG for cars and light trucks respectively. Standards would rise 4% annually between 2020 and 2030. One blogger wrote about his beloved engine as "RIP V8."

The first CAFE standards, according to a 2002 National Research Council study, resulted in 1,300 to 2,600 more Americans killed on the roads in 1993, a typical year, because cars were lighter. If any pharmaceutical product had killed that many patients the manufacturer would be bankrupt. Families can sue Merck, but not Uncle Sam.

After dead motorists, the biggest losers from higher standards would be Americans who prefer large vehicles to carry families, equipment, and pets on daily trips or long vacations.

Other major losers would be the domestic car manufacturers, GM, Ford, and Chrysler, who have invested in plants that make large sedans and light trucks, Americans' preference. The industry is already restructuring to try to reduce labor costs; higher CAFE standards would be its nail in the coffin.

For several years, Americans have bought more light trucks, including SUVs, than passenger cars. Domestic companies have the bulk of light truck sales—which would bear the brunt of more CAFE.

In the first four months of 2007, Ford sold 570,000 light trucks, but only 300,000 passenger cars. Each F-Series truck makes about $8,000 in profits for the company, whereas Ford loses money on passenger cars.

Higher standards would discourage the production of new, potentially profitable high-performance sedans, such as a proposed 2009 line of rear-wheel drive GM sedans.

In contrast, foreign auto manufacturers would benefit from higher standards because most of their sales come from more fuel efficient vehicles made overseas. They would not have to change production to meet the new standards.

Their American assembly plants primarily make larger vehicles, such as Nissan Titans in Mississippi and Toyota Tundras in Texas.

President and CEO of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, Inc., Michael Stanton, testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on May 3 that "Nine of the top ten models on the EPA's Fuel Economy Leaders list for 2007 are manufactured by AIAM members." Quite predictably, Mr. Stanton went on to say that "AIAM supports increasing CAFE standards."

The only rational reason for consumers to ignore the price of gasoline in choosing a car is that there is something wrong with the price of gasoline. That is the implicit message every politician who advocates CAFE standards is telling America: energy markets are unreliable and wrong. President Bush, who once worked in Texas's oil industry, should know better.

It's ironic that many politicians who accuse Americans of using too much gasoline want to hold hearings on price gouging when prices rise to reflect hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico or turbulence in the Middle East. Price increases will eventually lead to less consumption.

If energy security is the rationale for CAFE standards, America needs to increase domestic coal and natural gas production, find out whether potential supplies of oil exist in Alaska, invest in more refinery capacity, and build nuclear power plants. We've done none of these.

But if politicians want higher MPG standards so that Americans can retard global warming by reducing consumption of fossil fuels, Americans need to lower consumption of all fossil fuels, not just pick on cars.

Rather than regulating automobile size, a switch from income to energy taxes might be the most efficient and least intrusive way to reduce consumption and encourage new technology, thereby allowing consumers who want large vehicles and warm houses to have them.

Given the nature of our political system, income taxes will never get replaced by energy taxes. Just as politicians are now set to raise taxes in 2010, they will always be tempted to layer new taxes on top of old, increasing inefficiency and slowing economic growth.

If markets really are unreliable—which is yet unproven—then regulating cars' fuel efficiency is the wrong way to go. Neither global warming nor energy security require increased CAFE standards, which are both anti-economic and anti-intellectual. They are made for a political system where appearance trumps substance.

Automotive fuel efficiency is rising without government regulation, even as engine power increases. As Americans replace older cars with newer ones, fuel efficiency improves.

Over past decades, gasoline mileage has been rising steadily and voluntarily, and this process is continuing. The new GM direct injection 3.6 liter V6 engine, starting in the Cadillac STS this year, gets both more fuel efficiency and power than the previous V6. Every time GM brings out another Escalade it gets better fuel efficiency—and more power.

Politicians need to reflect on which national problem would be best solved by higher CAFE standards—other than how to bankrupt the American automobile industry.

(This Op-Ed was featured in The New York Sun edition of May 25, 2007.)

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow and director of Hudson Institute's Center for Employment Policy. She is the former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Planet is Sick

In his “award winning” film, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore declares that “the planet is sick.” Most of us would agree that there are numerous things wrong—and global warming may not be the biggest problem—but the ailments may not warrant the death sentence the environmental extremist’s prescribe. If you were given a dire prognosis by your doctor, would you shrug, accept his (or her) opinion, and go home to die? No! You’d go and get a second opinion—maybe a third. You’d do research on the disease. You’d learn all you could before you gave in and made extreme changes in your life in the hope that the unproven methods may improve your chances for survival. Why then, when the “doctor” (whose credentials are questionable) has pronounced a virtual death sentence on the planet, has the American population suddenly accepted the diagnosis without getting additional opinions, without doing research?

At CARE we are not claiming to be the expert on the topic of global warming, but we do believe there is other opinion worthy of consideration. We do think the public needs to know some of the other research. Here (in many different postings) we present the “other side,” not specifically because we are crusading for this view point, but because the “planet is sick” side is adequately covered through the mainstream media. The “responsible” view is scoffed at, and skeptics have received death threats for presenting their opposing ideas in a public forum. For those who seek a second or third opinion, we have gathered some data that we think will help in your search for answers and will help you form your own responsible opinion. Do these insights help you? Please add your comments.

The New Math On Global Warming
The UN climate change panel told us in 2001 that human-emitted CO2 might drive the planet’s average temperature upward by 5.8 degrees C—a bigger average warming than the world has had in the past 100,000 years. The UN’s 2007 report scales the possible overheating back a bit, to a maximum of 4.5 degrees—still a very large warming.

But wait! The environmental movement is now conceding that the earth has a natural, moderate climate cycle. Jon Coifman of the Natural Resources Defense Council said recently on the Hannity and Colmes TV show, “The earth has natural temperature and climate cycles. Nobody has disputed that.”

We’re glad that the NRDC finally accepts the natural warming cycle as fact. Until Coifman’s admission, I don’t think the words “natural climate cycle” had ever escaped the lips of a climate alarmist.

The historic evidence of a moderate, natural 1,500-year climate cycle includes Roman writings, Egypt’s early Nile flood records, and ancient Chinese court documents. The scientific evidence confirming the cycle has been literally “dug up” in the past 25 years, primarily from the oxygen isotopes in long, layered ice cores, and the one-celled fossils in the bottom sediments of lakes and oceans.

My favorite temperature proxy is North America’s fossil pollen, which shows our continent has had nine complete shifts in its trees and plants over the past 14,000 years—or one every 1650 years. In my native Michigan, the pollen says the forests during the warmings have been dominated by warmth-loving beech trees, with more oak trees intruding as the climate cools, followed by more pine trees. Today, 150 years into a warming, the pine trees are giving way again to the oaks, and the beech trees are waiting their turn.

Coifman is still talking about the planet passing a “crisis tipping point.” He doesn’t seem to realize that the existence of this natural cycle profoundly changes the math on global warming. The eco-movement and Al Gore have been repeating the mantra that “the earth has warmed 0.6 degree C in the last century.” They claim this has been due to more human-emitted CO2, and project Big Warming on that basis. When we plug in the 1,500-year cycle, however, we have to take away from the scary computer models the 0.5 degrees of warming that occurred before 1940—and thus before much human-emitted CO2.

The earth has warmed only a net 0.2 degrees C of net warming since 1940. Human-emitted CO2 gets the blame for only half of that—or 0.1 degree C of warming over 65 years! We’ve had no warming at all since 1998.

Remember, too, that each added unit of CO2 has less impact on the climate. The first 40 parts per million of human-emitted CO2 added to the atmosphere in the 1940s had as much climate impact as the next 360 ppm.

Why does NRDC say that the earth has reached a “crisis tipping point” when we’ve had only 0.2 degrees C of warming over the last 65 years—and no warming at all over the past eight years? How do the Greens project a mind-numbing surge of global warming from this New Math on Global Warming?

Is the emerging evidence of the natural cycle the real crisis for Al Gore and the warming alarmists?

DENNIS T. AVERY Center for Global Food Issues

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

"Fairly Cheap" Gas Prices

Several interesting new pieces have come to our attention at CARE that will shift our topic away from gas prices--just as the prices are dropping. But before we move away, we want to offer you this insight from Alex Economides, edtor of The Energy Tribune.

Despite the rhetoric that has spread widely throughout the news, gas prices are still low by historical standards. This graph represents a very fair estimation of the actual cost of using gasoline over its history. By using real dollars, and factoring in the contribution that gasoline prices pay to our economy, it can be seen that prices are still fairly cheap.