Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Renouncing Energy and Rejoicing at Darkened Skyscrapers

If you have read CARE’s position paper—Environmental Utopia, you’ll know why this piece on the real meaning of Earth Hour caught our attention. In this third posting from Keith Lockitch, he looks at March 28’s Earth Hour’s symbolism. He sees the symbolism as being different from what the organizers intended. He claims that the proposed reductions in greenhouse gases would do more harm than good.

Read on. Do you think the symbolism of Earth Hour is as frightening as he does? As we do?

On Saturday, March 28, cities around the world will turn off their lights to observe “Earth Hour.” Iconic landmarks from the Sydney Opera House to Manhattan’s skyscrapers will be darkened to encourage reduced energy use and signal a commitment to fighting climate change.

While a one-hour blackout will admittedly have little effect on carbon emissions, what matters, organizers say, is the event’s symbolic meaning. That’s true, but not in the way organizers intend.

We hear constantly that the debate is over on climate change--that man-made greenhouse gases are indisputably causing a planetary emergency. But there is ample scientific evidence to reject the claims of climate catastrophe. And what’s never mentioned? The fact that reducing greenhouse gases to the degree sought by climate activists would, itself, cause significant harm.

Politicians and environmentalists, including those behind Earth Hour, are not calling on people just to change a few light bulbs, they are calling for a truly massive reduction in carbon emissions--as much as 80 percent below 1990 levels. Because our energy is overwhelmingly carbon-based (fossil fuels provide more than 80 percent of world energy), and because the claims of abundant “green energy” from breezes and sunbeams are a myth--this necessarily means a massive reduction in our energy use.

People don’t have a clear view of what this would mean in practice. We, in the industrialized world, take our abundant energy for granted and don’t consider just how much we benefit from its use in every minute of every day. Driving our cars to work and school, sitting in our lighted, heated homes and offices, powering our computers and countless other labor-saving appliances, we count on the indispensable values that industrial energy makes possible: hospitals and grocery stores, factories and farms, international travel and global telecommunications. It is hard for us to project the degree of sacrifice and harm that proposed climate policies would force upon us.

This blindness to the vital importance of energy is precisely what Earth Hour exploits. It sends the comforting-but-false message: Cutting off fossil fuels would be easy and even fun! People spend the hour stargazing and holding torch-lit beach parties; restaurants offer special candle-lit dinners. Earth Hour makes the renunciation of energy seem like a big party.

Participants spend an enjoyable sixty minutes in the dark, safe in the knowledge that the life-saving benefits of industrial civilization are just a light switch away. This bears no relation whatsoever to what life would actually be like under the sort of draconian carbon-reduction policies that climate activists are demanding: punishing carbon taxes, severe emissions caps, outright bans on the construction of power plants.

Forget one measly hour with just the lights off. How about Earth Month, without any form of fossil fuel energy? Try spending a month shivering in the dark without heating, electricity, refrigeration; without power plants or generators; without any of the labor-saving, time-saving, and therefore life-saving products that industrial energy makes possible.

Those who claim that we must cut off our carbon emissions to prevent an alleged global catastrophe need to learn the indisputable fact that cutting off our carbon emissions would be a global catastrophe. What we really need is greater awareness of just how indispensable carbon-based energy is to human life (including, of course, to our ability to cope with any changes in the climate).

It is true that the importance of Earth Hour is its symbolic meaning. But that meaning is the opposite of the one intended. The lights of our cities and monuments are a symbol of human achievement, of what mankind has accomplished in rising from the cave to the skyscraper. Earth Hour presents the disturbing spectacle of people celebrating those lights being extinguished. Its call for people to renounce energy and to rejoice at darkened skyscrapers makes its real meaning unmistakably clear: Earth Hour symbolizes the renunciation of industrial civilization.

Keith Lockitch, PhD in physics, is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on science and environmentalism. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

Monday, March 9, 2009

Inconvenient Questions

A report from the Heartland Institute’s 2009 International Conference on Climate Change.

CARE was once again honored to be invited to serve as a cosponsor of Heartland Institute’s 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. It was a wonderful gathering with even more attendees than last year: approximately 800. Scientists from across the globe were present to give their professional insights on the topic of climate change. They came to publicly add their voices to the growing group of so-called “skeptics.” Virtually everyone present was of the belief that climate change is not a crisis. Various tracks addressed specific themes. CARE’s Executive Director, Marita Noon, served as a panel moderator for the political and economic impacts track.
All sessions were power-packed and you are encouraged to go to check out all of the recordings and PowerPoint presentations. They are all currently available online at heartland.org. While all the presentations were great, the one that Marita thought would be of the most interest to the general public was the one given in a general session by California Congressman Tom McClintock. At Marita’s prompting, he offered his text to be shared through the websites and blogs of those in attendance.

Here is his speech, titled Inconvenient Questions. (It is the full speech. We suggest that you print it out.) If you prefer, you could listen to the actual presentation. What is your reaction? Are the questions he poses inconvenient?

I must admit to being a little nervous to accept your kind invitation to come to New York to discuss global warming. I remember that it was right here in this city a year and a half ago that no less an authority than Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that those of us who still have some questions over their theories of man-made global warming are “liars,” “crooks,” “corporate toadies,” “flat-earthers” and then he made this remarkable statement: “This is treason and we need to start treating them now as traitors.”

Ah, the dispassionate language of science and reason.

I certainly don’t want to die a traitor’s death, so I want the record to be very clear: I believe that the earth’s climate is changing and that our planet is warming.

I must tell you that this is a somewhat sore subject for me. You see, it was me – and not Al Gore – who discovered the theory of Global Climate Change, and yet all you ever hear is Al Gore said this and Al Gore said that.

My climate change discovery came in the fall of 1964, when Miss Conroy took our third grade class to the Museum of Natural History.

It was there that we saw the panorama of dinosaurs tromping around the steamy swamps that are now part of Wyoming. That panorama was right next to the exhibit of the Wooly Mammoths foraging on glaciers that were also once the same part of Wyoming.

And I thought to myself, “Gee, those dinosaurs are nifty.” And then I thought to myself, “Good God, the climate must have changed from time to time.”

And I never got a Nobel Prize for that discovery. In fact, I later found out that Miss Conroy never even nominated me!

So, instead of jetting around the world in a fleet of Gulfstream Fives to tell people they need to feel guilty about driving to work, I have to take the subway.

And I don’t get paid $100,000 a speech for my original discovery. But then again, I don’t have Al Gore’s electricity bills either, so I guess it all balances out.

(You have to admit a certain Helmslyesqe quality to it all: “We don’t conserve – only the little people conserve.)

Anyway, a few years after making my discovery about planetary climate change, I got to high school in the 1970’s and learned from the Al Gores of the time that we foolish mortals were plunging ourselves into another ice age.

It was, after all, beyond dispute. All the scientists agreed.

By the way, you may have seen the Washington Times story last year about the researcher who had stumbled upon a lurid story in the Washington Post dated July 9, 1971. It included the scary headline: “U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming.”

The scientist based this on a scientific climate model developed by a young research associate named James Hansen. They warned that continued carbon emissions over the next ten years could trigger a run-away ice age.

And it was rather amusing, because a few months before this old newspaper clipping surfaced, the very same James Hansen had published a paper claiming that continued carbon emissions over the next ten years could trigger a run-away greenhouse effect.

For those in the liberal elite who jet to environmental conferences in Gulfstream Fives and drive around in Hummers singing the praises of hybrids and bicycles, the Left now sells indulgences – you can actually calculate your carbon sins on-line and they’ll gladly tell you how much money to send them (all major credit cards accepted) to assuage your conscience.

In fact, I had a friend who paid $45 for one of these “carbon offsets” for his Lincoln Navigator. By paying $45, this company sends him a very attractive 10-cent decal that certifies his SUV now has absolutely NO carbon footprint.

But then he discovered that Priuses, which do have a carbon footprint, get to use our diamond lanes for free, while his Lincoln Navigator – which for just $45 now has no carbon footprint whatsoever – has to sit in bumper to bumper traffic with all the rest of us carbon sinners.

These carbon offsets are supposed to be used for such activities as planting more trees to absorb carbon dioxide. After all, young trees absorb much more of this “greenhouse gas” than old trees.

But isn’t replacing old-growth timber with young-growth timber exactly what lumber companies used to do until Al Gore’s acolytes stopped them?

Trees are also very important to reducing energy demand – we’re told that to conserve electricity we need to plant lots of shade trees to shield our roofs from the sun so that we don’t use our air conditioners. We’re also all supposed to install solar panels on our roofs, although they don’t work so well in the shade from our trees.

In fact, a year or two ago, a Sunnyvale, California couple was ordered to cut down the old redwood trees in their own backyard. Why? Their neighbor had installed solar panels in the shade of those redwoods, and the couple was informed that under state law, they’d be fined a thousand dollars a day if they didn’t cut their redwoods down at once.

One word of warning, however. Even though you had to cut down your trees at once if a neighbor decided to install solar panels in their shadow, you are forbidden to clear flammable brush from around your home in hazardous fire areas, because that’s an affront to Mother Nature. You’re supposed to let it burn – and your home along with it – because this is the most environmentally friendly way for Nature to dispose of carbon trapping vegetation – and thereby releasing lots of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

That’s also why we’re supposed to do away with chemical fertilizer and replace it with natural compost, because replacing man-made greenhouse gases with natural greenhouse gases is the wave of the future.

Another important battle in the war against carbon is to force everyone to use electric cars and trains. But this also gets a little complicated, because at the same time, we’re all supposed to be cutting way back on our electricity usage – to the point that the California Energy Commission now wants to require every household thermostat to have a remote-control device that will allow the bureaucrats to decide what is the appropriate temperature of your living room.

You need to keep your thermostat set to 90 degrees in the summer to conserve electricity, but we’ll be happy to spend millions of your tax dollars for you to take an electric bullet train from L.A. to San Francisco for the weekend.

In fact, there are only two ways of generating vast amounts of clean electricity for electric cars and trains: hydroelectricity and nuclear power. But there’s no faster way to send these Luddites into hysterics than to mention that inconvenient truth.

The politically correct replacement is solar energy. Solar energy is roughly 17 times more expensive than either nuclear power or hydroelectricity – meaning, of course around 17 times LESS electricity to run electric cars and trains.

Energy conservation, then, is the answer, which is why we’re required only to use energy efficient fluorescent lights rather than the warm and fuzzy incandescent bulbs. But wait – California has banned the disposal of fluorescent lights with your trash because of the extreme environmental hazard they pose in our landfills.

So I approach the subject this morning with an admitted level of confusion as to what these people are thinking.

So let me merely pose three inconvenient questions.

First, if global warming is caused by your SUV, why is it that we’re seeing global warming on every other body in the solar system? For the last decade or so, the Martian south polar ice cap has conspicuously receded. Pluto is warming – about two degrees Celsius over the past 14 years. Jupiter is showing dramatic climate change by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Even Neptune’s moon, Triton, has warmed five percent on the absolute temperature scale – the equivalent of a 22 degrees Fahrenheit increase on Earth – from 1989 to 1998.

If you have any doubt, just Google “Pluto Warming” or “Mars Warming” or whatever your favorite planet or former planet might be.

Meanwhile, solar radiation has increased a small but measurable five hundredths of a percent since the 1970’s.

Now, I’m just thinking out loud here, but do you think it’s possible that as the sun gets slightly warmer, the planets do too?

This would be a little scary in its own right, except for the second inconvenient question: If global warming is caused by your SUV, why is it that we have ample historical records of periods in our recent history when the planet’s temperature was warmer than it is today?

During the Medieval Warm Period, from about 900 to 1300 AD, we know that wine grapes were thriving in northern Britain and Newfoundland -- and that the temperature in Greenland was hot enough to support a prosperous agricultural economy for nearly 500 years. That’s why they called it “Greenland.”

That period was brought to an end by the Little Ice Age that lasted from 1300 until 1850. We know that during colonial times, Boston and New York Harbors routinely froze over in winter and during Elizabethan times, an annual Winter Festival was held on top of the Thames River, which froze solid every year.

And finally the third inconvenient question: If global warming is caused by your SUV, why is it that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide always follow increases in global temperatures by several hundred years? Again, I’m just thinking aloud here, but is it possible that if CO2 increases follow temperature increases that might possibly mean that increased CO2 is a byproduct of increasing temperatures – not a cause.

Now, Al Gore must have an answer to these and other questions that have been raised by us treasonous-corporate- toady-holocaust-deniers. You’ve seen the “Inconvenient Truth.” In it, Al Gore portrays himself as a tireless, lonely sentinel (who should have been President of course) wandering the planet trying desperately to awaken the world to the danger it faces. “I’ve given this speech a thousand times,” he says about a thousand times.

So I wanted to touch base with all of you today, to find out when he is planning to accept the Heartland Institution’s invitation for an international debate on the subject. I am absolutely certain that this pious paragon of truth – who assures us he’s willing to go anywhere and talk to anybody to save us from our mortal folly – should be chafing at the bit to show us the error of our ways.

As I understand it, the Heartland Institute has offered our Nobel Peace Prize laureate of the left
to debate any one of three internationally recognized authorities, and that you are willing to front all costs – at Oxford University, no less, and in a format of Gore’s own choosing.

After all, Gore’s book extols the importance of science and reason in the public policy debate, so what better way to deliver the coup de grace to us “skeptics” than to expose our fallacies in front of an international audience?

And yet, Al Gore, who has given his speech “a thousand times,” won’t give it just once in a forum where it might be questioned by a knowledgeable authority.

In a sense, though, we had that debate in the British courts several years ago. The High Court of Great Britain determined that there were no less than ELEVEN factual errors on key scientific points in that film, and ordered that a disclaimer to that effect must be made in ANY public classroom where this film is shown.

But I would like to address myself to a serious and grim subject: and that is the actual threat that global warming poses to our planet – and most specifically to California. And that threat is very real and it is devastating.

I speak of the radical policies that the global warm-mongers are now enacting.

In the summer of 2006, in the name of saving the planet from global warming, California adopted the most radically restrictive legislation anywhere on the planet, including AB 32, which requires a 25 percent reduction in man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

To put this in perspective, we could junk every car in the state of California right now and not meet this mandate.

At about the same time, the same politicians who adopted these measures also adopted $40 billion of bonds that they promised would be used for highways, dams, aqueducts and other capital improvements.

Now here’s the problem. Building highways, dams, aqueducts and other capital improvements requires tremendous amounts of cement.

How is cement produced? It is produced by taking limestone and super-heating it into a molten state – it comes out the other side as a compound called clinker. Clinker is about 2/3 the weight of the original limestone. The missing 1/3 of that weight is carbon dioxide. And when you include the emissions required to superheat the limestone, it turns out that for every ton of cement, a TON of carbon dioxide is released. It’s the third biggest source of carbon dioxide in all human enterprise.

But now we have a law that specifically forbids us from doing so. That was the essence of lawsuits now being filed against construction projects across the state.

So much for construction.

Agriculture is in big trouble, too.

You can start with nitrogen fertilizer, which is a critical component of all agricultural activity. Unfortunately, it produces large amounts of nitrous oxide, another so-called greenhouse gas that must be radically curtailed in California.

The wine industry is also in for a shock. Fermentation of wine occurs when a molecule of glucose in the grapes is converted into EQUAL PARTS of alcohol and carbon dioxide.

But the biggest agricultural impact is the administration’s mandate for heavily subsidized use of ethanol fuel. Ethanol is produced in exactly the same way as the alcohol in wine: the glucose in corn is converted into equal parts of ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Following AB 32, this administration imposed a requirement that all gasoline sold in California by next year must be comprised of at least ten percent ethanol, doubling the current mandate.

Now pull out your calculators and we’re going to have a little fun with math. An acre of corn produces about 350 gallons of ethanol. There are 15 billion gallons of gasoline used in California each year. In order to meet the ten percent requirement in three years, it means converting 4.3 million acres of farmland to ethanol production. Now that’s a lot of farmland, considering that we have a total of 11 million acres producing crops of any kind.

Current ethanol mandates are already producing serious shortages in other parts of the world, as farmland that had been producing food, shifts to ethanol to chase hundreds of millions of dollars of government subsidies coming out of your pocket.

Higher taxes, higher food prices – and higher gas prices. What’s not to like?

And we’re seeing this across the board – including commodities like milk and beef that are responding to increased prices for corn feed.

As you see your grocery prices rise as a result of this policy, just be glad you’re not in the Third World. Food is a relatively small portion of the family incomes in affluent nations, but it consumes more than half of family earnings in third world countries.

So when the global warming alarmists predict worldwide starvation, they’re right. They’re creating it.

Electricity prices are also taking a heavy hit. California already suffers the highest electricity prices in the continental United States, but that situation is about to worsen.

A companion measure to AB 32 was SB 1368 that prohibits the importation of electricity produced by coal – even state-of-the-art plants thousands of miles from California that meet all EPA requirements.

Truckee became the first victim of this law. Truckee was about to sign a 50-year contract for electricity produced by a new coal fired plant in Utah. They were forced to back off because of AB 1368. The original contract was for $35 per megawatt hour – the green replacement power will cost Truckee consumers $65 per megawatt hour.

The radical laws now in place in California are having a dramatic impact on energy production, agriculture, manufacturing, wine-making and construction, cargo transportation, just to name a few sectors of our economy.

We are already seeing the economic impact in California.

Until last year, Californian’s unemployment rate tracked with the national figures, but since January of 2007, California’s unemployment rate began a radical divergence from the national figures and is now in double digits and nearly 40 percent higher than the national unemployment rate.

Even more ominous are the figures reported by the census bureau. In the last three years, 2/3 of a million more people moved out of California than moved in. Outbound U-HAUL rates are now between six and seven times the cost of renting the same truck to move in to California.

You cannot blame the national economy for these developments – for these you must look to state public policy.

I was struck by the Governor’s speech to the United Nations as he was imposing this lunacy. He told them: “Last year in California, we enacted groundbreaking greenhouse gas emission standards. We enacted the world’s first low carbon fuel standard. “Do I believe California’s standards will solve global warming? No. What we’re doing is changing the dynamic, preparing the way and encouraging the future...”

So even the individual most responsible for this economically catastrophic public policy ADMITS that it’s not going to solve global warming.

He just wants to set an example.

And in that singular respect, I believe that he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

There is one other thing that strikes me on this issue, and that is how puny is the amount of carbon dioxide produced by human enterprise, compared to simple, natural processes.

The AB 32 mandate is to reduce man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 170 million metric tons per year. That’s what all this tremendous economic dislocation is about.

Now let me mention one other man-made source of carbon dioxide that they don’t count.

Every one of us in this room will produce about 2.2 pounds of carbon dioxide today – by breathing. That’s over 800 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Keep your calculators out and stay with me here.

There are 6.6 billion of us on this planet. That comes to 5.3 trillion pounds or 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide – simply through the process of human respiration. And that’s before you count up all the cats and rats and elephants.

So there are 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide by breathing and 170 million metric tons is what all the fuss in California is about.

You’ve all been snickering a lot and I know that watching Californians running amock is great spectator sport. New Yorkers especially enjoy knowing that there is at least one state more screwed up than your own. But I feel compelled to warn you that if the Luddite Left finally succeeds in wrecking California, there are 49 other states that we’re all going to move to – and yours is one of them.

People love to watch events in California – in much the same way that people love to gawk at car wrecks. You feel guilty about it, of course, and you know you shouldn’t stare, but you just can’t help yourselves.

But you do anyway and there’s at least a respectable reason for it. When you drive by that wreck, you can tell your children, “Kids, that’s what happens when you don’t pay attention when you drive.”

And California’s wreck is a good time to remind voters, “Kids, that’s what happens when you don’t pay attention when you vote.”

While we’re on that subject, the Obama Administration has just unveiled its budget, a $3.6 TRILLION monstrosity that includes some $650 billion in business taxes. They call it “cap and trade” but they mean, “cap and tax.”

The problem with business taxes, of course, is that businesses don’t pay them. Business taxes can only possibly be paid in one of three ways: by us as consumers through higher prices; but us as employees through lower wages and by us as investors through lower earnings on what’s left of our 401-K’s.

And the President’s cap and tax plan is going to cost about $2,100 for every man, woman and child in the nation, or about $8,400 out of the purchasing power of an average family of four in the worst economy in a generation.

Now before the nation follows California off the cliff, perhaps we should first ask how these policies are working in California.

And in that respect, maybe we can assist Gov. Schwarzenegger in his goal of making California an example for the rest of the nation.

Not only has the Governor’s promise of a new era of green jobs failed to materialize, the impact of these restrictions on California’s economy has been nothing short of catastrophic. As the unemployment rate has skyrocketed since the enactment of AB 32, Californians are clawing their way to escape our new environmental paradise, and the state’s revenues are imploding.

To replace evaporating tax revenues, the Governor just imposed the biggest state tax increase in the history of the country – $13 billion – including increases in income taxes, sales taxes and the car tax.

As California’s economy continues to implode, I think we’re going to see Americans rapidly coming to the conclusion that this isn’t the smartest policy to pursue.

In normal times, people don’t pay a lot of attention to public policy, and that’s why democracies occasionally drift off course. But when a crisis approaches, that’s when you see the strength of a democracy emerge. One by one, citizens sense the approach of a common danger and they rise to the occasion. They focus – they look beyond the symbols and rhetoric – and they begin to make very good decisions.

Political majorities can shift very quickly in such times. Polls can reverse themselves almost overnight in such times. And I believe that day is now rapidly approaching.

We have based our entire form of government on the assumption that when people start paying attention, they start making very good decisions.

The radical policies now imposed on California are taking a dreadful toll on its economy and will become ever more dire in the days ahead. As the impact of these policies is felt, people will begin paying close attention to policy making and to the policy makers responsible, and then they’ll begin exercising something that the majority of California’s public officials have so completely lacked: simple common sense.

Abraham Lincoln put it this way. He said, if the voters get their backsides too close to the fire, they’ll just have to sit on the blisters a while.

Our nation has some very painful blisters to sit on for a while, but in the process, like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, a sadder but a wiser nation we’ll rise the morrow morn.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

International Conference on Climate Change Preview

With the Second Annual International Conference on Climate Change coming up in New York City this week a couple of our regular contributors have written commentary on global warming. We offer their insights to you here.

The first, from Paul Driessen, is more opinion, focused on the energy consumers. Paul says, “Having followed and participated in the global warming debate for nearly 15 years now, I’ve become convinced that the conduct of climate alarmists closely resemble consumer fraud, in the form of classic bait-and-switch tactics. My article makes a compelling case that this is indeed happening--and presents important facts that voters should keep in the forefront, as Congress and EPA attempt to implement punitive and expensive carbon dioxide reduction schemes. It also highlights the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change that will be held in New York, beginning tomorrow.”

The next posting is more scientific in style and is from Dennis Avery—one of our regular contributors and, like Paul, Dennis will be one of the presenters at the International Conference on Climate Change.

Global Warming “Bait-And-Switch:” Scientific “Consensus” And Other Shady Sales Tactics Promote Alarmist Theories
Fred Schwindel’s TV City ad promises 40” flat screen televisions for $200. You rush to his store, to learn he’s “fresh out” --but has some 42” models for $1000.

That’s “bait-and-switch,” and Fred could be prosecuted for consumer fraud.

In the political arena, however, bait-and-switch is often rewarded, not punished--especially in the case of global warming alarmism. Instead of fines or jail time, politicos get committee chairs, presidencies, speaking fees and Nobel Prizes. Scientists and bureaucrats receive paychecks, research grants and travel stipends for Bali. Activists get secretive government payments for “public education” campaigns. Companies get government contracts, subsidies and seats at the bargaining table. And all are lionized or canonized for supporting Climageddon theories and policies.

Global warming bait-and-switch starts with simple statements that few would contest--then shifts seamlessly to claims that are hotly disputed and supported by little or no evidence.

The bait: Global warming is real. The switch: Global warming is intensifying and threatens agriculture, human civilization and the fabric of life everywhere on earth.

Bait: 99% of scientists agree on the presence of human-caused global warming. Switch: The debate is over. Humans are the primary cause of temperature increases.

Bait: Atmospheric carbon dioxide from human activities is increasing. Switch: CO2 is the dominant greenhouse gas and is reaching unprecedented and dangerous levels.

Bait: Earth warmed during the twentieth century, as CO2 levels increased. Switch: Runaway warming is increasing hurricanes, melting polar ice caps, raising sea levels and causing species extinction.

Bait: Even little things like reducing personal energy consumption help the environment. Switch: We can stop climate change by switching to wind and solar energy.

The perpetrators of these B/S schemes may never be chastened or prosecuted. However, as in the case of consumer fraud, an informed public is less likely to get fleeced.

President Obama and congressional Democrats support a $650 billion carbon cap-and-trade tax on every household, business and factory in America. If they introduce legislation amid this recession, voters, energy consumers and more responsible legislators should keep important facts in mind.

Global warming (aka climate change) has been “real” since time began. Witness the Ice Ages, interglacial periods, Medieval Warm Period (950-1350), Little Ice Age (1400-1850), Anesazi drought, Dust Bowl, and conversion of verdant river valleys into the Sahara Desert some 4,000 years ago.

No one yet knows what solar energy fluctuations, planetary orbit shifts, recurrent oscillations in ocean currents, cloud cover variation and other natural forces combined to cause these potent climatic changes. But there is no evidence that they have suddenly been displaced by human CO2 emissions.

Growing numbers of scientists say the climate change debate is far from over, and global warming was never a crisis. Over 650 certified meteorologists and climate scientists are on a US Senate compilation of climate cataclysm skeptics--and 32,000 scientists have signed the Oregon Petition, saying they dispute claims that humans are causing climate change, and the changes will be disastrous.

Many of them are meeting in New York March 8-10, at the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. They may not drive the final nails into the coffin of climate hysteria, but their findings and analyses underscore the lack of evidence for scary “forecasts” that are routinely generated by woefully inadequate computer models and self-interested researchers, activists and politicians. They will point out that planetary temperatures are no longer rising, hurricanes are not increasing in number or intensity, ice caps are not disappearing, and moderate temperature and CO2 increases benefit plant growth.

The UN’s Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change claims to be the world’s “most authoritative body” on the subject. However, only “something on the order of 20%” of the panel’s scientists “have some dealing with climate,” admits a senior member. Even the IPCC chairman is an economist, not a scientist.

Worse, says atmospheric scientist Dr. Roy Spencer, the IPCC insists that human carbon dioxide emissions drive global warming. It has “never seriously investigated” the possibility that climate change might be natural. The IPCC sees only what it is looking for; it sees nothing it is not looking for.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels may have “soared” from 280 ppm to 385 ppm over the last century. But this represents an almost trivial rise from 0.03% of the atmosphere to 0.04% – the equivalent of an increase from 3 cents to 4 out of $100, or from 1.08 inches to 1.44 inches on a football field. The dominant greenhouse gas is water vapor, which nature controls via evaporation and precipitation.

Planetary temperatures may have increased during the last century, as CO2 levels increased. But not in a straight line. They rose 1900-1940 (1934 was the century’s warmest year), fell 1940-1975, rose again 1975-1998, then stabilized and even declined slightly from 1998 to 2008.

New York, Holland and Bangladesh might be inundated by a 49-foot rise in sea level, if the entire West Antarctic ice sheet melted. But that would require a global temperature spike far greater than even Al Gore has prophesied. The average temperature for the peninsula’s two-month summer is barely 36 F; in the winter, temperatures are below minus 50.

Unplugging unused appliances and switching to CFL bulbs may help jet-setting Hollywood celebrities feel better. But they will not stabilize Earth’s climate. Even grounding Al Gore and John Travolta’s private jets, scrapping every US automobile, mothballing America’s coal-fired power plants, and slashing US CO2 emissions by 80% (back to 1905 levels), as President Obama wants to do, will have little effect.

Even the IPCC recognizes that perfect compliance with the Kyoto Protocol by every country would reduce global temperature increases by only 0.2 degrees by 2050 (assuming CO2 does drive global warming). But Europe has put its greenhouse gas reduction programs on hold. Australia is poised to reject cap-and-trade plans. China and India are building new coal-fired power plants every week.

Nearly 85% of US energy is hydrocarbon based, whereas wind turbines currently provide 0.5% and generate electricity only 25% of the time. Even absent the deepening recession, taxing and penalizing hydrocarbon use and CO2 emissions will drive up energy costs and extinguish far more jobs than can possibly be created via government-subsidized renewable energy and green-collar job initiatives. The impacts on poor families, economic civil rights, living standards and civil liberties would be severe.

Not surprisingly, the more people understand these facts, the worse the hysteria gets. Al Gore: Soaring global temperatures will “bring human civilization to a screeching halt.” Energy Secretary Stephen Chu: “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” NOAA scientist Susan Solomon: “In ten years the oceans will be toxic, and all life in them will die.” NASA astronomer James Hansen: “Death trains” are carrying poisonous fuel to “coal-fired factories of death.”

Hollywood horror movie writers couldn’t possibly top this stuff.

So when Congress and the President call for more economic pain through energy restrictions and cap-and-trade bills, demand solid evidence for catastrophic warming and human causation. Don’t accept worthless computer models and worst-case scenarios. And don’t be conned by bait-and-switch tactics.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (http://www.cfact.org/) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – black death.

Natural Global Warmings Have Become More Moderate
This week, at the 2nd international conference of man-made warming skeptics sponsored by the Heartland Institute in New York, I’ll predict the earth’s warming/cooling trends for the 21st century.

I will be among splendid company such as John Coleman, founder of the weather channel, Ross McKitrick, who debunked the “hockey stick” study, physicist Willie Soon, and many other presenters with brilliant credentials. A thousand scientists, economists, and skeptics from every walk of life will meet to discuss the current climate indicators.

I’ll use physical evidence of the more than 500 warmings in the past million years, which are found worldwide in ice cores, seabed sediments, fossil pollen and cave stalagmites. At least 700 scientists have published evidence on these solar-driven Dansgaared-Oeschger cycles. The good news is that the D-O cycle’s warmings have been getting somewhat cooler for the past 10,000 years—and there is no evidence that human-emitted CO2 will make them much warmer.

This means that the Modern Warming will probably remain cooler than the Medieval Warming (950-1300). It was 0.3 degrees warmer than the 20th century based on Craig Loehle’s study of 2000 years of temperature proxies. Willi Dansgaard’s 10,000-year reconstruction from ice cores shows the Roman Warming as warmer than the Medieval—but the two Holocene Warmings centered on 4,000 and 7,000 years ago were lots warmer than either.

The IPCC rejects the cycle evidence. They have concluded that the variability of the sun is “too small” to account for the earth’s recent warming 1976-98. They want us to sacrifice trillions of dollars to displace fossil fuels based on computers that couldn’t even predict the current cooling.

In contrast, I’ll predict a cooling planet for the next 25-30 years, because of the D-O cycle’s solar linkage. The sunspots began predicting cooling back in 2000, and it arrived a bit early, in 2007. CO2’s correlation with our temperatures over the past 150 years is only 22 percent. The correlation with sunspots is 79 percent—What does the UN think caused the 500 previous D-O cycles in the ice cores and seabed records?

There’s more. NASA, bless their hearts, reported last April that their Jason satellite confirms a cooling shift in the Pacific, our biggest heat sink. Roseanne D’Arrigo’s tree ring and rainfall proxies from around the Pacific Rim tell us that the earth’s temperatures have mirrored the Pacific’s cyclical shifts—in 25-40 year spurts—for at least the past 400 years.

I predict that after the current Pacific cooling is over, the earth will resume getting slowly and erratically warmer. But not much warmer. That’s because the D-O cycles are typically abrupt, delivering about half their temperature increase in the first few decades. Remember, we’ve had no significant net warming since 1940.

If the moderating trend in the global warming cycles persists, then we will get less than 0.5 degree C more warming over the next two centuries. If the Greenhouse Theory has any validity, we might get a bit more than 0.5 degree more warming—but not much. We tend to forget that the climate forcing power of CO2 unquestionably declines logarithmically, so the earth has probably already gotten three-fourths of the total.

As the earth cools, the U.S. will use our new natural gas surplus instead of biofuels, carbon taxes will die and the deliberate disruption of the economy will be stifled. Further warming 40 years from now will be too mild and erratic to renew public panic. Environmental assessments will become more realistic—and useful.

Dennis T. Avery is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to cgfi@hughes.net.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Obama's Hidden Taxes on Energy Consumption

The following piece just arrived in CARE’s in box. Chris Horner is a friend of CARE and we expect him to be a Conference Call guest sometime soon. However, this is the first of his commentaries we’ve featured here. Yesterday, CARE’s executive director, Marita Noon, offered comment before the House Energy Committee opposing New Mexico’s cap and trade legislation (HB653). Therefore this topic caught our attention.

While Chris Horner points out two specific elements in his comments--which are important, we’d like to draw your attention to his point about taxes being withdrawn due to public outrage and elected officials being “driven from office” for their poor choices. While we may feel discouraged--even depressed--and overwhelmed by the decisions being made in Washington, we are not powerless.

Additionally, if you are interested in this topic, we encourage you to check out the comments on this topic from Sterling Burnett during our January Conference Call. You can read the article-ized version of the call’s content in the February CARE Newsletter or listen to a recording of the entire call.

Obama’s 'Cap and Trade' Plan Imposes Huge Tax
In his February 24 speech, President Obama asked Congress to send him “…legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.” But by “market-based cap” he means that the government would mandate carbon dioxide emission permits – which are essentially permits to use energy – that companies would then be able to sell among themselves.

His budget assumes a staggering $650 billion in revenue from this scheme. But who picks up the tab? Who ultimately pays the cost of buying these slices of global warming baloney, and why would industry support such a scheme?

The answer is that you and I do, as does everyone who buys anything requiring energy, just like we pay the cost of all the other taxes paid by manufacturers. It’s a tax, folks. Plain and simple, Obama’s “market-based cap” plan is a tax on American business.

Industry is actually behind this massive tax, having sold their support so that the tax is not merely passed through to consumers, but it allows companies to skim the scheme for a profit, again at your expense.

This tax, however, is nearly twice the size of the failed BTU tax which Al Gore still attributes the Democrats’ loss of Congress the next year.

The BTU tax was offered in the name of deficit reduction. Obama’s global warming tax is expressly to pay for new middle-class welfare entitlements, even though it takes away from the beneficiaries about the same amount they will fork out in increased energy costs (if not the entire inflationary impact). The important point for his movement, however, is that more money is run through the state, creating dependency.

With BTU, the then-new “rock star” Democratic president Clinton was rebuffed by a Democratic Congress once the public fought back. This was only after the House had passed the tax by one vote – cast by Rep. Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky (D-PA), who tearfully marched down to change her vote after being singled out for flipping by the White House. As she shuffled back up the aisle, a prescient Republican caucus loudly waived “bye, Margie!” knowing the gift she had given them. She was among many BTU-tax supporters later driven from office.

Then business successfully “Swiss-cheesed” the tax proposal by lobbying and achieving so many carve-outs that the tax simply collapsed. With an insufficient business constituency, Democratic Sens. Bennett Johnston, John Breaux and David Boren could not justify so angering the public and instructed the new president how the world would work.

There are two lessons here.

First, as Al Gore confessed to the Financial Times, going through the front door of a direct energy tax is too risky. Hence the cap-and-trade rationing scheme; it’s a tax but a non-transparent one, also making it vastly less efficient (more expensive) according to economists at, for example, the Congressional Budget Office. The message to lawmakers is to worry about one job: yours. Hide the tax. The part about also doubling the tax seems to be all Obama’s idea.

Second, cap-and-trade shows that business has also learned how to sell its support in return for additional schemes to further pick your pocket, siphoning of some of the cost to themselves. Cap-and-trade provides them billions of your dollars in return for playing along.

It’s still so ugly that some senators are exploring ways to actually ram through the scheme itself – and not just the assumptions of revenue from it – on the filibuster-proof budget process. This means they need just 50 votes plus Veep Joe Biden, not 60. It also means there would be no public development, meaning “exposure”, of the scheme.

So there remains a chance that the administration and industry have managed to lock this deal down without the taxpayer represented in the room.

If business is going to pass on the tax to consumers – as they always have to do – are businesses supporting this plan to curry favor with Obama? Of course they are. But who are “they”?

Top Companies Behind Obama’s “Global Warming Tax”

General Electric – the folks who brought you the expensive “energy-saving” light-bulbs by government mandate also bought Enron’s windmill business, that being the company which originally hatched this scheme. Beyond windmills GE has redesigned its business lines to capitalize on the energy-scarcity agenda, with little luck to date but counting on a lobbying budget bigger than “big oil”, combined. And, just by the way, they’re the owners of MSNBC and one of the few American companies that still trades with our most dangerous enemy, Iran.

Utilities – Cap-and-trade creates what is essentially a carbon cartel, restricting the supply and raising the price of fossil energy and thereby creating windfalls for the lucky holders of emission credits. It is surely a coincidence that companies caught engaging in illegal market manipulation -- Enron, and electric utilities American Electric Power, Cinergy, Entergy, and Calpine -- have been among the most aggressive lobbyists for the Kyoto Protocol or kindred emission trading schemes.

Cinergy’s CEO James Rogers is a Ken Lay protégé who, after merging with and taking the reins of Duke Energy, has added even more muscle to the global warming lobby.

Wall Street -- Among the most influential lobbyists for Kyoto-style policy are Wall Street firms planning to make commissions on the purchase and sale of carbon credits. Again surely a coincidence, the players most heavily invested in profiting from a cap-and-trade scheme were among those mostly heavily implicated in last year’s collapse (e.g., Lehman Bros., JP Morgan Chase). The crumbling Bank of America, naturally, is also a leading cheerleader of the scheme.

These firms are the first cohort of what we will continue to identify for you as the companies lobbying for Congress to stick you with a “global warming” tax.

You are now faced with the question of whether to allow your elected representatives to approve one of the largest tax increases in history, raising $650 billion over eight years from mandating then selling “cap-n-trade” carbon dioxide ration coupons.

Under the Obama scheme, billions of dollars of those rationing coupons will be given away to companies supporting the scheme, and their “cost” nonetheless priced into your energy costs. This is precisely how it has worked in Europe, at great economic cost.

Yet all businesses are on the hook for their sheepishness in the face of this long-running, cynical ploy by businesses underwriting the campaign of environmentalist hysteria proclaiming the end of the earth. Some, like NEC Electronics America, have just announced with a sigh that, with California having just adopted a version of this scheme, it appears that their operations there will be pulled back to Japan.

There’s not enough room on that island nation to ship all of our jobs, though China, India, Mexico, South Korea and others have made clear they are waiting to accommodate the rest. The one thing we do know is that if this doesn’t prove politically to be BTU redux for the Democrats, there’s no room for manufacturing here.

Chris Horner is author of Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.