Monday, September 14, 2009

How many Americans Will Follow Obama’s Leadership On Climate Change?

We here at CARE noticed (perhaps you did too) that President Obama repeatedly states, “Few challenges facing America—and the world—are more urgent than combating climate change,” and that “We will make it clear that America is ready to lead."

Building upon the work of CARE Blog contributor Paul Driessen, we’ve decided to raise some questions: How many Americans will support a 1400-page energy and climate bill that will create a trillion-dollar cap-trade-and-tax industry? How many Americans will follow the leadership of a man who is working hard to ensure that energy and food costs “necessarily skyrocket,” killing jobs, and imposing an all-intrusive Green Nanny State? How many Americans are willing to point an economic gun to the heads of their neighbors and to pull the trigger during this economic downturn?

These questions have serious implications and we encourage our readers to delve further into the issue with our friend Paul Driessen.

Leader of None
"Few challenges facing America--and the world--are more urgent than combating climate change," President Obama has asserted. "We will make it clear that America is ready to lead."

The President and Al Gore are certainly ready to lead. But how many will follow?

Even in America, and certainly on the world stage, the two increasingly look like Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza. As they tilt for windmills, and against a "monstrous giant of infamous repute"--climate disasters conjured up by computer models and Hollywood special effects masters--their erstwhile followers are making politically correct noises, but running for the hills.

The House of Representatives passed a 1400-page energy and climate bill - by a razor-thin margin, and only after Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman packed it with enough last-minute deals to protect favored congressional districts, buy votes, and curry favor with assorted special interests. Not one legislator actually read the bill--which would create a trillion-dollar cap-trade-and-tax industry, ensure that energy and food costs "necessarily skyrocket," kill jobs, and impose an all-intrusive Green Nanny State.

Republicans want to control what people do in their bedrooms, insists the old canard. Democrats, it appears, want to dictate what we do everywhere outside of our bedrooms. And Sancho Gore wants to become the world's first global warming billionaire, by selling climate indulgences, aka carbon offsets.

The reaction has been predictable--by anyone except House and White House czars and czarinas.

Citizens are livid over yet another attempt to use a purported crisis to justify further expanding the government and spending billions more tax dollars for alarmist research, activism and propaganda, just ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference. Global warming continues to rank dead-last in Pew Research and other polls that actually list it as an issue. Rasmussen puts the President's approval ratings at 46% and falling. Zogby reports that 57% of Americans oppose cap-and-trade bills.

Manufacturing states, which get 60-98% of their electricity from coal, worry that the only thing they'll export in ten years will be jobs. Democrat senators from those states worry that the energy and climate issue will be "toxic for them during midterm elections," says Politico magazine.

Even companies that had eagerly sought seats at the negotiating table are now gagging. ConocoPhillips, Caterpillar and others finally realize that cap-and-tax will severely penalize them and their customers.

Not even the climate is cooperating. Outside of Dallas, 2009 has brought some of coldest summer days on record across the US. Near freezing temperatures nipped at crops, and gas heaters were sine qua non at an August 29 outdoor wedding in Wisconsin. The Farmers Almanac predicts a brutal 2009-2010 winter.

In Europe, every longitude has a platitude about saving the planet. But EU countries that agreed to slash greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels are well above their Kyoto Protocol targets - Austria by 30% and Spain by 37% as of 2008. And despite new commitments to cut emissions 40 years from now, you don't need tarot cards or entrails to predict the more probable EU emissions future.

Germany plans to build 27 coal-fired electrical generating plants by 2020. Italy plans to double its reliance on coal in just five years. Europe as a whole will have 40 new coal-fired power plants by 2015, columnist Alan Caruba reports. The Polish Academy of Sciences has publicly challenged manmade global warming disaster hypotheses. And only 11% of Czech citizens believe rising carbon dioxide emissions caused global temperatures to climb 1975-1998--and also caused them to rise 1915-1940, fall 1940-1975, then stabilize and decline again 1998-2009.
Australia just voted down punitive global warming legislation. New Zealand has put its emissions-bashing program in a deep freeze.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's top economic aid bluntly dismissed any talk of following President Obama's quixotic lead. "We won't sacrifice economic growth for the sake of emission reduction," he told reporters at the July 2009 G8 meeting.

Chinese and Indian leaders are equally adamant. China is playing a smart hand in this high-stakes climate poker game, drawing up plans to combat global warming sometime in the future, and gradually improve its energy efficiency and pollution control. However, it is building a new coal-fired power plant every week and putting millions of new cars on its growing network of highways.

So is India, which will double its coal-based electricity generation and produce millions of Tata and other affordable cars by 2020. "India will not accept any binding emission-reduction target, period," Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has stated. "This is a non-negotiable stand."

India and China have a "complete convergence" of views on these matters, Ramesh added. No wonder: 400 million Indians still do not have electricity; 500 million Chinese still do not.

No electricity means no refrigeration, to keep food and medicines from spoiling. It means no water purification, to reduce baby-killing intestinal diseases. No modern heating and air conditioning, to reduce hypothermia in winter, heat stroke in summer, and lung disease year-round. It means no lights or computers, no modern offices, factories, schools, shops, clinics or hospitals.

Fossil fuels are "gradually eliminating poverty in the Third world," observes UCLA economist Deepak Lal. Any call to curb carbon emissions would "condemn billions to continued poverty. While numerous Western do-gooders shed crocodile tears about the Third World's poor, they are willing to prevent them from taking the only feasible current route out from this abject state" - oil, gas, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric energy development. The situation is intolerable, unsustainable, lethal and immoral.

The only way India and China would agree to cut their emissions is if the United States cut its emissions 40% by 2020, says Ramesh - back to 1959 levels and pre-JFK living standards, when the US population was 179 million (versus 306 million today). No way will that happen. So Asian energy and economic development will continue apace. And rightly so, to foster human rights and environmental justice.

All is not bleak, however, for Canute Obama's impossible dream of controlling global temperatures.

British politicians remain committed to slashing CO2 emissions and replacing hydrocarbons with wind power. Unfortunately, the biggest UK wind projects have been abandoned or put on indefinite hold--and a growing demand/supply imbalance portends still higher energy prices, widespread power cuts, rolling blackouts and energy rationing, the Daily Telegraph reported on August 31. Brits may soon trade their stiff upper lips for contentious town hall meetings and ballot-box revolution.

The Democratic Party of Japan's landslide victory in the August 30 election will likely create a new coalition government tilted strongly to the left. The DJP has pledged to cut carbon dioxide gas emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 - though this will likely strangle economic growth and job creation, especially if one coalition partner's opposition to nuclear power becomes DJP policy.

Then there is Africa, where leaders appear ready to support curbs on energy use--in exchange for up to $300 billion per year in additional foreign aid, "to cushion the impact of global warming." That will be nice for their private bank accounts, but less so for Africa's 750 million people who still don't have electricity. Those people will simply be sacrificed, to prevent natural or fictitious climate disasters.

Of course, the real goal was never to control the climate. It was always to control energy use, lives, jobs, economies, transportation and housing--and usher in a new era of high tax global governance. The American people are increasingly saying they're not ready to grant that power to Obama Gore & Company.

Paul Driessen is author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power ∙ Black death ( and senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, whose new book (Freezing in the Dark) reveals how environmental pressure groups raise money and promote policies that restrict energy development and hurt poor families.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Decline of Climate Alarmism: What “Will” Happen vs. What “May” Happen

Mainstream media reporters are telling the American people that climate change is a looming catastrophe caused by human production of greenhouse gases. However, many scientists are raising questions such as what “may” happen if greenhouse gas levels continue to rise rather than what “will” happen. Reasonable concerns based upon sound science are being brought to light and the debate on the science of climate change is far from over. Our blog contributor Robert Bradley has been kind enough to provide us with insightful information.

Climate Alarmism on the Hot Seat: Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle Science Writer, Wants to Know What’s Up
“For a long time now, science reporters have been confidently told the science is settled…. But I am confused [by recent developments]. Four years ago this all seemed like a fait accompli. Humans were unquestionably warming the climate and changing the planet forever through their emissions of carbon dioxide.”
- Eric Berger, Science Writer, Houston Chronicle, September 6, 2009 [
SciGuy Blog]

In his post at MasterResource last week, Ken Green spoke of a potential “death spiral” for climate alarmism, in that the failure of the political process would make it less politically incorrect to challenge climate alarmism. “As hopes for a Gore-style ‘wrenching transformation’ fade,” wrote Green, “more mainstream scientists and opinion-makers will become more ‘practical’ toward the issue, meaning that alarmism may give way to sensible assessments of mitigation, adaptation, and geo-engineering.”

But the other problem for climate alarmism is nonalarmist data, as well as new studies by top climatologists questioning the guts of high-sensitivity climate models. Chip Knappenberger summarized a new study by Richard Lindzen that concluded that the “best guess” warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was radically overstated. Marlo Lewis’s summary, Is the Climate Science Debate Over? No, It’s Just Getting Very, Very Interesting (with welcome news for mankind), also lays out the latest from the quite unsettled–and nonalarmist–science. Are the Malthusians wrong again?

Enter Eric Berger, the open-minded, fair-minded science writer for the Houston Chronicle. With just a little courage, and no doubt a good deal of perplexity, he is asking the question that some have been asking for a long, long time: what is really going on here. And no doubt he will take some heat from his post, and no doubt he is going to get to the bottom of what is going on.

Jerry North (Texas A&M) Hints at the Problem
Eleven years ago, when I was director of public policy at Enron, I entered into a consulting agreement with Gerald North, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography at Texas A&M’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, to tell me what was going on. North was as close as I could find to a ‘middle of the roader’ between climate alarmism and (ultra) skepticism. He is also highly decorated.

And this has not changed. North’s own intuitive estimate of climate sensitivity is now 50% below the IPCC’s best guess, and he has been critical of a number of the climate mini-alarms that would make headlines and then fade away (more hurricanes, disruption of the thermohaline circulation, etc.).

But I noticed a Malthusian streak in North, that unstated assumption that nature is optimal, and the human influence on climate cannot be good but only bad–and maybe even catastrophic. Still, North in his emails to me–then and now–was rather blunt about the shortcomings of climate modeling.

Here is a sampling of quotations over the last decade:
“There is no doubt a small ‘sociological convergence’ effect, that tends to work here (individuals and their managers hate to be the outlier). The biggest problem is that doubling CO2 leads to a 1 deg C warming (I think even Lindzen agrees). If water vapor doubles it, we are at 2.0 (Lindzen differs here, but I do not know of anyone else). Are there any other feedbacks? It is hard to dismiss ice feedback, but it might be small. Clouds are positive in most models — I have always taken them to be neutral, but with no substantial reason (it’s just easier that way).”

“I do not think there is enough thinking going on. Just plugging in the numbers or running the simulations. Dick [Lindzen] is clearly right on this one.”

“I believe the ocean simulations are very primitive and quite variable from one group to another. The underlying reason is this: How much of the deep layers of the ocean are really participating in the warming?”

“There are pitifully few ways to test climate models.”

“[Models] sort of fake it (we call it ‘parameterization’). They do it in very crude ways such as if the temperature profile of the atmosphere is unstable, they make the whole column overturn, etc.”

“[The models’ treatment of feedbacks] could also be sociological: getting the socially acceptable answer.”

“I go back to my old position: we need more time, maybe a decade to get a better grip on aerosols, water vapor feedback, cloud feedback, ocean participation.”

“We have only a very loose grip on aerosols.”

“[The models] treat the ocean differently. Somehow, they are fudging the parameters that govern ocean coupling so that they get the right ocean delay to agree with the data in spite of their differing sensitivities.”

But before you call North a radical or tattletale on the ‘consensus’, consider what the IPCC said in the back of their latest assessement of the physical science of climate change:
“The set of available models may share fundamental inadequacies, the effects of which cannot be quantified.”

- IPCC, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 805.

Is this a trick? Satisfy the science by stating the science–but do so on page 805 rather than in the executive summary where it belongs. It is this sort of thing that Eric Berge--and other open-minded middle-of-the-roaders--are going to find out. And they just might feel a little duped.

A ‘Skeptic’ Climate Model?
But if high-sensitivity models are errant, why isn’t there a “Lindzen” model? As it has been explained it to me, the microphysics of clouds and other key parameters are ’sub-grid scale’ and beyond the capability of models. So models are inherently high-sensitivity and thus alarmist. Something, in this case, is worse than nothing.

What Eric Berger will find out, I believe, is that the ‘easy’ computable answer for climate models introduced an inherently biased, upward estimate of climate sensitivity. But the climate is much more complex that the (artificial) models, and more realistic physics (a la Lindzen) suggest climate to have less positive (and maybe neutral or negative) feedbacks. This would mean that CO2 is a benign, trace gas–not a harbinger of doom.

And given the political impasse (consumers like reliable, affordable energy, thank you), this is good news for mankind, indeed!

How wide will the rethink--and the confessions--be? Can Richard Kerr at Science help us here? How about other science writers at the New York Times or Wall Street Journal? Will the Society of Environmental Journalists sponsor climate debates between high-sensitivity ‘alarmists’ and low-sensitivity ‘skeptics’? Will alarmists agree to debate at the next Heartland Institute climate conference scheduled in Chicago in May?

What is needed now more than ever is a “challenge culture”–even if it involves a bit of political incorrectness. This is physical science, after all, not political science.


Appendix A: “Climate Scientists Should Talk About What “May” Happen, Rather Than What ‘Will’ Happen” by Eric Berger

I’m the science reporter for the Houston Chronicle, the daily newspaper in the petrochemical capital of the United States, if not the world. I’ve been called a global warming skeptic by environmentalists, and I’ve been called an environmentalist toady by the skeptics.
I’m neither of these things. Rather, I’m just trying to grasp what is happening to the planet’s climate, and how humans are impacting it.

For a long time now, science reporters have been confidently told the science is settled. That the planet is warming and humans are unquestionably the primary cause. We’ve been told to trust the computer models--the models which show a markedly upward trend in temperatures as carbon dioxide concentrations increase. And I’ve trusted the scientists telling me this.

Below you’ll find the computer model forecasts for the 21st century temperatures from the most recent IPCC summary for policymakers, which call for a 1.8°C to 3.8°C rise in global temperatures by 2100:

It seems pretty clear that the models forecast a steady upward trend in global temperatures as long as carbon dioxide levels rise. (Which they have). Yet according to satellite and surface temperature measurements the global average temperature has essentially remained flat for the last 12 years. This strikes me as somewhat curious.

When An Inconvenient Truth came out I believed the movie to be scientifically accurate. Carbon dioxide levels were rising and so were temperatures. And hurricane activity, especially after the disastrous 2005 season, was out of control.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the end of the world: hurricane activity on the global scale is near historical lows. And the Earth seems to have, at least temporarily, stopped warming.

This, despite the fact that some of the country’s leading climate scientists say there is unequivocally a link between major hurricanes and climate change. And despite the fact that other leading climate scientists predicted 2009 or 2010 will go down as the warmest year in recorded history. Either prediction, if true, would be alarming.

Yet both of these predictions seem, at the present moment, to be off.

Then there’s this: a revealing story from an international meeting of climate scientists where a German climate scientist says the world may cool for the next decade or two. New Scientist reports:

One of the world’s top climate modelers said Thursday we could be about to enter “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.

“People will say this is global warming disappearing,” he told more than 1500 of the world’s top climate scientists gathering in Geneva at the UN’s World Climate Conference.

“I am not one of the skeptics,” insisted Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, Germany. “However, we have to ask the nasty questions ourselves or other people will do it.”

Few climate scientists go as far as Latif, an author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But more and more agree that the short-term prognosis for climate change is much less certain than once thought.

If we can’t have confidence in the short-term prognosis for climate change, how can we have full confidence in the long-term prognosis?

The article is significant for a couple of reasons. First of all it’s written by Fred Pearce, who has a history of forceful journalism outlining climate change’s perils, and it’s published by New Scientist, which has long advocated vigorous action to curb climate change. I respect both the author and the publication.

Secondly, the key point here is that scientists are acknowledging that natural variations are playing a very important role in our present and future climate, perhaps cooling it. Therefore it stands to reason that natural variations might also have played a role in the temperature run-up of the 20th century.

Do not misunderstand me. I am not a climate change skeptic. I do not deny that the planet warmed 0.6°C in the 20th century. I do not deny that humans played some part in that significant warming.

But I am confused. Four years ago this all seemed like a fait accompli. Humans were unquestionably warming the climate and changing the planet forever through their emissions of carbon dioxide.

The problem is that some climate scientists and environmentalists have been so determined to see something done about carbon dioxide emissions — now — that they have glossed over the uncertainties.

Uncertainties like: maybe there isn’t a linear relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature, and maybe the planet will cool for a couple of decades even as carbon dioxide emissions accelerate.

For the last few years some scientists and environmentalists have been telling us a lot about what “will” happen in the future if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated. It perhaps would have been a lot better if they talked about what “may” happen.
Robert L. Bradley, Jr. is CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research; an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.; and a visiting fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. Bradley is also a senior research fellow of the Center for Energy Economics at the University of Texas at Austin, among other honorary affiliations.