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Vol. II, No. 11

Cooler Heads Digest

Title

Vol. II, No. 11

Politics

House Version of Ashcroft Drops

On May 7 Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI) introduced a bill (H.R. 3807) that, like the Senate version introduced by Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO), prohibits the use of federal funds for "rules, regulations, or programs designed to implement, or in contemplation of implementing, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change." It also prohibits federal agencies from "promulgating regulations to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide." The bill has 100 cosponsors including both Republicans and Democrats.

House Votes to Exempt the Military from Kyoto

By a vote of 420-0 the House of Representatives on May 20 approved an amendment that exempts the U.S. military from all provisions in the Kyoto Protocol or regulations implementing the protocol that would "restrict the procurement, training or operation and maintenance of the United States Armed Forces."

The amendment was offered by Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Gilman said on the House floor that the military, which relies heavily on fossil fuels, had asked the Clinton Administration for a blanket exemption from the Kyoto Protocol. Vice President Al Gore, however, "overrode the Defense Department’s position and exempted only multilateral operations consistent with the U.N. charter" (BNA Daily Environment Report, May 22, 1998).

G8 Calls for Action on Kyoto

In a communique released on May 17 the leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies said they "resolve to make an urgent start on the further work that is necessary to ratify and make Kyoto a reality." The Group of Eight – the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, and Russia – pledged to sign the Kyoto Protocol within the year.

The statement also discussed market mechanisms saying that emission trading and other "flexible mechanisms" would be used "to supplement domestic actions." Other flexible mechanisms include joint implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism. Both mechanisms involve the financing of emissions reductions in the Third World by developed countries. The U.S., which has been criticized for advocating emission trading, is calling the language a major victory (BNA Daily Environment Report, May 19, 1998). Others are less sanguine since only part of the target can be met by purchasing permits.

The G8 also urged the developing countries to participate in the treaty. "We will work together with developing countries to achieve voluntary efforts and commitments, appropriate to their national circumstances and development needs," it said (Agence France Presse, May 17, 1998).

Maryland Manufacturers Oppose Kyoto

At a press conference on May 15 manufacturing organizations from Maryland expressed their opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. The organizations argued that compliance with the agreement would raise energy costs, threaten thousands of state jobs and shrink tax revenue by millions of dollars. Also at the press conference was Scott Spendlove, acting director of an energy task force for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a bipartisan group of state legislators. According to Spendlove, "The economic costs, which the Kyoto Protocols [sic] acknowledge in exempting developing nations, would be extremely burdensome to nations like the U.S. dependent on exports, energy production and energy consumption" (The Baltimore Sun, May 15, 1998).

Economics

McIntosh Threatens a Subpoena

On May 19 Janet Yellen, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, appeared before the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs to answer questions regarding the Clinton administration’s economic analysis of the costs of implementing the Kyoto Protocol. Yellen told the subcommittee that the administration was "convinced the costs of implementing the treaty will be modest." Subcommittee members spent much of the hearing trying to pin down the basis for this assertion.

Rep. David McIntosh (R-IN), chairman of the subcommittee, pointed out that the G8 (see above story) affirmed that emission trading could only be used as a supplement to domestic actions to reduce greenhouse gases (BNA Daily Environment Report, May 21, 1998). McIntosh argued that "emissions trading will not save us from real reductions that could prove disastrous." He repeatedly asked Yellen about the Administration’s assumptions regarding the percentage of U.S. emissions to be reduced through purchasing emission credits overseas. Unable to get a straight answer McIntosh warned that if the Clinton administration does not deliver its economic analysis he will ask Government Reform Committee chairman Dan Burton (R-IN) to issue subpoenas. Yellen said that the analysis is available for viewing by the committee but could not be released to the panel because of "national security" reasons (National Journal’s CongressDaily, May 20, 1998).

The Per Degree Cost of Kyoto

In a paper published by the Cato Institute, Patrick Michaels, a climatologist with the University of Virginia, calculates the GDP loss per degree of warming prevented that will result from compliance with the Kyoto Protocol over the next 50 years. If Kyoto is fully complied with, says Michaels, the amount of warming prevented would be about 0.19 degrees Celsius according to the climate model of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, recently featured in Science.

According to the economic consulting firm, Charles Rivers Associates, compliance with Kyoto will reduce U.S. GDP by about 2.3 percent per year. Using these numbers Michaels calculates that the Kyoto Protocol will reduce U.S. GDP 12 percent per year per degree of warming averted over the next 50 years.

Michaels also points out that whatever warming may take place will occur primarily at night and during the winter. We should ask ourselves if we are really willing to give up 12 percent of our GDP each year to avoid slightly warmer winters. The paper, The Consequences of Kyoto, can be downloaded from Cato’s website at http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-307es.html.

More Evidence of Waffling in the Clinton Administration

The Clinton administration has repeatedly told the American people that compliance with the Kyoto Protocol will be painless. In a gap analysis released in May 1998, The Business Roundtable points out that in the Administration’s 1997 Climate Action Report asserts that, ". . . even the most draconian measures would likely be insufficient to reverse the growth of greenhouse gases and return emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000." Yet, the Administration is now telling us that reducing greenhouse gases by to an average of 7 percent below 1990 levels (a 41 percent decrease over business as usual) for the years 2008-2012 will be a cakewalk.

The Business Roundtable study states, "To even approach the U.S. reduction commitment will require more than just government incentives and limited market mechanisms; it will require difficult choices. To place the magnitude of the U.S. commitments in perspective, it is the equivalent of having to eliminate all current emissions from either the U.S. transportation sector, or the utilities sector (residential and commercial sources), or industry."

Science

Global Warming is Good

A new book by Thomas Gale Moore, an economist with the Hoover Institute, challenges the global warming as catastrophe hypothesis. According to Dr. Moore mankind has done far better during warm periods than during cold periods. He comes to this conclusion by examining two periods of human history, the First Climate Optimum from 9000BC to 2000BC and the Little Climate Optimum from AD900 to AD1300.

During the First Climate Optimum, which followed an Ice Age, agriculture came into being, writing was invented, cities began to be built and other important advances occurred. "From its origins around 8000BC," writes Moore, "agriculture spread northward, appearing in Greece about 6000BC, Hungary in 5000BC, France in 4500BC, and Poland in 4250BC. Is it chance that this northward spread followed a gradual warming of the climate that made agriculture more feasible at higher latitudes?"

The Little Climate Optimum was an unprecedented period of human progress marked by the construction of some of Europe’s most famous buildings, including St. Mark’s in Venice, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the cathedrals at Santiago de Compostela, Notre Dame, Canterbury and Chartres. The building surge ended with the advent of a prolonged cooling, known as the Little Ice Age which lasted from 1300 to 1800. This period saw the Black Death and a general stagnation of human progress. Both of these periods, incidentally, were warmer than current temperatures and are about the same as the upper bound of the IPCC predictions.

Dr. Moore predicts that warmer temperatures coupled with increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide would increase agricultural production, reduce heating costs, improve transportation, and cut fatalities. The imposition of regulations to curb greenhouse gases would be far more damaging to human prosperity than would the minor negative effects of global warming. Copies of Climate of Fear can be purchased for $18.95 (cloth) or $9.95 (paper) by calling 1-800-767-1241.

Natural Climate Change is the Norm

A team of researchers from the University of Maine have discovered that vast lakes in the Antarctica’s Dry Valleys rose and fell dramatically in as little as 400 years. Bonney Basin in Antarctica’s Taylor Valley, for example, saw the water levels of a massive glacial lake rise and fall by 820 feet every 400 to 1,500 years between 11,800 years ago and 18,700 years ago.

Other glacial lakes in the area show similar rapid changes and one of the valleys shows this pattern up until 2,500 years ago. One of the researchers, Brenda Hall, a graduate student at the University of Maine says that means that whatever is causing the shifts is still happening now. Because the changes occurred in all three of the Dry Valley’s glacial lakes and not just in one glacier at a time it means that the changes were caused by climatic factors.

This evidence coincides with evidence of abrupt climate change from other parts of the world. Ice cores from Greenland dating back 40,000 years, for example, show temperature changes of 5 degrees Celsius over 3 to 50 years (Bangor Daily News, May 16, 1998). No one is sure what causes such rapid climate change but one thing is certain, natural climate change is the norm and swamps even the most pessimistic scenarios concocted by the IPCC.

CO2 Effects on Cotton

Botanists at Mississippi State University are studying the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide on the growth of cotton. The researchers grew cotton at various temperatures under current ambient levels of CO2 and at levels double current levels. The results were astounding. Higher levels of CO2 at optimum temperatures increased total plant weight by 30 percent while the weight of the bolls increased by more than 20 percent.

Varying the temperature in either direction by 10 degrees C caused a decline in the production of bolls. But at any temperature increased CO2 had a dramatic positive effect on plant growth. According to one commentator, "Everywhere we look – in journal after journal – carbon dioxide appears to make our ‘best of all possible climates’ even better." This is good news to a cotton industry that adds $120 billion of value to our economy each year. The journal article can be found in Environmental and Experimental Botany, 39. Additional information can be found at the World Climate Report’s website at www.nhes.com/current_issue/greening.html.

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  • Environmentalists are tying themselves in knots in Great Britain over what to do about wind power. Though many advocate the use of wind power to combat global warming, others see them as "gaunt, skeletal, industrial structure[s]." And it turns out that the windiest places in Great Britain are also some of the most beautiful and most "fiercely protected" landscapes (The Guardian (London), May 16, 1998).

     

     

  • A study at Scotland’s Stirling University predicts that global warming will be good for the Scottish tourist industry. The "traditional" Scottish seaside holiday will return to its former glory typical of the 1950s and 60s, according to the researchers. "The long-term effects for a zone running from the Grampian coast down to East Lothian are bound to be good, with more sunny and predictable weather providing a boost to summer tourism," said Dr. John Harrison, one of the studies co-authors (The Scotsman, May 20, 1998).

     

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Announcements

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has produced a book and a highlights video based on The Costs of Kyoto conference held in July 1997. Both the book and the video are available for $15 or buy both for $25. To order call CEI at (202) 331-1010, or e-mail to info@cei.org.

Fred Singer’s book Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate is still available from the Science and Environmental Policy Project through their website at www.sepp.org//.

The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation together with the David Suzuki Foundation, the West Coast Environmental Law Association, the B.C. Environmental Network and the Vancouver and District Labour Council are jointly holding a conference on climate change. The conference will be held Saturday, June 6, at Robson Square in Vancouver. For information on registering for the conference, email spec@alternatives.com.

The EPA’s Energy, Clean Air and Climate Change Subcommitee of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee is holding a meeting on Thursday, June 11, 1998, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Tyson Corner Marriott Hotel, 8028 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, Virginia. Contact Paul Rasmussen, 202-260-6877, Anna Garcia 202-564-9492 or Brian Cook, 202-260-0825.