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Vol. II, No. 4
Vol. II, No. 4
February 17, 1998
Senator Inhofe Opposes Clinton’s Greenhouse Budget
U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) has made it clear he will oppose the Clinton Administration’s $6.3 billion tax and subsidy proposal designed "to try to mold the behavior of U.S. businesses to conform with the global warming ideology."
"The President’s decision to sidestep the treaty ratification process and start unilaterally implementing the Global Warming agreement is wrong," Inhofe said. "There should be no action taken by the Administration on this issue before the Senate deals directly with the treaty and its surrounding issues."
Though President Clinton says that manmade global warming has arrived, Inhofe says that in Senate committee hearings "we determined just the opposite."
"There are huge ambiguities and uncertainties," according to Inhofe, "about what is happening in global climate change and what can and should be done. Once again, the President is not telling the whole truth about what the science is and what it means."
Eizenstat Testifies Before Congress
Under Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat, chief negotiator of the Kyoto Protocol, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 12 that the Clinton Administration has "no intention, through the back door or anything else, without Senate confirmation, of trying to impose or take any steps to impose what would be binding restrictions on our companies, on our industry, on our business, on our agriculture, on our commerce, on our country, until and unless the Senate of the United States says so."
When asked by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Ne) what new laws and regulations will be required to bring the U.S. into compliance, however, Eizenstat said that with the exception of legislation needed to establish a domestic emission trading system, no new laws would be required. "I think it can all be done within existing authorities," Eizenstat said.
Hagel also asked Eizenstat whether the U.S. military had received a "blanket-exemption" from emission reduction targets. After trying to dodge the question, Eizenstat finally answered: ". . . we took care of those concerns the military has, and that includes those actions we unilaterally initiate that have a multilateral component, as almost everything does."
Apparently all military actions that do not have a multilateral component (read: UN approval) will be subject to the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol, then, will further subject the U.S. military to the whims of the United Nations.
The hearings were also supposed to include Janet Yellen, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, to provide the Senate with an economic impact statement which they have promised since last summer. But Eizenstat said that the economic report of the president has delayed the economic analysis of the Kyoto Protocol. Eizenstat assured the committee that the report would show "that the costs to the economy are reasonable" and that "delaying action will only increase the costs."
"I find it astounding," said Hagel, "that our negotiators in Kyoto were basing their decisions on what obligations to commit the Unites States to but are unwilling to share those numbers with the U.S. Senate."
Scientists Throw Cold Water on Kyoto Agreement
Although the Clinton Administration argues that the Kyoto Protocol is a major environmental achievement, many scientists are less optimistic. The agreement is a political victory for those who wish to centrally plan the world’s energy consumption. It will not, however, do much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Jerry Mahlman, director of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University, "The best Kyoto can do is to produce a small decrease in the rate of increase." Even so the Protocol still requires the U.S. to reduce emissions by about 40 percent by the year 2012.
Bert Bolin, outgoing Chairman of the IPCC, said, "If no further steps are taken during the next 10 years, CO2 will increase in the atmosphere during the first decade of the next century essentially as it has done during the past few decades."
Most supporters of the treaty admit that it is only a first step. "[Y]ou have to walk before you can run," said John Holdren a Harvard University professor of environmental policy. "If you want the energy system to look different in the next century you have to start now" (The Washington Post, February 13, 1998).
An article in Resources (Winter 1998), a publication of Resources for the Future, discusses the shortcomings of the Kyoto Protocol.
Several things, according to the authors, are needed to close the "significant gaps" which remain in the treaty. First, clearly defined rules and institutions are needed to govern both international emission trading and joint implementation. Second, clear criteria for judging compliance must be established. Third, developing countries must agree to limit their emissions at some specific date. Fourth, specific short-term goals should be set for developed countries to make long-term reductions easier.
The authors argue "that the proposed target and timetable will impose significant costs on the United State and the global economy, even after accounting for new technology stimulated by domestic policies."
Greenhouse Pork on Wheels
The U.S. government will contribute $20 million towards a $40 million collaberative effort with industry "to produce by 2004 buses, delivery trucks, trolleys, municipal fleets and other medium-sized vehicles that use half as much fuel and emit 30 percent less exhaust than today’s vehicles."
The administration has requested $10 million for the Department of Energy and $10 million for the Department of Transportation. Seven regional research groups will contribute the remaining $20 million. Companies involved in the regional research groups include Southern California Edison Co., FMC Corp., Intel Corp., Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. and AlliedSignal Inc. Regional transit authorities, environmental groups such as the National Resources Defense Council, and state agencies are also involved (Automotive News, February 9, 1998.
How Much Do You Cost?
William D. Nordhaus, economics professor at Yale University, and Joseph Boyer, a graduate student at Yale, have constructed an economic model of population growth to determine the economic cost that each person imposes on society in terms of environmental impact. The cost of each person in high-income countries is estimated at $100,000 while the costs of each person in low-income countries is $2,500.
Nordhaus, who delivered the paper at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on February 15, said, "We calculate three ways an extra person affects the economy – he or she consumes natural resources, requires a share of capital resources such as buildings and computers, and generates carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. These are societal costs beyond what a parent pays to raise a child."
The Yale model is the first to include global warming in estimating the costs of population growth. The researchers found that climate change costs are relatively small with only 1 to 4 percent of total costs being those that transcend national boundaries. Nordhaus warns, however, that, "Before the model is used to influence policy or to make value judgements . . . more research needs to be done on ways to estimate these costs" (M2 Presswire, February 16, 1998).
Eco-Taxes Will Not Create Jobs
Britain’s Treasury has countered claims that eco-taxes will create jobs. Treasury minister, Dawn Primarolo, told the Environmental Audit Committee, a parliamentary watchdog set up by the Labour party, that she is skeptical about the "double dividend" that eco-tax proponents are promising.
The Institute for Public Policy Research, a think tank with close ties to Labour, has argued that shifting taxes away from employment to pollution will help both the environment and employment (Financial Times (London), February 11, 1998).
Drunk on Ethanol
Dan Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture, has announced that the United States Department of Agriculture "will contribute $10 million to an interagency Climate Change Technology Initiative, recognizing that agriculture can offer significant global warming solutions through cleaner-burning ethanol fuels, biomass projects that produce electricity by burning crops, and carbon sequestration, the use of plants to reduce the carbon blanket in our atmosphere that’s heating up our earth and threatening world agriculture" (PR Newswire, February 11, 1998).
This appears to be another attempt by the administration to bribe yet another industry into supporting the Kyoto Protocol.
Labor and Management On The Same Side
Contract negotiations between the United Mine Workers and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association were finished early this year so the two groups could concentrate on fighting the Kyoto Protocol. "It was clearly in our mutual interest to reach agreement on the national contract so that we could focus on working together to protect the long-term viability of the industry," said B.R. Brown, the chief BCOA negotiator.
UMW President Cecil Roberts said, "In my opinion, the Administration sold every American
worker down the river, and it’s time for our union and the industry to begin looking at supporting candidates who will stand up not only for coal miners, but for every worker in this country" (The Sunday Gazette Mail, February 8, 1998).
It’s All Chaos
A serious challenge has emerged to the idea that manmade CO2 is causing of global warming. Climate modeler James Hansen and 42 other researchers have published a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research (November 27, 1997) that describes their inability to isolate specific causes of climate change from the chaotic climate.
The researchers ran three computer models of the climate with no forcings and compared the results to average annual temperatures. They then added forcings such as stratospheric aerosols, greenhouse gas buildup, ozone depletion, and others to see if the models would correspond more closely to observed conditions. The experiment failed for the troposphere where weather originates. The researchers found no correlation between the various forcings and temperature changes in the troposphere.
The authors note that, "Scientists and lay persons have a prediliction for deterministic explanations of climate variations. However, climate can vary chaotically, i.e., in the absence of any forcing. The slightest alteration of initial or boundary conditions changes the developing patterns, and thus next year’s weather is inherently unpredictable. This behavior results from the nonlinear fundamental equations governing the dynamics of such a system" (Electricity Daily, February 13, 1998).
Warming or Cooling?
In a study published in Science (February 13, 1998) researchers have found evidence in the ~6000-year-old coral from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia that the tropical ocean surface was 1 degree C warmer about 5350 years ago. This work suggests that earth may be in a long-term natural cooling trend.
According to Dr. Michael Gagan, the lead researcher, "The beginning of this interglacial period was warmer than now. There’s been a long-term cooling trend." He also says that the natural cooling effect may be too weak to offset human-induced global warming (The Canberra Times, February 14, 1998).
Climate Change and Storminess
One of the oft-repeated scare stories about climate change is that warmer global temperatures will lead to more frequent and severe storms, including cyclones. Dr. Patrick Michaels of the University of Virginia points out, however, that climate models suggest that most warming will occur over the high latitudes in winter while the tropics will warm relatively less. Since it is the temperature gradient between the equator and the poles that fuels the jet stream and the jet stream that fuels winter storms, this would suggest that global warming would lead to fewer, less severe storms.
Several studies related to this phenomenon support Michaels contention. One paper, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research (1996), found no trend in changes in intense cyclones from 1899 to 1970. It did, however, find a significant increase from 1970 to 1991. But over the Pacific, for example, there was a link between stronger storms and lower temperatures.
Another study published in the Journal of Climate (1998) found that from 1990 on there was a statistically significant increase in the number of strong storms. The researchers also found that cold years have more storms that warm years.
Finally, a study published in the International Journal of Climatology (1998) found that the cost of weather damage had risen precipitously since 1954 but after correcting for inflation, population, and the number of storm events, the researchers found no trend in weather related insurance losses. See www.nhes.com for more details.
Sun Sheds Light on Climate Change
Two papers delivered at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) shed light on sun’s role in climate change.
Brian Tinsley of the University of Texas presented research that shows that the electromagnetic solar wind can freeze particles on the tops of high clouds by changing the electromagnetic charges of the particles causing the clouds to dissipate.
"If you dissipate, then you get more solar radiation to the earth," Tinsley said. Tinsley believes that more than half of all warming in this century is due to changes in sunspots and solar flares.
Harry van Loon of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Karen Labitzke of the Free University of Berlin told the AAAS meeting that they have found that temperature changes correspond to the 11-year sunspot cycle
an effect that has been noted in the Northern Hemisphere. The correlation is strongest in summer and has been found in the Southern Hemisphere (Electricity Daily, February 19, 1998).
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 email@example.com.
Thomas Gale Moore, a member of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s board of directors, has written a book, Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn't Worry about Global Warming that will soon be published by Cato Institute. Ordering details will be forthcoming at Cato’s website at www.cato.org.
The Institute of Economic Affairs in London has published a book, Climate Change: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom. The book can be ordered by contacting IEA by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.