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Vol. III, No. 25

Cooler Heads Digest

Title

Vol. III, No. 25

 Politics

 

Ford Leaves GCC

 

In a terse statement dated December 3, the Ford Motor Company informed the Global Climate Coalition "that it will not renew its membership in that organization for the next year. We will continue to work with government, non-governmental and industry partners on technology-based voluntary approaches," said Ford.

 

The group Ozone Action declared it a major victory for global warming activists. "This is one of the clearest signs to date that the debate over global warming is coming to a close," said John Passacantando, the Executive Director of Ozone Action. Passacantando also said, "We have all suffered from a decade of lies on global warming from corporate America. Now we finally have Bill Ford, Jr., chairman of one of our country’s largest manufacturers, standing up saying that he wants to tell the truth about our most pressing environmental crisis. It makes for a promising century."

 

According to one source, William Clay Ford, Jr. has been pushing this shift since becoming chairman last January, but has met resistance from the company’s board of directors. A massive call-in and e-mail campaign organized by Ozone Action and other pressure groups to intimidate the company overloaded Ford’s phone e-mail system. This reportedly gave Mr. Ford the leverage he needed to convince the board to withdraw from the GCC.

 

The GCC released a statement claiming that Ford’s position on global warming, "opposing the Kyoto Protocol, while pursuing an aggressive policy of voluntary actions, research and development remain identical," to the position of the Coalition. "What is most disappointing about Ford’s decision is that it seems to be driven by a campaign of misinformation by fringe environmental groups such as Ozone Action who disregard the serious nature of this debate with scare tactics, half-truths and outright distortions."

 

Kyoto’s Nonexistent Mandate

 

The Kyoto Protocol has set a new standard in international negotiations. Prior to Kyoto, international agreements were hammered out and then submitted to the various countries for ratification. Once an agreement was reached and signed, no further action would be taken prior to completion of the ratification process.

 

The Kyoto Protocol, on the other hand, is a negotiated, signed, but unratified. Undaunted, global warming negotiators have carried on as if countries have agreed to abide by its requirements. Foul, cries Davik Wojick of the Electricity Daily (November 29, 1999). "The entire discussion at Bonn [the location of the fifth conference of the parties to the UNFCCC] was couched in terms of working out the details of a done deal," said Wojick. "This illusion has implications. For one thing, it means that the negotiators are not looking ahead to formulating a plan that might actually be approved by the people. They are acting like social engineers, not politicians."

 

Wojick points out that for the Kyoto Protocol to have legal force in the U.S. it must be ratified by the Senate, and that Congress must pass implementing legislation "empowering EPA, or some other agency, to make somebody do something."

 

Wojick suggests an interesting experiment: "Suppose we require EPA to develop detailed air quality regulations before Congress passes the law that authorizes them. People have complained that EPA rules distort the will of Congress, but stay just within the ‘technical discretion’ wiggle room afforded by judicial review. It might be a salutary experience all around if detailed proposed regulations had to be approved, by the representative branch of government, before they became final."

 

Economics

 

Kyoto Goals Difficult to Meet

 

According to Australian government officials, it would be very difficult to meet the goals set out in the Kyoto Protocol, even though Australia secured one of the least onerous targets among industrialized nations. Australia’s target is an emission level of 8 percent above 1990 levels. "Our abatement costs are high because we have built our economy around, a lot of our economy, around comparatively cheap carbon fuels," Environment Minister Robert Hill said.

 

Hill’s main objection is that developing nations are not required to meet emissions reduction targets. "We accepted a commitment in Kyoto that's challenging for Australia but nevertheless fair compared to that accepted by others. And we are in the process of implementing programs to meeting that commitment," said Hill.

 

"If the result of the Kyoto Protocol is simply a transfer of resources emissions from a developed country to the developing, and you don't get a better environmental outcome, then you may get a[n]…economic loss. That's why it's a challenge to bring developing countries’ emitters within the loop in a meaningful way as soon as possible to avoid that" (AAP Newsfeed, December 2, 1999).

 

Science

 

Glaciers Melt Despite Cooler Temperatures

 

Flooding, mudslides and spillover from the Indus River in the Ladakh area along the Kashmiri and Tibetan border in the Himalayan Mountains were caused at least in part from glacier meltwater. One news story about the resulting damage to the famous thousand-year-old Hemis Buddhist Monastery mentioned that global warming may be the culprit.

 

Robert Balling, a climatologist at Arizona State University, decided to see if warmer temperatures were indeed the cause of melting glaciers in the Himalayas. When he analyzed the 123-year temperature record for the region, compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he found no trend. His analysis revealed a statistically insignificant 0.04 degrees C cooling trend.

 

"Obviously, heavy rains during this past summer could be responsible for difficulties in the Ladakh area," Balling wrote. "However, any suggestion that the nearby glaciers are retreating because of warming during this century is inconsistent with the temperature data for the region. The simplistic notion that glacial retreat implies local warming once again melts away when available temperature records are examined" (www.greeningearthsociety.org).

 

Heat Mortality and Adaptation

 

Predicted increases in heat-related mortality have been a staple of the global warming propaganda machine. The IPCC, for example, claims that, "[Based upon data from several North American cities,] the annual number of heat-related deaths would approximately double by 2020 and would increase several-fold by 2050." But, according to a paper presented by Robert Davis, a climatologist with the University of Virginia, at the International Congress on Biometeorology in Sydney, Australia, these gloomy scenarios are incorrect.

 

The problem arises from plugging historic mortality data into future climate scenarios. If, for example, on average 50 people die as a result of a heat wave, then a tripling of the number of heat waves will triple the death rate. The paper found, however, that this simple extrapolation does not coincide with the data. By analyzing heat-related mortality in the New York City area, Davis and his four coauthors found that the weather/death link has weakened over the last few years (World Climate Report, www.greeningearthsociety.org/climate).

 

Hurricanes on the Rise

 

It sounds like the familiar global warming rhetoric we’ve all heard so often. According to William Gray, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Colorado State University, over the next 20 years "We’ll see hurricane damage like we’ve never seen before," on the southeast coast of the U.S. (Denver Rocky Mountain News, November 27, 1999).

 

There is one difference in Dr. Gray’s predictions, however. Global warming is not the cause. "The global warming scenario is suspect as hell, I think," said Gray. "Perhaps there has been a little bit of global warming, but it’s natural, cyclical, whether or not human-induced greenhouse gases are being put into the atmosphere," said Gray (The Times-Picayune, November 30, 1999). Dr. Gray’s research has shown that hurricane activity follows a 20 to 40 year ocean circulation cycle that has occurred for thousands of years.

 

Dr. Gray’s predictions have been remarkably accurate. For this past hurricane season he predicted that there would be nine hurricanes – there were eight. He predicted 14 named storms – there were 12. And he predicted that there would be 75 hurricane days and there were 77. "He has made a tremendous contribution to tropical meteorology," said Max Mayfield, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. "Bill Gray gets all the credit for saying we’re heading back into a multidecadal period of intense hurricanes."

 

In spite of his success, Dr. Gray has recently had difficulty finding funding to continue his research. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has ceased funding Dr. Gray’s work. Officials claim that similar work is now being done by the National Hurricane Center and that Dr. Gray’s work is no longer needed. Moreover, Gray’s work is no longer ground breaking.

 

Dr. Gray has a different take. "I think it’s partly a backlash due to my criticism of their theories of global warming, and I’ve also been criticizing their methodology of climate prediction." All thirteen of Dr. Gray’s grant requests since 1991 have been turned down.

 

Announcements

 

     

  • The Competitive Enterprise Institute has just released a new book, Earth Report 2000. The book features two chapters about global warming as well as chapters on other salient environmental issues. Copies can be purchased for $12 (includes S&H) from CEI by calling (202) 331-1010.

     

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