Vol. IV, No. 20

Vol. IV, No. 20

October 05, 2000

Administration Sued Over National Assessment

Four members of the Cooler Heads Coalition, three members of Congress, and one individual filed suit in federal court on October 3 to have the National Assessment on Climate Change declared as unlawfully produced.  The plaintiffs are the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Consumer Alert, 60 Plus Association, Heartland Institute, Representative Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Missouri), Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and David Wojick, Ph.D., P.E.

 

The defendants named in the lawsuit are the chairman of the National Science and Technology Council, President Bill Clinton, and the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Neal Lane.  These two entities have ultimate control over the National Assessment Synthesis Team.

 

At press time, a well-placed source reported to Cooler Heads that the White House was “deeply concerned” by the lawsuit, was considering ordering that the NACC be released immediately, and had asked environmental pressure groups to protest at a press conference to be held by the plaintiffs at the House triangle on the Capitol’s grounds on October 5 at 1:30 p.m.  Cooler Heads has not been able to confirm this report.

 

Several government scientists have told Cooler Heads  privately  over  the  past  few months that they were under strong pressure to toe the White House’s alarmist line on global warming in preparing the NACC.

 

“In President Clinton’s capacity as the chairman of the National Science and Technology Council, he is ultimately responsible for producing and maintaining the legal integrity of any documents or reports it releases,” commented Christopher C. Horner, the attorney for CEI who filed the complaint.

 

The lawsuit alleges the following violations:

 

·                    Multiple Violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); specifically, holding unlawfully closed meetings and conducting meetings in the absence of the required Designated Federal Officer.

 

·                    Violations of the US Global Change Research Act (USGCRA); including a wrongful directive from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy that the Council unlawfully expand its work outside the scope of its applicable statutory authority, and delve into non-scientific, political areas.

 

·                    Violation of Public Law 106-74. This law prohibited the expenditure of appropriated money in order to release or publish this report prior to completing the underlying science, making the Council’s findings available to all parties and subjecting its work to peer review. 

 

Despite repeated private and congressional requests to comply with these requirements, the Council has aggressively refused, due to a calculation that releasing the Assessment in October will have maximum political value.

 

As a remedy, the plaintiffs request that the court declare the following actions unlawful under FACA, USGCRA, and Public Law 106-74:

 

·                    Utilizing any product of any Synthesis Team meeting attended by either FACA violation;

 

·                    Utilizing any draft or final National Assessment until such time as these violations are remedied;

 

·                    Dedicating further expense or effort on the basis of such Assessment until these violations are remedied;

 

·                    Releasing any document that addresses those issues not specifically authorized by the GCRA of 1990.

 

Cooler Heads has reported many times on the National Assessment’s shortcomings during the past 16 months.  More information can be found in an article by Cooler Heads editor Myron Ebell in the current issue of Intellectual Ammunition published by the Heartland Institute (www.heartland.org), and in a report by David Wojick published by the Greening Earth Society (www.greeningearthsocitey.org.)

 

Economics

 

Electric Vehicles Still not Feasible

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandated in 1990 that ten percent of all cars and trucks on the road must be Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) by the year 2003.  At the time, it claimed that the mandate could be met using electric vehicles that would cost only $1,350 more than gas-powered vehicles of similar size.

 

According to an article by Tom Austin, an automotive engineer and former CARB executive officer, CARB’s dreams have come crashing down in the face of reality.  Consultants hired by CARB have determined that electric vehicles will cost about $20,000 more than comparably-sized gas-powered vehicles.  The limited driving range of electric vehicles is also a major drawback to most motorists, noted the consultants.  Thus to meet the mandate, a subsidy of $30,000 per vehicle would be required.

 

To cover the subsidy, a surcharge of $3,000 per vehicle would be needed on the price of new gas-powered vehicles.  The surcharge could be lowered to $1,250 under a recent change in the regulation, which allows the percentage of ZEVs to fall to 4 percent if makers of gas-powered automobiles significantly reduce auto emissions and provide a 150,000-mile warranty on their emission control systems.  But, notes Austin, the cost of gas-powered vehicles would rise by several hundred dollars per vehicle due to the additional pollution control equipment and the longer warranty.

 

The only other option available to automakers, says Austin, to “further reduce the cost of complying with the ZEV mandate is for them to produce electric vehicles that are little more than glorified golf carts.  The gasoline vehicle travel displaced by such vehicles would be negligible and CARB’s regulation would become a laughingstock.”

 

Finally, Austin notes that, CARB’s own analysis shows that the regulation will have almost no effect on environmental goals such as improved air quality or preventing global warming (Sacramento Bee, September 24, 2000).

 

China’s Growth is Killing the Bicycle

Beijing, China, the city of bicycles, is changing.  Commuters are abandoning the human-powered two-wheeler for more convenient and more comfortable transportation – taxis and buses.

 

“I take buses and taxis,” said Zui, a Web site designer.  “I don’t even know how to ride a bicycle.”  Most mornings Zui cannot find a seat on the packed bus but he doesn’t mind.  “At least the bus is air-conditioned,” he said.

 

The Seattle Times (October 4, 2000) explains why bicycles are on they way out.  “Increasingly, young Chinese are not even bothering to learn to ride bikes, because growing wealth has unleashed a plethora of transportation choices, public and private.

 

“With the crumbling of the old socialist state-owned industries and their adjoining housing complexes, displaced by private companies and the wildfire growth of private apartment blocks, commuting distances have grown dramatically.  In Beijing, a city of 12.6 million people, there are more than 167,000 buses, both city-owned and private mini-buses, along with 69,000 taxis.”

 

It sounds like Chinese citizens need a good tongue-lashing from Al Gore for making choices that contribute to global warming and urban sprawl, and which make their lives better.

 

Science

 

Heat vs. Cold Related Mortality

More evidence has come in showing that cold weather is deadlier than hot weather.  A new study in the British Medical Journal (September 16, 2000) analyzed temperature-related mortality statistics in Europe to determine the effects of changing temperatures on mortality rates.

 

The researchers determined the 3 degree C band of temperature in each region that they studied with the lowest mortality rate and then compared the mortality rates from this baseline band with temperatures above and below the baseline. 

 

They found two things of significance.  First, “Heat related mortality occurs at higher temperatures in hotter regions than in cold regions of Europe and does not account for significantly more deaths in hotter areas,” and that, “People in cold regions of Europe protect themselves better from cold stress at a given level of outdoor cold.”  So, “Populations in Europe have adjusted successfully to mean summer temperatures ranging from 13.5 degrees C to 24.1 degrees C, and can be expected to adjust to global warming predicted for the next half century with little sustained increase in heat related mortality.”

 

Second, there are many more cold-related deaths than heat-related deaths in Europe.  “Mean annual heat related mortalities were 304 in North Finland, 445 in Athens, and 40 in London.  Cold related mortalities were 2457, 2533, and 3129 respectively.”  The researchers argue that, “Our data suggest that any increases in mortality due to increased temperatures would be outweighed by much larger short term declines in cold related mortalities.”

 

More Evidence on Solar Influences

New research is making a strong case that solar variability is a major factor in global warming.  Using satellite and other data, researchers have determined that the sun’s impact on global warming may be much larger than previously thought.  According to the Vancouver Sun (September 25, 2000), “The new studies say that the main reason is a solar-energy surge and a particularly big increase in ultraviolet (UV) light.  This has coincided with a doubling in strength of the sun’s magnetic field.”

 

Paal Brekke, the deputy project scientist for the European Space Agency’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (Soho) satellite, said that this could change the way we approach global warming policies.  “Taxing carbon-based fuels may be good for other reasons, but our evidence suggests it will not be much help in keeping the Earth cool,” he said.

 

The new findings were a subject of debate at a recent conference entitled, “The Solar Cycle and Terrestrial Climate,” which took place on Tenerife (Canary Islands).  Mike Lockwood, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, believes that the sun played a significant role in the past but that now greenhouse gases are more important.  “I have doubts about how low some people want to keep the solar contribution,” he said.  “Over the whole of the last century, I’d say it was perhaps about 40-50 percent of the total.  But the important point is that most of that was in the first 50 years.  From 1970 to now the main influence has been human activity, and that’s rather scary.”

 

Brekke said, “The Sun may explain up to 20 percent of global warming over the last 30 years, if you look only at irradiance.  But if you include other, indirect effects, including cosmic rays and their influence on cloud cover, that percentage could rise.  The pattern of systematic change in the global climate over recorded history seems to follow the observed changes in cosmic ray flux.  It is consistent with the explanation that a low flux corresponds to fewer clouds and a warming climate, and vice versa.”

 

Dr. Joanna Haigh of Imperial College, in London, added that the Soho data show that changes in UV radiation, which contributes to ozone creation (a potential greenhouse gas), are larger than once thought.  “How much the ozone responds, and where it changes, is crucial,” she said.  “In the upper stratosphere, about 50 km up, an increase in ozone will have a cooling effect.  But about 20 km above the Earth, more ozone will act like other greenhouse gases, trapping infrared radiation and enhancing warming.  I think it’s very unlikely anyway that the response of ozone to solar UV will be as dramatic as some reports have claimed.”

 

The IPCC report, according to Dr. Mike Hume, executive director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, is very guarded on the subject.  “It allows both a substantial role for the Sun, and an inconsequential one,” he said.  “All the evidence suggests that it’s greenhouse rather than solar forcing that’s the problem, but the IPCC leaves the door open.  It is this range of uncertainties that makes future predictions so difficult.”

 

Etc.

 

The Europe Union proclaimed September 22 as a car free day and implored drivers to leave their cars home and to get to work and run errands on foot, bicycle, or public transportation.  Drivers largely ignored the appeals, however.  Even though there was no noticeable difference in traffic conditions, Margot Wallstroem, environment commissioner for the European Union, which organized the campaign, declared it a success.  “This is to raise awareness to what’s happening to our urban environment…. We want to discuss climate change, noise levels and air pollution,” she said.

 

“But was anyone taking any notice?” asked the Associated Press (September 22, 2000).  “Motorists across Europe might be angry at the spiraling gas prices, but as Wallstroem spoke in a tent pitched near EU headquarters, morning traffic trickled as slowly as ever.”

 

Stockholm’s Deputy Mayor Sten Nordin shunned the initiative.  “The environment won’t be improved by one car-free day, but from better public transportation and beltways,” he said.  “People use their cars to go to work, take their kids to daycare, shop for food, for heaven’s sake.  It’s not that simple, just stopping traffic.”

 

THE COOLER HEADS COALITION

 

Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

Americans for Tax Reform

American Legislative Exchange Council

American Policy Center

Association of Concerned Taxpayers

Center for Security Policy

Citizens for a Sound Economy

Citizens for the Integrity of Science

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Consumer Alert

Defenders of Property Rights

Frontiers of Freedom

George C. Marshall Institute

Heartland Institute

Independent Institute

National Center for Policy Analysis

National Center for Public Policy Research

Pacific Research Institute

Seniors Coalition

60 Plus

Small Business Survival Committee

The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition