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Vol. IV, No. 3
Vol. IV, No. 3
February 08, 2000
Clinton Releases Global Warming Budget
The Clinton-Gore Administration’s FY2001 budget is laden with global warming pork and flouts the Knollenberg provision that prohibits implementation of the Kyoto Protocol prior to Senate ratification. The budget includes $2.4 billion to combat global warming and an additional $1.7 billion for global warming research.
Included in this sum is $289 million "to develop technologies that convert crops and other ‘biomass’ into clean fuels and other products," and over $200 million "to promote the export of clean energy technologies to developing nations." The budget also contains $1.4 billion "to develop and deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies for the buildings, transportation, industry and utility sectors; and to research coal and natural gas efficiencies and carbon sequestration," and $85 million for state and local governments to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollutants.
Finally, the budget includes a massive outlay of tax credits of $4 billion over the next 5 years and $9 billion over the next 10 years to "consumers who purchase energy efficient products and for producers of energy from renewable sources." The program is known as the Climate Change Technology Initiative. A summary of the budget can be found at www.whitehouse.gov.
Automakers Begin to Cut CO2 Emissions in Europe
While it has received little notice in this country, major automakers have begun to reduce CO2 emissions in cars sold in the European Union, under an agreement between the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and the EU. According to the voluntary agreement, "Compliance with this target translates for the European automobile industry into an average CO2 reduction of 25 percent for newly registered cars, compared to 1995."
The automakers state that "This target will mainly be achieved by technological developments affecting different car characteristics and market changes linked to these developments. In particular, ACEA will aim at a high share – to the point of 90 percent – of new cars sold being equipped with CO2 efficient direct injection gasoline and diesel technologies."
This stated ability to achieve lower CO2 emissions would seem to conflict with the arguments advanced by automakers last fall in asking Congress to continue the freeze on raising Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (CAFE). The Senate voted to maintain the freeze on a 55-40 vote.
In a December debate on monitoring CO2 emissions, several members of the European Parliament expressed their lack of faith in voluntary agreements. The parliament then voted 460-20 to instruct the European Commission to produce a plan to force compliance if the voluntary agreement fails. ACEA’s members include Daimler-Chrysler, Ford of Europe, General Motors-Europe, and other major European automakers.
House Members Lecture Speaker about Global Warming
Inside EPA has acquired a letter to the Speaker of the House signed by about 30 Democratic House members asking for immediate action on global warming and urging the Speaker "to ensure that the House refrain from using the appropriations process to block sensible efforts to address this serious issue."
The letter claims that, "There is no longer credible scientific debate over whether climate change is, in fact, occurring." The signers, led by California Democrats George Miller and Henry Waxman, cite the recent National Research Council report to support their claim, even though it says nothing of the sort.
Additionally the letter pointed out that several companies have left the Global Climate Coalition. Why this is important is not clear. The congressmen request that appropriations bills be free of "anti-environmental" riders, such as the Knollenberg provision.
Environmental pressure groups have lavished praise on BP-Amoco for taking what they claimed was a principled stand on global warming. When BP CEO, Sir John Browne, announced that he believed that man’s industrial activities were heating up the planet and that his company was leaving the Global Climate Coalition the Greens claimed a major victory.
But BP’s capitulation has not freed it from criticism. It seems their so-called Green friends are attacking them with more zeal than ever. First, BP (now BP Amoco) is being harassed at its own shareholders meetings. A resolution was filed by a group of investors that calls for the company to cancel its Northstar project as well as to cease all lobbying to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
The group argued that these activities must be stopped to protect the environment and to prevent global warming. The group of investors, which calls itself Sane BP, is made up of Greenpeace, the US Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), and "socially responsible" investors in the United States and Britain. Trillium Asset Management Corporation, an investment firm that specializes in "socially responsible" investing, joined the effort.
Greenpeace senior analyst Iain MacGill said that, "Despite these public pronouncements [in support of taking action on global warming] BP Amoco continues to pursue risky oil exploration in the pristine and vulnerable Arctic Ocean and Wildlife Refuge. It doesn’t add up so we are giving investors a voice and a choice" (Environment News Service, January 26, 2000).
Greenpeace has also applauded the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s decision to oppose the merger of BP Amoco and Atlantic Richfield Corp (ARCO). "The FTC has the obligation and the authority to examine environmental threats presented by mergers," said MacGill, "As for BP Amoco, we ask why a company whose stated goal is to provide energy without damaging the environment is pursuing more Arctic oil and fueling global warming" (U.S. Newswire, February 2, 2000).
In other BP-related news, the corporation has been handed a maximum criminal penalty of $500,000 by U.S. District Judge James Singleton for failing to report the illegal disposal of hazardous waste on Alaska’s North Slope
The company has also been ordered to pay $15 million over the next five years to "establish a nationwide environmental management system designed to prevent future violations." This is in addition to the $6.5 million that BP Amoco agreed to pay in civil penalties (Environment News Service, February 2, 2000).
Kyoto vs. the Net
On February 2 the House Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs held a hearing to learn more about the impact of the explosion in Internet usage on electricity demand. The hearing featured testimony from Jay Hakes, Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Agency, Joseph Romm, Executive Director of the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, and Mark Mills, science advisor for the Greening Earth Society and senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Chairman David McIntosh (R-IN) set the tone by arguing that coal is used to produce half of the US’s electricity needs. "Coal is the fuel source targeted for extinction by the Kyoto Protocol. Is there not a fundamental incompatibility between the energy requirements of the digital economy and the Kyoto Protocol," he asked. "Can we really wire the world and at the same time restrict US and global access to abundant, affordable, and reliable electric power?"
According to Romm, the Internet will actually make it easier to comply with Kyoto’s energy restrictions. He claimed that the Internet uses at most 1 percent of the US’s total electricity consumption. Mills, on the other hand, argued that it uses 8 percent. Romm’s testimony was based on a study by his organization that concludes, "The Internet itself is not a major energy user, largely because it draws heavily on existing communications and computing infrastructure."
Mills responded that, "This observation reflects such a deep misunderstanding of the telecommunications revolution that it is difficult to know how to respond. Just what exactly do the authors think the past half decade of over several trillion dollars in new investment in telecommunications and computing equipment has been for and driven by, if not the Internet?" Copies of the written testimony can be found at www.house.gov/reform/neg/hearings/index.htm.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group I has made available a draft of its third assessment on climate change to expert reviewers through the Internet. The address was leaked and although the IPCC has since removed the draft from its website, there was sufficient time for many of the experts skeptical of global warming theory to critique the report extensively.
Some of those criticisms can be found on a debate forum at www.vision.net.au/~daly/. Chapter 1 of the draft report states, "The fact that global mean temperature has increased since the late nineteenth century and that other trends have been observed does not mean that we have identified an anthropogenic effect on the climate system." The report also says in Chapter 5 that, "The net forcing of the climate over the last 100 years (and since pre-industrial times) may be close to zero or even negative."
These are not the types of statements made by scientists who are convinced that man is definitely causing global warming. Of course, several statements in the draft of the Second Assessment were equally damning, but many were purged prior to publication, causing a major scandal. No wonder that the IPCC doesn’t want the drafts to be open to the public.
One reviewer in New Zealand, Dr. Vincent Gray, pointed out that the new report has 40 different scenarios and all are treated as equally likely, that is, there is no longer any predicted range of warming. This makes it difficult to convince governments that there is a pressing need for drastic energy cuts. So, Tom Wigley, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has come up with an "indicative scenario" in a paper he wrote for the Pew Center on Climate Change that was based in part on the IPCC draft report. Wigley’s paper was widely touted in the press last summer as definitive.
Dr. Gray also notes that the IPCC ignores the fact that CO2 emissions have been falling and overestimates other parameters such as world population, economic development, fuel usage, etc. They set their parameters in the computer models, for example, based on the "latest most accurate climate and physical quantity measurements." Then they multiply each by a "precautionary principle factor, which is currently 250 percent."
"For example," commented Gray, "the measured rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for the past 35 years, is 0.4 percent a year. So the figure incorporated in the model is 250 percent times 0.4, [or] one percent a year." According to Gray, the rate of methane emission rise in the atmosphere has been falling for the last 15 years. "But the modellist cannot tolerate this," said Gray. "The trend must be instantly reversed. A similar adjustment awaits all the other parameters." Other extensive reviews are also available at the website.
The Pitfalls of Forecasting
The recent major snowstorm along the East Coast caught weather forecasters by complete surprise. They had predicted 2 to 4 inches of snowfall; 8 to 12 inches fell instead. Roger Pielke, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Daniel Sarewitz, of Columbia University’s Center for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, argue that such misses are not uncommon and indeed are to be expected. "The idea that fast computers and sophisticated science can give us perfect weather predictions is nonsense," the authors wrote. "Weather systems are complex phenomena whose behavior can only be approximated, even by the most advanced technologies."
Problems with forecasting carry over into the realm of climate science, say the authors. "Predictions of global warming have focused international environmental efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But future economic trends, geopolitical events, and technological advances – three variables that defy predictive accuracy – will have a much greater impact on emissions than any conceivable international agreements."
They also warn that, "Predictions of the future can be more dangerous than ignorance, if they induce us to behave in ways that reduce our resilience in the face of inevitable uncertainties and contingencies" (Washington Times, February 2, 2000).
Malaria During the Little Ice Age
Green activists continue to claim that global warming will shift diseases such as malaria from the tropics to the temperate zones. These predictions are wrong, according to Paul Reiter, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In an article appearing in Emerging Infectious Diseases (March-April 2000) he writes, "Until the second half of the 20th century, malaria was endemic and widespread in many temperate regions, with major epidemics as far north as the Arctic Circle." He further notes that, "From 1564 to the 1730s – the coldest period of the Little Ice Age – malaria was an important cause of illness and death in several parts of England." The article can be found at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol6no1/reiter.htm.
Megadroughts Common to Africa
With increased study of evidence from the distant past, scientists are becoming increasingly aware that climate change, indeed catastrophic climate change, is the norm. The New York Times (February 8, 2000) reports that recent research has found that East Africa experienced "decades-long droughts far longer and more severe than any in recorded weather history [that] alternated with periods when rainfall was heavier than today." The article also notes that, "The droughts dwarfed any experienced by humans in the 20th century, including the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the African Sahel drought of the 1970’s."
According to Dr. Dirk Verschuren, who headed the research that appeared in the January 27 issue of Nature, "We have to anticipate that a major catastrophic drought will happen sooner or later, and we must prepare for such an event." The New York Times reports a "broader lesson" noted by Verschuren: "That irrespective of any human impact on the world’s climate, there is great natural variability in rainfall, and this variability may swamp the effects of any global warming produced by industrial emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide."
- The February 6 Baltimore Sun reported on a 300 percent increase in the population of Adelie penguins around Cape Royds, Antarctica over the past two decades. Biologist David Ainley "blames" global warming, arguing that reduced ice cover has now placed these penguins closer to their oceanic food sources, thus boosting survival rates.
Before global warming advocates add penguin overpopulation to their list of woes, they may want to sit down with their ozone depletion counterparts and try to get their stories straight. As you recall, these are the very same Adelie penguins many claimed are threatened by the Antarctic ozone hole. Increased solar radiation through the ozone hole was supposed to decimate phytoplankton populations, which form the base of the food chain upon which the penguins and other Antarctic animals rely.
- Green activists and press and politicians with views sympathetic to the Green agenda take every opportunity to highlight temperature events that can be linked to warmer temperatures. They never seem to take notice, however, when the weather turns cold and nasty. In the interest of balance, we would like to review the other side of the climate ledger:
- Australia’s National Climate Center reported that it has just experienced its coldest summer in 50 years. It blames the cold snap on La Niña, but as pointed out at www.vision.net.au/~daly/, "this is neither the longest nor the biggest such La Niña in recent decades."
- The opening of the Alaska snow crab fishery is being delayed by an unusual buildup of ice in the Bering Sea. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the scheduled opening of January 15 may be postponed until late April or May if the ice pushes much further south. These are the worst ice conditions in the area since 1975.
- The "city of eternal spring" Kunming in China just had its worst snowfall in 17 years and Beijing just finished its coldest January in 23 years.
- Moving further west, Israel experienced its heaviest snowfall in 50 years. The country came to a complete standstill, though children enjoyed snowball fights and building snowmen.
- Still further west, snowfalls for much of the U.S. have been the heaviest in 25 years.
Of course we know that these events do not disprove the theory of manmade global warming, nor do they portend a coming ice age, but neither do the events that Green activists cite "prove" that manmade global warming is real.
- The George C. Marshall Institute has just released A Guide to Global Warming: Questions and Answers on Climate Change. The 29-page booklet can be acquired by contacting them at (202) 296-9655 or by e-mail at email@example.com or through their website at www.marshall.org.
THE COOLER HEADS COALITION
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