Vol. IV, No. 6

Vol. IV, No. 6

March 27, 2000

 Politics

Norway’s Government Falls on Anti-Kyoto Vote

 

After a vote of no confidence on March 8, Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik announced the resignation of his government. The vote was called after a controversy erupted over whether to construct natural gas fired power plants. The government, which opposed the construction, argued that the plants would release too much CO2 and said that construction should be delayed until cleaner technology becomes available.

 

The opposition, a coalition of conservatives and Labour, favored immediate construction of the plants. They argued that other alternatives, such as further hydroelectric development or importing electricity produced by coal or nuclear power, were unsatisfactory. Environment News Service reported on March 9 that a leading Oslo newspaper, Dagsavisen, had revealed that the government had appointed a secret committee to explore the possibility of electricity rationing if voluntary conservation measures failed. Norway’s government is the first to fall over its support for the Kyoto Protocol.

 

Cooler Heads Sues EPA

 

The Cooler Heads Coalition, a group of two dozen policy institutes and other non-profit organizations, filed suit on March 13 against the

 

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the EPA from continuing to withhold documents in its possession, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

 

The Cooler Heads’ FOIA requests date back to the early summer of 1999 and seek documents relating to apparent "backdoor implementation" of the Kyoto Protocol. The Cooler Heads specifically sought information relating to EPA’s "global warming" and "climate change" policies, the Business Council for a Sustainable Energy Future, Climate Change Initiative, emissions trading schemes, and the Paperwork Reduction Act. These FOIA requests seek paperwork documenting the EPA’s efforts to circumvent agency authority and congressional intent.

 

Cooler Heads Counsel Christopher C. Horner alleged in the complaint that EPA delayed acting on the Coalition’s request for a fee waiver for seven months, even though such requests are routinely granted to non-profit organizations. Horner discovered through other FOIA requests that the only fee waiver requests rejected during 1999 were those sought by the Cooler Heads.

 

EPA’s attempts to withhold the requested information, said Horner, indicates that it is well aware that its actions may well violate the Knollenberg restrictions, a limitation placed upon federal agencies that they take no actions to implement the Kyoto Protocol until it is submitted to and ratified by the Senate.

 

"Given that the Administration has signed Kyoto but shown no interest in permitting the Senate to debate it, it would appear EPA would prefer to continue these impermissible activities, effectively usurping the Senate’s constitutional duty of ‘advice and consent’ regarding the implementation of international treaties," said Horner.

 

Can EPA Regulate CO2 Emissions?

 

For two years, the Environmental Protection Agency and Congressional oversight committees have argued over whether the EPA has the authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. In a recent letter, Congressmen David McIntosh (R-Ind.) and Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) told EPA General Counsel Gary Guzy that, "We are more convinced than ever that the CAA does not authorize EPA to regulate CO2."

 

The EPA has asserted that it does, however. Former EPA General Counsel Jonathan Z. Cannon said in a memorandum that "pollutants" that fall under EPA’s jurisdiction include "any physical, chemical, biological, or radioactive substance or matter that is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air." Congress was understandably concerned that the EPA had assumed de facto authority to implement the Kyoto Protocol under this definition.

 

Congressmen McIntosh and Calvert countered saying that, "The term ‘air pollutant’ does not automatically apply to any substance emitted into the ambient air. Such a substance must also be an ‘air pollutant agent’" and "EPA has never determined that," they said.

 

"Furthermore, in view of the well-known fact that CO2 is a benign substance and the foundation of the planetary food chain, we are appalled by the Administration’s insistence that EPA might be able to regulate CO2 as a ‘toxic’ or ‘hazardous’ air pollutant" (www.weathervane.org).

Economics

 

Kyoto’s Economic Effects on Developing Countries

 

Developing countries have been eager to see the Kyoto Protocol put into effect, especially since all of the required emission reductions would occur in the developed countries. The developing countries’ economies will be effected by the Kyoto Protocol, even though they don’t have any emission reduction targets, according to a new report by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE).

 

The economic effects of the Kyoto Protocol on developing nations will be mixed, says the report. On the one hand, there will be a lowering of world demand for fossil fuels, much of which originates in developing countries. On the other hand, developing countries will experience an increase in competitiveness, especially in the production of emission-intensive goods.

 

The production and exportation of goods that use a lot of energy such as iron and steel and nonferrous metals will substantially shift to developing countries. This is due to the "carbon leakage" that would occur under the Kyoto Protocol. For every 1000 tons of carbon equivalent reduced in the developed countries, emissions in developed countries are expected to rise by 92 tons, according to the report. The South Korea iron and steel industry, for instance, would experience significant gains in competitiveness if Kyoto is implemented.

 

Countries that are major exporters of fossil fuels, on the other hand, will see a significant decline in revenues. Middle Eastern countries, Indonesia, and Latin American oil exporters will be hurt as a result of Kyoto. The report notes, for instance, that "The Mexican and Latin American oil industries rely heavily on exports to the United States, where oil consumption is projected to decline by around 15 percent." Southern Africa will also be severely hurt, "where coal export revenue is projected to fall by US$529 million.

 

Overall, concludes the report, the net economic effects on the developing world will be positive, but effects will vary from country to country. Southern Africa, China, Brazil, India and Korea would be net beneficiaries under Kyoto, while Venezuela, the Middle East, Colombia, Indonesia and Mexico would be hurt on net. The report notes that the adverse effects of the Kyoto Protocol would be blunted under an international emissions trading system. But the potential benefits would also be reduced under emission trading. The report can be found at www.abare.gov.au.

 

Science

 

Potential Health Effects of Global Warming

 

The U.S. Global Change Research Program has released its findings regarding the effects of possible future global warming on human health in the United States. The workshop summary, part of the National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability, appears in the current issue of Environmental Health Perspectives (http://ehis.niehs.nih.gov).

 

According to the researchers, "We conclude that the levels of uncertainty preclude any definitive statement on the direction of potential future change for each of these health outcomes, although we developed some hypotheses." The health outcomes considered by the researchers included, "temperature-related morbidity and mortality; health effects of extreme weather events (storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and precipitation extremes); air-pollution-related health effects; water- and food-borne diseases; and vector- and rodent-borne diseases."

 

In the discussion of vectorborne diseases such as malaria and dengue and yellow fever the authors note, "The ecology and transmission dynamics of these vectorborne infections are complex and the factors that influence transmission are unique to each disease. It is not possible, therefore, to make broad generalizations on the effect of climate on vectorborne diseases." The authors point out however, that these diseases are largely unknown in the U.S. "mainly because of changes in land use, agricultural methods, residential patterns, human behavior, and vector control."

 

According to the authors, the presence of dengue fever, for instance, "is greatly influenced by house structure, human behavior, and general socioeconomic conditions." For example, "In the period 1980-1996, 43 cases were recorded in Texas as compared to 50,333 in the three contiguous border states in Mexico."

 

Regarding extreme weather events, the report states, "Climate models currently are unable to accurately project changes in extreme events such as floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes, making it difficult to assess future potential health impacts of such events." It then proceeds to discuss in detail deaths, injuries and damages from past extreme events as well as a discussion of post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

The report also notes that, "Death rates are higher in the winter than in the summer and it is expected that milder winters could reduce the number of deaths in winter months." The report concludes, "We found that most of the U.S. population is presently protected against adverse health outcomes associated with weather and/or climate, although certain demographic and geographic populations are at increased risk. Vigilance in the maintenance and improvement of public health systems and their responsiveness to changing climate conditions and to identified vulnerable subpopulations should help protect the U.S. population from any adverse health outcomes of projected climate change."

 

Urban Heat in Atlanta

 

The recent report by the National Research Council claims that the surface-based temperature record is essentially correct. There may be some problems with that assertion, however. According to new research by NASA, the urban heat island effect may be greater than previously thought. Using satellite-based, remote-sensing technology researchers have found that, "Urban Atlanta can reach 5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit or higher than surrounding rural areas.

(http://science.msfc.nasa.gov/headlines)

 

It has long been recognized that the urban heat island effect causes an upward bias in the surface temperature data. Scientists have attempted to adjust the data to eliminate the bias, and it is generally thought that they have been successful. But, as John Daly notes on his webpage (www.vision.net/~daly), that, "Data from GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) shows that Atlanta has warmed about 2 degrees C in the last 100 years compared with Newnan, a small town about 50 kilometers southwest of Atlanta. But the GISS ‘adjustment’ for urbanization in Atlanta is only 1 degree C."

 

This suggests that the adjustments have been inadequate. Daly shows other dubious adjustments on his website. Denver has only been adjusted +0.1 degrees C, even though it has experience tremendous growth since 1933 when the data begin.

 

CBS Climate Hype

 

Dan Rather: a shill for the environmental lobby? You decide. Witness two adjacent articles on the CBS News website, evidence of the network's latest mis-fired salvo in the global warming battle.

 

In the first, "Antarctica Just Got Smaller," from the AP newswire, Matthew Lazzara, senior researcher at the University of Wisconsin, describes the separation of a 4,200 square mile iceberg from the Ross Ice Shelf as an event that happens with some regularity: "I guess a berg of this magnitude breaks off every 50 to 100 years, and it's been that long for one to break off this size on this end of the continent." Lazzara claims it’s just too early to chalk this event up to global warming. "The ice shelves, this is their job. They calve off icebergs all the time, but they're usually much smaller."

 

Now for the spin: in a story reported on the evening news only hours later (and subsequently published on the Internet), "Sea Temperatures On The Rise," correspondent Russ Mitchell rounded up the usual suspects for a global warming love-in. According to the article, the new iceberg "is a casualty due in part to a world in hot water," which the story mysteriously attributes to "scientists," none of whom would apparently let their name be tied to such an irresponsible remark. Sydney Levitus used the segment as a platform to push his latest NOAA research on ocean warming-funding-time must be near. Scare-monger David Hawkins of the Natural Resource Defense Council chimes in, "We need to be careful. We are destroying the atmosphere. Things are getting worse."

 

The same could be said of CBS News with regard to journalistic integrity.

 

Announcements

 

     

  • The Frontiers of Freedom Institute will hold a conference on "Global Warming: Science and Public Policy," on Monday, April 3 at 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The conference will feature speeches by Senator Larry Craig and Congressman James Sensenbrenner as well as scientists, Sallie Baliunas (Harvard-Smithsonian Center), John Christy (Univ. of Alabama at Huntsville), and David Legates (Univ. of Delaware). Several members of the Cooler Heads Coalition will also be speaking on a panel. To RSVP please call (703) 527-8282, ext. 102 or email cackerly@ff.org.

     

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THE COOLER HEADS COALITION

Alexis de Tocqueville InstitutionAmericans for Tax ReformAmerican Legislative Exchange CouncilAmerican Policy CenterAssociation of Concerned TaxpayersCenter for Security PolicyCitizens for a Sound EconomyCitizens for the Integrity of ScienceCommittee for a Constructive TomorrowCompetitive Enterprise InstituteConsumer AlertDefenders of Property RightsFrontiers of FreedomGeorge C. Marshall InstituteHeartland InstituteIndependent InstituteNational Center for Policy AnalysisNational Center for Public Policy ResearchPacific Research InstituteSeniors Coalition60 PlusSmall Business Survival CommitteeThe Advancement of Sound Science CoalitionThe Heritage Foundation