You are here

Vol. VII, No. 8

Cooler Heads Digest

Title

Vol. VII, No. 8

Editor’s Note

 

This issue – our 149th – is the last issue for which Paul Georgia serves as managing editor.  Next week, he begins a new job as a policy analyst with the Senate Republican Policy Committee.  Paul was here when Volume 1, number 1, hit the fax machines on June 5, 1997, and he has written the vast majority of articles in every succeeding issue.  He has done an expert job explaining technical scientific issues accurately and plainly.  And he has also learned to cope with the boredom that accompanies writing another and another and yet another article about what’s wrong with computer climate models.

 

During Paul’s tenure, Cooler Heads has been a worthy public face for the Cooler Heads Coalition and has developed into a journal of record of the global warming/Kyoto Protocol debate.  Paul, for everything that you have done, thank you and best wishes.  We at CEI will miss you.  Unfortunately, the forces of darkness may be retreating but they have not yet been defeated.  So the debate goes on and therefore so too will the work of the Cooler Heads Coalition and publication of its newsletter—Myron Ebell.

 

Politics

 

Climate Title Stripped from Senate Energy Bill

 

Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), chairman of the Energy and  Natural  Resources Committee, decided to drop his draft climate title when it came time to mark it up on April 10.  He noted during the committee meeting that he had discovered that no consensus existed among members of the committee on what climate policies should be included in his comprehensive energy legislation.  However, he pledged to work toward a constructive compromise before the bill reached the Senate floor.

 

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the ranking Democratic member, announced that he had prepared two amendments, but would delay offering them until late April when committee mark-up is scheduled to resume.  These amendments are a new version of the Byrd-Stevens bill that was included in last year’s Senate energy bill and proposals to improve greenhouse gas emissions monitoring and reporting.  Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.) also said that he had an amendment, based on the Craig-Wyden carbon sequestration bill, that he planned to offer.

 

The draft climate title, which was released for comment on March 26, aroused opposition from several committee Republicans and from conservative and free market public interest groups.  Title XI would have created a White House Office of Climate Policy and climate czar, required the executive branch to produce a national strategy that “will stabilize and ultimately reduce net U. S. emissions of greenhouse gases” plus annual progress reports; and created a system to award credits for voluntary actions to cut emissions.

 

A joint letter criticizing the climate title was sent to Chairman Domenici on April 4.  It was signed by leaders of 21 non-profit groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Coalitions for America, Americans for Tax Reform, 60 Plus Association, American Conservative Union, National Taxpayers Union, Christian Coalition, National Center for Public Policy Research, Small Business Survival Committee, American Policy Center, and Frontiers of Freedom.  The letter states that the climate title would “in our view create the institutional and legal framework and the political incentives necessary eventually to force Kyoto-style energy rationing on the American people.”  The text may be found online at http://www.cei.org/gencon/003,03434.cfm.

 

Foreign Relations Committee Speaks on Climate Change

 

On April 9, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed by voice vote a sense of the Senate resolution on climate change as part of the State Department re-authorization legislation.  Senator Joe Biden’s (D-Del.) amendment includes a finding that there is growing evidence that “increases in atmospheric concentrations of man-made greenhouse gases are contributing to global climate change.”  The resolution enumerates several other irrelevant and false findings before stating that the U.S. should reduce the risks of climate change by:

 

(1) “taking responsible action to ensure significant and meaningful reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases from all sectors;

 

(2) “creating flexible international and domestic mechanisms, including joint implementation, technology deployment, tradable credits for emissions reductions and carbon sequestration projects that will reduce, avoid, and sequester greenhouse gas emissions; and

 

(3) “participating in international negotiations, including putting forth a proposal to the Conference of the Parties, with the objective of securing United States participation in a future binding climate change Treaty in a manner that is consistent with the environmental objectives of the UNFCCC, that protects the economic interests of the United States, and recognizes the shared international responsibility for addressing climate change, including developing country participation.”

 

House Approves Energy Bill, ANWR Exploration

 

On April 11, the House of Representative passed an omnibus energy bill by a vote of 247-175.  The bill would open the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain to oil and gas exploration.  It also contains numerous subsidies and incentives for conventional and renewable energy production.

 

Amendments to remove the ANWR provision, electricity restructuring, and oil and natural gas royalty relief were defeated, as was an amendment that would have required automobile manufacturers to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy of their fleets to 30 miles per gallon by 2010.  A provision that would have allowed the Department of the Interior to make a complete inventory of the nation’s offshore oil and natural gas supplies was stripped from the bill.  (Greenwire, April 14, 2003).

 

Climate Change Skepticism on the Rise in Russia

 

Global warming skepticism seems to be increasing in Russia as that country wrestles with the decision of whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.  Russia has become the lynchpin in the Kyoto debate.  Failure to ratify on Russia’s part would prevent the treaty from coming into legal force.

 

The Moscow newspaper, Pravda, recently published a strongly worded article, entitled “Kyoto Protocol Is Not Worth a Thing,” which questioned the wisdom of ratification.  Another Russian newspaper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, published an article written by two Russian climate scientists, Sergey Dobrovolsky and Vyacheslav Naydenov, entitled “The Warming That Never Existed.”

 

The Pravda article highlighted the words of an ecologist who questioned global warming science. “This trouble is coming from the Russian Arkhangelsk region,” according to Pravda.  “This region is celebrated for its… implementation of the Kyoto protocol.  There was a briefing held there recently to discuss climate questions.  Young ecologist Alexander Shalarev dared to say [what] Moscow scientists are afraid to say.  He declared that there was actually no [manmade] greenhouse effect at all.  Shalarev added that the Kyoto protocol was simply a far-fetched idea, a political action that was meant to show the ‘care’ for the climate of the Earth.”

 

Pravda also noted that Shalarev believes that the Kyoto protocol was signed without adequate scientific analysis and in order to satisfy the political goals of a Democratic administration (as it was back in those days).  He said that the Clinton administration loved grand ecological schemes with the maximum federal involvement. When a Republican administration was elected, the U.S. backed away from the Kyoto protocol.

 

Dobrovolsky and Naydenov are equally dismissive of the Kyoto Protocol.  “We would like to mention that the Kyoto protocol was formally based on the [work of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]….  However, neither the conclusions of that research, nor science as it is can support the measures of the Kyoto protocol (Electricity Daily, April 14, 2003).”

 

Economics

 

U.S. Being Left Out of Global Emissions Trading Markets

 

The New York Times is wringing its hands over  lost opportunities for U.S. companies to trade in phony assets (April 10, 2003).  According to the Times, the U.S., which was the major promoter of emissions trading at the Kyoto negotiations, is now being left out of a potentially lucrative market.

 

The paper also notes that the Europeans, who were very cool to the idea of trading when it was being pushed by the U.S., have now jumped on the market-based bandwagon.  “When Bush pulled out in the cavalier way he did, he galvanized everyone around the world to make it work,” said David Doniger, a former Clinton administration Kyoto negotiator, now with the Natural Resources Defense Council.  “The system is made in America, and the Americans aren’t part of it.”

Steve Drummond, managing director of a greenhouse gas brokerage in London called CO2e.com, told the Times that, “Now that the Americans are out, Europe can dominate the emissions trading market.  It entitles the Europeans to write the rules for global trading.”

 

The Times laments the prospect of American-based multinationals being “forced to put in place two ways of accounting for carbon dioxide emissions, one for emissions inside the United States and one for emissions in nations that signed on to Kyoto.”  What the Times omits is that the Kyoto Protocol still has not been ratified and gone into effect.

 

The real dynamic in operation here is the attempt to build a business constituency in favor of ratifying Kyoto and implementing mandatory caps.  The Times is playing on the fears (or hopes) of businesses facing uncertainty regarding the future of carbon dioxide regulations, which would increase the cost of energy use and hurt the economy. 

 

Some companies are rightly upset about the prospect of such controls, but are also mindful of the fact that globally imposed regulations might be cheaper than a hodgepodge of conflicting rules.  Other companies see an opportunity to game the emissions trading system Enron-style to raise profits.  Those companies play at voluntary emissions trading and hope to get credits for emissions reduction activities that they would have carried out anyway.  Those companies are behind efforts for federally-mandated early action crediting schemes.

 

The Times quotes Bruce Braine, vice president for strategic planning and analysis at American Electric Power, who says that his company sees voluntary trading as “an insurance policy.  If you ultimately have mandatory requirements, then this gives us first-mover advantages.”  But the first-mover advantage isn’t insurance so much as a move to become part of a future carbon cartel, in which companies like AEP will rake in massive rents from less-advantaged companies.

 

What they really fear is not being part of the cartel.  “By not putting in place similar legislation for greenhouse gases, critics fear, the United States allows other countries to gain experience and win business in the field,” says the Times.  “All we’re doing now is giving other countries a chance for remedial education,” said Doniger, “and it will cost us in the end.”

 

Science

 

Evidence Confirms Existence of Naturally-Occurring, Large-Scale Climate Change

 

A new study reviewing over 240 climate studies shows that the 20th century is neither the warmest century nor the century with the most extreme weather over the last 1000 years as has been argued by some scientists.  Michael Mann and his collaborators, for example, have published studies using proxy data to reconstruct past global temperatures suggesting that the Medieval Warm Period never existed and that the Little Ice Age was not a global phenomenon.  They also argued that the 20th century was the warmest in the last 1000 years.  Their research and the resulting “hockey stick” graph showing significant and anomalous 20th century warming were featured prominently in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report.

 

The new study, conducted by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Craig and Sherwood Idso with the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, and David Legates with the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware, sets out to answer three questions.

 

1) “Is there an objectively discernible climatic anomaly occurring during the Little Ice Age, defined as 1300-1900 A.D….?”

 

2) “Is there an objectively discernible climatic anomaly occurring during the Medieval Warm Period, defined as 800-1300 A.D….?”

 

3) “Is there an objectively discernible climatic anomaly occurring within the 20th century that may validly be considered the most extreme (i.e., the warmest) period in the record?”

 

To answer these questions, the researchers reviewed the extensive scientific literature on the available climate proxy data.  “Many true research advances in reconstructing ancient climates have occurred over the past two decades,” said Soon, “so we felt it was time to pull together a large sample of recent studies from the last 5-10 years and look for patterns of variability and change.”

 

The researchers analyzed numerous climate indicators including: borehole data; cultural data; glacier advances or retreats; geomorphology; isotopic analyses from lake sediments or ice cores, tree or peat celluloses (carbohydrates), corals, stalagmite or biological fossils; net ice accumulation rates, including dust or chemical counts; lake fossils and sediments; river sediments; melt layers in ice cores; phenological (recurring natural phenomena in relation to climate) and paleontological fossils; pollen; seafloor sediments; luminescent analysis; tree ring growth, including either ring width or maximum late-wood density; and shifting tree line positions plus tree stumps in lakes, marshes and streams.

 

What they found from analyzing many more proxy records than did Mann flatly contradicts his conclusions.  “Climate proxy research does yield an aggregate and broad perspective on questions regarding the reality of the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period and the 20th century surface thermometer global warming.  The picture emerges from many localities that both the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period are widespread.... [and] are worthy of their respective labels.  Furthermore, thermometer warming of the 20th century across the world seems neither unusual nor unprecedented within the more extended view of the last 1000 years.  Overall, the 20th century does not contain the warmest or most extreme anomaly of the past millennium in most of the proxy records” (Energy and Environment, March 2003).

 

Urban Heat in Houston

 

The urban heat island (UHI) effect is a well known phenomenon that causes an upward bias in the temperature records used to determine whether the earth is warming up. Because concrete, asphalt and steel retain heat better than natural landscapes, cities are warmer than their surrounding areas.  As cities grow this temperature bias grows also, making it difficult to determine whether global temperatures are increasing due to greenhouse gases or urbanization.  Attempts have been made to account for these biases, but there is simply no way to know whether the methods used are adequate.

 

New research appearing in the March issue of Remote Sensing of Environment, suggests that the UHI can have a large influence on temperatures.  David Streutker with the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University, used satellite remote sensing to determine the effect of urban growth on temperatures in Houston, Texas.  Data was collected from two discrete time periods, March 1985 to February 1987 and July 1999 to June 2001.  Eighty-two relatively cloud free images were obtained from the first period and 125 were obtained for the second period.

 

What Streutker found upon analyzing the data is that the temperature from rural areas around Houston experienced no change in temperature.  But for the Houston metropolitan area, “Over the course of 12 years, between 1987 and 1999, the mean nighttime surface temperature heat island of Houston increased 0.82 ± 0.10 [degrees C] in magnitude.”  This is a rather striking increase, especially when compared to the general belief that global temperatures have only risen about 0.6 degrees C over the last 100 years.  Streutker also noted that, “The growth in UHI, both in magnitude and spatial extent, scales roughly with the increase in population, at approximately 30 percent.” World population has increased 280 percent over the last century.

 

Irrigation Blamed for Warming San Joaquin Valley

 

A new study funded by the National Science Foundation suggests that the warming experienced in the San Joaquin Valley in California is due to increasing amounts of irrigated land rather than carbon dioxide emissions.   One of the researchers, John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said that increases in humidity from irrigation may be the culprit in rising temperatures.

 

“One of the big issues right now is human-induced climate change from carbon dioxide,” said Christy.  “Temperatures in the valley are used to assess climate change, and the typical view has been that if there is warming, it must be due to carbon dioxide, therefore we must reduce the use of fossil fuels.  Actually, it appears temperature in the valley could be due to a different human factor, and that is irrigation.”

 

Night-time temperatures in the valley have risen by about 4 degrees over the past 70 years, according to Christy.  The study area contains two million irrigated acres and the resulting increases in humidity may be preventing nighttime air from cooling off.  “The evidence shows that if this were a large scale climate change caused by carbon dioxide, it would affect the valley, the foothills and the mountains.  But we have not seen these changes in the higher elevations,” said Christy.

 

Environmentalists questioned the usefulness of the research.  Bernadette Del Chiaro, a spokeswoman for Environment California worried that this might derail efforts to suppress energy usage.  “There may be multiple factors causing climate change,” said Del Chiaro.  “But regardless, there is still the larger problem, which is our dependence on fossil fuels.”

 

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

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

JunkScience.com

National Center for Policy Analysis

National Center for Public Policy Research

Pacific Research Institute

Seniors Coalition

60 Plus Association

Small Business Survival Committee