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Vol VIII, No 17

Cooler Heads Digest

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Vol VIII, No 17

Wallstrom Replaced as EU Environment Commissioner                     

Margot Wallstrom of Sweden has been promoted in the new European Union Commission to head the commission’s communications efforts.  She has been replaced as Environment Commissioner by Stavros Dimas of Greece.  

 

Dimas, from the Greek conservative party New Democracy, is believed to be less personally committed to environmentalism than Wallstrom.  Recent months had seen Wallstrom argue publicly with Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio of Spain over the economic effects of the Kyoto Protocol.

 

Dimas’ appointment has already worried some in Europe’s powerful green movement.  Under the headline, “All hope is lost,” The Guardian’s environment correspondent John Vidal wrote (Aug. 18):

 

 “If the European Commission really wanted to signal that it didn't give a monkey's [British slang for ‘couldn’t care less’] about the environment then it would probably choose as its new environment commissioner an old, rightwing free-marketeer lawyer who used to work for the World Bank and had responsibility for Africa in the bad old 1970s.  Impossible?  Not in the slightest.  Welcome Stavros Dimas, 62, Greek economist, Wall Street banker, and conservative lawyer.  The fragile hopes of Europe's mountains, rivers, climate and forests rest on you.”

 

 

AGs’ Lawsuit Strongly Criticized

 

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson strongly criticized the lawsuit recently launched by eight state Attorneys General against several electricity generators for creating a “public nuisance” by contributing to global warming (Aug. 11).

 

Samuelson concluded his argument, “It's easy to be against global warming but not easy to be for the things that might control it.  Barring some magical technological breakthrough, lowering U.S. emissions would require some or all of the following: tougher regulation or higher gasoline prices to force drivers into smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles; restrictions on coal-burning power plants; encouragement of nuclear power; expansion of drilling for natural gas and more imports of liquefied natural gas; and regulations or tax penalties to discourage large homes.

 

“No judge should try to impose new policies.  These issues belong in the political arena, not the courts.  But even if the United States embraced tough anti-global warming policies—and other industrial countries did the same—the effect would be offset unless developing countries joined.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has projected that greenhouse emissions will more than triple over the next century under ‘business as usual’ assumptions.  Virtually all the increase occurs in developing countries.

 

“Spitzer and his allies can't change any of this.  Their suit mainly allows them to advertise themselves to people who don't know better.  Here's Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sounding off:

 

“‘Our lawsuit is a huge, historic first step toward holding companies accountable for these pernicious pollutants that threaten our health, economy, environment, and quality of life now and increasingly in the future.  The eventual effects . . . [will be] increasing asthma and heat-related illnesses, eroding shorelines, floods and other natural disasters, loss of forests and other precious resources.’

 

“Actually, this contains considerable distortion.  In truth, no one knows how much the world will warm, exactly when or with what consequences.  Any self-respecting judge will dismiss this suit—and do more. Because the only point is political self-promotion, the judge ought to require the attorneys general to pay court costs and defendants' costs from their own pockets.  There's a name for what the attorneys general are making of themselves: a public nuisance.”

 

Economics

 

International Atomic Agency Regrets Lack of Progress on Kyoto

 

In a press release issued August 10 assessing the state of nuclear power worldwide, the International Atomic Energy Agency regretted the lack of progress on Kyoto.

 

The relevant section reads, “From the viewpoint of the IAEA, ‘no progress was made in 2003 on the Kyoto Protocol, which would help make nuclear power’s avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions valuable to investors.’  The next round of talks on energy and sustainable development is scheduled for the 13th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in 2006–2007.

 

“A large increase in the supply of energy will be required in coming decades to power economic development, the IAEA recognizes, projecting that to the year 2030 the part nuclear power will play in the global energy supply will first grow and then decrease.

 

“The agency estimates a 20 percent increase in global nuclear generation until the end of 2020, followed by a decrease, resulting in global nuclear generation in 2030 that will be only 12 percent higher than in 2002.  Nuclear power’s share of global electricity generation is projected at 12 percent in 2030, compared with 16 percent in 2002, the IAEA said.

 

“The agency expressed concern that the nuclear expertise that exists today might not be passed on to the next generation of scientists and engineers, now that the rapid nuclear expansion of the 1970s and 1980s has leveled off.”

 

Leading Newspaper Calls for 50 cents per Gallon Federal Gas Tax

 

The Christian Science Monitor (Aug. 13) has endorsed a policy of increasing the price of gas by means of a 50 cents per gallon federal tax.

 

It says, “While the higher oil prices have dampened economic growth, they do serve two useful purposes….  They're another wake-up call that available crude-oil reserves are expected to decline by mid-21st century.  And they're a reminder that the best incentive for switching to alternative energy sources or better conservation is to keep oil prices high—and, most of all, steadily high.”

 

The editorial concludes, “Imagine if the US had had a decade of a 50-cent or higher add-on to the gas tax.  Fewer people would have bought SUVs.  Roads would be less crowded.  Suburban sprawl would be slower.  Air pollution would be less….  In all, the US would be further along in moving away from an oil-based economy, which it needs to do quickly.  So go ahead and wince once at the high oil prices. But then think twice about how the collective sacrifice of a higher gas tax could bring about a shift from oil by choice and foresight, rather than by last-minute necessity.”

 

The editorial does not speculate about what effect a decade of dampened economic growth might have had.

 

Science

 

July Coldest Month in Four Years

 

The global temperature report for July 2004 from the University of Alabama in Huntsville Earth System Science Center found that the month was the coolest month in four and a half years and the coolest July in a dozen years.

 

The data show that the global temperature was 0.21°C (about 0.38°F) below the 20-year average for July.  This followed on from a June temperature about 0.02°C below the average.  Only 3 months in the last 41 had been below this norm.

 

Dr. John Christy of UAH said, “This was the coolest July since 1992, when global temperatures were cooled by dust thrown into the atmosphere by the Mount Pinatubo volcano.”  A color map of temperature anomalies will be available at http://climate.uah.edu.

 

California Burning?

 

A new study, “Emissions pathways, climate change, and impacts on California,” published in the August 24 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences garnered considerable press coverage in California and the rest of the nation on August 17.  The Associated Press coverage was typical:

 

“Global warming could cause dramatically hotter summers and a depleted snow pack in California, leading to a sharp increase in heat-related deaths and jeopardizing the water supply, according to a study released Monday….

 

“Under the most optimistic computer model, periods of extreme heat would quadruple in Los Angeles by the end of the century, killing two to three times more people than in heat waves today; the Sierra Nevada snow pack would decline by 30% to 70%; and alpine forests would shrink 50% to 75%.

 

“The most pessimistic model projects five to seven times as many heat-related deaths in Los Angeles, with six to eight times as many heat waves.  Snow pack and high altitude forests would shrink up to 90%.  The scientists' temperature projections are higher than previous estimates, particularly in summer. Their predictions of an extreme decline in snow pack, alpine forests and the spread of desert areas all exceed earlier projections.”

 

The research was based on outputs from two models, including the Hadley Center Model, which reviewers admitted during the course of the National Assessment on Climate Change performed no better than a table of random numbers in predicting past climate.

 

Furthermore, the model was run on the basis of data from the discredited SRES scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that predict countries such as Zimbabwe, Vanuatu and North Korea overtaking the USA in per capita income by 2100.  There was no discussion of the appropriateness or robustness of these data choices in the published paper.

 

Alarmism over Heat Waves

 

A paper published in the August 13 issue of Science magazine made the headlines when it predicted more heat waves in Europe and the USA as a result of global warming.

 

The paper’s findings were, however, inconclusive, as the predicted range of heat waves for 2080-2099 overlapped with the modeled range for the current climate.  In other words, the paper found that the number of heat waves might decrease in 80 years’ time.  Moreover, the models also relied on the discredited SRES scenarios referred to above.

 

 

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

Fraser Institute, <ぐ颵ᇏ芻ꨀ봀௎噓�۷?譗Ѿ੷譟廎⦯�ދ삅ٴࢋpࡑڋ셃˨잃㬄狘郛䃁浑琶ᇎ㒀ꨀ怀降>Canada

Frontiers of Freedom

George C. Marshall Institute

Heartland Institute

Independent Institute

Istituto Bruno Leoni, <ぐ颵ᇏ芻ꨀ봀௎噓�۷?譗Ѿ੷譟廎⦯�ދ삅ٴࢋpࡑڋ셃˨잃㬄狘郛䃁浑琶ᇎ㒀ꨀ怀降>Italy

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