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Vol. VIII, No. 18
Vol. VIII, No. 18
September 09, 2004
Media, Environmentalists Pounce on New Administration Report
The “annual” report of the U. S. Climate Change Science Program for fiscal years 2004-5, entitled, “Our Changing Planet,” was released on August 25. It was immediately hailed as a turn-around in the Bush Administration’s position by the media and environmental groups.
The New York Times, in a story by Andrew Revkin on August 25, set the tone, and an editorial the next day called the report a “striking shift in the way the Bush administration has portrayed the science of climate change.” Other newspaper editorial columns and environmental groups jumped on this interpretation.
The “striking shift” is confined to several short passages in a 130-page document that are less qualified and more direct than in the FY 2003 edition. The statements that attracted the most attention are the following:
“Multiple ensemble simulations of the 20th century climate have been conducted using climate models that include new and improved estimates of natural and anthropogenic forcing. The simulations show that observed globally averaged surface air temperatures can be replicated only when both anthropogenic forcings, e.g., greenhouse gases, as well as natural forcings such as solar variability and volcanic eruptions are included in the model. These simulations improve on the robustness of earlier work (pages 46-7).
“Comparison of index trends in observations and model simulations shows that North American temperature changes from 1950 to 1999 were unlikely to be due only to natural climate variations. Observed trends over this period are consistent with simulations that include anthropogenic forcing from increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols. However, most of the observed warming from 1900 to 1949 was likely due to natural climate variation (page 47).”
Administration officials disputed that the report represents a striking shift in their position. In a Washington Post article on Aug. 27, White House Science Adviser John Marburger, one of the signatories to the report, was quoted as saying that the findings had “no implications for policy.”
Further, a New York Times reporter covering the presidential campaign put the question directly to President Bush (Aug. 27): “Asked why the administration had changed its position on what causes global warming, Mr. Bush replied, ‘Ah, we did? I don't think so.’”
The report may be found on the web at http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/Library/ocp2004-5/default.htm.
Edwards Contradicts Kerry Campaign’s Official Kyoto Policy
In contrast to Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, references to global warming have been few and far between by the Democratic ticket of Senators John Kerry and John Edwards. Within one week in August, however, the Kerry campaign published its position on the Kyoto Protocol, which vice presidential nominee John Edwards then contradicted at a campaign stop.
On August 19, the campaign issued a document aimed at West Virginia and other coal-producing States that promoted coal as a clean energy source. It states, “John Kerry and John Edwards believe that the Kyoto Protocol is not the answer. The near-term emission reductions it would require of the United States are infeasible, while the long-term obligations imposed on all nations are too little to solve the problem. Unlike the current Administration, John Kerry and John Edwards will offer an alternative to the Kyoto process that leads the world toward a more equitable and effective answer, while preserving coal miners’ jobs.”
Less than a week later, on August 24, the Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin, published an account of Sen. Edwards’s visit to the town the day before. According to the paper, Edwards “lamented” America's failure to join the Kyoto treaty. “The last thing this president should have done was walk away from Kyoto,” he told the audience. Perhaps co-incidentally, Wisconsin is not a major coal-producing State, and public opinion there favors policies to address global warming.
Climate Policies Raise UK Energy Prices
As several power companies in Great Britain raised their prices for residential consumers by 3.5 percent, analysts suggested climate change policies were part of the reason.
An electricity analyst at consultants Wood Mackenzie told Reuters (Aug. 19) that, “Industrial and commercial customers have seen rises between 20 and 30 percent in quotes for their power contracts for next year, mainly due to higher oil prices and a European Union carbon emissions trading scheme starting in January.” The report went on, “The emissions trading scheme is likely to curb output at coal-fired power stations, the most polluting generators.”
Mexico Adopts Emissions Protocol
Mexico has become the first nation to adopt a greenhouse gas protocol designed by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
The voluntary protocol, which works on a company-wide or ‘entity’ scale rather than by project or at factory level, requires companies to account for the six Kyoto greenhouse gases as assets or liabilities.
Environmental groups lauded the move. WRI President Jonathan Lash said, “The GHG Protocol is voluntary, but if and when the Kyoto Protocol is ratified, and in an increasingly carbon-constrained world, mandatory caps will be imposed. Common sense tells us that businesses that adopt voluntary accounting standards now will remain ahead of the game when emission caps become mandatory.”
Judi Greenwald of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a leading front group for businesses that hope to profit from energy rationing, compared the program favorably to the U. S. Department of Energy’s 1605(b) registry, saying, “Everyone is basing what they do on the protocol. 1605(b) lets you do whatever you want, while WRI constrains your choices. WRI's is ultimately preferred if there's a legal requirement and state and federal governments want choices nailed down.”
Mexican government official Miguel Cervantes admitted that it would be a challenge to get Mexico’s big emitters to sign up for the protocol. One of the companies that will prove a challenge is reportedly Comision Federal de Electricidad, Mexico’s state-owned electricity utility (Greenwire, Aug. 31).
Authors Correct Error Found in Research Article
Tim Lambert of the University of New South Wales, recently discovered (see his web log at http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-in/blog/ science/mckitrick6.html) an error in calculations in a scientific article by Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph and Patrick Michaels of the University of Virginia. The article (see the June 9 issue of the newsletter), titled “A Test of Corrections for Extraneous Signals in Gridded Surface Temperature Data” and which appeared in Climate Research, found that recent temperature records were strongly influenced by socio-economic factors.
Prof. McKitrick has now corrected the calculations upon which this conclusion was based. In a draft erratum, available at http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/gdptemp.html, he writes, “The principal effect of the correction is a reduced weight on the constant term and an increased weight on the COSABLAT variable itself. Indeed the correction improves the overall fit and removes the anomalously small cosine-latitude effect. The socioeconomic variables remain significant and the effects carry over from the station data to the gridded data as before.
“Because the main patterns of results persist across the revised tables, the original discussions as worded in our paper need only minor modification, and our overall conclusion, re-stated here, is unaffected:
“Overall, the results of this study support the hypothesis that published temperature data are contaminated with nonclimatic influences that add up to a net warming bias, and that efforts should be made to properly quantify these effects.”
Scientist Contributes to Alarmism
Princeton University scientist Robert Socolow recently co-authored a paper (Pacala, S., Socolow, R., “Stabilization wedges: solving the climate problem for the next 50 years with current technologies,” Science, 305, 968-972) which argues that existing technologies are sufficient to significantly reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions if widely adopted. The paper significantly did not consider the costs of adopting these existing technologies.
In a story based on the article, Dr. Socolow is reported as telling The Washington Post (Aug. 23), “If governments fail to act…the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will triple in 50 years. ‘Keeping it below a doubling is a heroic task,’ he said.”
The Greening Earth Society pointed out the hyperbole involved in this statement (World Climate Alert, Aug. 25):
“Before people began burning fossil fuels to release the energy that powers life as we know it, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was about 280 parts per million. It’s now about 375 ppm — an increase of about 34 percent. Twenty-five years ago, the concentration was around 330 ppm, or 18 percent above background. In other words, Socolow is telling Eilperin (apparently with a straight face) that the 16 percent rise in the last twenty-five years will morph into a 300 percent rise in the next fifty “if governments fail to act.” This is nonsensical! To triple the 280 ppm background by 2053, the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration must increase 1.65 percent per year.
“According to data compiled by the U. S. Energy Information Administration, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per capita has been dropping worldwide since the 1980s and population (all those “capita”) isn’t increasing at nearly the rate predicted twenty-five years ago. In 1980, the United Nations predicted a global population of 15 billion by 2050. Their most recent estimate is nine billion. They’ve reduced their population prediction 40 percent. As companies have competed to produce and deploy more efficient technologies (principally in developed countries), the rate of increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration has remained much smaller than the required 1.65 percent per year. In fact, it has changed very little. Over the period for which we have accurate records (1958 to present), the increase has fluctuated between 0.4% per year and 0.45%.”
Tuvalu Won’t Disappear
Dr Than Aung of the University of the South Pacific recently confirmed the conclusions of other experts, such as Nils-Axel Morner, that low-lying Pacific island nations such as Tuvalu are in no danger of disappearing because of rising sea levels.
According to the New Zealand Herald (Aug. 25), Dr Aung presented his findings at a scientific conference in New Caledonia. His research was based on 136 months’ worth of data collected by Australian Marine Science and Technology Ltd, which showed sea levels had both risen and fallen across the Pacific in that time. The data also showed marked falls in sea levels across the region's countries due to the strong El Nino event in 1997-98.
Dr Aung concluded that, “The fears of small nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu disappearing under the ocean were exaggerated.” He went on, “We have never believed that these islands will go under water. People will live there for thousands of years yet.”
Explaining why nations like Tuvalu were indifferent to his findings, Dr. Aung suggested that they “did not seem to want to hear [them], as they would rather blame Western countries for their perceived predicament.” Dr. Aung also predicted that there would be strong representations from Tuvalu about global warming during the next predicted high tides of February to April 2006.
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
Defenders of Property Rights
Fraser Institute, Canada
Frontiers of Freedom
George C. Marshall Institute
Istituto Bruno Leoni, Italy
National Center for Policy Analysis
National Center for Public Policy Research
Pacific Research Institute
60 Plus Association
Small Business Survival Committee