Vol VIII, No 21
Australian Prime Minister John Howard was returned to office with an increased majority in the country’s general election on October 9. The result came after a campaign where early polls suggested a likely victory for Labor Party leader Mark Latham.
The result ensures that Australia will continue to opt out of the Kyoto Protocol. Howard has been a strong personal critic of the measure, believing it to be damaging to Australia’s economic prosperity.
EPA Official’s Remarks Lead CEI to Call for his Firing
Jeff Holmstead, assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation, gave a boost to those who stress the inevitability of carbon restrictions at a conference in Lexington, Ky., on October 12. According to Greenwire (Oct. 13), he said, “Unless there's some changes in the way the scientific community is going, there in some point in the future will be a carbon-constrained world.”
Greenwire went on, “Asked later to expound on his comments, Holmstead said he was providing an ‘observation’ on the decisions that U.S. industries must face in the future. With natural gas prices trending upward, Holmstead said the nation will have to maintain reliance on coal as a primary fuel. As such, new coal-fired plants will likely face some constraints on GHG emissions over their 50- to 75-year lifespans, he said.
“Holmstead noted that uncertainty about the government's direction on GHGs has ‘got to be frustrating for business people who are trying to anticipate’ how their status will change in the future.”
In response, CEI Senior Fellow Iain Murray issued the following statement:
“On the same day Vice President Cheney reminded us of the jobs saved by the Administration's brave stance in rejecting artificial restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, another administration official yesterday pulled the rug from under his feet by suggesting such restrictions are inevitable.
“Those remarks by Jeff Holmstead are a slap in the face for coal miners and auto workers across the nation. Greenhouse gas restrictions will mean seniors pay more for their heat in the winter, families pay more for transportation, and business owners pay more in energy costs. Not only that, but they will do virtually nothing to abate a rise in temperature which may prove beneficial anyway.
“Rather than waving a white flag to the energy suppression lobby (whose former standard bearer was Enron, we should not forget), Holmstead should have focused on ways to strengthen the world economy. That way, if global warming does prove to be a problem, we will have little to worry about. We've seen how resilient America has been to four hurricanes this year. We should be trying to make the rest of the world as strong as America rather than weakening America by engaging in futile attempts to change the weather.
“Holmstead's remarks are simply incompatible with the correct approach the current Administration has taken on this issue. The American economy doesn't need the poison pill he's prescribed. For the sake of American jobs, human wealth and global prosperity, Holmstead should be fired. He can no doubt look forward to a high-paying job with one of the companies that hopes to profit from impoverishing Americans through energy rationing.”
Japanese Industry Mobilizes Against Carbon Tax
The Asahi Shimbun reported on October 4 that Japanese companies are beginning to flex their muscles in opposition to environmental taxes connected with the Kyoto Protocol.
Industry has reacted to suggestions from the agriculture and environment ministries that some form of carbon tax is needed. The newspaper writes, “The move has sparked fierce opposition from industry executives, particularly heavy users of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Companies say an additional financial burden unique to Japan would undermine their international competitiveness.
“At a news conference on Sept. 17, Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, warned that steelmakers will have no choice but to relocate production abroad if the environment tax is introduced.” It should be noted that the outsourcing of Japanese industry is part of the Japanese government’s plan to meet Kyoto targets. The article goes on, “According to the federation's estimate, the steel industry would owe 150 billion yen in additional taxes if carbon dioxide emissions are subject to an environment tax of 818 yen per ton.”
The Petroleum Association of Japan has also taken a stance, accusing the government “of dumping its own responsibilities on industry players.”
As the Asahi Shimbun points out, Japanese government departments are far from unanimous over the proposal: “The industry ministry [METI], heeding calls from various industries, has traditionally taken a dim view of the proposal. The Finance Ministry is also circumspect, saying it is still unclear whether the new tax will be effective in containing greenhouse gas emissions…. Hiromitsu Ishi, chairman of the government's Tax Commission, said Friday it will be difficult to introduce the environment tax next year because the government will have to look into a variety of options.”
Ford Motor Plans for Energy-Poor Future
Ford Motor Company appears to be making plans to join companies that look forward to increasing constraints on hydrocarbon energy use as a “business opportunity.”
According to The New York Times (Oct. 4), “Ford's goal, according to its own internal projections, would require an improvement of about 80 percent in the fuel economy of its cars and trucks by 2030, according to people who have been informed of the plan. The goal was laid out by the company's chairman, William Clay Ford Jr., and other executives at a meeting on August 3 at their headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.”
The Times suggests that Ford has based its strategy on computer models of carbon emissions. “The company is studying long-range product-development strategies to reach its goal,” the report says, “and has not yet established shorter-range targets. Among those strategies could be more reliance on hybrid technology or other advances, like cleaner diesel engines and hydrogen fuel cells.”
Ford’s strategy has already won plaudits from its usual foes in the environmentalist movement. Daniel Becker of the Sierra Club told the Times, “This is a stunning change of direction for Ford, whose emissions are greater than all of Mexico…. This really is a better idea. We will continue to work with them to ensure that they implement this commitment.”
There are signs that the new direction was the result of alarmist pressure. In May, commenting on the release of the scientifically absurd The Day After Tomorrow, Mr. Ford said, “If you look at where society is headed, whether it's the Kyoto compact, whether it's the Hollywood movie that's coming out this summer on global warming, all of those things will truly have an impact on the debate…. I don't want Ford to be caught unaware or for us to be always saying, ‘No, we can't do something.’”
British Energy Challenge Much Larger than Public Realizes
A pair of British economists has revealed the true extent of the effort needed to meet the current government’s alternative energy commitments.
Prof Andrew Oswald, an economist at Warwick University, and Jim Oswald, an energy consultant, told the Daily Telegraph (Oct. 7) that the government’s plans would require 100,000 new wind turbines or 100 new nuclear power plants. That many wind turbines would “cover an area the size of Wales - or a six mile-wide strip around the entire coast of Britain.”
“The enormity of the green challenge is not understood,” said Mr Oswald. “Many people think that hydrogen is a simple alternative to oil, but in fact it will require a huge investment in either wind farms or nuclear plants.”
The One Percent Solution
Many of the scientific papers that have contributed to global warming alarmism over recent weeks (such as the study that predicted the ruin of California’s wine industry or the more recent study predicting stronger hurricanes by 2080) have depended on models that assume atmospheric increases of carbon dioxide concentrations by one percent per year from 1990 to the end of the century.
This assumption is not backed up by the evidence, which has seen concentration increase by only 0.4% per year since 1990. University of Virginia climatologist Patrick Michaels drew attention to this problem in a Cato Institute op-ed published on October 6 (“Debunking the Latest Hurricane Hype,” available at www.cato.org).
He commented, “Because carbon dioxide increases have been bouncing around four-tenths of a percent per year for three decades, why do climate modelers insist on using the wrong number? It seems peculiar that people who have the equivalent of doctorates in applied physics (which is what climate science is) would somehow be perfectly happy to do something they know is wrong.
“I began asking that question at scientific meetings a decade ago. At that time, I asked Kevin Trenberth, a highly visible atmospheric scientist from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, who often testifies to Congress on climate issues. He told me it was done because it was ‘convention.’ That answer doesn’t set well with me, because it’s awfully easy to program a computer to increase a variable by half a percent instead of 1 percent per year.
“That leads to the final, nagging question. There are literally hundreds of scientific papers out there in which climate models use this wrong number. Each of those papers gets sent to three outside peer-reviewers. The fact that 1 percent continues to be used only means one thing: when it comes to global warming, hundreds of scientists must prefer convention to truth.”
Drought Alarmists Accept Medieval Warm Period
Paleoclimatologists have warned that the American West could be in for a long period of severe drought, but in doing so have had to accept the existence of the Medieval Warm Period.
Edward Cook of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York and colleagues wrote in the October 8 issue of Science magazine, “The western United States is experiencing a severe multiyear drought that is unprecedented in some hydroclimatic records…. Using gridded drought reconstructions that cover most of the western United States over the past 1,200 years, we show that this drought pales in comparison to an earlier period of elevated aridity and epic drought in AD 900-1300, an interval broadly consistent with the 'Medieval Warm Period'…. If elevated aridity in the western United States is a natural response to climate warming, then any trend toward warmer temperatures in the future could lead to a serious long-term increase in aridity over western North America.”
The researchers say that the key to the drought lies in the weather pattern called La Nina, which is characterized by the upwelling of cold water from the bottom of the Pacific in eastern tropical waters. Climate models show this reduces rainfall in the West (Reuters, Oct. 7).
The current drought, however, may not be as severe as currently depicted. In an article accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of the journal Pure and Applied Geophysics, Roger Pielke, Sr. and colleagues find that, “The consequences of the most recent drought have been exceptional for some uses (e.g. suburban watering; wells, cattle grazing), but the precipitation deficit for most areas in Colorado was not exceptional (although quite dry). The reason for the heightened consequences (and awareness in the media) is that there is more competition for the available water, due to population growth…. This is a human caused shortage due to the population requirements and competition with agricultural uses, not an unprecedented precipitation shortage.”
The Pielke paper is available at http://blue.atmos.colostate.edu/publications/pdf/R-285.pdf.
Cooler Heads Likely in Britain this Winter
The British weather forecaster Metcheck, which has a better record than the UK Meteorological Office in forecasting the weather recently, has predicted a very cold winter for the United Kingdom this year.
According to The Times of London (Oct. 13), “Starting next week, a series of cold snaps and plummeting temperatures will bring to an end all speculation of a late blooming Indian summer. Instead, bitterly cold winds in the South and even snowfall in the North will quash the hopes of the thousands who banked on global warming to get them through the year without central heating. Although this winter is not expected to be as cold as the winters of 1947 and 1963, which almost brought the country to a standstill, Metcheck is predicting at least four cold snaps, the first beginning next Monday, then one a month in November, December, and January.”
Senior Forecaster Andrew Bond told the Times, “The UK has been relatively fortunate over the past few years with mild or very mild winters.”
Oh, the Irony
Readers may remember the controversy over the mistake made in a recent paper by Ross McKitrick and Patrick Michaels, which hinged on an error in calculation of the cosine of latitudes. In this context, they may be interested to see this comment from the paper by Von Storch et al. (see last issue) that shattered any remaining credibility held by Michael Mann’s “hockey stick”:
“Monthly near surface temperature anomalies were standardized and subjected to an Empirical Orthogonal Function Analysis, in which each grid point was weighted by (cos f)^1/2, where f is the latitude (Mann et al. 1998 erroneously use a cos f weighting).”
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