Bush Beats Gore on Climate?

Bush Beats Gore on Climate?

Milloy column on Foxnews.com
April 03, 2008

George Bush appears to have beaten Al Gore again.

In
the very same week that Gore launched a $300 million public relations
campaign to convince Americans that "together we can solve the climate
crisis," prominent climate alarmist Tom Wigley essentially endorsed
President Bush’s approach to global warming while criticizing that of
Gore’s co-Nobelist, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
or IPCC.

In an article entitled "Dangerous
Assumptions" published in Nature on April 3, Wigley writes that the
technology challenge presented by the goal of stabilizing atmospheric
carbon dioxide concentrations "has been seriously underestimated by the
IPCC, diverting attention from policies that could directly stimulate
technological innovation."

Wigley, even though
he is a lead author of the most recent IPCC report, describes that
document as relying on "unrealistic" and "unachievable" CO2 emissions
scenarios — even for the present decade. For the period 2000-2010, the
IPCC assumes that energy and fossil fuel efficiency is increasing.

 

But Wigley points out that in recent years
energy and fossil fuel efficiency have decreased, reversing the trend
of previous decades. One reason for this phenomenon, says Wigley, is
the economic transformation occurring in the world, particularly in
Asia.

Whereas the IPCC assumes in its emissions
scenarios that CO2 emissions in Asia are increasing by 2.6 percent to
4.8 percent annually, China’s emissions actually are increasing at a
rate of 11 percent to 13 percent annually.

"Because
of these dramatic changes in the global economy, it is likely that we
have only just begun to experience the surge in global energy use
associated with rapid development. Such trends are in stark contrast to
the optimism of the near-future IPCC projections and seem unlikely to
alter course soon," Wigley writes.

As a
consequence, "enormous advances in energy technology will be needed to
stabilize atmospheric CO2 concentrations at acceptable levels," he
concludes. Wigley faults the IPCC for assuming these technological
advances will occur spontaneously as opposed to creating the conditions
for innovation to occur.

So between George Bush and Al Gore, whose approach to the climate controversy is more consistent with Wigley’s recommendation?

In
"An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore preached to us about downsizing our
lifestyles. He wants us to take colder showers, hang our clothes
outside to dry, avoid driving, use less heating and air conditioning
and generally reduce our standard of living.

On
his public relations campaign’s Web site, Gore urges the shuttering of
coal-fired power plants, which provide 50 percent of U.S. electricity
needs; the adoption of so-called "clean energy technologies" such as
cost-inefficient solar and wind power and hybrid cars; energy
efficiency, which only would reduce energy use by marginal amounts; and
government mandates for not-ready-for-prime-time taxpayer-subsidized
alternative energy sources.

In the "Clean
Energy Economy" section of his Web site, Gore even calls for more
sidewalks and bike paths — hardly a technological innovation that will
provide measurably more energy with less emissions. In contrast,
President Bush since 2005 has promoted technological development in the
form of the Asian-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate
Change.

In this non-U.N. group, Australia,
Canada, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United States
have agreed to work together and with private-sector partners to meet
goals for energy security, national air-pollution reduction and climate
change in ways that promote sustainable economic growth and poverty
reduction.

President Bush also may have advanced the technology ball in another, more subtle, way.

The
Department of Energy recently pulled out of FutureGen, a public-private
partnership to build a first-of-its-kind coal-fueled, near-zero
emissions power plant. The ostensible reason for the federal pullout
was the increasing cost of the $1.5 billion plant, most of which was to
be borne by the government.

But it very well
may be that FutureGen was sacrificed as part of a Bush administration
effort to pressure Congress to take affirmative action on nuclear
power, a true technological solution for concerns about atmospheric
CO2. Finally, and much to his credit, President Bush (so far) has
avoided the sort of futile mandatory clampdown on CO2 emissions
supported by Gore but that Wigley realizes will be impossible to
implement without halting vital economic growth.

You
almost have to feel bad for Al Gore — being outsmarted on his own home
turf by George Bush. But there still might be time for Gore to set
things right.

Just last week the U.N.’s World
Food Program launched an "extraordinary emergency appeal" for donations
of at least $500 million in the next four weeks to avoid rationing food
aid in response to the spiraling cost of food — a problem brought about
in part by Gore’s climate alarmism, which helped spur the lurch to
biofuels such as corn-based ethanol.

British
billionaire Richard Branson, for example, credits Gore for pushing him
to make a $3 billion pledge in 2006 to replace fossil fuels with
biofuels.

While campaigning in 2006 for
Democratic senatorial candidate Amy Klobuchar, Gore asked, "What is so
complicated about choosing fuel that comes from Minnesota farmers
rather than from the Middle East?" while simultaneously asserting that
Klobuchar would "provide leadership in the fight against global
warming."

So, Al Gore, rather than wasting
$300 million on a public relations campaign to promote an unrealistic
and impractical approach to the dubious problem of manmade climate
change, why not donate that money to the U.N. and help prevent real
people from starving today?

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and DemandDebate.com. He is a junk science expert, advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.