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Bush Supports CO2 Controls
George W. Bush’s comprehensive energy plan proposes a mandatory cap on emissions of CO2 for the nation’s electric utilities. In the October 11 presidential debate, he emphasized his support for the policy. “The electric decontrol bill that I fought for and signed in Texas has a mandatory emissions standards…. And that’s what we ought to do at the federal level when it comes to grandfathered plants for utilities.”
According to the Washington Times (October 17, 2000), Governor Bush opposes the Kyoto Protocol that would require a reduction of energy emissions of between 30 and 40 percent over the next 10 years. But, congressional sources are not pleased with Bush’s position. Several members of Congress, including Representatives David McIntosh (R-Ind.), Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.), and JoAnn Emerson (R-Mo.) have been fighting the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant.
“Congress has never designated as a pollutant carbon dioxide, which is vital to sustain life on the Earth and is emitted by humans and other living organisms,” noted the Washington Times. “It has barred the Environmental Protection Agency from considering imposing restrictions on the gas to curb global warming.”
The Clinton-Gore Administration is trying to “solve global warming with their lawyers and with legal sleight of hand,” according to John Passacantando, director of Greenpeace, USA. “The Clinton Administration has been undermining the climate treaty for several years, insisting on one loophole after another to weaken it,” he said.
Environmental activists are angry at what they perceive as backpedaling by the administration. Three proposals in particular have them up in arms. First, the U.S. proposal to count as carbon sinks forests that absorb and retain carbon is seen as a cop out, which would allow U.S. companies to avoid emissions cuts. Environmentalists claim that under the proposed carbon sink plan the U.S. could achieve half of its target without any changes in current forestry practices.
Second, the administration wants to be allowed to use nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels, but environmentalists have long been totally opposed to new nuclear power plants.
Finally, one of the main components of the U.S. strategy to reduce emissions is the trading of emission quotas. Environmental activists are concerned that this will allow the U.S. to avoid action at home by buying emission credits, citing an administration estimate that 85 percent of the U.S. target could be achieved abroad.
“The World Wildlife Fund believes the majority of emissions reduction should happen in the United States since it is the world’s biggest carbon polluter,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWF’s Climate Change Campaign. “We’re going to have to kick the oil and coal habit” (Washington Times, October 11, 2000).
UK Environmentalists Stunned by Fuel Protests
Environmentalists in Britain are still trying to recover from what they see as a major setback in their continuing quest to tax fossil fuels out of existence in Europe. This fall’s tax revolt was a direct challenge to their agenda. Although green activists are very experienced at protesting, never have they been so effective as to shut down an entire country for an extended period of time as achieved by Britain’s truck and taxi drivers and farmers.
“The performance of the environment groups was a profound disappointment,” said Jeremy Leggett, former scientific director of Greenpeace International’s climate campaign. “The episode amounted to a real setback to green thinking in an age where socially and environmentally aware investment is taking off like a rocket.”
“No one was ready for it,” complained green campaigner George Monbiot. “Groups were taken by surprise just like everyone else.” Next time they’ll be ready, however. They are already planning countermeasures if the revolt resumes after the 60-day deadline the truckers set for the government to meet their demands (Reuters, October 17, 2000).
A new study released by Ecofys and the Fraunhofer Institute says that the European Union will not meet its greenhouse reduction target under the Kyoto protocol that requires an 8 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2010. Indeed, the EU’s emission levels will likely be in the range of 7 to 8 percent above 1990 levels at the target date.
An analysis of the greenhouse gas reduction plans of six EU countries found that only one, Britain, would likely reach its target. “Germany might also achieve its target, but France, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands have no chance of getting their CO2 emissions down to the required levels unless they adopt new policies in the near future,” reported Reuters (October 18, 2000).
Seven major international corporations have joined with Environmental Defense to create the Partnership for Climate Action. The companies, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP, DuPont, Suncor Energy, Ontario Power Generation, and aluminum makers Alcan and Pechiney, have set a target for greenhouse gas reductions that would reduce emissions by 90 million metric tons of carbon equivalent per year.
“The goal,” according to Environmental Defense executive director Fred Krupp, “is to share learning and highlight the value of solid, market-oriented rules, which will encourage even more companies to step forward and reduce pollution” (Reuters, October 18, 2000).
Early this year the National Research Council released a report that argued that there was still a major discrepancy between the satellite- and surface-based temperature data but that both datasets were essentially correct. This presented a major challenge for computer models, according to the study, since they predict a substantial warming in the atmospheric layer measured by satellites while the data show almost no warming.
A study in Science (February 18, 2000) by Benjamin Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and his co-authors claimed to explain the discrepancy and to put the satellite data in accordance with the surface data, thereby claiming that computer model predictions of global warming were correct after all.
A new study in the Geophysical Research Letters (September 15, 2000) by University of Virginia climatologist Patrick Michaels and Paul Knappenberger of New Hope Environmental Services takes issue with Santer’s findings. Santer’s study pointed out that computer models did not take into account the cooling influence of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. By including this factor, claimed Santer, computer models could account for the lack of warming, reducing the discrepancy to a statistically insignificant 0.045 degrees C.
The Michaels-Knappenberger study takes into account several other natural forcings that influence atmospheric temperatures, specifically the eruption of El Chichón in the early 1980s and El Niño. Taking these into account puts the discrepancy between model predictions and the observed temperature data at 0.162 degrees C or 360 percent the amount found by Santer, et al.
Michaels and Knappenberger conclude, “That current-generation GCMs [global circulation models] do not accurately reproduce the observed temperature history of the lower troposphere during the MSU [microwave sounding units] era remains unchallenged.” Moreover, “Until the GCMs can produce accurate representations of the known three-dimensional climate history, they cannot be relied upon to produce future scenarios that are accurate enough to serve as the basis for climate impact assessments.”
Are changes in sea level due to the emission of manmade greenhouse gases or are they due to natural fluctuations? According to two new studies in Marine Geology (163, 2000), they may be natural. According to the studies, the evidence suggests that sea levels have fallen significantly for the last 6,000 years. Moreover, from 6,000 to 600 years ago the researchers determined that sea levels fluctuated by as much as 1 meter while experiencing an overall decline.
What this means is that the earth’s ocean levels could be increasing due to natural oscillations that have nothing to do with global warming. This sea level behavior, according to the authors, is just as likely an explanation for current sea level rise as the global warming hypothesis.
· With the unusual amount of press attention given to warmer than normal days, we feel it is our duty to point out when temperatures plunge below normal. The month of October has been unseasonably cool throughout the Southeastern U.S. and beyond. In fact, record low temperatures have been recorded in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Record low temperatures across the state of Tennessee lead meteorologist Mark Rose of the National Weather Service to comment that, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this many records in one day” (Associated Press, October 10, 2000).
Although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has held several press conferences over the last two years to associate global warming with every temperature spike, they’ve remained silent during the current Southern cold snap. It has, however, come out with its winter forecast. “We've probably forgotten over the last three years what a normal winter is like. With La Niña and El Niño out of the way, normal winter weather has a chance to return to the U.S. this year,” meaning colder winters, according to D. James Baker, who heads the NOAA. Temperatures in the Northeast region of the U.S. could be as much as 4 degrees C below the previous three winters.
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
Citizens for the Integrity of Science
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Defenders of Property Rights
Frontiers of Freedom
George C. Marshall Institute
National Center for Policy Analysis
National Center for Public Policy Research
Pacific Research Institute
Small Business Survival Committee