Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
Expectations Lowered for Lyon and the Hague
In preparation for the Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP-6) to the Climate Change Convention to be held in the Hague, November 13-24, subsidiary bodies are meeting in Lyon, France to hammer out agreements to be finalized at COP-6.
According to the BNA Daily Environment Report (September 6, 2000), “Some of the outstanding issues include accounting methods for determining whether governments are meeting their reduction commitments, establishment of a compliance mechanism, procedures for emission trading, and rules that would allow governments to claim emission credits for creating and maintaining carbon-absorbing ‘sinks’ such as forests.”
Michael Zammit Cutajar, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is pessimistic. “The likelihood, and what I fear, is that the negotiators are so tied up in their tactical calculations that they might not want to let go before their meeting in the Hague,” Cutajar said.
U.S. official also expressed doubt that a deal would be reached at the Hague. At a briefing in London, Deputy Assistant to the President for Environmental Initiatives Roger Ballentine said that the Clinton-Gore Administration is committed to a global warming treaty and
pointed to its $4 billion budget proposal to fight global warming as evidence.
Ballentine said that the administration is optimistic that significant progress can be made at COP-6, “But if your question is will we finalize, wrap up, every issue at COP-6 then the answer to that has to be no…There is too much work left to be done to wrap it up in November,” he said (Reuters, September 5, 2000).
The Conservative Party in the United Kingdom has proposed abandoning the Government’s energy tax known as the climate change levy, which is designed to help the UK reach its Kyoto commitments. According to Shadow Chancellor Michael Portillo, the tax plan was ill-conceived and would actually hurt the environment by driving British industries overseas where there are fewer environmental regulations. If elected, said Portillo, the Tories would scrap the plan (The Journal (Newcastle), September 1, 2000).
Also, the Engineering Employers’ Federation released a survey of 25 British companies located in Sheffield (a Labor stronghold) with energy bills larger than 100,000 pounds. The survey found that the climate change levy would increase these companies’ energy bills by an average of more than 400 pounds (approximately US $580) per employee. “The EEF’s survey of engineering manufacturing companies in Sheffield shows that Labour are piling extra costs on to manufacturing business at a time when they can least afford it,” said shadow Chancellor Michael Portillo (The Independent (London), August 29, 2000).
A September 5 Associated Press story calls attention to the problems and costs of pollution credit trading. Under Southern California’s Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM), credits to emit one pound of nitrogen oxide sold for 13 cents last year. But since then, prices have gone as high as $37 per pound and are currently at $13.
According to Nick Drakos, vice president of Custom Alloy Light Metals, the prices increases “make it hard to make any informed business decision. If a company is growing, it’s very difficult to get reductions when you’re burning more fuel, and they don’t have a way to get more credits into the system.”
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power must pay $14 million in penalties and agreed to spend an additional $40 million to install emission control technologies to meet emission reduction requirements. Buying credits on the market would be even more expensive.
This is precisely what one would expect to happen. A fixed supply of emission credits with increasing demand due to economic growth leads to skyrocketing prices. The only option left to companies who must meet emission targets is to invest in costly technology. One would also expect a fixed supply emission credit market to experience extreme price fluctuations, making it difficult for businessmen to plan for the future.
Officials of Southern California’s RECLAIM program say the program is working as intended (Associated Press, September 5, 2000).
NY Times Eats Its Words
The New York Times on August 29 retracted its ridiculous front-page story of August 19 that the North Pole was melting. The reporter, John Noble Wilford, had even asserted that open water appeared at the pole this summer for perhaps the first time in 50 million years, which was only off by 49,999,999 years.
Apparently, the pressure to backpedal was fueled by an AP story that again retailed the claims of Harvard Professor James J. McCarthy without consulting any Arctic experts. However, the Times tried to save face by running another article by Wilford on page 3 of its Science section that did its best to cloud the whole issue. Wilford asserted that regardless of his little mistake, the Arctic has warmed by 11 degrees in the last 30 years. And in a major story in the September 4 Time magazine, “The Big Meltdown”, junk science purveyor Eugene Linden claimed that there's still plenty of evidence of the deleterious effects of global warming in the Arctic.
The temperature data tells a different story that the fact checkers at the Times and at Time (if they still employ any) may want to consult. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Second Assessment Report, the Arctic has warmed, not by 11, but by 2.7 degrees F in the last 30 years. Moreover, the article looked at the past 30 years because 1969 was conveniently the coldest year since about 1920. The Arctic was warmer in 1935 than it is now. Over the past 70 years, the temperature trend has been essentially zero (see Virtual Climate Alert #29 at www.greeningearthsociety.org .)
The global warming propaganda juggernaut has been lying low this summer due to unusually cool temperatures and a relative lack of natural disasters. Indeed, the tropics this summer are cooler than they have been since satellites began measuring global temperatures in 1979.
According to Dr. John Christy, of Earth System Science Laboratory at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, “Based on the satellite record, which started in 1979, the equatorial tropics experienced its coolest year in 1999, when the composite temperature was 0.34 degrees Celsius below the 20-year average for that region.”
Moreover, “That trend has continued through the first eight months of this year, with temperatures in the tropics 0.39 degrees C cooler than normal,” he said. These cooler temperatures can be attributed to La Niña, which is a cooling of the Pacific Ocean, just as the warmer than average temperatures in 1997 and 1998 can be attributed to the El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event.
The Northern Hemisphere, on the other hand, has been warmer than normal this year. “That has been the trend over the past 20 years,” Christy said. “During that time we’ve seen a 0.25 degree C per decade warming in the Northern Hemisphere, a very slight cooling in the tropics, and enough cooling in the Southern Hemisphere to almost offset the warming in the north.”
Global Warming Threatens One Third of World’s Habitat
The World Wildlife Fund has released a strident report that claims, “Global warming could fundamentally alter one third of the plant and animal habitats by the end of this century, and cause the eventual extinction of certain plant and animal species.”
“In the northern latitudes of Russia, Canada and Scandanavia,” claims the report, “up to 70 percent of habitat could be lost” due to rapid warming.”
According to Adam Markham, Executive Director of Clean Air-Cool Planet, and one of the report’s co-authors, “As global warming accelerates, plants and animals will come under increasing pressure to migrate to find suitable habitat. Some will just not be able to move fast enough.”
The report also claims that species that are isolated, such as those found on islands or in “fragmented habitats” are most at risk. But these species are most at risk due to their isolation not from global warming. Indeed, island species have always been at greater risk from extinction than non-island species.
The report claims, “Already, Costa Rica’s golden toad has probably become extinct. Birds such as the great tit in Scotland and the Mexican jay in Arizona are beginning to breed earlier in the year; butterflies are shifting their ranges northwards throughout Europe; and mammals in many parts of the Arctic – including polar bears, walrus and caribou – are beginning to feel the impacts of reduced sea ice and warming tundra habitat.”
Some of these changes, although true, are actually beneficial to species. The change in butterfly ranges isn’t a shift but an expansion. A study in Nature by Parmesan et al, which analyzed the distributional changes of European butterflies, found that “nearly all northward shifts [of butterfly ranges] involved extension at the northern boundary with the southern boundary remaining stable,” thus increasing butterfly habitat and enhancing survivability.
Another study in Nature by Thomas and Lennon found that British bird distributions from 1970 to 1990 experienced a similar habitat expansion. Northern habitat boundaries shifted 19 kilometers while the southern boundary remained stable.
A study that appeared in the Canadian Field-Naturalist by Norment et al studied bird surveys taken along the Thelon River and its tributaries in the Canadian Northwest Territories from the 1920s through much of the 1990s. They found that three bird species had expanded their range southward, nine bird species had expanded their range northward and sixteen bird species were new to the area. Moreover, mammals such as red squirrel, moose porcupine, river otter and beaver had also recently established themselves in the area.
Finally, a review of the scientific literature by Keith and Sherwood Idso, which appeared in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, found that atmospheric CO2 enrichment increases the temperature at which plants function optimally, negating the need for migration.
· The New York Times’s embarrassing retraction of its “The North Pole is Melting” story inspired a top ten list by David Letterman on the August 30 Late Show.
Top Ten Signs the New York Times is Slipping
10. Instead of "All The News That's Fit To Print," slogan is "Stuff We Heard From A Guy Who Says His Friend Heard About It."
9. President does something on the TV show "West Wing," next day it's on front page.
8. It's 108 pages, and there's not one single vowel.
7. For every story, accompanying photo is Tony Danza.
6. Obituary has become list of people editors wish would die.
5. Dick Cheney consistently referred to as "the dude from those Wendy's commercials."
4. Notice on sports page: "All scores are approximate."
3. Only ad in job classifieds: "Wanted -- someone who knows how to put together a damn newspaper."
2. For last two weeks, edited by a disoriented Anne Heche.
1. They're endorsing George W. Bush.
THE COOLER HEADS COALITION
Alexis de Tocqueville InstitutionAmericans for Tax ReformAmerican Legislative Exchange CouncilAmerican Policy CenterAssociation of Concerned TaxpayersCenter for Security PolicyCitizens for a Sound EconomyCitizens for the Integrity of ScienceCommittee for a Constructive TomorrowCompetitive Enterprise InstituteConsumer AlertDefenders of Property RightsFrontiers of FreedomGeorge C. Marshall InstituteHeartland InstituteIndependent InstituteNational Center for Policy AnalysisNational Center for Public Policy ResearchPacific Research InstituteSeniors Coalition60 PlusSmall Business Survival CommitteeThe Advancement of Sound Science Coalition