Cooler Heads Digest

News Highlights

Feel Good vs Do Good on the Climate

John Tierney, NYTimes, 11 September 2007

Climate Figures Need Scrutiny

Sterling Bennet, E Team, 12 September 2007

OECD Warns Against Biofuels

Andrew Bounds, Financial Times, 10 September 2007

Carbon Trading Failing in Australia

Wendy Frew & Marian Wilkenson, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September 2007

Review: Bjorn Lomborg’s Cool It

Jonathan Adler, NRO, 4 September 2007

Climate Consensus?

Sen. James Inhofe, Power, August 2007

Al Gore: Hypocrite (video)

Hannity and Colmes, Fox News, 9 September 2007

w/o Gov’t Support, Ethanol Bankrupt

AP, 6 September 2007

Inside the Beltway

CEI’s Myron Ebell

The Wall Street Journal has an article (page A4, 12th September) by Deborah Solomon that discusses the policy divide between politicians who favor a cap-and-trade scheme and economists who favor a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Left out of the discussion are the more rational people who oppose both.

Bjorn Lomborg in his concise new book, Cool It, reviews the academic literature on the possible costs of global warming impacts.  Nearly all the estimates support the conclusion that the costs of potential global warming impacts will be far less than the costs of policies to stop global warming.

Powerful support for this conclusion is also found in a new study by one of the pre-eminent economists in the field, William Nordhaus, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, which concludes that the costs of global warming policies would be two to three times the costs of global warming impacts.  Nordhaus’s study has not gotten much attention, but it is hard to get around because Nordhaus is not a global warming skeptic and the numbers he uses are from official sources, such as the UN IPCC.  In my view, the official forecasts probably over-estimate the costs of global warming impacts and underestimate the costs of reducing emissions.

Moreover, the higher energy prices resulting from either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade will be felt disproportionately by poor people, who already pay a higher percentage of their incomes on energy than the better off.  This is made clear in Taxing the Poor, a recent study by the National Center for Policy Analysis, which is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition.  It should always be kept in mind that when alarmists like Al Gore say that we must reduce our use of hydrocarbon energy, it is not wealthy elitists like Gore but rather the poor who will be doing most of the reducing.

Across the States

ALEC’s Daniel Simmons

Global warming policy in the Golden State threatens to make local government obsolete.

This summer, California Attorney General Jerry Brown initiated lawsuits against local governments if they failed to sufficiently incorporate global warming mitigation strategies into county and municipal development plans.

Then, California’s legislature began consideration of S. 375, a measure that would dictate to local communities how they can plan for the future by linking state funding for local transportation projects to a municipality’s adoption of low carbon development plans.

Now, the California Energy Commission has released a report suggesting that the State strip local leaders of all development decisions. The report, “The Role of Land Use in Meeting California’s Energy and Climate Change Goals,” recommends that legislators create a land use policy template that localities must follow when planning long term growth.

Land use policy-making is one of municipal and county governments’ most important decisions. Throughout California’s history, these decisions were made by local politicians with the unique sensibilities of local inhabitants in mind. Now, the So Cal urbanites who dominate California’s legislature want dictate to all California how it can grow. Only in California!

Around the world

CEI’s Iain Murray

The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum (APEC), representing most Pacific Rim countries, last week agreed a declaration on global warming that fell far short of the hopes of most of the green lobby.  It committed the APEC nations to work within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and set an “aspirational” long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Australian and Canadian climate campaigners called the agreement “faudulent” and a step away from the Kyoto process. 

As often predicted in this column, the world is indeed moving away from binding emissions reduction targets in the short to medium term.  The next step looks like the crafting of some form of face-saving exit strategy for the European Union.  That process could begin as early as the conference called by President Bush for Washington on Sept. 27-28.

In the Home

CEI’s Julie Walsh

As a girl, I had a poster of a polar bear cub on my bedroom wall. Global warming alarmists often use this same image—a fuzzy white ball of fluff with large dark, sad eyes—to evince feelings of sympathy from sympathetic people, who imagine its extinction due to global warming. Indeed, “the World Wildlife Fund actually warns that polar bears might stop reproducing by 2012 and thus become functionally extinct in less than a decade,” according to Bjorn Lomborg, in his new book, “Cool It.” But despite increasing CO2 levels, Lomborg continues,

The global polar-bear population has increased dramatically over the past decades, from about five thousand members in the 1960s to twenty-five thousand today, through stricter hunting regulation…Nowhere in the news coverage is it mentioned that 300 to 599 bears are shot each year…Even if we take the story of decline at face value, it means we have lost about 15 bears to global warming each year, whereas we have lost 49 each year to hunting.

Yes, it is likely that disappearing ice will make it harder for polar bears to continue their traditional foraging patterns and that they will increasingly take up a lifestyle similar to that of brown bear, from which they evolved. They may eventually decline, though dramatic declines seem unlikely. But over the past forty years, the population has increased dramatically and the populations are now stable. The ones going down are in areas that are getting colder.

So when pictures of Knut and Leo appear on the cover of “Vanity Fair,” you can tell those heartstrings to get in line, at least for Knut.

News You Can Use

Regarding the costs/benefits of global warming mitigation policy:

With the money that it would cost to save one life from global warming, we could save 35,000 lives from malaria.

Bjorn Lomborg on the Colbert Report, 10 September 2007

Call for Content

Have stories we may want to include in our weekly news roundup? Is your organization working on something other members of the Coalition might be interested in? Let us know by contacting William Yeatman at [email protected].

Contact CEI

If you or your organization is working on energy or global warming policy, please use CEI as a resource. Contact William Yeatman at [email protected].