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OpenMarket: Energy and Environment

  • More on Gore's day on the Hill

    March 21, 2007
    Asserting that the planet has a "fever" and asking parents whether they would listen to the doctor if their child had a fever is an old rhetorical trick. You don't discuss the issue on its own terms, rather you turn it into a metaphor so you can talk about something else that everybody fears or loathes. This begs the whole question at issue, namely, whether there is anything pathological (if that concept even applies) to the modest amount of warming we've observed over the past 30 years. The Earth was warmer than today during the Holocene Climate Optimum, very likely the Roman Warm Period, and arguably the Medieval Warm Period. The amount of warmth we've seen is within the range of natural variability. Gore's "fever" rhetoric is alarmist spin, not science. Another question-begging rhetorical trick: Gore claims that if you acknowledge the reality of man-made global warming, then you...
  • Live blogging from Al Gore's hearing testimony

    March 21, 2007
    At a joint hearing of two House committees (Energy and Commerce, Science), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) has raised two parliamentary points of order. First, why does the chair, John Dingell (D-Mich.), not allow members of the full committee to sit on the dias -- why must they sit in the audience? Second, the rules of both committees require testimonies to be submitted 48 hours in advance (or in some cases at least 24 hours in advance). The minority received Gore's written testimony only at 7:00 a.m. this morning. The majority received it at 1:00 a.m. Barton says because of his affection for the chair, he is not going to press these points, but he will in the future if these rules are ignored. Dingell then quotes from the rules a paragraph allowing the waive the rule.
  • Martians United Aginst Global Warming

    March 12, 2007
    More evidence today that climate change could be the result of variation in solar luminosity, courtesy of the National Post (via Marc Morano at EPW):
    Mars's ice caps are melting, and Jupiter is developing a second giant red spot, an enormous hurricane-like storm. The existing Great Red Spot is 300 years old and twice the size of Earth. The new storm -- Red Spot Jr. -- is thought to be the result of a sudden warming on our solar system's largest planet. Dr. Imke de Pater of Berkeley University says some parts of Jupiter are now as much as six degrees Celsius warmer than just a few years ago. Neptune's moon, Triton, studied in 1989...
  • Where are the small businesses?

    February 13, 2007
    In answer to a point by Senator Warner, Fred just pointed out that there are no representatives of small business here today. Senator Warner agreed this was a good point and asked Chairman Boxer perhaps to hold a hearing on the effects of these policies on such businesses, who are less able to absorb the regulatory costs.
  • DuPont CEO Claims Reduction in GHG

    February 13, 2007
    DuPont's CEO, Chad Holliday, is claiming a 72% reduction in greenhouse gases and a healthy return from them to his shareholders. Strangely enough, this was acheived despite the lack of regulatory certainty he now clamors for.
  • Where's The Precautionary Principle When We Need It?

    February 8, 2007
    Today's Wall Street Journal (link for subscribers) has a short piece in the B section noting how a new Bush Administration "clean diesel" fuel mandate may be responsible for stranding school buses full of children in the extreme cold during recent weeks. The new EPA rule requires diesel users (including school buses) to switch to ultra-low-sulfur fuel in order to reduce air pollution. Unfortunately, the low-sulfur stuff also tends to turn from a liquid into a gel more readily in cold temperatures. Don't the nice folks at EPA know that the precautionary principle requires them to "look before they leap" head first into adopting new technologies?
  • Memo to Sen. Boxer: Be Careful What You Ask For

    January 11, 2007
    If I were Barbara Boxer, the last thing I want to hear on January 30th when Senators trundle down to offer their deep climate thoughts is the following. As her first act as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer has asked for Senators to offer their take on the horrors of global warming and what they, were they the king that they see in the mirror when shaving, would do. Rare are such opportunities. In 500 words someone could do more for the debate than 6 years have done. "Madame Chairman, I suggest we vote on the Kyoto Protocol. I have listened for 6 years to rather heated rhetoric about the purported irresponsibility of President Bush for not signing a treaty that was already signed by Bill Clinton, by those who have yet to suggest we vote on Kyoto; I have heard quite stirring claims against chairmen for holding hearings on an issue, from those who now...
  • Meet Modern Britain: Where Blood, Sweat and Tears Is a 70s Rock Band

    January 9, 2007
    Global warming activists have suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair give up his personal holiday travel around the world, to set an example as a carbon dioxide conscious citizen. Blair has responded by telling them to bugger off. As it turns out, addressing climate change the Blair way won't involve any significant sacrifices for the citizenry, like, say, no longer doing things that cause CO2 emissions. He has cautioned his countrymen not to set "unrealistic targets" in their personal life, adding, "It's like telling people you shouldn't drive anywhere." According to his spokesman, Blair believes that policies that end up "hurting the domestic or the world economy" are the wrong way to go. That's good news for the Brits, of course. How a nation like the UK is going to meet its Kyoto obligations without less...
  • Scharzenegger to order 10% emissions cut; expected to boost ethanol

    January 9, 2007
    Gov. Schwarzenegger is expected today to order California's petroleum refiners and gasoline sellers to reduce the carbon content of the fuels they sell by 10%. Cui bono? Can you spell "ethanol"? Even with this mandate and the 2002 law (AB 1493) imposing CO2 emissions standards on new cars sold in the state, actual CO2 emissions from California's transport sector are likely to grow. Consider the European experience. Due to high motor fuel taxes, Europeans pay roughly twice what Americans pay for gasoline. Yet from 1990 to 2004, EU transport sector CO2 emissions increased almost 26% and are projected under current policies to be 35% above 1990 levels in...
  • Will the Real Bob Seger Please Stand Up?

    January 8, 2007
    NPR's Morning Edition interviewed classic rock radio staple Bob Seger today, highlighting his new album and his first tour in a decade. Seger, a son of Detroit, is known for working references to all-American autos into his songs, such as the backseat of that '60 Chevy in "Night Moves." Even better known, of course, is the song that has long served as the theme song for Chevy pickup trucks, "Like a Rock." Now, however, it seems that Bob has soured on the auto industry, if we are to be guided by the lyrics off of his new album:
    World keeps getting hotter Ice falls in the sea We buy a bigger engine and say it isn't me.
    ...

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