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OpenMarket: Energy and Environment

  • The Global Warming Case--the cataclysm question

    November 30, 2006
    One comment from yesterday's Supreme Court hearing that's getting a lot of press is Justice Scalia's question to the attorney for the petitioning states about the imminence of harm to the states: "I mean, when is the predicted cataclysm?" The attorney answered: "The harm does not suddenly spring up in the year 2100; it plays out continuously over time." I suspect that this exchange will be portrayed, by some, as illustrating the gap between the scientifically uneducated and the scientifically erudite. After all, Justice Scalia himself later noted that he's "not a scientist", whereas counsel for the petitioning states was probably quite familiar with the underlying science. But later in the argument that attorney said: "... our harm is imminent in the sense that lighting a fuse on a bomb is imminent harm ...." That sounds pretty cataclysmic to me. If you're delving...
  • Global Warming Hearings & Hurricanes

    November 30, 2006
    Yesterday the Supreme Court heard argument in the global warming case. Today is the last day of the 2006 hurricane season, the quietest in the a decade. Personally, I hope the Supreme Court's ruling in the case ends up being as disappointing to global warming alarmists as this year's hurricane season has been. Of course, one quiet hurricane season doesn't disprove the alarmist forecasts. On the other hand, Katrina didn't support those apocalyptic forecasts either, but you didn't see much in the way of forecasting restraint on the part of alarmists last year. I'd like to correct a few points that were garbled when I first phoned them in soon after yesterday's court hearing. The post below states that EPA was hammered by some justices "talking about issues that weren't...
  • Those clever Malthusians

    November 29, 2006
    There's an op/ed in the New York Times today that essentially claims that Malthus was right and that Julian Simon just got lucky when he made his famous bet with Paul Ehrlich and his doomsinging colleagues. John Whitehead of the Environmental Economics blog has a perceptive comment:
    Increases in energy prices, with the energy return on investment (EROI -- a new term for me that showed up in the comments section on this blog) falling from 25 to 1 to 15 to 1 over the past 20 years in the oil industry (EROI is 4 to 1 for the Alberta oil sands) used as evidence that the current runup in oil prices is not a blip. The...
  • Supreme Court grills Massachusetts, EPA in global warming case

    November 29, 2006

    CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman is on-site for two important cases being argued at the U.S. Supreme Court today. He phoned in his quick take on the EPA case:

    The first, Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a lawsuit brought by a group of state attorneys general, trying to force the EPA to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. The AGs aim to have CO2 emissions reduced and thus impede global warming.

    Massachusetts went first. They got a lot of questions on standing from the justices: the states must show specific harm to themselves (from CO2 emissions) and that the harm would be redressed by the relief sought by the states. I don't think Massachusetts did all too well under questioning. They were getting hammered with questions. An old case called SCRAP (United States v...

  • Usual suspects make the list -- environmentalists of all time

    November 29, 2006
    Dr. C.S. Prakash alerted me to yesterday's list in The Guardian of the top environmental campaigners of all time. Not surprisingly, Rachel Carson tops the list, and one of her chief achievements was the eventual banning of DDT. Readers might be interested in John Berlau's DDT article today, which puts that “achievement” in a human context. Here's the list of the top twenty. One who really accomplished something that helped save the earth — the people on it — was number 19, Joseph Bazelgette, who realized that “foul water” not foul air was responsible for the cholera epidemics. He devised the London...
  • Lake Woebegone Takes over Britain!

    November 27, 2006
    The classic motto of Garrison Keillor's bucolic world — “where all the children are above average” — has now been adopted by David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party now challenging Labour in the UK. In a recent speech, Cameron noted “…we used to think of poverty only in absolute terms — [but in the future] we need to think of poverty in relative terms — the fact that some people lack those things which others in society take for granted.”
  • They Know It When They Smell It

    November 27, 2006
    Here at Open Market, we're big fans of Penn & Teller, particularly their emmy-nominated Showtime program, Bullshit! Our own Angela Logomasini was even a guest on the episode they did on recycling. We are therefore excited to bring you, via Google Video, their episode on environmental hysteria, featuring the now-legendary petition drive to ban dihydrogen monoxide. Thanks to Wayne for passing along. [googlevideo]-4480559399263937213[/googlevideo]
  • Advice on global warming policy to the EU: airline taxes for all.

    November 22, 2006
    The European Commission has turned its attention to the substantial greenhouse gas emissions produced by air travel. They want to tax all commercial airline flights in the EU and all coming from and going to the EU. The size of tax being talked about is quite large, but probably not large enough to cut airline travel substantially. That means it would raise lots of revenue for the EU. The national flag carriers are not totally opposed, since as a percentage of the cost of a plane ticket it would raise costs much more for travelers on low-fare carriers such as Ryan Air. What I have seen no mention of in the press is all the emissions from private air travel. Apparently, the new proposals would exempt the small jets favored by corporate CEOs, Hollywood stars, and former Vice President Gore. But emissions from private jets are substantial and going up rapidly as more and more CEOs,...
  • Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip on Climate Science

    November 22, 2006
    The global warming debate this week features a furious back-and-forth between our pal Al Gore and Christopher Monckton (a/k/a Viscount Mockton of Brenchley), a former policy advisor to Margaret Thatcher. Monckton started with two articles in the Sunday Telegraph earlier this month, which Gore then responded to. The final product is this analysis and defence by Monckton of his original arguments, complete with dozens of references and citations (direct PDF link). It gets a little technical in parts, but it's a great point-by-point refutation of Gore's arguments. Almost as good, I might add, as this one, by our very own Marlo Lewis.
  • Stern's Critical Flaws

    November 22, 2006
    The Stern Review on the economics of climate change has come in for more criticism from experts in the field. Following Richard Tol, we now have Yale's William Nordhaus (PDF link), who says:
    The Stern Review is a Prime Minister's dream come true. It provides decisive and compelling answers instead of the dreaded conjectures, contingencies, and qualifications. However, a closer look reveals that there is indeed another hand to these answers. The radical revision of the economics of climate change proposed by the Review does not arise from any new economics, science, or modeling. Rather, it depends decisively on the assumption of a near-zero social discount rate. The Review's unambiguous conclusions about the need for extreme immediate action will not...

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