Vol. IV, No. 16
U.S. Proposes Carbon Sinks for Kyoto
The U.S. filed a proposal on August 1 to the United Nations office overseeing the Kyoto negotiations that would allow countries to get credit towards their Kyoto targets by using forests and crops to absorb carbon dioxide. The Clinton-Gore Administration estimates that the U.S. could receive credit for 300 million metric tons per year for carbon dioxide being stored in trees, crops and soil, accounting for nearly half of the reductions required by the Kyoto Protocol.
The administration said that “Given the growth in the economy and fuel use since 1990…the only way to come anywhere near that target [7 percent below 1990 levels] is by adopting every possible strategy, including the agricultural approach,” according to the New York Times (August 2, 2000). It also noted that “In addition…bringing farmers and foresters into the battle is likely to be crucial if the Senate, which has so far firmly opposed ratifying any international climate treaty, is to change its view.”
The EU opposes carbon sinks due to its relative scarcity of land for tree planting which would give the U.S. a distinct advantage. Japan, another country with limited space, wishes to meet its target by investing in forestry projects in the developing countries and possibly Australia.
Many environmental groups are also opposed to the proposal arguing that the U.S. should not rely on carbon sinks but rather should cut its use of oil and coal. It would seem that environmental activists are more concerned with preventing energy use than preventing global warming.
Cooler Heads Comments on National Assessment
Christopher C. Horner, on behalf of several members of the Cooler Heads Coalition, is filing official comments on the draft National Assessment on Climate Change before the August 11 deadline. The comments charge that several violations of Federal Advisory Committees Act, such as the absence of the required Designated Federal Officer from several meetings, the closing of meetings to the public, and the failure to certify meeting minutes by the chairman of the advisory committee, were committed in the preparation of the report.
The Cooler Heads members are requesting that the final report not be released until it complies with FACA. The comments will be posted in the next few days at www.globalwarming.org and at www.cei.org.
Frontiers of Freedom and the Science and Environmental Policy Project are also filing joint comments on the NACC’s scientific shortcomings. These should also be available on the web at www.ff.org and www.sepp.org.
Administration Touts Kyoto Benefits for Lawyers
On July 20, Frank E. Loy, the under secretary for global affairs at the U.S. State Department and chief global warming negotiator for the U.S., spoke at the Annual Conference of the American Bar Association about the status of the negotiations surrounding the Kyoto Protocol.
Loy prefaced his remarks by asking the audience of lawyers “Do you, the members of the bar, need to understand the Protocol and will you be able to bill your clients? (Because I know the suspense is killing you, let me just say that the answer to these last questions is an emphatic ‘yes’.)” While said jokingly, it is nonetheless true that lawyers love big, complex regulatory structures that require their services and fatten their wallets.
Loy was quite optimistic about the chances of getting an agreement that would be acceptable to the U.S. Senate. He even pointed out that we are closer than before since Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) a former skeptic on global warming, according to Loy, recently “acknowledged that the science has hardened considerably in the past decade and pledged to develop a domestic plan to deal with the problem.” He also pointed out that “Democrats and Republicans alike are proposing legislation to deal with climate change.”
One of the two major obstacles to getting an agreement is the desire of the EU that the U.S. “change our lifestyle as quickly and radically as possible,” he said. “Many in the EU believe that producing significant short-term pain and suffering is actually desirable, rather than something to be avoided.” The crux of the matter, according to Loy is that the EU is concerned that U.S. businesses “will enjoy a competitive advantage over European businesses that have been subjected to carbon taxes and extensive regulation.”
The other obstacle is developing country participation. Loy argues that since the developing countries are least able to adapt to climate change it is in their interest to come to an agreement. Loy also claimed that many of the key developing nations are already taking steps to reduce emissions and that those countries that “may lack the capacity to assume and implement legally binding targets” should “explore opportunities under the Clean Development Mechanism.”
And what is the role for lawyers in all this? “Like any sophisticated business transaction, each of these decisions [that companies must make about what to do about meeting climate change targets] will require legal advice about how to navigate a variety of domestic and international regulatory frameworks…. Each transaction has the potential to involve litigation or administrative action.” Music to lawyer’s ears.
Oops! Sea Levels are Falling
The island state of Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean has been one of the most vociferous players in the global warming debate. It has been trotted out by the global warming establishment as an example of the horrific effects of global-warming-induced sea level rise. The country is comprised of nine islands, which are only 12 feet above sea level at their highest point.
New research has shown, however, that sea level has fallen by about 2.5 inches in the last 2 or 3 years, an apparently dramatic reversal from the 1.5 inch per year rise experienced throughout the earlier 1990s. Hilia Vavae, director of Tuvalu’s Meteorological Service, said, “This is certainly a bit of a shock for us because we have been experiencing the effect of rising oceans for a long time.”
The evidence does not sway Ms. Vavae, however. “We are still facing the daunting prospect of being one of the first countries to be submerged by sea-level rises related to climate change.” As noted by the Sunday Telegraph (London, August 6, 2000), “The Tuvalu government, a vocal critic of the industrialized world at environmental conferences in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, has said that the result of its research is a ‘blip’ and it is expected to make climate change a major issue when it joins the United Nations next month.”
Patrick Nunn, head of geography at the University of the South Pacific of Fiji attacked the data saying, “It is nonsense to try to make predictions about climate change from a data base of only seven years.” Nunn should have looked at the long-term data before making this statement. Sea level data from Tuvalu since 1977 shows no trend. Indeed, sea level remains stable with three punctuated drops in 1983, 1992 and 1998 during El Niño years. The current drop is occurring in the absence of El Niño (http://www.vision.net.au/~daly).
Any potential global warming will actually cause sea levels to drop in the short term, according to S. Fred Singer, president of the Science and Environment Policy Project. Singer’s paper, which he presented at a Cooler Heads briefing, is available at the SEPP website, www.sepp.org.
More Problems with Tree Ring Data
One of the major pieces of evidence upon which global warming theory rests is the long-term temperature record derived from analysis of tree rings. According to this research, these long-term chronologies show a dramatic late 20th century warming. However, an article in Quaternary Research (September 1999) questions the two critical assumptions upon which these findings rest, namely, “plant-climate relationships remain the same through time” and that “temperature-plant interactions are independent of changes in atmospheric CO2.” These assumptions are “not supported by physiological data,” according to the article.
If these assumptions aren’t true, then any temperature records derived from tree rings which do not take into account the effect of CO2 are wrong. Indeed, the article finds that CO2 concentrations have an effect on tree growth in three different ways. First, “Processes that determine growth optima in plants…are all highly CO2-dependent.” Second, water-use efficiency “is sensitive to changes in atmospheric CO2.” Third, “leaf-gas exchange experiments indicate that the response of plants to carbon-depleting environmental stresses are strengthened under low CO2 relative to today.”
Nearly all studies of tree ring chronologies have interpreted tree growth in terms of changes in temperature and/or precipitation, not in terms of atmospheric CO2 content. An article posted by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change at www.co2science.org notes that “the flawed studies of Mann et al. are fast becoming the centerpiece of the IPCC’s misguided, but seemingly intentional, effort to rewrite earth’s climatic history in an attempt to prod national governments to adopt Kyoto-type measures to combat imaginary global warming.”
An August 6 Washington Post story on the top of the front page reported that the past month was the coldest July in Washington, D.C. since 1918. Neither global warming or global cooling was mentioned as a possible explanation for this continuing pattern of extreme weather (even though record cool temperatures are just the sort of thing that global warming theorists predict will happen).
Vice President Al Gore held a press conference in the summer of 1998 to call attention to record high temperatures in many areas of the country and to blame them on global warming. Gore also chastised the American people for using energy produced by fossil fuels, which was causing global warming. Apparently the demands of the election campaign do not allow him the time to hold a press conference to call attention to the current temperature extremes.
Other places in the U.S. experiencing unusually cold weather include Chicago, which has yet to have a day with temperatures over 90 degrees this summer. This hasn’t happened since Ulysses S. Grant was president. “By and large…Chicago’s heat island has been swamped by a tidal wave of [cool] temperatures,” noted the Chicago Tribune (August 3, 2000).
Maine has also been suffering through “Cool, wet, foggy weather,” says the Portland Press Herald (August 6, 2000), which has been hurting tourism in the state. And both Boston and New York City have been unseasonably cold with New York City experiencing its coolest July since 1914.
Finally, England has been having such cold miserable weather that one frustrated lady wrote a letter to the editor saying, “Sir: We were promised global warming and I want it now,” (The Independent, July 28, 2000).
Of course, other parts of the U.S., such as the West and South, have been suffering through very warm temperatures. So what does all this tell us about global warming? Absolutely nothing. For more stories about the cold weather visit www.vision.net.au/~daly/.
The following item appeared at John Daly’s website, Still Waiting for Greenhouse.
“We are the ones that live closest to the land, to Mother Earth. We live with it, we experience it, with our hearts and souls, and we depend upon it. When this Earth starts to be destroyed, we feel it.”
Caleb Pungowiyi , Yupik Native from Nome, Alaska, as quoted in the `National Assessment' Overview, page 81
“Once the emotional tears have dried, our hearts touched, and our guilt sowed, we could ask just what has happened in Nome, Alaska to prompt such an emotional outpouring. Was rampant warming underway at Nome, or was this just rhetoric?
“Click here (www.vision.net.au/~daly/nome.gif) for a seasonal and annual temperature history from 1907 to 2000 in Caleb Pungowiyi's own home town of Nome, Alaska.
“As we all know (because David Suzuki is always telling us), native peoples are the only ones who care about the environment. That’s why emotional quotes from ‘native chiefs’ are always dished up to make us all feel bad. Usually these heart-tugging quotes are thought up, not by real natives, but by Green activists.
“A careful look at Nome's temperature history shows the National Assessment’s use of that emotive quote as a manifestly political pitch - from a document which purports to be a ‘scientific’ assessment.”
The linked chart shows no discernible temperature trend for Nome, Alaska.
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