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Vol. VIII, No 13

Cooler Heads Digest


Vol. VIII, No 13


California Regulators Roll Out CO2 Plan for Automobiles


The California Air Resources Board (CARB) on June 14 released its draft plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s automobiles.  It calls for lowering auto emissions by 30 percent below 2002 levels by 2014.  The plan immediately generated significant objections to its cost and constitutionality.


CARB had been charged by a law passed in 2002 with achieving the “maximum feasible and cost-effective” reduction of emissions beginning in 2006, with all new vehicles meeting the rules by 2009.  The proposals would create two vehicle classes:  one consisting of light trucks and passenger vehicles, the other of heavier trucks.  The 30 percent reduction in GHG emissions would be achieved in two phases, one from 2009-2011, the other from 2012-2014.  Manufacturers would gain credit for producing low emissions vehicles before 2008.


CARB estimates that the regulations will reduce CO2 emissions in the state by 85,900 tons per day in 2020 and by 143,300 tons per day in 2030.  The board admits that the new law will raise the price of a vehicle by $328 in 2009 and by over $1000 in 2015.


Manufacturers point out that car buyers regularly put fuel economy down their list of priorities.  Eron Shosteck of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers told the New York Times (June 11), “It’s still behind cup holders.”   Others have pointed out that CARB’s assumptions both on costs and on fuel economy are “purely theoretical.”


The move also faces legal challenges.  According to Greenwire (June 15), “Both industry officials and the Bush administration have indicated for months they may sue on the grounds that California is seeking to regulate fuel economy, a responsibility reserved for the federal government. But California's new governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), vowed during his gubernatorial campaign to defend A.B. 1493 against legal challenges.”


Several States have adopted California’s plans for reducing fuel use.  Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont have all passed legislation to follow California's lead.  CARB will accept public comments until July 7 before reporting to Gov. Schwarzenegger before 2005.


AAAS Panel Concentrates on Politics


Dropping any pretence of objectivity on the issue, Science magazine editor Donald Kennedy and the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Alan Leshner, put together a conference boosting global warming alarmism in Washington, D.C. on June 15.


The panels comprised many well-known figures from the alarmist camp, including several associated with the ozone layer scare of the late  ’80s and early ’90s.  Many of the panelists concentrated on worst-case scenarios, such as the melting of the entire Antarctic ice sheet (even though the ice sheet has been growing during a period of cooling) mentioned by Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton, or on misleading signs of ‘warming,’ such as the melting of Kilimanjaro’s glaciers (which has continued despite proven localized cooling), referenced by Lonnie Thompson of Ohio University.


Many speakers were keen to use the event as a bully pulpit to venture beyond science into politics: “You hope that somehow people will understand that we have got to do something now,” said Joyce Penner of the University of Michigan.  “Some people get it – some people are driving hybrids. But there is a problem with the American public.”


“The models...are good enough to tell us we ought to be starting now to do what we can to reduce emissions,” according to Oppenheimer.


“In this country it depends a lot on what happens in the next election,” said Daniel Schrag of Harvard University and a fellow fan of The Day After Tomorrow with Al Gore. “I don't think we can expect to change the minds of this administration in the next couple of months.”


As Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado wrote on his Prometheus web site, in contrast to the commentary on the issue by politically-oriented groups, “It is another thing altogether when a purportedly non-political professional association like the AAAS, ostensibly working for common interests, legitimizes the practice [of the politicization of science].”


European Bureaucrats Unhappy with U.S. Climate Policy


European bureaucrats are bitter about U.S. policies on climate change and may voice this opinion at the Group of Eight (G8) meeting in the United Kingdom next year.  Hans Verolme, a Dutch national employed as senior environment advisor at the British Embassy in Washington said at a seminar held by the European Institute on June 21 to discuss the new European emissions trading scheme, “It’s quite obvious that my prime minister is disappointed at the state of play in the United States” (we presume he means Tony Blair and not Jan Peter Balkenende) and the U.S. should “watch [its] space” at the G8 meeting.


Robert Donkers, counselor for environmental affairs at the European Commission’s Washington, D.C. delegation, gave a strongly negative assessment of U. S. environmental policies at the European Institute event.  He supports working directly with some States on the European Union’s new Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).  He also said, “We are not so inclined to think that technology will give us all the solutions.  Luckily, we are converging with some States in the U.S.”  Donkers concluded by advising that it was “high time to end the short term ‘cowboy’ economy (in the U. S.) and to find common ground again with the EU.” 


In contrast, Andrei Marcu, president and chief executive officer of the International Emission Trading Association, cautioned European officials from relying too heavily on emissions trading to achieve reductions, stating that “technology has to provide at the end of the day the solution” and that “trading alone is not a solution.” (Greenwire, June 22).


Bertrand Collomb, the chairman of French cement maker Lafarge and also the new chairman of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, also expressed concerns about the success of the ETS and about the EU’s use of the precautionary principle.


The head of the Chicago Climate Exchange, Richard Sandor, proclaimed that his exchange for trading emissions allowances was already a success and that the EU only needed to follow the example he had created.  Former U. S. Ambassador Richard Benedick, now with Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, replied that Sandor’s claims had the “faint whiff of the snake oil salesman.”


States and Environmentalists Take Next Step in CO2 Lawsuit


Eleven States and 14 environmental pressure groups filed a legal brief on June 22 as part of a lawsuit that argues that the Clean Air Act gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. 


These States and groups are unhappy with EPA’s rejection of a petition from the International Center for Technology Assessment that seeks to require EPA to regulate GHG emissions from new cars and trucks.  The attorneys for the plaintiff wrote, “EPA's conclusion that it lacks authority to set motor vehicle emission standards for greenhouse gases contravenes the [Clean Air] Act's plain language.”  They further argue that the Act gives EPA the authority to “regulate ‘any air pollutant’ that may adversely affect ‘public health or welfare.’”


EPA has argued that even if the federal government did have the authority to impose regulations on cars and trucks, it would be the responsibility of the Department of Transportation.  However, the pro-federal regulation attorneys argue, “There is no such conflict because Congress explicitly acknowledged that such statutory overlap would occur, and in this case compliance with any Clean Air Act emission standards would have no effect on automobile manufacturers’ ability to comply with [the Energy Policy and Conservation Act].”


The oral arguments in the case are slated for next spring in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  Among those suing the EPA are California, Massachusetts, Greenpeace, and the Sierra Club.  Arguments against the suit (largely accepted by EPA) have been led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with the American Petroleum Institute, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.  (Greenwire, June 23)




New Shell Oil Chairman Admits He’s a Climate Criminal


The new chairman of the board of Shell Oil, Ron Oxburgh, Oxburgh told the Guardian in an interview published on June 17 that Shell needs “to take into account…the greenhouse effect and global warming.”   He is “really very worried for the planet” because of the activities of companies such as his.


Oxburgh continued: “No one can be comfortable at the prospect of continuing to pump out the amounts of carbon that we are at present.”  He believes the only feasible solution is carbon sequestration and fears that, “If we don’t have sequestration I see very little hope for the world.”


Oxburgh is as concerned about climate change as David King, the government’s chief science advisor, who said climate change was a bigger threat than terrorism.  “You can’t slip a piece of paper between David King and me on this position,” said Oxburgh.  


Oxburgh’s appeasement, however, has not gone down well with environmental groups determined to suppress the use of fossil fuels.  Byrony Worthington, a climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth, believes Oxburgh’s statements are public relations spin and that, “[Oxburgh has] done quite a clever job by making it clear he’s concerned but at the same time not pledging to do anything about it.”


The Guardian’s correspondent David Adam, however, argued that, judging by Oxburgh’s history of honesty and his major and at times universally unpopular reforms while rector of Imperial College London, this is not a PR move.  Adam suggested that Oxburgh’s comments might be “more direct than the PR people further down [his] building might appreciate.”  (Guardian, June 17).  Or Shell’s lawyers, we might add.  Oxburgh’s astonishing comments would seem to be an invitation to massive liability lawsuits.


AEP President Pleads to be Regulated


Interviewed by the Associated Press on June 22, American Electric Power’s (AEP) president, Michael Morris, was keen to stress that the world is in desperate need of greenhouse gas controls to curtail global warming.  Morris explained that “We are more than prepared to go forward.  We are absolutely dedicated to improving the air performance at our power plants.”


Furthermore, Morris believes that a plan much in line with the Kyoto Protocol is needed to set an international standard for emissions.  However, he added that the standard must be fair to American workers.  Morris also believes that the inclusion of developing countries like India and China must be mandatory in order to prevent them from gaining an advantage over the United States.  This echoes the Byrd-Hagel resolution adopted 95-0 by the Senate in 1997.


Morris concluded by explaining that AEP was “on their side” when speaking of environmentalists demanding stricter standards.  However, those environmentalists do not necessarily feel that AEP is on theirs.  Some have said that AEP still needs to do much more.


Coal-fired plants, which emit the most carbon dioxide of any power-generating option, account for 65 percent of AEP’s generating capacity.  AEP has five million customers in the 11 States it serves from Michigan to Texas.  This interview comes at a time when AEP is involved in a lawsuit accusing the company of breaking the regulations of the Clean Air Act.  The suit charges AEP with not installing modern pollution controls at 11 of its plants.


Emissions Still Rising in Japan


Last month the Japanese government reported that greenhouse gas emissions for fiscal 2002 were 7.3 percent higher than the 1990 level. The Environment Minister Yuriko Koike said the Japanese government will now have to “come up with very drastic measures” in order to meet Japan’s Kyoto protocol target of cutting emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.


Government figures indicate that household and office emissions have increased.  This may have resulted from expanded home ownership and a burgeoning service sector.  Even while the energy efficiency of air-conditioners and automobiles has increased dramatically, Chiho Mito of the Energy Conservation Center, Japan, said, “The energy saved by new technologies is offset by the increase in the number of [them].”


Carbon dioxide emissions from the industrial sector have declined slightly.  Nevertheless, Hirata of Kiko Network stated this was largely the result of a stagnant economy, a trend that could easily reverse.  Hirata said the government may need to track emissions data for businesses and mandate reductions as they see necessary.  This would curtail economic production by restricting the amount of energy that companies expend (Japan Times, June 17).




Climate Modeler Admits to Being Often Wrong


Two years after beginning a $20 million study of the effects of cirrus thunderhead clouds on the climate, NASA researchers have discovered that they play a significant part in determining how much sunlight is reflected back into space.


The studies directly contradict assumptions inherent in climate models, meaning that the role of cirrus formations in predicting climate will have to be reconsidered.


“We’ve got some amazing results that no one anticipated,” says Anthony Del Genio, a climate modeler with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University in New York, told the Christian Science Monitor (June 24). “It's humbling to find out how often you're wrong.”


The Monitor summarized, “One of the most fundamental questions surrounds the size of the ice crystals that make up tropical cirrus clouds. A team led by Timothy Garrett at the University of Utah found that the ice crystals in anvil cirrus over south Florida are smaller and reflect light more effectively than most models assume. The results suggest that when the clouds are thick as they first form over the top of a thunderhead, they reflect substantially more light back into space than models currently show.”


The researchers also found, however, that the ice crystals carried nitric acid, which acted as antifreeze, so therefore allowing more water present as vapor.  Water vapor is the principal greenhouse gas.  In one case, the ice crystals were formed around dust from a plume that blew across the North Atlantic.  Again, this effect had not been accounted for in climate models.


Warming to Increase or Decrease Mortality Rates


Two recent studies on the relationship between warming and mortality rates have reached contradictory conclusions.  According to a report by the Columbia University Earth Institute, rising temperatures will increase mortality rates.  However, a University of Virginia study points out that, “Lives saved in conjunction with warm winters do tend to offset the additional deaths associated with warmer conditions in July and August.” 


The Columbia University report by members of the New York Climate and Health Project examines linkages between climate change and problems such as ozone pollution and heat-related stresses and estimates that heat-related mortality in New York City could more than triple by the 2080s.  Researchers “down-scaled” global climate change models to make predictions for regional areas.  In contrast, the U. Va. study by Robert Davis and colleagues used temperature data in 28 major U.S. cities to find that “temperature currently does not have a major influence on monthly mortality rates in US cities.” 


The discrepancy between the two studies can likely be explained by the Columbia study’s using global climate models to forecast regional impacts, a practice that is widely discredited in the scientific community.  For example, in an article about a conference on regional climate modeling in Lund, Sweden, Nature magazine, reported (Apr. 8) that, “Participants admitted privately that the immediate benefits of regional climate modeling have been oversold in such exercises as the Clinton Administration’s US regional climate assessment” (the National Assessment on Climate Change).  The magazine also summarized participant’s beliefs that, “Policy makers’ expectations of precise local regional projections need to be dampened down.”  The use of real-world data rather than dubious extrapolations from models suggests that the U. Va. study is closer to the truth.  (Greenwire, June 22).


Climate Models Fail to Predict Monsoon Patterns


A recent study in the April edition of Quaternary Science Reviews found that Indian Ocean monsoon patterns do not follow the variations predicted by global climate models.  In fact, the Indian Ocean monsoon rainfall patterns elicited the exact opposite variations predicted by the models.


Traditionally, climate models predict that a rise in the Earth’s temperature coincides with a significant increase in the rainfall patterns in the Indian Ocean area.  However, the study found that Indian Ocean monsoon rainfall has not only declined dramatically during the recent global temperature increase, but also declined during past periods of warming. 


By developing high-resolution stable isotope records from three contemporaneously-deposited stalagmites located in a shallow cave in Southern Oman, the research team, led by Dominik Fleitmann of the Institute of Geological Sciences at the University of Bern, examined the rainfall patterns in the region over the past 780 years.  They found that throughout the past eight centuries the relationship between monsoon rainfall and climate contradicted the results of global climate prediction models.


The researchers specifically pointed to a major temperature spike that began in the early 1400s as further evidence.  The abrupt warming (and following cooling period) created an initial decline in rainfall followed by a subsequent increase.  A review of this report can be found on




The George C. Marshall Institute has published a pamphlet entitled, “Climate Models: A Primer,” by William O’Keefe and Jeff Kueter, the Institute’s President and Executive Director respectively.  It may be found on the web at




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