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TRUTH-BASED  POLICY?

March 2009 (vol. 25, #3)

At the Heartland Institute's Second International Conference on Climate Change in New York City, March 2009, Ross McKitrick proposed to call the cap-and-trade bluff with a truth-based system.

       Once cap and trade is in place, “recipients of the cartel profits will be a powerful lobby opposing any removal of the system, no matter how much damage it does,” he said, even if the CO2-caused warming is totally debunked. 

       Governments are starting to see cap-and-trade as a source of revenue. The proposed Obama budget expects an initial $78.7 billion to swell to $646 billion by 2019. Some $15 billion/y of the windfall would subsidize “green” en­ergy– which will become more economical (by comparison) as the price of carbon-based fuels soars. Some of the rest could fund a tax “rebate” to non-taxpayers, a new entitlement of perhaps $800–that could help offset a $4,000 loss in purchasing power from spreading increased energy costs through the economy.

       Looking at UN IPCC “hindcasts” and projections, McKitrick proposes tying the carbon cap to changes in the mean temperature of the tropical troposphere, where UN IPCC models consistently predict concentrated, rapid warming.

       His proposed formula:

CAP(t+1)=CAP(t) + 0.013 - (Tchange×0.61),

where CAP(t) is the emissions cap at time t, and Tchange is the observed change per year in the mean temperature in the tropical troposphere.

       If the UN IPCC mid-range projection is true, then the cap should fall 35% by 2030. If the Stern worst-case scenario is true, the cap should fall 95% by 2030. If there is no trend, the cap should grow by 1.3% per year, the rate at which U.S. emissions would rise in the absence of regulation. If the tropical troposphere starts cooling, the cap would rise faster.

       Everyone should like this, says McKitrick, because everyone gets his preferred outcome. If you're right, you can get rich. If everyone expects rising permit prices, and skeptics know they're wrong, they can short the permits market and go long in emissions-intensive industry. If everyone expects falling permit prices, and alarmists know they're wrong, they can go long on permits and short emissions-intensive industry.

       The market would also fund good forecasting–no more need for federal grants for climate models.

       The only people who could dislike this proposal, McKitrick says, are liars, or anyone who “secretly believes that global warming is a crock, but who wants a cap-and-trade system anyway”–because of a desire to cash in, a hatred of Western industrial civilization, or a mistaken belief that such a system would create wealth. Another possibility is some who secretly believe global warming is a crisis but want to forestall emissions reductions to cash in on hydrocarbon energy, or because “they hate the planet anyway.”

       Warmers who really believe their own rhetoric should support truth-based cap and trade.

       Think of the applications of truth-based public policy in other areas: say program funding based on outcomes (reduction in poverty, improved health, energy efficiency, etc.).

Truth in Consequences

       Other Heartland speakers elaborated on the consequences of emissions reductions. The “cost of accomplishing nothing” –a theoretical temperature difference of 0.1 C—0.2 C by 2100–by a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions would be a $5 trillion reduction in GDP by 2030, estimated David Kreutzer. Lieberman-Warner, a far milder proposal rejected by the Senate, would have inflicted as much economic damage as 30 hurricanes per year, compared with the normal two.

       The new Clean Air Act definition of a pollutant, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, is “anything emitted into the air.” That means flatulence, frisbees, and the output of catalytic converters that clean the air, said Marlo Lewis. EPA regulation of CO2 as a pollutant is the world's largest anti-stimulus package, he said. Legislative thuggery might use the threat of the resulting economic trainwreck as an extortion tool to get less damaging cap and trade.

       Spain is Obama's favorite example of real investment in renewable energy, stated Gabriel Calzada. Its emissions have increased 40% since Kyoto. For every “green” job created, 2.3 jobs are destroyed. The stainless steel industry is being exported to South Africa and Kentucky to avoid blackouts and increased energy costs. New “green” employees are quickly fired, as the only jobs are in installation, and are thus unsustainable.

       The recession in Spain is not as bad as it might be, writes Emma Ross-Thomas, because of the rapid expansion of the underground economy, which should reach nearly 20% of GDP this year. This “safety net,” which “allows people to earn, to live” helps prevent social unrest (Bloomberg News 4/10/09).

       The Dutch government plans to repeal the “eco tax” of from 11 to 45 euros on air passenger tickets. It was supposed to raise $395 million in revenue per year, but the cost to the economy was projected to be $1.7 billion. The number of locally boarding passengers at Europe's fifth largest airport fell 17.7% (Green Air News 4/6/09).

       A UN “information note” envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, redistributing trillions of dollars worth of wealth (Fox News 3/27/09). Developing nations are demanding $140 billion/yr ($1,900/ U.S. family) as the price of cooperation with emissions controls (Wall St J 4/3/09).

       At the Heartland Conference, Benny Peiser said China wants 175 billion Euros/yr for “adaptation.” Economic stress is ending the “green age” in Europe, he believes.

       Many recordings and PowerPoint presentations from the conference are freely available at www.heartland.org.

 

Cost-free Bailout

       The economy may be controlled by financial institutions, but it is powered by energy, writes Norm Kalmanovitch to Peiser (CCNet 4/7/09). Unless energy is bailed out, trillions to financial institutions will fail to reverse economic decline. Energy could be bailed out without taxpayer cost: simply force the IPCC to admit that there is no physical basis for reducing CO2, and that the money poured into costly CO2 initiatives should go into coal and nuclear, to reduce the cost of energy.

 

Energy Equivalents

1 kWh = 0.0036 gigajoules (GJ)

1 barrel oil   6 GJ   1667 kWh

Electricity produced by a (Chinese) coal-fired plant costs about 2 cents/kWh, equivalent to oil at $33.34/barrel.

Electricity produced by wind turbines costs > 10 cents/kWh, equivalent to oil at $166.67/barrel (Kalmanovitch, op. cit.)

Hydro pumped storage, the best method we have for storing excess power when the wind is blowing, costs $1,500/ kW, and requires two very large storage lakes, one 700 m higher than the other; losses are 25%. “All promoters of renewable energy ignore the need for storage” (B Leyland (CCNet 4/2/09).

 

National Teach-in on Global Warming

          “Solutions for the First 100 Days”–proposed by students and educators for teaching legislators–include:

 Make “concrete policy recommendations” e.g. create millions of green jobs: “weatherize, solarize, and rewire the nation.”

 Tape the walls of the high-school gym with blue tape to show sea-level rise.

 Charge students a few dollars each to take a couple of good whacks with a sledgehammer at a donated SUV or other inefficient vehicle, and spray paint the car with messages or pictures about the climate crisis.

 Hold a movie marathon with such classics as An Inconvenient Truth or The Day After Tomorrow. During intermission, write letters to politicians (www.nationalteachin.org).

         “The do-or-die fight over carbon caps and reductions will finally be live in the U.S. Congress in spring 2010.”

 

Antarctic Warming: Mann-Made Climate Change

          Hockey-stick inventor Michael Mann, who previously managed to obliterate the Medieval Climate Optimum, is among the authors of the cover article (a “letter”) in the Jan 22 issue of Nature. They used “statistical climate-field recons­truction techniques” to show that Antarctica has really been warming over the past 50 years–d­espite actual observations that show cooling (Nature 2009;457:459-463).

         Lord Christopher Monckton explains how “Warming Freezes the Southern Ocean” in a January 2009 article posted at www.scienceandpublicpolicy.org. Among the real-world events that discredit the authors' “statistical prestidigitation” is the environmental damage caused by about 2 C cooling. (The authors cite the paper that describes it: Doran et al. Antarctic climate cooling and terrestrial ecosystem response. Nature 2002; 415:517-520). Additionally, sea ice surrounding the continent has been growing slightly, reaching a record level in 2007.

         While five computer models predict a long-term warming trend, temperature observations show no trend in Antarctic temperatures over the last century, until recently, when they began falling sharply. One can possibly “show” an upward trend only by starting with a trough in 1950.

         Even Kevin Trenberth, lead UN IPCC author, who is harshly critical of dissenters, is “somewhat skeptical,” noting that “it is hard to make data where none exist.”

          “Just as Al Gore was testifying before the Senate–during an ice-storm–that we face a ‘climate crisis,’ global temperatures plummeted still more. They have been plummeting at a rate equivalent to 11 F per century throughout the 4 years since Gore launched his...movie” (Monckton 3/10/09, www.heartla­nd.org).

 

What If the WAIS Melts?

          If the entire Western Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, worldwide sea levels would rise 15 ft. According to a computer model of ice sheet growth and collapse over 5 million years, this would occur when the waters beneath the fringing ice shelves warm by at least 7 F. At its fastest, this would take thousands of years, with a pace of no more than 1.5 ft per century (SEPP Science Editorial, TWTW 3/21/09, www.sep­p. org, referring to Nature 2009;458;322-328, 329-332).

 

Artificial Cooling Contemplated

          Obama science advisor John Holdren proposes, as a “last resort,” injecting pollutants into the atmosphere to mimic the cooling effect of a volcano. This long-marginalized idea was suggested by Lowell Wood and Edward Teller (CDP July 2007). Also suggested are giant artificial trees to remove atmospheric CO2, locking it up in the ground instead of turning it into wood or food (AP 4/9/09). [There is no actual evidence that the latter proposal would cool the earth.]

 

The Cost of Green Jobs

          In 2007, renewable energy workers were about half as productive as workers in the oil and gas sector (9.31 billion BTU per worker vs. 18.57) at twice the cost ($25.26 labor cost per barrel of oil equivalent vs. $12.66). Because green jobs would face diminishing returns, “green” workers are expected to be only 15% as productive, at more than six times the cost, by 2020 (Fraser Forum, March 2009). Similarly, it takes more workers to dig a ditch with a shovel than with a backhoe.

 

Earth Hour Celebrates Darkness

          In a symbolic gesture, the Forces of Darkness, which are trying to end an age of enlightenment and reason, urged people to turn off their lights for ­an hour between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. local time. Driving between Tucson and Phoenix, I heard four California radio stations (still broadcasting) report favorably on the event. Bjorn Lomberg calculated that if 1 billion people turned off their lights for 1 hour, it would have been the equivalent of shutting off China's emissions for a full 6 seconds. Downtown Phoenix remained brightly lit.

 

Women in the U.S. Military

          Despite Dept. of Defense policy against women in combat, they see combat in Iraq daily. More than 30,000 will return from war in 2009. Nearly a third report being raped by their comrades, and 75% report a sexual assault. The mortar rounds did less damage to her than the men, said one veteran. Of new recruits, 16% to 29% are women (Columbia, Spring 2009).

 

Resources for Truth Teaching

Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Reliable? by Anthony Watts, www.SurfaceStations.org.

The Skeptic's Handbook. www.joannenova.com.au.

“Understanding Visual Exhibits in the Global Warming Debate,” by Ronald J. Rychlak, Heartland Policy Study 115, March 2008. www.heartland.org.

Decision in Dimmock v. Secy State for Education and Skills (errors in Gore's movie, also at www.heartland.org).

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