Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Breath Tax

The rationale for the “Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009,” otherwise known as Cap and Trade, is that environmental catastrophe awaits us if we do not control the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) flowing into the atmosphere. This hysteria has been propelled by alarmists using computer models to predict (not to prove) that what-used-to-be-called-Global-Warming-before-it-became-clear-that-the-earth-is-cooling-so-it-is-now-called-Climate Change is caused by man made emissions of carbon dioxide.

The scam–ur uhm–I mean the idea works like this: government will set a limit on the amount of CO2 companies may produce. Companies will then be forced to purchase emissions permits for every ton of CO2 produced. Companies that exceed their limits will be able to purchase or trade for additional permits with companies that emit less than their allotted cap. Waxman-Markey seeks an “80 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050”? And a “100 percent auction to ensure every ton of carbon is paid for.”

While supporters of Cap and Trade attempt to direct our attention to large-scale carbon emitters in the coal and oil industries make no mistake; the repercussions from this tax will be felt in every American household.

The Congressional Budget Office noted that cutting carbon emissions just 15% would result in customers facing “persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline. Those price increases would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would.” This conclusion is echoed by the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, which further determined that Waxman-Markey will reduce GDP by $9.6 trillion, increase the federal debt by 26%, kill 1.1 million jobs, increase peak year unemployment to 2.5 million workers and raise the energy bill paid by a typical family by about $1,500 annually. Of course what is a little economic hardship if it means saving the sky from falling?

Every day new scientific discoveries emerge calling into question the computer models on which this carbon hysteria is based. Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA’s Langley Research Center realized the models rely on mathematical equations derived more than 80 years ago. These differential equations ignore proper boundary conditions and assume an atmosphere that is infinitely thick. Miskolczi derived a new solution using the proper boundary conditions (the atmosphere is 65 miles thick) and voila! no more global warming.

There is also a new study conducted by the university of Wisconsin and the US National oceanic and atmospheric administration, which concludes that 70% of the sharp temperature rise in the North Atlantic over the last 30 years is due to dust blowing out to sea from the deserts of North Africa – A small detail the computer models failed to account for.

What is more remarkable is that, even assuming some human component, if Waxman-Markey meets all its goals of reducing carbon emissions, the EPA calculates that the impact on world temperature would be no more than two-tenths of a degree Celsius at the end of the century. Found here. That is a lot of pain for very little gain.

But Global warming is not about science it is about politics and this administrations choice to ignore facts is about a political means to social control. The President’s own lawyers admit as much.

Three weeks ago Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) produced a white house memo to the EPA that, in his words, repeatedly suggests “a lack of scientific support for this proposed finding” [that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health]. Barrasso then quoted directly from the document, “making the decision to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the US economy, including small businesses and small communities.” If that’s not change you can believe in I don’t know what is.

There is an old joke that if the government could it would tax the very air that we breathe. As social commentary Waxman-Markey’s assumption that we can save the planet by taxing CO2 – a substance every human being emits with every breath taken–is absurd indeed. It’s also an old joke that is not very funny.



The successor to the Kyoto Protocol will be negotiated in large part at the United Nations Climate Change Conference hosted in Copenhagen this December, and as such the lobbying, horsetrading and politicking has already begun in earnest. Judging by the early entries, the theme seems to be Massive Estimates of Death.

The St James's Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium last week compared global warming to all-out nuclear war. Meanwhile, the Global Humanitarian Forum, headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, released a 103-page report ('Anatomy of a Silent Crisis') estimating that 'every year climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead, 325 million people seriously affected, and economic losses of US $125 billion.'

These are genuinely alarming, sit-up-and-pay attention sort of figures. The problem is that once you've sat up and paid attention enough to examine them a bit more closely, you find that the means by which the figures were arrived at isn't very compelling. Referring to the 300,000 souls, page 1 of the reports states: 'These figures represent averages based on projected trends over many years and carry a significant margin of error. The real numbers could be lower or higher...' before going on to say, 'These already alarming figures may prove too conservative.' Or not, as the case may be.

Later, in the section entitled 'Attribution of weather-related disasters to climate change', it says 'there is not yet any widely accepted global estimate of the share of weather-related disasters that are attributable to climate change' before going on to make one up by the unusual expedient of using earthquake disasters as a proxy for the weather. (See page 86 for the full explanation.)

This is just a snapshot, but it's fairly representative. The report contains so many extrapolations derived from guesswork based on estimates inferred from unsuitable data sets that you have to ask some serious questions about the methodology. Cryptically, Mr Annan states in the introduction: 'Humanity is facing a rare challenge. But it is a common challenge.' Like the report itself, you know what he's driving at, but have to ask yourself if there wasn't a better way of putting it.



Roger Pielke, Jr.

Last week I was very critical of a report issued by the Global Humanitarian Forum, run by Kofi Annan former Secretary General of the United Nations. Over the weekend I see that Annan described the report as not being a scientific study:
The research was carried out by Dalberg Global Advisers, a consultancy firm, who collated all existing statistics on the human impacts of climate change. The report acknowledges a "significant margin of error" in its estimates. Mr Annan said the report could never be as rigorous as a scientific study, but said: "We feel it is the most plausible account of the current impact of climate change today."

Why can't the work produced by the GHF be "as rigorous as a scientific study"? Well, one answer is that scientific studies on this topic simply don't give the desired answers. But if it is not a "scientific study" then what is it?

Keith Kloor who is a Scripps Journalism Fellow here at CU at the Center for Environmental Journalism comments on the excellent reporting by Andy Revkin on the report, as compared to the rest of the overly credulous media which essentially reprinted the GHF press release without obtaining any other perspectives. Keith also noted the absolute silence in the blogosphere on the report:
so far, the questionable assertions and exaggerated nature of the Global Humanitarian Forum report have gone unremarked on by environmental bloggers and pundits. Nobody from this side of the spectrum has accused the press of being stenographers, that's for sure.

Of course, if it was George Will making a few dodgy claims the blogosphere would erupt in a collective fit of indignation. But dodgy numbers about the impacts of climate change? Yawn.

Perhaps one reason for this can be found in the comments of Andrew Freedman, who blogs at the Washington Post, who seems to suggest that the accuracy and truth aren't really what matter so much here, it is getting lined up behind the proper politics:
. . . as policymakers increasingly consider taking major steps to address climate change, it is becoming more important for experts to detail how climate change is already affecting human populations, and whether it poses a truly mortal threat now or sometime in the future. Whether or not any death can be said to have been 'caused by' climate change is debatable, but the message that climate change may already be adding stress to society, particularly in the developing world, is well-established.

The methodology of the Global Humanitarian Forum's report may not be something to replicate, but the general aim of bringing the human toll from climate change into a clearer focus should be.

So it appears that Freedman is saying - Well at least the folks at GHF tried, and if they made a few mistakes, it is OK because it shows both their commitment to the issue and helps to bring the threat of climate change into clearer focus. To the extent that this view is shared, it explains both the credulity of the media and lack of critique in the blogosphere on the GHF report. More broadly, this attitude explains a lot of the collective behavior seen on the climate issue displayed by the intelligentsia.


A small thought about climate change

We've just had a crowd of Nobel Laureates telling us all how urgent is the need to do something about climate change. And we've also just had a group of not scientists telling us that hundreds of thousands are already dying from the effects. That latter used some, umm, creative methods to reach that conclusion, for I was previously entirely unaware that earthquakes were indeed caused by climate change.

However, this leads to me to ponder a little on what Lord Stern told us. That was that we could sort this all out for the remarkably low price of 1-2% of GDP, spent year by year over the next few decades. Given the size of the UK economy this means some £14 billion to £28 billion a year. And we're also told that this amount should be used to correct the price system, so that matters currently external to the markets become internal to the pricing system. This so called Pigou taxation.

This makes sense, I have to say, as the amount of damage, by Lord Stern's figures again, done by Britain's emissions are again in this sort of range: £14 billion to £28 billion.

Now whether I actually swallow all of these numbers is a different matter, but let's take them at the logic of their proponents. We know the problem, we know how to solve it, we know how much the problem costs and we know how much the solution costs. Excellent.

But, but....well, how much are we already paying in such green taxes? That depends a little on exactly how you want to calculate what is a green tax but adding up landfill tax, air passenger duty, the petrol tax rises from the fuel duty escalator and so on we get to a figure of....£14 billion to £28 billion again. Which means that, by the logic of the Stern Review, we've actually already solved climate change.

No, not even I think that to be actually correct, as Lord Stern himself doesn't. For he keeps telling us that we must do much more, much more quickly, in order to solve the problem, as those Nobel Laureates were also telling us last week.

Which, sadly, leaves us with one inescapable conclusion. We're not going to crack this at that low cost of 1-2% of GDP per year over the decades. It's going to be much much more expensive than that: which means we really need to reopen the calculations of whether we want to stop climate change or would prefer to adapt to it.



With a sigh of relief, no doubt

Thousands of delegates from 180 countries are meeting in Bonn to parley, once again, about ailing measures to protect the climate. Time is short: in December, a new deal is supposed to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

So far, however, the twelve-day conference has failed to agree on key issues. Environmental and development organizations blame the impasse on the industrialised countries. Issues of contention are new and more ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions from industrialised nations and a possible contribution of so-called emerging countries.

The draft text for Copenhagen proposes, among other things, that the industrialised countries cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by 25-40% 2020 compared to 1990. The EU has agreed a cut of up to 30 percent. The new U.S. president Barack Obama has only proposed that the United States would reduced their emissions to 1990 levels.

Sigmar Gabriel, the German environment minister blames the deadlock on industrialized and developing countries alike. "They continue to play Mikado," he says. "Everyone says they'll lose if they move first." Until now, not even medium-term goals have been narrowed down. According to Gabriel, a reduction of 15 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, as discussed by the U.S. Congress, is far behind the demands by the IPCC.

EU climate targets under threat

Poorer countries, on the other hand, are categorically opposed to any obligatory emissions cuts. Even the question what level of assistance they expect from the developed world has not been seriously discussed yet. Gabriel warns that the prevailing deadlock is jeopardising the EU's own climate targets. The EU agreed last December to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. "If the others don't join in, we cannot uphold this target."

SOURCE [In German. transl. BJP]


By Dr. Tim Ball

"The reason universities are so full of knowledge is students come with so much and they leave with so little." Marshall McLuhan

Business is business.

Bjorn Lomborg criticized businesses for taking advantage of the 'green' opportunities available because governments have bought the message that human CO2 is causing global warming. He talks about a "Climate-Industrial Complex" comparing it with the "Military-Industrial Complex" that President Eisenhower warned about.

I partially agree with Lomborg's concern that, "Spending a fortune on global carbon regulations will benefit a few, but dearly cost everybody else." Why partially? His use of the word carbon is scientifically incorrect, and I don't agree with his belief global warming or climate change are problems. I have no sympathy with his claim that some businesses are exploiting Cap and Trade opportunities. Of course they are. Almost every business is taking advantage of the green hysteria; it is what business is all about. Business is about making money and I have no difficulty with that. What angers me is the hypocrisy of businesses that claim they're acting to stop warming or save the planet. Rubbish, they're doing it for profit. They couldn't do it for long if they lost money. (Government bailouts aside.)

Business is not the problem, except when exploited for personal gain by politicians like Al Gore. The real threat is the Political - Academic - Climate Complex. Climate research funded by taxpayers is being exploited by academics to advance their careers with virtually no accountability and all within unassailable mostly taxpayer funded institutions.

Academic Business

A dramatic change in the role of academia has occurred. It portends a loss of independent thought and political control of education at the highest level. It also creates academics who will produce research to support politicians who may ensure their funding. Congressman Waxman's comment that he didn't understand his own Cap and Trade bill but just listened to the scientists is disturbing on many levels.

If he doesn't understand the science he won't know if they're telling the truth, but then it isn't about the truth. It is about political agendas and the new academia, the power base of these scientists, is the best place to find that message.

Independence to Elitism

Universities are medieval institutions being dragged kicking and screaming into the 18th century. Go to convocation and see them dressed up in Elizabethan robes and hats. In England in the Middle Ages, universities were involved in "town and gown" fights as they physically fought with citizens but also sought non-interference. Most of this occurred in university towns, but the result was universities everywhere championed non-interference. Despite this, most still expect 'townies' to pay the bill almost without question. They have used the banner of independence to make themselves elitist and unaccountable while they produce mostly useless research. The phrase 'it is purely academic' means it is irrelevant to the real world.

They are elitist because they have very narrowly defined intelligence. As Claus Moser said, "For hundreds of years Britain has been brilliant at educating an elite; the problem is the other eighty percent." That eighty percent has many other forms of abilities and intelligence that are usually more beneficial to society. Little of any consequence comes from academic research most of which is done to advance the individual within the system, not to benefit the world. Very few, including the academics, read the hundreds of academic journals turned out every year. They are intellectually incestuous because everyone in academia is a product of the academy. They only allow graduation when a person is indoctrinated. Hiring, promotions and tenure are all controlled by the academics. Committees dominated by academics determine everyone in management from Presidents to Deans. The prisoners are running the prison and the wardens are promoted prisoners.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


1 comment:

Joseph said...

That eighty percent has many other forms of abilities and intelligence that are usually more beneficial to society.

That sounds like Howard Gardner somehow...