Last night on “Special Report with Bret Baier”, columnist Charles Krauthammer questioned the “settled science” of global warming — an issue that is currently driving the President’s agenda.
In a clip discovered by The Daily Caller, Krauthammer rails against the notion of “settled science,” noting that Isaac Newton’s laws were settled for 200 years before Albert Einstein turned them over.
Speaking about the economic effects of climate change, Krauthammer noted that “all of this is driven by this ideology, which in it of itself is a matter of almost theology
EPA Video Contest Teaches Budding Child-Activists to Worry About 'Climate Change'
The Environmental Protection Agency is co-sponsoring a "climate change video contest" that asks students, ages 11-14:" Why do you care about climate change?" And: "How are you reducing carbon pollution or preparing for the impacts of climate change?"
Students are advised to "be cool" and "be creative" in explaining "how climate change affects you, your family, friends, and community, now or in the future" -- and what they are doing to "prepare for a changing climate."
The Obama administration frequently uses video contests or "challenges" to advance its liberal viewpoint on a variety of issues, and this is no exception.
The climate-change videos may be up to two minutes long, and the top three winning entries will get prizes that can only be described as environmentally correct:
The first-place winner gets a solar-paneled backpack, which charges electronic devices; the second place prize is a "pulse jump rope" that generates enough energy to charge cell phones; and the third place prize is a "Soccket Soccer Ball," which turns kinetic energy from play into electrical energy that can be used to power small devices.
The prizes were selected and purchased by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), which is co-sponsoring the video contest with the EPA.
NEEF says students should read its "facts" on climate change before getting started on their videos.
Those "facts" include the following statements:
-- The signs of climate change are all around us (higher temperatures, wilder weather, rising sea level, more droughts, changing rain and snow patterns).
-- The climate you will inherit as adults will be different from your parents’ and grandparents’ climate.
-- Reducing carbon pollution, and preparing for the changes that are already underway, is key to solving climate change and reducing the risks we face in the future.
-- A major way carbon pollution gets into the atmosphere is when people burn coal, oil, and natural gas for energy.
The tip page also recommends "small actions" students can take to reduce carbon pollution; "[W]alking to school, smart energy use, and smart water use, can add up to big reductions in carbon pollution over time," it says.
Students are invited to determine their carbon footprint using NEEF's online calculator. And, in a possible prelude to future activism, they're urged to consider if their communities, cities, or states are taking action to reduce carbon pollution.
In a "note for teachers," NEEF says, "This video contest would make a great project for your middle-school class."
The National Environmental Education Foundation was chartered by Congress in 1990 to advance environmental knowledge. It describes itself as a "complementary organization" to the EPA, which leverages private support for EPA's mission.
Obama on Keystone Pipeline: ‘We Only Have One Planet’
President Obama conceded Wednesday that the lengthy process of evaluating whether to move ahead with the Keystone XL oil pipeline was probably viewed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as “a little too laborious” but added that economic growth had to be balanced against environmental concerns, as “we only have one planet.”
In a speech last June Obama said that he would not approve the pipeline from Canada if the project would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
During a joint press conference with Harper - a strong supporter of Keystone – and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, a Canadian reporter recalled those words and noted that a State Department environmental review has found that the pipeline would not have a significant effect on climate change.
What more needed to be done, the reporter asked.
Obama said he recognized that the process had “been extensive – and at times, I’m sure Stephen feels, a little too laborious.”
Following the State Department review, federal agencies were now weighing in on the issue, their input would be evaluated by Secretary of State John Kerry – and “we’ll make a decision at that point.”
Obama said he and Harper after lunch Wednesday had “discussed a shared interest in working together around dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. And this is something that we have to deal with.”
“I said previously that how Keystone impacted greenhouse gas emissions would affect our decision. But frankly, it has to affect all of our decisions at this stage because the science is irrefutable,” he continued. “We’re already seeing severe weather patterns increase.
“That has consequences for our businesses, for our jobs, for our families, for safety and security. It has the potential of displacing people in ways that we cannot currently fully anticipate and will be extraordinarily costly. So I welcome the work that we can do together with Canada.”
Obama said the economic growth fueled by fossil fuel reserves had to be balanced against environmental concerns.
“One of the wonderful things about North America is we have this amazing bounty of traditional fossil fuels, and we also have extraordinary businesses that are able to extract them in very efficient ways – and that’s something we should welcome because it helps to promote economic growth,” he said. “But we only have one planet.”
British Offshore wind farm scrapped due to fears over birds
Plans to extend the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, the London Array in the Thames estuary, have been scrapped due to fears it would harm seabirds, in the latest blow to the government’s hopes for the industry.
In further setbacks on Wednesday, another massive project was scaled back and a leading executive suggested that turbines were unlikely to be manufactured in the UK under current policy - raising fears that overseas firms will remain the main beneficiaries of Britain’s heavily-subsidised industry.
London Array was opened last summer, with 175 turbines sprawling an area of almost 40 square miles off the Kent coast and generating up to 630 megawatts (MW) of power – enough to power 500,000 homes.
Developers had been planning a second phase that would deliver more than 200MW of power, with an estimated 56 new turbines across a further 15 square miles.
But London Array said on Wednesday it was abandoning the plan because of concern over the impact on the red-throated diver, a bird classified as rare or vulnerable by the European Commission.
A large population of the birds spends winter in the area around the wind farm, which has been deemed a special protection area.
The planned extension had already been scaled back from original 370MW plans because of concern for the species.
London Array said it would have taken at least three years to accurately assess the impact on the birds from the current turbines and that “although initial findings from the existing Phase 1 site look positive, there is no guarantee at the end of three years that we will be able to satisfy the authorities that any impact on the birds would be acceptable”.
Separately, another company, Forewind, said it was scaling back by a fifth its planned Dogger Bank developments off the coast of Yorkshire.
It was now working on plans for six separate wind farms to be built in the area rather than eight, reducing the capacity from 9 GW to 7.2GW.
A spokesman said the decision was in order to be “more aligned with government targets” and to focus on those that were closest to going ahead.
Ministers say they want between 8GW and 15GW built by 2020, up from 3.6GW now, and suggest a total of about 10GW is most likely.
However, they have refused to say how much they expect to be built after 2020, with officials yesterday insisting only that it was not “credible” to suggest no more would be built and that there was a “pipeline” of almost 43GW in development.
Forewind's spokesman said: “If you look at the pipeline in the UK, if they all went ahead it would far exceed the targets the government has set for offshore wind.”
The projects Forewind has scrapped would not have been built until after 2020. However, she said: “If you extrapolate that [2020 ambition] then unless there is a significant difference in the government ambition [thereafter] it would be surplus to those requirements”.
She said the projects scrapped were also furthest from shore so probably most expensive to build.
Energy minister Michael Fallon trumpeted Britain’s status as “the world leader” in offshore wind, with more turbines running off the coast of the UK than the rest of Europe combined.
But critics warn that it is not clear the technology, which currently receives billions of pounds in subsidies, can ever become commercially viable and point out few other countries want to pursue offshore wind to the same extent as Britain.
Just one-tenth of the £2bn cost of the first part of London Array was spent in the UK but ministers aim to increase that to 50pc for future projects.
A series of manufacturers have set out plans for turbine factories in the UK but none has yet materialised.
Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer of ScottishPower and co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) said it was hard to put a figure on how many wind farms might be built after 2020, especially as there was a huge question over “how much offshore wind does the government want?”.
He said: “They have not said a number after 2020. If you are sitting in the supply chain as a turbine manufacturer, an investor in a port facility, or someone looking at building vessels for shipping and cabling, then the longer out those targets go the better and more helpful it is.
“I suspect if you were looking to build a turbine factory you want to know there is a reasonable length of time in terms of orders coming through. For a supply chain company to make that investment they need to have enough confidence that industry going to keep on growing.”
Officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change said the level built would depend on how much the industry reduced its costs but said it was "natural" that some projects would be scrapped.
Ministers have set a target that projects that start generating in the early 2020s should have a total cost of £100 per megawatt-hour – about twice the current market price of power, with the difference subsidised through levies on consumer energy bills.
The benefits of using carbon fuels are far greater than their (largely imaginary) costs
The Environmental Protection Agency, other government agencies and various scientists contend that fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming and climate change. They use this claim to justify repressive regulations for automobiles, coal-fired power plants and other facilities powered by hydrocarbon energy.
Because these rules are costing millions of jobs and billions of dollars, a federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) devised the “social cost of carbon” concept (SCC) – which attaches arbitrary monetary values to the alleged impacts of using hydrocarbons and emitting carbon dioxide. SCC estimates represent the supposed monetized damages associated with incremental increases in “carbon pollution” in a given year.
With little publicity, debate or public input, in 2010 the IWG set the cost at $22 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. Then, in 2013 (again with little notice), it arbitrarily increased the SCC to $36/ton, enabling agencies to proclaim massive, unacceptable damages from “carbon,” and enormous benefits from their regulations. Recently, the Department of Energy used the $36 formula to justify proposed standards for microwave ovens, cell phone chargers and laptops!
The SCC allows unelected bureaucrats to wildly amplify the alleged impacts of theoretical manmade climate disasters, exaggerate the supposed benefits of rules, minimize their costs, and ignore the value to society of the facility, activity or product they want to regulate. That is exactly what is happening.
Fundamental flaws in the SCC concept and process make the agencies’ analyses – and proposed rulemakings – questionable, improper, and even fraudulent and illegal. A new Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI) analysis examines this in detail.
1) Executive Order 12866 requires that federal agencies “assess both the costs and the benefits of the intended regulation and, recognizing that some costs and benefits are difficult to quantify, propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs.” (EO 12866 was issued by President Clinton in 1993.) A recent Office of Management and Budget statement notes that careful consideration of both costs and benefits is important in determining whether a regulation is worth implementing at all. Indeed, any valid and honest benefit-cost (B-C) analysis likewise requires that agencies consider both the benefits and the costs of carbon-based fuels and carbon dioxide emissions.
Thus far, the EPA and other government agency analyses, press releases and regulatory proposals have highlighted only the alleged costs of carbon-based fuels and their supposed effects on climate change. They have never even mentioned the many clear benefits associated with those fuels and emissions.
2) EPA claims the government is “committed to updating the current estimates, as the science and economic understanding of climate change and its impacts on society improve over time.” Given the Obama Administration’s history and agenda, it is highly likely that SCC values will only increase in forthcoming updates – with literally trillions of dollars at stake.
3) The IWG methodology for developing SCC estimates is so infinitely flexible, so devoid of any rigorous standards, that it could produce almost any estimates that any agency might desire. For example, its computer models are supposed to combine climate processes, economic growth, and feedbacks between the climate and the global economy, into a single modeling framework.
However, only limited research links climate impacts to economic damages, and much of it is speculative, at best. Even the IWG admits that the exercise is subject to “simplifying assumptions and judgments, reflecting the various modelers’ best attempts to synthesize the available scientific and economic research characterizing these relationships.” [emphasis added] Each model uses a different approach to translate global warming into damages; transforming economic damages over time into a single value requires “judgments” about how to discount them; and federal officials have been highly selective in choosing which “available scientific and economic research” they will utilize. As objective outside analysts have concluded, this process is “close to useless.”
4) The differences in the 2010 and 2013 SCC estimates are so large, and of such immense potential significance, as to raise serious questions regarding their integrity and validity – especially since, prior to 2010, the “official” government estimate for carbon costs was zero!
Finally, and most importantly, the agencies hypothesize almost every conceivable carbon “cost” – to agriculture, forestry, water resources, “forced migration” of people and wildlife, human health and disease, coastal cities, ecosystems and wetlands. But they completely ignore every one of the obvious and enormous benefits of using fossil fuels … and of emitting carbon dioxide! Just as incredibly, they have done this in complete disregard of EO 12866 … and the OMB ruling that careful consideration of both costs and benefits is important in determining whether a regulation is worth implementing at all. Had they followed the law and B-C rules, they would have found that:
Hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide benefits outweigh the cost by as much as 500 to 1!
In other words, the costs of EPA and other restrictions on fossil fuel use exceed their benefits by 50:1 (using the 2013 SCC of $36/ton of CO2) or even 500:1 (using the 2010 SCC of $22/ton). The entire process is obviously detrimental to American lives, jobs, living standards, health and welfare. Yet it is being imposed in the name of preventing highly speculative “dangerous manmade climate change.”
The successful development and utilization of fossil fuels facilitated successive industrial revolutions, launched the modern world, created advanced technological societies, and enabled the high quality of life that many now take for granted. Over the past 200 years, primarily because of hydrocarbon energy, people’s health and living standards soared, global life expectancy more than doubled, human population increased eight-fold, and average incomes increased eleven-fold, economist Indur Goklany calculates.
Comparing world GDP and CO2 emissions over the past century shows a strong and undeniable relationship between world GDP and the CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. In fact, the fossil fuels that provide the vast bulk of the world’s total energy needs – and from which CO2 is an essential byproduct – are creating $60 trillion to $70 trillion per year in world GDP! That relationship will almost certainly continue for the foreseeable future. Today, 81% of the world’s energy is from fossil fuels. For at least the next several decades, fossil fuels will continue to supply 75-80% of global energy.
That means any reductions in United States fossil fuel use or carbon dioxide emissions will be almost imperceptible amidst the world’s huge and rapidly increasing levels of both. In fact, the World Resources Institute says 59 nations are already planning to build more than 1,200 new coal-fired power plants – on top of what those nations and Germany, Poland and other developed nations are already building
However, hydrocarbon use has also helped raise atmospheric concentrations from about 320 ppm carbon dioxide to nearly 400 ppm (from 0.032% of the atmosphere to 0.040%). The Obama Administration (wrongly) regards this slight increase as “dangerous.” That is an erroneous, shortsighted perception that improperly ignores the enormous benefits of this increase in plant-fertilizing CO2.
Carbon dioxide truly is “the gas of life,” the basis of all life on Earth. It spurs plant growth, and enhances agricultural productivity. Plants use it to produce the organic matter out of which they construct their tissues, which subsequently become sources of fiber, building materials and food for humans and animals.
Carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by humans 1961-2011 increased global crop production by some $3.5 trillion, plant biologist and CO2 expert Craig Idso calculates. Human CO2 emissions will likely add $11.6 trillion in additional benefits between 2013 and 2050 – based on actual measurements of CO2-induced plant growth and crop production, not on computer models, Idso estimates.
Carbon dioxide benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the SCC – no matter which government reports are used. In fact, any estimate for “social costs of carbon” is hidden amid the statistical noise of CO2 benefits.
Prodigious amounts of fossil fuels are required to sustain future economic growth, especially in developing countries. If the world is serious about increasing economic growth, reducing energy deprivation, and increasing or maintaining living standards, fossil fuels are absolutely essential. Their benefits far outweigh any conceivable costs, and will continue to do so for decades to come.
These undeniable facts must form the foundation for energy, environmental and regulatory policies. Otherwise, regulations will be far worse than the harms they supposedly redress.
The Left Preaches the Great Apocalypse of Global Warming
This week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced to a group of Indonesian students that global warming was "perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction." He added, "Because of climate change, it's no secret that today Indonesia is ... one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth. It's not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk."
Meanwhile, Hollywood prepared to drop a new blockbuster based on the biblical story of Noah. The film, directed by Darren Aronofsky, centers on the story of the biblical character who built an ark after God warned him that humanity would be destroyed thanks to its sexual immorality and violent transgressions. The Hollywood version of the story, however, has God punishing humanity not for actual sin, but for overpopulation and global warming -- an odd set of sins, given God's express commandments in Genesis 1:28 to "be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it."
This weird perspective on sin -- the notion that true sin is not sin, but that consumerism is -- is actually nothing new. In the 1920s, the left warned of empty consumerism with the fire and brimstone of Jonathan Edwards; Sinclair Lewis famously labeled the American middle class "Babbitts" -- characters who cared too much about buying things.
In his novel of the same name, Lewis sneered of his bourgeois antihero, "He had enormous and poetic admiration, though very little understanding, of all mechanical devices. They were his symbols of truth and beauty." Lewis wrote, through the voice of his radical character Doane, that consumerism has created "standardization of thought, and of course, the traditions of competition. The real villains of the piece are the clean, kind, industrious Family Men who use every known brand of trickery and cruelty to insure the prosperity of their cubs. The worst thing about these fellows it that they're so good and, in their work at least, so intelligent."
Lewis, of course, was a socialist. So were anti-consumerism compatriots like H.G. Wells, H.L. Mencken and Herbert Croly. And their brand of leftism was destined to infuse the entire American left over the course of the 20th century. As Fred Siegel writes in his new book, "The Revolt Against The Masses," this general feeling pervaded the left during the 1950s, even as more Americans were attending symphony concerts than ballgames, with 50,000 Americans per year buying paperback version of classics. That's because if the left were to recognize the great power of consumerism in bettering lives and enriching culture, the left would have to become the right.
Of course, consumerism is not an unalloyed virtue. Consumerism can be utilized for hedonism. But it can also be utilized to make lives better, offering more opportunity for spiritual development. It's precisely this latter combination that the left fears, because if consumerism and virtue are allied, there is no place left for the Marxist critique of capitalism -- namely that capitalism makes people less compassionate, more selfish, and ethically meager. And so consumerism must be severed from virtue (very few leftists critique Americans' propensity for spending cash on Lady Gaga concerts) so that it can be castigated as sin more broadly.
In a world in which consumerism is the greatest of all sins, America is the greatest of all sinners, which, of course, is the point of the anti-consumerist critique from the left: to target America. Global warming represents the latest apocalyptic consequence threatened by the leftist gods for the great iniquity of buying things, developing products, and competing in the global marketplace. And America must be called to heel by the great preachers in Washington, D.C., and Hollywood.
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here