Monday, January 05, 2015
Naughty Naomi gives us a lesson in statistics
Naomi Oreskes works in a similar way to the tyrants who claim that they "won" an election in which 99% of the population voted for them. Naomi goes one better than that. She has claimed that 100%
of published climate scientists agree with global warming. That has got her much acclaim of course -- among those great lovers of tyrants, the political Left -- but no acclaim among people with any kind of skeptical mind.
But that is all old hat now so let us look at her latest effusion below. She says a number of broadly correct and reasonable things about statistical analysis and seems to hope that we won't notice her going off the rails after that.
She starts to go off the rails when she defends the indefensible EPA verdict about secondhand smoke. But I won't go into that here. Fred Singer once pointed out the statistical realities there and has ever since been branded a pawn of the tobacco industry. As usual, the Left substituted abuse for the facts. If you really want to know the facts, See here and here and here and here and here and here and here, for instance.
And after that point dear Naomi simply substitutes assertion for facts. He entire screed about statistics might as well not exist for all the relevance that it has to what she says from that point on. She simply says that "We know" that CO2 is warming the planet. She gives no facts or argument to support that. Not surprising, I guess, seeing that CO2 is NOT warming the planet. Even many warmists (e.g. Hansen, Pachauri) now concede that there has been a warming "pause" for 18 years.
And she really gets hilarious in her final paragraph. She says: "We are now seeing dangerous effects worldwide, even as we approach a rise of only 1 degree Celsius"
So how long have we been "approaching" that one degree rise? Only 150 years! She speaks as if we could get there any minute. The fact that it took 150 years to get only two thirds of the way there she does not mention. And what are the dangerous effects worldwide? She does not say. She certainly does not mention that extreme weather events have declined in frequency in recent years.
So what are we to make of this strange screed? It is simply propaganda aimed at uninformed people and willing believers. And the screed appears in the modern day Goebbels: The New York Times. So that explains it all, I think
SCIENTISTS have often been accused of exaggerating the threat of climate change, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that they ought to be more emphatic about the risk. The year just concluded is about to be declared the hottest one on record, and across the globe climate change is happening faster than scientists predicted.
Science is conservative, and new claims of knowledge are greeted with high degrees of skepticism. When Copernicus said the Earth orbited the sun, when Wegener said the continents drifted, and when Darwin said species evolved by natural selection, the burden of proof was on them to show that it was so. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this conservatism generally took the form of a demand for a large amount of evidence; in the 20th century, it took on the form of a demand for statistical significance.
We’ve all heard the slogan “correlation is not causation,” but that’s a misleading way to think about the issue. It would be better to say that correlation is not necessarily causation, because we need to rule out the possibility that we are just observing a coincidence. Typically, scientists apply a 95 percent confidence limit, meaning that they will accept a causal claim only if they can show that the odds of the relationship’s occurring by chance are no more than one in 20. But it also means that if there’s more than even a scant 5 percent possibility that an event occurred by chance, scientists will reject the causal claim. It’s like not gambling in Las Vegas even though you had a nearly 95 percent chance of winning.
Where does this severe standard come from? The 95 percent confidence level is generally credited to the British statistician R. A. Fisher, who was interested in the problem of how to be sure an observed effect of an experiment was not just the result of chance. While there have been enormous arguments among statisticians about what a 95 percent confidence level really means, working scientists routinely use it.
But the 95 percent level has no actual basis in nature. It is a convention, a value judgment. The value it reflects is one that says that the worst mistake a scientist can make is to think an effect is real when it is not. This is the familiar “Type 1 error.” You can think of it as being gullible, fooling yourself, or having undue faith in your own ideas. To avoid it, scientists place the burden of proof on the person making an affirmative claim. But this means that science is prone to “Type 2 errors”: being too conservative and missing causes and effects that are really there.
Is a Type 1 error worse than a Type 2? It depends on your point of view, and on the risks inherent in getting the answer wrong. The fear of the Type 1 error asks us to play dumb; in effect, to start from scratch and act as if we know nothing. That makes sense when we really don’t know what’s going on, as in the early stages of a scientific investigation. It also makes sense in a court of law, where we presume innocence to protect ourselves from government tyranny and overzealous prosecutors — but there are no doubt prosecutors who would argue for a lower standard to protect society from crime.
When applied to evaluating environmental hazards, the fear of gullibility can lead us to understate threats. It places the burden of proof on the victim rather than, for example, on the manufacturer of a harmful product. The consequence is that we may fail to protect people who are really getting hurt.
And what if we aren’t dumb? What if we have evidence to support a cause-and-effect relationship? Let’s say you know how a particular chemical is harmful; for example, that it has been shown to interfere with cell function in laboratory mice. Then it might be reasonable to accept a lower statistical threshold when examining effects in people, because you already have reason to believe that the observed effect is not just chance.
This is what the United States government argued in the case of secondhand smoke. Since bystanders inhaled the same chemicals as smokers, and those chemicals were known to be carcinogenic, it stood to reason that secondhand smoke would be carcinogenic, too. That is why the Environmental Protection Agency accepted a (slightly) lower burden of proof: 90 percent instead of 95 percent.
In the case of climate change, we are not dumb at all. We know that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, we know that its concentration in the atmosphere has increased by about 40 percent since the industrial revolution, and we know the mechanism by which it warms the planet.
WHY don’t scientists pick the standard that is appropriate to the case at hand, instead of adhering to an absolutist one? The answer can be found in a surprising place: the history of science in relation to religion. The 95 percent confidence limit reflects a long tradition in the history of science that valorizes skepticism as an antidote to religious faith.
Even as scientists consciously rejected religion as a basis of natural knowledge, they held on to certain cultural presumptions about what kind of person had access to reliable knowledge. One of these presumptions involved the value of ascetic practices. Nowadays scientists do not live monastic lives, but they do practice a form of self-denial, denying themselves the right to believe anything that has not passed very high intellectual hurdles.
Moreover, while vigorously denying its relation to religion, modern science retains symbolic vestiges of prophetic tradition, so many scientists bend over backward to avoid these associations. A vast majority of scientists do not speak in public at all, and those who do typically speak in highly guarded, qualified terms. They often refuse to use the language of danger even when danger is precisely what they are talking about.
Years ago, climate scientists offered an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as the “safe” limit or ceiling for the long-term warming of the planet. We are now seeing dangerous effects worldwide, even as we approach a rise of only 1 degree Celsius. The evidence is mounting that scientists have underpredicted the threat. Perhaps this is another reason — along with our polarized politics and the effect of fossil-fuel lobbying — we have underreacted to the reality, now unfolding before our eyes, of dangerous climate change.
The Great Pause lengthens again
Global temperature update: the Pause is now 18 years 3 months
By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
Since October 1996 there has been no global warming at all (Fig. 1). This month’s RSS  temperature plot pushes up the period without any global warming from 18 years 2 months to 18 years 3 months.
Figure 1. The least-squares linear-regression trend on the RSS satellite monthly global mean surface temperature anomaly dataset shows no global warming for 18 years 3 months since October 1996
The hiatus period of 18 years 3 months, or 219 months, is the farthest back one can go in the RSS satellite temperature record and still show a sub-zero trend.
As the Pope unwisely prepares to abandon forever the political neutrality that his office enjoins upon him, and to put his signature to a climate-Communist encyclical largely drafted by the radical Prefect of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Mgr. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the Almighty continues to display a sense of humor.
We are now less than a year away the Paris world-government conference. Yet the global warming that the IPCC had so confidently but misguidedly predicted 25 years ago has stopped altogether.
Figure 2. Near-term projections of warming at a rate equivalent to 2.8 [1.9, 4.2] K/century, made with “substantial confidence” in IPCC (1990), January 1990 to November 2014 (orange region and red trend line), vs. observed anomalies (dark blue) and trend (bright blue) at less than 1.4 K/century equivalent, taken as the mean of the RSS and UAH satellite monthly mean lower-troposphere temperature anomalies.
A quarter-century after 1990, the global-warming outturn to date – expressed as the least-squares linear-regression trend on the mean of the RSS  and UAH  monthly global mean surface temperature anomalies – is 0.34 Cº, equivalent to just 1.4 Cº/century, or a little below half of the central estimate in IPCC (1990) and well below even the least estimate (Fig. 2).
The Great Pause is a growing embarrassment to those who had told us with “substantial confidence” that the science was settled and the debate over. Nature had other ideas.
Though approaching 70 mutually incompatible and more or less implausible excuses for the Pause are appearing in nervous reviewed journals and among proselytizing scientists, the possibility that the Pause is occurring because the computer models are simply wrong about the sensitivity of temperature to manmade greenhouse gases can no longer be dismissed, and is demonstrated in a major peer-reviewed paper published this month in the Orient’s leading science journal.
In 1990, the IPCC’s central estimate of near-term warming was higher by two-thirds than it is today. Then it was 2.8 C/century equivalent. Now it is just 1.7 Cº equivalent – and, as Fig. 3 shows, even that is proving to be a substantial exaggeration.
On the RSS satellite data, there has been no global warming statistically distinguishable from zero for more than 26 years. None of the models predicted that, in effect, there would be no global warming for a quarter of a century.
More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)
Figures 'prove Scotland has enough wind farms already'
Interesting that the WWF is coming down on wind farms. Long overdue considering what the turbine blades so to bats and birds
Nicola Sturgeon is under pressure to stop the spread of wind farms across Scotland’s countryside after environmentalists claimed existing turbines are already meeting the country’s electricity needs.
WWF Scotland published figures claiming that wind power generated enough power to supply the electrical needs of 98 per cent of the country’s households on average in 2014.
According to its data, wind farms generated the equivalent of more than 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs during six of the last 12 months, including a “record” amount in December. This dipped to only 37 per cent in June when the weather was relatively still.
But the annual average suggests that the SNP’s target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of the country’s electricity was all but met in 2014, six years ahead of the party's 2020 deadline.
Despite some councils complaining they have reached “saturation point”, SNP ministers have prevented them from declaring a temporary ban on the construction of more wind farms even where the National Grid would struggle to carry the electricity they generate.
Separate figures showed a record £53.2 million was paid out to wind farm companies in 2014 to switch off their turbines because their electricity was not needed or would have overloaded the Grid.
This was 63 per cent higher than the 2013 total of £32.7 million. The Whitelee wind farm in East Renfrewshire, the UK’s largest, accounted for more than £12 million.
The Scottish Conservatives last night urged Ms Sturgeon to reconsider a moratorium on more wind farms and called for “far more emphasis” on conventional methods of generation.
Murdo Fraser, the party’s energy spokesman, said: “These figures show that, since the Scottish Government is so close to meeting its target, there is no need whatsoever for any new developments to be agreed.
"The SNP may trumpet these numbers, but it doesn't change the fact that we still need a balanced energy portfolio for those many, many days when the wind doesn't blow."
The Scottish Government’s updated planning policy for turbines said it was “not appropriate” for local authorities to introduce moratoriums despite some warning they have already reached “saturation point”.
The transmission network lacks the capacity to transport some of the electricity generated by wind farms in rural Scotland to urban centres in England where it is most needed.
This has led to wind farm companies being handed millions of pounds a year in "constraint payments" – which ultimately come from household bills – to switch off their turbines when the National Grid is unable to cope with the power they produce. This can happen during periods of stormy weather.
According to the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), Whitelee, which has 215 turbines and is operated by ScottishPower Renewables, was paid more than £638,000 on New Year’s Day alone.
The WWF Scotland research said wind farms provided enough electricity to power all Scotland’s homes in January, February, March, October, November and December last year.
The top two months were December and February respectively, when turbines generated 164 per cent and 163 per cent respectively of Scottish households’ electricity needs.
However, in June this figure dipped to 37 per cent and in September only 41 per cent. The highest total was reached on December 10 when wind farms generated 262 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs.
The same day the UK’s wind farms were paid £385,142 to switch off their turbines, according to REF, with Whitelee accounting for more than £144,000.
Lang Banks, WWF Scotland's director, said: "Without doubt, 2014 was a massive year for renewables, with wind turbines and solar panels helping to ensure millions of tonnes of climate-wreaking carbon emissions were avoided.
"With 2015 being a critical year for addressing climate change internationally, it's vital that Scotland continues to press ahead with plans to harness even greater amounts of clean energy.”
Rob Gibson, a senior SNP MSP, said: “These are very welcome figures which demonstrate that the Scottish Government's commitment to and investment in renewables are paying dividends.”
A ScottishPower Renewables spokesman said: “We don’t ever want to be constrained, but we are told occasionally that we need to reduce output, so the wider grid system isn’t adversely affected.
“The constraints system has been in place for electricity generators of all types for many years. Generators pay substantial fees to connect to the electricity network, and receive compensation when they are instructed by National Grid to stop or reduce production for a period.”
Naomi again: We Greenies are not NIMBYs
Now that she is opposing development in her own backyard, she is at pains to say that her opposition is not merely based on personal convenience. I agree with her. I think her opposition is deeply ideological. She says at length that her opposition is based on a love of natural beauty but that is almost certainly just camouflage. An interesting test of that would be to hear what she says about wind farms. They GROSSLY despoil naturally beautiful landscapes. Is she against them too? I'm guessing not.
She opposes the building of a power line that will bring much-needed electricity to New England. Power is already so scarce there that the price mechanism has pushed up electricity bills for residents to unprecedented heights.
So what is her solution to that problem? She has none. She simply says airily: "There are other ways to address future energy demand". No details.
I guess she is so well paid that electricity bills don't worry her. They are only of concern to the unimportant "little people" who need Greenies to make them behave properly.
By Naomi Oreskes
The term NIMBY – “not in my back yard”– has long been used to criticize people who oppose commercial or industrial development in their communities. Invariably pejorative, it casts citizens as selfish individualists who care only for themselves, hypocrites who want the benefits of modernity without paying its costs.
Communities and individuals who oppose fracking, nuclear power, high voltage power lines, and diverse other forms of development have all been accused of NIMBYism. It’s time to rethink this term.
A recent example close to my home is the Northern Pass power development, a proposal to bring hydroelectric power from Quebec to consumers in southern New England via a high-voltage power line that would trace the spine of New Hampshire.
Its sponsors tout it as an investment in New Hampshire’s future, stressing the tax revenues and jobs that the project will bring, characterizing hydropower as a clean and renewable energy source, and arguing that the project will help to address an emerging energy crisis in New England.
Opponents note that the lion’s share of the jobs created will be temporary, that the power will be delivered to customers south of the power line, that hydropower is not actually renewable, and that there are other ways to address future energy demand.
They also question the promise of economic benefit, noting that chambers of commerce along the proposed route believe it will hurt tourism and damage real estate values. But the key issue at stake for the opponents is not jobs or money, but beauty.
The project is opposed by the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, The Conservation Law Foundation, and the N.H. Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. All agree that the key issue is the project’s impact on the natural beauty of New Hampshire.
Is natural beauty out of fashion?
It’s a strange comment on our times that we have to make the case for the value of beauty, but perhaps a good sign that increasingly we realize that we needn’t translate it into monetary terms.
People who have chosen to build their lives in New Hampshire – a state with a tough climate and poor employment prospects but miles upon miles of gorgeous natural forests – clearly value it to a high degree. And so do the millions of others who visit them every year. And not just in New Hampshire.
A recent study by the U.S. Forest Service counted more than 160 million visits to the National Forests over a five-year period, and another 300 million occasions when visitors driving scenic highways “appreciated the beauty of the National Forests from their vehicles.”
The primary effect of these visits, Forest Service data indicates, is an improved sense of well-being. Since a majority of these visits involve physical activities (hiking, walking, downhill skiing, fishing, hunting) they contribute to our physical health as well. And the people who make these visits are men and women, adults and children, from all walks of life.
Of course these visits generate tourist revenue, but that isn’t their main value. Tourist revenue is the effect: the cause is that we visit forests, and other beautiful places, because having beauty in our lives is important. It is part of living the good life. It makes us feel better to walk or ski or hunt in the woods. Just think for a moment of autumn leaves. Forests make people happy.
By dismissing opponents as NIMBYists, proponents of Northern Pass and other projects shut down conversations that we should be having about the things we value, including quiet, safety, security, and peace of mind.
We all want energy to light and heat our homes, but at what cost? Would anyone want to live in a warm, well-lit house surrounded by a nuclear waste site?
True democracy calls for open discussion
The pejorative term NIMBY also shuts down key questions about our democracy: Who gets to decide? Who has the burden of proof? And how should citizens be compensated if a collective decision to drill, frack, or burn has apparently injured them, but it can’t be proven because no one did the baseline studies that should have been done but weren’t?
If legal fracking contaminates a private well in a community where there is no public water supply, then what? What if a family find the value of their home diminished, or they can’t sell it at all?
These issues should be discussed and debated, not dismissed. In a democracy, government exists to serve the needs of people, and those needs are not only economic.
NIMBY name-calling also intimidates by provoking what psychologists call stereotype threat. Those of us who care about the natural environment and the health of our communities are often afraid of being labeled NIMBYs, so we bend over backward to insist that we are not anti-business, not anti-technology, and not anti-modern.
Not in anyone’s backyard
There’s nothing wrong with standing up for our own communities, and standing with our fellow citizens who want to preserve their quality of life. Not everything about modernity is worth embracing. We have the right to protect and defend the things we care about. Indeed, it’s defeatist not to.
Most supposedly NIMBY arguments are not NIMBYist at all – they are NIABYist: not in anyone’s backyard. They are about preserving beauty, safety and integrity of communities.
They are about solving problems (like climate change) without creating serious new ones (like nuclear waste and proliferation). They are about finding technologies that enrich our lives, support our health, and increase our prosperity, and not ones that threaten our safety, harm our health, and destroy our natural beauty.
Nuclear power is the greenest option, say top scientists
Environmentalists urged to ditch their historical antagonism and embrace a broad energy mix
Nuclear power is one of the least damaging sources of energy for the environment, and the green movement must accept its expansion if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, some of the world's leading conservation biologists have warned.
Rising demand for energy will place ever greater burdens on the natural world, threatening its rich biodiversity, unless societies accept nuclear power as a key part of the "energy mix", they said. And so the environmental movement and pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace should drop their opposition to the building of nuclear power stations.
In an open letter to be published next month in the journal Conservation Biology, more than 65 biologists, including a former UK government chief scientist, support the call to build more nuclear power plants as a central part of a global strategy to protect wildlife and the environment.
The full gamut of electricity-generation sources, including nuclear power, must be used to replace the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas if the world is to have any chance of mitigating severe climate change, their letter says.
The letter is signed by several leading British academics including Lord May of Oxford, a theoretical biologist at Oxford University and former chief scientific adviser; Professor Andrew Balmford, a conservation biologist at Cambridge; and Professor Tim Blackburn, an expert in biodiversity at University College London.
As well as reducing the sources of carbon dioxide, the chief man-made greenhouse gas implicated in climate change, the expansion of nuclear power will leave more land to support biodiversity and so curb the extinction of species, they say.
Recognising the "historical antagonism towards nuclear energy" among environmentalists, they write: "Much as leading climate scientists have recently advocated the development of safe, next-generation nuclear energy systems to combat climate change, we entreat the conservation and environmental community to weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is 'green'."
It is too risky to rely solely on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for replacing fossil fuels because of problems to do with scalability, cost, materials and land use, they explain.
Along with nuclear power, wind energy has the highest benefit-to-cost ratio Along with nuclear power, wind energy has the highest benefit-to-cost ratio (Getty)
"Nuclear power – being far the most compact and energy-dense of sources – could also make a major, and perhaps leading, contribution …. It is time that conservationists make their voices heard in this policy area," they say.
A golf-ball-sized lump of uranium would supply the lifetime's energy needs of a typical person, equivalent to 56 tanker trucks of natural gas, 800 elephant-sized bags of coal or a renewable battery as tall as 16 "super" skyscraper buildings placed one on top of the other, they said.
The letter was organised by Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania and Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide. The two co-authored a paper in the January issue of Conservation Biology outlining the scientific case of nuclear power in terms of environmental protection. Of seven major technologies for generating electricity, nuclear power and wind energy had the highest benefit-to-cost ratio, they concluded.
"Trade-offs and compromises are inevitable and require advocating energy mixes that minimise net environmental damage. Society cannot afford to risk wholesale failure to address energy-related biodiversity impacts because of preconceived notions and ideals," they said.
Professor Corey told The Independent on Sunday: "Our main concern is that society isn't doing enough to rein in emissions… Unless we embrace a full, global-scale assault on fossil fuels, we'll be in increasingly worse shape over the coming decades – and decades is all we have to act ruthlessly.
"Many so-called green organisations and individuals, including scientists, have avoided or actively lobbied against proven zero-emissions technologies like nuclear because of the associated negative stigma," he said.
"Our main goal was to show – through careful, objective scientific analysis – that on the basis of cost, safety, emissions reduction, land use and pollution, nuclear power must be considered in the future energy mix," he explained.
The letter aims to convince people of the potential benefits of nuclear power in a world where energy demand will increase as the climate begins to change because of rising levels of greenhouse gases, Professor Corey added.
"By convincing leading scientists in the areas of ecological sustainability that nuclear has a role to play, we hope that others opposed to nuclear energy on purely 'environmental' – or ideological – grounds might reconsider their positions," he said.
Carbon tax could be tough sell on Beacon Hill
Massachusetts: Environmentalists got what they wanted last month with the release of a state study that lays the intellectual groundwork for a multibillion dollar “carbon tax” on gasoline, heating oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels blamed for accelerating climate change.
Using the study’s findings, environmentalists are planning to renew a push this year to pass a carbon tax in Massachusetts, after previous attempts faltered on Beacon Hill. State Senator Michael Barrett, Democrat of Lexington, said he will file carbon tax legislation later this month.
Then comes the hard part: Persuading skeptical lawmakers and residents that increasing gasoline and heating oil prices by a minimum of 27 cents per gallon and monthly natural gas bills by 12 percent is the politically and economically right thing to do.
Keep in mind, the Legislature only reluctantly approved a 3 cents per gallon increase in the state’s gas tax two years ago and voters two months ago repealed a measure that tied future gas-tax increases to the rate of inflation.
Add skyrocketing electricity prices, and it’s not exactly a friendly climate for those wanting to tax fossil fuels into near oblivion in Massachusetts.
“The idea of a ‘carbon tax’ opens up a huge public policy question involving hundreds of moving pieces,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-backed fiscal watchdog group. “It won’t happen overnight. It will take a lot of time and a lot of debate to convince people.”
The carbon tax is considered by policy analysts as a blunt but effective instrument to discourage the use of fossil fuels, which emit so-called greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, that contribute to global warming. Supporters of such a tax concede that heavily taxing gasoline, heating oil, and natural gas would by itself spur fierce opposition, but they propose offsetting the costs with tax breaks or direct rebates to taxpayers.
Such a plan, supporters say, would cut carbon emissions by as much as 5 to 10 percent a year while minimizing the potential economic harm.
This “revenue neutral” approach is modeled on British Columbia, Canada, which in 2008 implemented a carbon tax while deeply cutting individual and corporate income taxes. The province today has the lowest personal income tax in Canada and one of the lowest corporate income taxes in North America — and it has cut fuel consumption by 16 percent, according to published reports
“We really see a revenue-neutral carbon tax as a transformative policy,” said Rebecca Morris, spokeswoman for Climate XChange, a local environmental advocacy group.
The state study, which cost $150,000 to produce, recommended direct rebates to residents. It estimated a carbon tax, based on pricing carbon emissions at $30 per metric ton, would raise about $1.75 billion a year, which translates into a 27 cents per gallon jump in gasoline and heating oil prices, a 12 percent rise in natural gas prices, and unspecified increases in electricity rates.
Revenues would soar even higher if carbon emissions are priced above $30 per metric ton, as is the case in Sweden, which has a $168 per ton tax and keeps the revenues for other government programs. A total of 14 countries have variations of a carbon tax, some with offsetting tax cuts and rebates, others without.
No state in America has an economywide carbon tax.
The Massachusetts study — conducted by a team of energy and economic consulting firms hired by the state Department of Energy Resources — projected that the state might experience small job and income gains as a result of revenue-neutral carbon taxes, largely through consumers and businesses buying less energy produced in other states and countries. That would mean more money staying in the Massachusetts economy and spent on goods and services from local firms, the report concluded.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, an economic research firm in West Chester, Pa., said it’s possible to craft a revenue-neutral carbon tax that minimizes harm to an economy. “A carbon tax is a great idea to reduce carbon emissions and cut your dependence on foreign oil, assuming it’s done right,” said Zandi.
But the state report also noted that energy-intensive industries, such as transportation, manufacturing, construction, and utilities, would probably see job and income losses. Michael Ferrante, president of Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association, a trade group for heating oil dealers and wholesalers, said it doesn’t make sense to impose a new tax on fossil fuels when Massachusetts consumers and businesses already pay some of highest energy prices in the nation.
He added that he believes lawmakers would ultimately abandon carbon tax offsets and spend the revenues on other programs.
“That’s the most laughable aspect of this entire thing,” he said. “The ‘revenue neutral’ idea is just a Trojan horse to get the tax passed. They want to tax [fossil fuels] out of existence.”
Governor-elect Charlie Baker, whose inauguration is Thursday, has yet to take a position on the findings of the carbon tax study. During the recent gubernatorial campaign. Baker was asked at an environmental forum if he would support an “economywide,” revenue-neutral carbon tax.
Baker praised efforts to lower carbon emissions, but said he didn’t want to “do anything that profoundly disadvantages the economy, the citizens, the businesses of Massachusetts relative to other states.”
It wasn’t an outright rejection of a carbon tax — but not an endorsement either.
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Posted by JR at 1:39 AM