Once again, President Obama is circumventing Congress and using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a compliant and corrupt media to push his radical agenda. This time it is to save the world from climate change, formerly known as global warming at a time when there was actual evidence that the average global temperature was increasing, however slightly. But that was nearly two decades ago. Let’s set the matter straight, shall we?
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless “greenhouse gas” which currently comprises 400 parts per million (ppm), that is 0.04 percent of all atmospheric gasses—an infinitesimal amount. CO2 concentration has increased by about 40%, or 120 ppm, (0.012% of atmospheric gasses) over the last 200 or so years. During that time, world mean temperature has increased by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
Global warming alarmists have used these observations to warn of future calamity. Many predict an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms, or other effects including “flooding, drought, erosion, turbidity, debris in reservoirs, nutrient and pollutant loading, and wildfires.” The National Wildlife Federation claims that “Global warming is making hot days hotter, rainfall and flooding heavier, hurricanes stronger and droughts more severe.” Don’t worry, though. Barack Obama promised to fix it all. Demonstrating early on his almost delusional arrogance, then-candidate Obama accepted his party’s 2008 presidential nomination claiming, “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal…”
In fact, weather has not become more intense. Despite severe tornado damage from recent storms, the number of tornadoes in the past year is the lowest since 1954, and there has been no discernible upward trend in recent years. Similarly, as of June 10th, the U.S. has not experienced a category three or higher hurricane for 2,787 days—a record. Wildfires are at their lowest since 1985, and again, this is not an anomaly. There is no discernible trend.
But even respected journals like National Geographic are playing fast and loose with the facts. On its “Global Warming Fast Facts” page, NG claims “Polar bears and indigenous cultures are already suffering from the sea-ice loss.” But when you click through to the link, there is no mention of bears at all. Actually, Al Gore’s beloved bruins are doing just fine. A recent analysis found that since 2001, polar bear populations have increased, and that official estimates could have undercounted by as much as 9,000 animals. Canada has refused to put bears on their endangered species list despite pressure from U.S. environmental groups.
Global warming alarmists also keep insisting that there is a “consensus” that 97 percent of scientists believe manmade global warming exists and is an existential threat. Even NASA gets into the act, claiming that “97% of climate scientists agree.” The media have uncritically shouted the 97 percent shibboleth to the four corners of the globe, viciously attacking anyone who has the temerity to question it. A Talking Points Memo post demanded that “climate change deniers” be executed. An Austrian university musicology professor (what are his qualifications?), who ironically claims to oppose the death penalty, echoed the call. He did later apologize for it, however.
Even former NASA climate guru James Hansen has said that oil executives should face criminal trials for spreading doubt about global warming. This is the same James Hansen caught in the “ClimateGate” scandal, where he and climate scientists of the UK’s East Anglia University Climate Research Unit deliberately manipulated world temperature data to support global warming claims. Most notoriously, Al Gore’s famous “hockey stick,” graph was found to be the result of a flawed study by Penn State University’s Michael Mann. No trials for Hansen, Mann or Gore yet, though.
Just like their other claims, the 97 percent figure has been widely debunked. Even the IPCC’s lead author, Dr. Richard Tol mocks the 97 percent figure. He states, “People who want to argue that climate researchers are secretive and incompetent only have to point to the 97% consensus paper.” He refers to a report authored by John Cook, Dana Nuccitelli and others that examined 11,944 “climate abstracts” in the scientific literature. But the authors of that study themselves found otherwise, noting that “66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming.” In other words, examining the abstracts alone found only 32.6 percent supported the notion of man-caused global warming. The 97 percent figure was derived by comparing the 32.6 percent with those who rejected (0.7%) or were unsure (0.3%), and essentially ignoring the rest.
In another study, authors claimed to have surveyed over 10,000 “earth scientists,” finding again that 97 percent agreed. Upon closer inspection however, one discovers that less than a third actually responded and that the survey was further stratified to analyze “climatologists who are active publishers on climate change.” That subset yielded only 77 respondents, 75 of whom responded positively to the question, “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” The 97 percent figure was thus based on only 77 people.
Meanwhile, a 2009 petition received over 31,000 signatures—more than any other petition on this subject—from physicists and physical chemists who agreed with the statement, “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of … carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
Most of the alarmist crowd has a strong vested interest in hyping global warming because they are being showered with research dollars to prove it. But cooler heads have remained resolutely skeptical, and for good reason. It is difficult, for example, to reconcile a 2009 study which found that a reduction in atmospheric CO2 levels to 760 ppm, 34 million years ago, caused Antarctica to freeze over, with the modern arguments that: 1) current CO2 levels half that high are causing Arctic ice to melt; and 2) CO2 levels are at record highs, which some claim to be the “maximum safe limit.” Maybe CO2 killed the dinosaurs too?
Meanwhile, as shown in the chart above, the average global temperature has not risen in 17 years, even trending downward since 2002, while CO2 continues to rise—a fact which directly contradicts climate alarmists’ stated claims. A September 2013 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) struggled to hide this seeming anomaly, and the organization was pressured by the U.S., Germany and other countries to do so. MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen characterized the IPCC report as “hilarious incoherence.” A 2012 study published in Nature magazine shows that global temperatures have not been historically high over the long term, even suggesting a downward trend.
Just for the sake of argument, however, we are going to completely ignore the foregoing and engage in a thought experiment. We will grant the left every single one of its assumptions. Nothing soothes lunatics more than to tell them they are “right,” so let’s suspend disbelief for a moment and pretend they are.
Let’s generously assume that all of the CO2 increase since colonial times was caused by man’s activity, and that 80 percent of it occurred after 1900. That would mean that man’s activity since 1900 increased atmospheric CO2 by 96 ppm; (120 ppm x 0.8). This represents 0.0096 percent of all atmospheric gasses. Let’s further assume the 1°C temperature increase was also solely caused by CO2, and that 80 percent (0.8°C) of that 1-degree change occurred in the 20th Century. (The actual temperature increase since 1900 is estimated to have been between 0.6 and 0.8°C.)
We will also generously assume that all along the U.S. has been responsible for 20 percent of these global emissions. This is somewhat more than our current contribution (16 percent in 2010, according to the Energy Department’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center.) If the 20 percent figure were accurate, however, it would mean that over the past 114 years, America has been responsible for an increase in atmospheric CO2 of 19.2 ppm (96 ppm x 0.2). That’s 0.00192 percent of all atmospheric gasses. If the relationship between CO2 and temperature holds, we would therefore be responsible for 20% of the 0.8°C increase in global temperature since 1900, which equates to 0.16°C (0.29°F).
So if we buy the Left’s argument entirely, the big, bad US of A, the imperialist destroyer of the global environment, promiscuously burning excessive carbon fuels to satisfy its gluttonous, ravenous, insatiable appetite for warmth, air conditioning and automatic dishwashers, has raised global temperatures over the last 100 years a whopping one third of one degree Fahrenheit.
But here is where it gets truly insane. The Obama administration and its allies are telling us that reducing CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants by 30 percent will bring a cornucopia of benefits, and they are willing to destroy the entire coal industry and force other conventional energy sources onto life support to accomplish this. However, power plants targeted by this rule produce only 38 percent of total U.S. manmade CO2, and half this target has already been met.
So in actuality, total U.S. CO2 will be reduced by only 5.7 percent (1/2 x 0.3 x 0.38) under this rule. This translates to a mere 1.026 ppm (0.057 x 18 ppm) representing 0.0001026 percent of atmospheric CO2, for a temperature reduction of—wait for it—0.00912°C (0.16°C x 0.057). Converting to Fahrenheit yields 0.01642°F. Another way of saying this is that, if we are to take the left’s argument at face value, the average world temperature would decline from its historic average of 54.8°F to 54.784°F. That is less than three one-hundredths of one degree.
Liberalism is a mental illness.
But even this doesn’t tell the whole story. Our example assumes that all the recent climate change is due to man’s production of carbon dioxide. There are many so-called greenhouse gasses, and CO2 does not have the greatest impact; water vapor does. See the chart below.
|Greenhouse Gas||Greenhouse Contribution|
|Water vapor and clouds||66 – 85%|
|Carbon dioxide||9 – 26%|
|CH4, Ozone & Others||7–8%|
Furthermore, temperature has been increasing and decreasing in regular cycles over the past two hundred years. According to Friends of Science, a non-profit group comprised of active and retired earth and atmospheric scientists, engineers, and other professionals, “The mild warming of 0.6 to 0.8 C over the 20th century is well within the natural variations recorded in the last millennium.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration lists China as the largest coal producer and consumer in the world, producing almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined, and almost four times more than the U.S. In 2012, China consumed 49 percent of the world coal supply, compared to 11 percent by the U.S. Over the past 10 years, Chinese coal consumption has accounted for 83 percent of increased demand. Thus, it is not surprising that China is the world’s largest producer of anthropogenic CO2, contributing 24.7 percent of the world’s total in 2010, the latest data available. This is 53 percent more than the U.S. produces, and China has no intention of slowing down. Current use and anticipated increases in carbon fuel use by China promises to swamp any decrease the U.S. is able to obtain.
In a Congressional hearing last September, EPA Director Gina McCarthy could not list a single effect EPA actions were having on any of 26 indicators of climate change, admitting, “It’s unlikely that any specific one step is going to be seen as having a visible impact on any those [indicators]—a visible change in any of those [indicators].” Her rationale was that it “positions the U.S. for leadership on this issue,” that could be used to prompt other nations to take action. But has the U.S. had any success influencing China on any front at all? How about Russia or India, who together produce 11 percent of worldwide emissions? The EPA acknowledges the rule will have no impact on atmospheric CO2.
When the rule was finally announced, however, the EPA claimed it would bring copious benefits. Most media outlets and leftwing organizations sang its praises. The Union of Concerned Scientists called it a “climate game changer.” They compared Director McCarthy to Thomas Jefferson “at the Dawn of America,” and the EPA rule with the Declaration of Independence.
Most media ignored the serious economic impacts this rule will likely create. The Heritage Foundation estimates a loss of over 500,000 jobs, a decline in average family income by $1,000 and a 20 percent increase in energy costs. The EPA acknowledged that electricity rates will rise, but if we can hold out until 2030, they assure us that prices will fall after that. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claimed compliance costs for the new rule could exceed $50 billion per year. The Natural Resources Defense Council sides with EPA, claiming a maximum cost of $14.6 billion by 2020 with offsetting benefits between $37 and $60 billion. The liberal Brookings Institution, however, dismisses EPA’s claimed benefits as being exaggerated by as much as 15 times.
Other liberals acknowledge the scam but support it anyway. Former Canadian Environment Minister Christine Steward said, “No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits…climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.” For comparison, the most expensive EPA regulation to date addresses mercury and costs $9.6 billion per year. The carbon regulation will have a much broader impact on our economy.
Other countries are beginning to recognize the global warming lunacy for what it is: an opportunity for well-connected liberals to fleece their nations’ treasuries in the name of “saving the planet.” In my previous article, Germany’s energy chief, Stephan Kohler, was quoted as calling Germany’s Renewable Energy Act “sheer lunacy.” Newly elected Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is now is cultivating an alliance with Canada, Britain, New Zealand and India in an effort to oppose Obama’s call for onerous carbon regulation.
The EPA rule is sheer lunacy.