Intellectual Climate Change Update

TIA Daily  November 5, 2009

While we're all focused on the health-care debate—as we must be—there is an even more important battle looming beyond that one: the battle over global warming and the "cap-and-trade" energy rationing scheme currently being pushed through Congress, as the next item on its agenda after the health-care bill.

I think cap-and-trade represents a much larger and more direct threat to our lives and liberty than socialized medicine, but the good news is that we don't face a trade-off between fighting one issue versus fighting the other. The more we bog down the health-care bill, the more we push back cap-and-trade—and the less likely it is to be passed. Already, congressional leaders have announced a five-week delay in the progress of the cap-and-trade legislation, and some are speculating that the bill might have to be shelved until after the 2010 elections—which is probably as good as killing the thing.

As I have been warning, there is still a very serious danger that the EPA will attempt to impose energy rationing by executive fiat, bypassing Congress altogether. But at least the pro-science, pro-industry side has begun to gain momentum in pushing back the global warming dogma.

Don't take my word for it. Listen to prominent global warming hack George Monbiot. Tom Minchin sent me a link to Monbiot's recent complaint about the rising rejection of global warming.


There is no point in denying it: we're losing. Climate change denial is spreading like a contagious disease….

A survey last month by the Pew Research Centre suggests that the proportion of Americans who believe there is solid evidence that the world has been warming over the last few decades has fallen from 71% to 57% in just 18 months. Another survey, conducted in January by Rasmussen Reports, suggests that, due to a sharp rise since 2006, US voters who believe global warming has natural causes (44%) outnumber those who believe it is the result of human action (41%).

A study by the website Desmogblog shows that the number of internet pages proposing that man-made global warming is a hoax or a lie more than doubled last year. The Science Museum's Prove it! exhibition asks online readers to endorse or reject a statement that they've seen the evidence and want governments to take action. As of yesterday afternoon, 1,006 people had endorsed it and 6,110 had rejected it. On, books championing climate change denial are currently ranked at 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8 in the global warming category…. What is going on?



Delicious, isn't it?

That brings me to a longer note I got from Tom, and anther from Jack Wakeland, on different aspects of the "intellectual climate change" at work here.

Tom addresses part of the economic cost of cap-and-trade, both in Europe and under a new global climate treaty being pushed at a meeting in Copenhagen in December. This is an important explanation for why views on global warming are changing, because it shows how the costs of regulation have given many people a direct interest in thinking seriously about the issue—and giving a hearing to those who reject the global warming hysteria. It's easy to sign on to the conventional global warming line, when it seems to have few concrete consequences and costs you nothing. When it threatens to make a sharp economic downturn deeper—and to make it permanent—then you start to subject the issue to more serious examination.

Well, Tom reports that the huge costs of energy rationing are beginning to come out into the open:

"Two events occurred in the last few days that act as flashing danger signals for the true costs of an Obama cap-and-trade scheme. The first is the release of a report by the British Taxpayer's Alliance on the European Emissions Trading Scheme, first introduced there in 2005. The key to the findings is not so much the substantial costs to households and businesses, but the identification of the government's intention to drive up those costs as a never-ending process. As the report's Executive Summary puts it:


This report presents new evidence that the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has failed to perform [i.e., to reduce emissions] and is imposing serious costs on ordinary families. The main effect of the Scheme is to increase the cost of energy for households, businesses and other organizations. This increases household bills, but also increases business running costs and the cost of running public services such as hospitals.

The burden on consumers since the scheme was introduced on 1 January 2005 has been significant.

We estimate that the ETS cost British consumers nearly £3 billion in 2008, equivalent to around £117 per family, by increasing the cost of energy. From its introduction to the end of 2008, we estimate that the scheme has cost consumers across Europe between €46 billion (£33 billion) and €116 billion (£83 billion). Our central estimate is that the scheme has cost consumers €93 billion (£67 billion). That is equivalent to around €185 (£132) for every person in the ETS participating countries. That is despite the emissions price having collapsed several times for prolonged periods.



"Significantly, the report adds:


The British Government has not just accepted this significant burden on consumers, but has actively worked to increase it. Despite continuing rhetoric about reducing fuel poverty, the Government in fact used taxpayers’ money to assist the European Commission in legal attempts at the European Court of Justice to forcibly reduce the supply of emissions allowances and thereby increase the emissions price further.

"The second event was a meeting of European leaders that confirmed what Lord Monckton has warned—that the developed countries, particularly the US, will be hit with billions in annual subsidies to the "developing" world if agreement is reached at Copenhagen in December. The figures are so large it is necessary to repeat that they are annual figures, not 2020 totals. As the UK Independent reports:


Europe's leaders will present a £90bn [€100 bn euros or $148 bn US] plan to cut the world's greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen. After hours of wrangling at the EU summit in Brussels this week, they gave broad backing to Gordon Brown's calls for developed nations to put a price on tackling global warming.

The Prime Minister, who had warned that a failure to set out detailed figures would jeopardize the Copenhagen talks in December, hailed yesterday's agreement as a "breakthrough."

Under the plan, developed nations would pump between €22bn and €50bn a year into the fund by 2020, which is expected to include an overall EU contribution of €7bn to €10bn. The Prime Minister has already committed Britain to put £1bn into the fund.



"How much of the rest would come from the US? In fact, the Europeans have already settled the amount of US contribution. From The Guardian's report on the same conference:


Of the €100bn euros ballpark figure, the Europeans said €22bn-€50bn should be public sector money in annual transfers to the developing world by 2020.

Although the Europeans refused to specify the European share, [German Chancellor] Merkel said it should be around one-third; the same amount should be supplied by the US, and Germany would foot around 20% of the European bill.

"These are the figures being openly discussed. But, in fact, the true figures may be higher. According to the draft treaty that will be considered at Copenhagen, the cost of adapting to the economic changes of cap and trade will be borne as a percentage of a country's GDP:


Mandatory contributions from developed country Parties and other developed Parties included in Annex II should form the core revenue stream for meeting the cost of adaptation in conjunction with additional sources including share of proceeds from flexible mechanisms.] [This finance should come from the payment of the adaptation debt by developed country Parties and be based principally on public-sector funding, while other alternative sources could be considered.] [[Sources of new and additional financial support for adaptation] [Financial resources of the “Convention Adaptation Fund"] [may] [shall] include:

(a) [Assessed contributions [of at least 0.7% of the annual GDP of developed country Parties]....

"As the GDP of the United States is now $14 trillion, that would mean an drain on US wealth of "at least" $98 billion every year. How much has the Obama administration briefed us on that as an end result of cap and trade?"

Meanwhile, Jack Wakeland sent me an overview of the progressive crumbling of the scientific underpinnings of the global warming hysteria, as a growing number of scientists rebel against the prevailing dogma. Jack writes:

"Dozens of top climate scientists have left the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) school since 2000. Two specific contradictions between the AGW hypothesis and reality were cited the most often by this group [in an article from earlier in the process, in 2007]:

"1. The tight correlation between cosmic rays and earth’s atmospheric temperature is holding up better and better as it is subject to closer and closer scrutiny.

"Henrik Svensmark’s 'cosmo-climatology' theory is proving to be very influential. It is the number one reason cited for becoming an AGW skeptic in the article in Canada Free Press from two and a half years ago. And it was a huge presence at the 2008 International Geology Congress.

"2. Ice core data turned out not to demonstrate that CO2 rises before temperature rises, despite the initial finding that it might have done so over the past 420,000 years according to analysis of the Vostok Ice Cores.

"Attempts to Confirm Vostok Ice Core Data (published in 1999) which indicated a nearly 1 to 1 correlation between CO2 and temperature (at the scale of 1000–2000 years) by Fischer, Wahlen, Smith, Mastroianni, and Deck (in 1999), by Mudelsee (in 2001), and Caillon, Severinghaus, Jouzel, Barnola, Kang, and Lipenkov (in 2003) found that CO2 levels rise 400–1000 years after beginning of a warm interglacial period, not before.

"The dramatic divergence of the actual temperature trend from that predicted in the global circulation models over the past 10 years is rapidly becoming a third issue that is driving climate scientists out of the alarmed AGW camp.

"Other contradictions (such as the Antarctic climate anomaly, the continued non-existence of the GHG-warming signature of particularly elevated air temperatures in the middle troposphere in the tropics, the non-correlation between CO2 proxies and temperature proxies during the Mesozoic and Paleozoic Epochs, etc.)

"Few have taken part in denouncing several instances (so far) in which it has been found that the AGW camp has been depending on large-scale academic fraud to support the most "politically relevant" aspects of their doctrine. But most who have changed sides have identified this issue by citing a shared philosophical reason why they quit the AGW camp: a "religious" adherence to the AGW doctrine regardless of evidence. Arguments from peer-review-authority, ad hominem attacks, and academic embargos against of top scientists who disagree with AGW doctrine play a very important role in why some climate scientists have become philosophically hostile to the AGW doctrine."

As I said earlier, I think there is no trade-off between fighting ObamaCare and fighting cap-and-trade. So I'll still be devoting most of TIA's focus in the coming weeks and months—if it drags out that long—to arguing against the health-care bill, in the expectation that the failure of that bill will also doom cap-and-trade for at least another year. In the meantime, consider this a preview of the shape of the battle over global warming, to which we can turn our attention in earnest after ObamaCare is defeated.—RWT