May 13, 2010

The American Power Act: Climatologically Meaningless

Filed under: Climate Politics

As Senators John Kerry and Joseph Leiberman begin to lay out the details of their American Power Act, one thing becomes immediately clear—whatever impacts the bill may have, they won’t be on the climate.

WCR staff wasted little time pointing this out.

Patrick Michaels writing at the Cato@Liberty blog in his article Kerry and Lieberman Unveil Their Climate Bill: Such a Deal!, had this to say:

APA [American Power Act] reduces emissions to the same levels that were in the Waxman-Markey bill passed by the House last June 26. Remember that one — snuck through on a Friday evening, just so no one would notice? Well, people did, and it, not health care, started the angry townhall meetings last summer. No accident, either, that Obama’s approval ratings immediately tanked.

Just like Waxman-Markey, APA will allow the average American the carbon dioxide emissions of the average citizen back in 1867, a mere 39 years from today. Just like Waxman-Markey, the sponsors have absolutely no idea how to accomplish this. Instead they wave magic wands for noncompetitive technologies like “Carbon Capture and Sequestration” (“CCS”, aka “clean coal”), solar energy and windmills, and ethanol (“renewable energy”), among many others.

Just like Waxman-Markey, no one knows the (enormous) cost. How do you put a price on something that doesn’t exist? We simply don’t know how to reduce emissions by 83%. Consequently, APA is yet another scheme to make carbon-based energy so expensive that you won’t use it.

Michaels goes on to analyze the impact of the ATA on the projections of global warming:

Anyway, just for fun, I plugged the APA emissions reduction schedule into the Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change (MAGICC — I am not making this up), which is what the United Nations uses to estimate the climatic effects of various greenhouse-gas scenarios.

I’ve included two charts with three scenarios. One is for 2050 and the other for 2100. They assume that the “sensitivity” of temperature to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide is 2.5°C, a number that many scientists think is too high, given the pokey greenhouse-effect warming of the planet that has occurred as we have effectively gone half way to a doubling already. The charts show prospective warming given by MAGICC.

The first scenario is “business-as-usual”, the perhaps too-optimistic way of saying a nation without APA. The second assumes that only the US does APA, and the third assumes that each and every nation that has “obligations” under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol on global warming does the same.

As you can plainly see, APA does nothing, even if all the Kyoto-signatories meet its impossible mandates. The amount of warming “saved” by 2100 is 7% of the total for Business-as-Usual, or two-tenths of a degree Celsius. That amount will be barely detectable above the year-to-year normal fluctuations. Put another way, if we believe in MAGICC, APA — if adopted by us, Europe, Canada, and the rest of the Kyotos — will reduce the prospective temperature in 2100 to what it would be in 2093…

So there you have it, the new American Power Act, a bill that doesn’t know how to achieve its mandates, has a completely unknown but astronomical cost, and doesn’t do a darned thing about global warming. Such a deal!

Chip Knappenberger extends the analysis over at the blog in his article The American Power Act: A Climate Dud:

The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly small—0.043°C (0.077°F) by 2050 and 0.111°C (0.200°F) by 2100. In other words, by century’s end, reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83% will only result in global temperatures being one-fifth of one degree Fahrenheit less than they would otherwise be. That is a scientifically meaningless reduction.

Adding that:

[C]limatologically, the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act, in and of itself, is a meaningless bill. To make it effective, it must involve the world’s developing counties.

And therein lies the challenge.

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