May 21, 2009

Waxman-Markey: A completely futile legislative exercise

Filed under: Climate Politics

As we have discussed here, and as has been discussed elsewhere, it is straightforward to determine the likely climate impact from legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Yesterday we showed how little climate impact the proposed national fuel efficiency standards would have, today we turn our attention to the climate impact of the proposed Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act—which despite the name, is squarely aimed at attempting to mitigate future global climate change.

What we are interested in is this: if the U.S. is successful in meeting the greenhouse gas emissions reductions as prescribed in the Waxman-Markey legislation (ultimately a 83% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050), how much global warming would be averted?


May 20, 2009

No Climate Impact from New National Fuel Efficiency Standards

Recently we worked through the steps required to derive a handy-dandy way to convert carbon dioxide emissions savings to global temperature savings and suggested a few ways in which to apply it. Our primary objective was to put into everyone’s hands a quick-and-easy way for the common man to do what most climate-change-through-emissions-reductions advocates won’t do themselves (or, rather, don’t want you to know the result)—that is, put a climate face on their proposed actions.

The reason that they don’t do this themselves, is that despite all the global warming bluster, their proposed actions have virtually no direct impact on the course of future climate change.

Such is the case with the recently proposed national automobile fuel efficiency standards.


May 6, 2009

The Waxman-Markey “Climate” Bill Does Nothing for the Climate

Filed under: Climate Politics

In our last article, we developed a rule of thumb for converting greenhouse gas emissions to global temperature change and showed how to apply it to commonly encountered “save the planet from global warming” campaigns. This is good information to carry around in your back pocket for you next encounter with a global warming do-gooder.

But much more rigorous approaches can be had (although they don’t arrive at a much different answer than our simple converter). One such analysis details the climate impacts of the proposed Waxman-Markey Climate Bill that has been the subject of so much attention in Washington these past weeks.

The bottom line: the greenhouse gas emissions reduction provisions detailed in Waxman-Markey do virtually nothing to alter the projections of future climate change. In other words, Representatives Waxman and Markey (and all the rest of the bill’s supporters) want us to take on a huge risk (both in our personal and national economics and sacrifice) for no meaningful climate gain.

That should be a hard sell.

April 30, 2009

What You Can(‘t) Do About Global Warming

We are always hearing about ways that you can “save the planet” from the perils of global warming—from riding your bicycle to work, to supporting the latest national greenhouse gas restriction limitations, and everything in between.

In virtually each and every case, advocates of these measures provide you with the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (primarily carbon dioxide) that will be saved by the particular action.

And if you want to figure this out for yourself, the web is full of CO2 calculators (just google “CO2 calculator”) which allow you to calculate your carbon footprint and how much it can be reduced by taking various conservations steps—all with an eye towards reducing global warming.

However, in absolutely zero of these cases are you told, or can you calculate, how much impact you are going to have on the actual climate itself. After all, CO2 emissions are not climate—they are gases. Climate is temperature and precipitation and storms and winds, etc. If the goal of the actions is to prevent global warming, then you shouldn’t really care a hoot about the amount of CO2 emissions that you are reducing, but instead, you want to know how much of the planet you are saving. How much anthropogenic climate change is being prevented by unplugging your cell phone charger, from biking to the park, or from slashing national carbon dioxide emissions?

Why do none of the CO2 calculators give you that most valuable piece of information? Why don’t the politicians, the EPA, and/or greenhouse gas reduction advocates tell you the bottom line?

How much global warming are we avoiding?

Embarrassingly for them, this information is readily available.


April 28, 2009

EPA: Shooting Blanks at Global Warming

Filed under: Climate Politics

Does the EPA have a fighting chance at changing global climate enough through regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the United States to materially reduce the endangerment of our public health and welfare?

The answer is emphatically ‘No.’

The see why, check out this post at

April 14, 2009

The Cato Climate Ad, Joe Romm, and Swanson&Tsonis

For another look at how the results of the latest work by Kyle Swanson and Anastasios Tsonis—which show, among other things, that the earth’s climate most likely shifted into a state which could result in a slowed rate of global warming lasting for another decade or so—are impacting the processes (both scientific and political) of climate change, see this piece over at

March 24, 2009

Contrasting Ideas about Climate Change and War

Filed under: Climate Politics

Back in February, the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing emitted “The Climate Crisis: National Security, Economic, and Public Health Threats.” World Climate Report’s Pat Michaels testified that we should be careful when assessing future threats from climate change because our understanding of what climate change the future may bring is grossly uncertain. Dr. Michaels backed up his contention by a demonstration that climate models are having a tough time getting the present and recent past right—which casts a pall on their future forecasts.

Also testifying at that hearing was General Gordon Sullivan (Ret.), President and Chief Operating Officer, Association of the United States Army who discussed potential national security threats from global warming—primarily from “unrest” in other parts of the world as food and water supplies grow scarce in some regions.

In the current issue of Nature magazine is an essay which seeks to counter this “myth.”


February 13, 2009

Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Testimony

On Thursday, February 12, 2009, Dr. Patrick J. Michaels provided testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Environment during their hearing “The Climate Crisis: National Security, Public Health, and Economic Threats.”

Dr. MIchaels’ general message was that the recent behavior of global temperatures is starting to push the (lower) bounds of climate models’ expectations of such behavior and that if the current slowdown in the rate of global warming continues for much longer, we must start to question the reliability of climate projections of the future state of our climate.

His complete written testimony in included below:


February 4, 2009

Filed under: Climate Politics

We just want to take the opportunity to draw your attention to the official roll-out of a new blog with content of potential interest to World Climate Report readers:

New Free-Market Energy Blog Launched, Hits Exceed 14,000 In First Month spurs “real, fact-driven debate” on costs and unintended consequences of government-driven energy vision

Washington – As a new Congress and administration look to confront our nation’s serious and dynamic energy challenges with static tools and stale philosophies of a bygone era, a group of leading scholars has teamed together to launch, an energy-focused blog designed to encourage a real discussion of the consequences and externalities of empowering government as chief engineer and executor of our energy future.

“Not since the 1970s have the legislative and executive branches of government been as ready, willing or able to fundamentally reshape the way everyday Americans access and acquire their energy as today,” said Robert L. Bradley Jr., the author of Oil, Gas, and Government: The U.S. Experience, the definitive history of energy regulation in the United States. “Before these changes are instituted, and Americans are asked to underwrite them, the absolute least we should expect in return is a real, fact-driven debate – one that’s willing to weigh costs with benefits, and prepared to take on the sacred cows and golden geese that have paralyzed serious discussions on energy and environmental policy for decades. is a small contribution to that effort – but ultimately, we hope, a meaningful one.”

Along with Bradley, the blog features the postings of Indur Goklany, author and sustainable-development expert; Kenneth Green, resident energy and environment scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Michael Lynch, the MIT-educated president of the energy consulting firm Strategic Energy and Economic Research, Inc.; Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger, a climate-science specialist with New Hope Environmental Services; Marlo Lewis, senior fellow in energy and climate policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute; and Jerry Taylor, the Cato Institute’s lead expert on issues related to energy policy and environmental regulation.

“The time for horse-trading and parlor-game speculation is over,” added Bradley, whose two most recent books (Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy and Energy: The Master Resource) take on a number of energy-related myths and misconceptions considered in greater detail on the blog. “President Obama has laid out his vision for how he’d like to see governments interact with energy markets in the future and, without due deliberation, both parties in Congress appear ready to deliver it to him. This blog serves as a forum for reasoned debate of various approaches based on facts, analysis, and the clear and important lessons imparted to us from history in order to avoid repeating past mistakes, and move the nation’s energy future forward, not backward.”

December 2, 2008

Will the U.N. Chill Out on Climate Change?

10,000 people from 86 countries have descended upon Poznan, Poland for yet-another United Nations meeting on climate change. This time, it’s the annual confab of the nations that signed the original U.N. climate treaty in Rio in 1992. That instrument gave rise to the infamous 1996 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, easily the greatest failure in the history of environmental diplomacy.

Kyoto was supposed to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide below 1990 levels during the period 2008-2012. But since it was signed, the atmospheric concentration of this putative pollutant continued to rise, pretty much at the same rate it did before Kyoto. (Even if the world had lived up to the letter of the Kyoto law, it would have exerted an influence on global temperature that would have been too small to measure.)

The purpose of the Poznan meeting is to work out some type of framework that goes “Beyond Kyoto.” After completely failing in its first attempt to internationally limit carbon dioxide emissions, the U.N. will propose reductions far greater than those called for by Kyoto. Kyoto failed because it was too expensive, so anything “beyond” will cost much more.

The fact is that the world cannot afford any expensive climate policies now. Economic conditions are so bad that carbon dioxide emissions—the byproduct of our commerce—are likely going down because of the financial cold spell, not the climatic one. Indeed, a permanent economic ice-age would likely result from any mandated large cuts in emissions. If you’re liking your 401(k) today, you’ll love “Beyond Kyoto.”


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