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  • The Global Warming Challenge

    Some of the most egregious policies implemented by Congress have been when Members failed to fully understand the costs and the benefits of that policy. Sometimes it’s haste and other times it’s failing to take into account the seen and the unseen. The question is: If Congress implements a stringent global warming policy or the Environmental Protection Agency restricts greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, is it going to be one of the costliest mistakes ever for the least amount of gain?

    It might be too early to tell if man-made global warming is a serious threat. Granted, there’s the we-must-act-now-if-we-want-to-save-our-planet crowd but scientists and scholars are still collecting valuable evidence. Whether new evidence argues that man-made global warming is a serious threat or dissents this idea, neither view should be suppressed. More information will allow Congress to make better informed decisions.

    Telling new evidence by some of the world’s brightest minds is saying that it’s not humans that are at the core of climate change but Mother Nature. For instance, in a recently released study,

    Scientists at MIT have recorded a nearly simultaneous world-wide increase in methane levels. This is the first increase in ten years, and what baffles science is that this data contradicts theories stating man is the primary source of increase for this greenhouse gas. It takes about one full year for gases generated in the highly industrial northern hemisphere to cycle through and reach the southern hemisphere. However, since all worldwide levels rose simultaneously throughout the same year, it is now believed this may be part of a natural cycle in mother nature – and not the direct result of man’s contributions.”

    What does this mean? Well for one, even though there is far less methane released than carbon dioxide methane has an effect on the atmosphere 25 times greater than carbon dioxide. More importantly,

    [S]cience is only beginning to get a handle on the big picture of global warming. Findings like these tell us it’s too early to know for sure if man’s impact is affecting things at the political cry of “alarming rates.” We may simply be going through another natural cycle of warmer and colder times – one that’s been observed through a scientific analysis of the Earth to be naturally occurring for hundreds of thousands of years.”

    Environmentalists have been making wild predictions for decades. The Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill introduced in July was the first real attempt to cut carbon dioxide restrictions in the United States. The U.S. wisely rejected the multilateral approach, the Kyoto Protocol. Now, the EPA wants to take matters into their own hands You can stop them, however, by submitting a comment at and telling them why it’s a bad idea – we made it easy for you at StopEPA.com.

    Politicians may not take into account costs and benefits when making a decision but economists certainly do. Two of my colleagues, Dr. David Kreutzer and Dr. Karen Campbell, found that restrictions are carbon dioxide will significantly reduce energy, income and employment. Green jobs may be created but more jobs are destroyed. In their report, annual job losses exceed 800,000 for several years – and the green jobs “created” are incorporated in this number. The full report can be found here. It’s safe to say these costs would be even higher without a massive expansion of nuclear energy.

    And the benefits? Even according to the Environmental Protection Agency, a U.S. cap-and-trade system would have negligible effects on global temperature:

    Analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that a 60 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 will reduce CO2 concentrations by only 25 ppm in 2095. This reduction would affect world temperatures by 0.1 to 0.2 degrees C. In other words it makes virtually no difference.”

    Would a multilateral approach do any better? It’s unlikely. Senior Policy Analyst for Energy & Environment Ben Lieberman writes that

    The Kyoto Protocol, assuming full global compliance (which has not been the case), was estimated to reduce the Earth’s temperature by a scant 0.07 degrees Celsius by 2050. This is an amount too small even to verify and one for which any resulting benefits would be inconsequential.”

    It’s going to be a challenge to convince Congress that the insanely high costs aren’t worth the negligible benefits of a CO2 restriction policy and, moreover, that the debate on global warming is not over. But with more evidence surfacing such as the MIT study; maybe it will persuade policymakers to take a second look.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to The Global Warming Challenge

    1. Josh, Breckenridge says:

      Since the media won't report it: October 2008 has seen the fastest Arctic sea ice extent growth ever recorded. According to the data published by IARC-JAXA, the amount of growth has reached 3,481,575 square kilometers for the month, or 112,319 sq km per day on avg. This is indicative of the global cooling trend. The Pacific Ocean is now several years into the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and it's more than likely global cooling will be the trend for the next 20-30 years. If Solar Cycle 24 continues to be mild, we may be looking at a cooling event similar to those experienced during the Little Ice Age. Now's not the time to be bankrupting the coal industry. The government should be preparing the country for crop failures and starvation brought on by global cooling.

    2. James Stockton Hot S says:

      I don't understand how this global warming hysteria has gained so much weight. Who are the credible institutions and real scientists pushing it? Who in his right mind would take seriously the United Nations or Al Gore? Who would really believe that a trace gas such as CO2 (350ppm)would have more influence on the earth's climate than the sun? Global warming is a scam and the US government has fallen for it. God help us!

    3. Jake Fox says:

      The earth and universe isn't billions of years old, so global warming is absurd to begin with.

    4. Dan Pangburn says:

      1. Applying dynamic system concepts to average global temperature history proves that net positive feedback does not exist.

      2. Learning about dynamic systems is not required for climate scientists.

      3. Global Climate Model users invoke substantial net positive feedback which causes the GCMs to predict substantial global warming.

      4. Without the imposition of substantial net positive feedback the GCMs do not predict significant global warming.

    5. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      Man-made global warming and the dire prediction are pure hoax to control lives of people and principally damage capitalism.

      1. The Co2 data cited for pre-industrial level was chosen from a select data of low values derived from the ice core samples while other less favorable data so that the currently measured atmospheric data would look different. The cooked up level was 250 ppm during the 1700-1800 while the current atmospheric level is 350 ppm. If all data was used elevating the pre-industrial Co2 level to about 325 ppm, it would discredit the theory of unchecked increase in C02 due to human activities of industrial era.

      2. The current model used is at least deficient in two key areas- neglects energy effect of sun spot activities and negative feedback effects. In temperate zones, vegetation (recycling of Co2)goes dormant every fall and winter. If there was no negative feedback present, then the Co2 levels will increase much faster than measured.

      3. The current model can not be validated as it can not predict the little ice age of 1650-1700 due to Maunder Minimum. Without validation model results can not be relied on.

      4. The surface temperature has been declining from about 2000 and as a matter of fact, has wiped out all the previous gains that were cited as the evidence of man-made global warming. The temperature seems to correlate with sun spot activities. On that basis, the surface temperature will follow the declining cycle 24 trend. We have already had record low temperatures in 2007-2008 winter with Beijing experiencing unusual snow storms and tropic Indian cities experiencing record low temperatures. For the first time in about 100 years, England has experienced snow in October. Northeast, is also experiencing colder weather than normal in October.

    6. kent/virginia says:

      Does this mean that our own Chicken Little, Al Gore, may have to give his oscar back? That he and his hollywood buddies will have to stop jetting around on speaking tours and fund raisers to tell us peons we must stop wasting energy?

    7. miggs, illinois says:

      Again, there's an assumed dichotomy between economic growth and curbing global warming. But what if the two went hand in hand? I'm associated with Recycled Energy Development, a company that turns manufacturers' waste heat into clean power. In other words, we increase their efficiency, which cuts greenhouse emissions AND energy costs. Studies for the EPA and DoE say energy recycling could cut U.S. greenhouse gases by 20%. Meanwhile, we'd save money.

      So why isn't more being done? Simple: regulations. Regulations are protecting monopoly electric utilities and preventing competition in the energy industry. Since utilities have guaranteed profits and get to pass on all operating costs to consumers, they have no incentive to be efficient. And exclusivity agreements that utilities have on building electric wires make it hard for others to sell power.

      So we have a situation where we could dramatically lower greenhouse gases (to which people on this thread should be at least indifferent rather than hostile) while making the market freer and more profitable (which people on this thread should want). Where are all the cries for energy recycling and a freer energy market?

    8. Dan Pangburn says:

      It is becoming more and more obvious that the perception that added atmospheric carbon dioxide is a cause of significant global warming was a horendous mistake.

      Identify equipment and/or processes that are truely cost effective and they will sell.

    9. John A. Jauegui, Gar says:

      This election saw most Global Warming initiatives fail, for good reason. The principle reason is that most consumers, farmers, ranchers and foresters understand two things. First, global warming is good, not bad. Second, carbon in general and carbon dioxide in particular is good, not bad. Higher average temperatures together with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reduce crop failures and improve crop, grazing and forest production. Those two factors are the principal forces greening the planet and feeding all of us today. Liberal and eco-cults want to torpedo that winning combination. Why? Perhaps readers have some ideas here.

    10. Aaron, Salt Lake Cit says:

      The global temperatures have been declining for 10 years now and with the sun's inactivity lately. We could be looking at serious global cooling which would skyrocket the demand for fuel and the price.

    11. Larry R. Camp, Monti says:

      Of course you do understand that fossil fuel comsumption is far less damaging to the environment that solar energy, or do you not know any mathematics and physics? If you want global warming that is irreversible, try solar energy, it does wonders for this.

      Larry

    12. systemsguy, austinTX says:

      When I read comments like these, I worry for the future of conservatism in the US. I'm a retired businessman who was also one of the pioneers in the development of general systems theory and modeling. I'm a conservative, but it's hard to be a Republican at times when the know-nothing wing of the party tries to turn science into a conspiracy theory. Yes, some climate alarmists have exaggerated the facts or dangers. Yes, Al Gore is an ass. No, that does not mean that global warming is all nonsense.

      I've studied the data and the models in great detail, with a critical and skeptical eye. My son is a geoscientist (and even more conservative than I am) and he has come to the same conclusions I have. Dan Pangburn is simply wrong when he says that "applying dynamic system concepts to average global temperature history proves that net positive feedback does not exist." On the contrary, there is a lot of evidence that existing climate models _underestimate_ the degree of positive feedback, witness the much greater than expected melting of the Arctic icecap this year.

      Here are just three of the many known positive feedback loops or "vicious circles" involving climate: less ice and snow means less sunlight reflected and more heat absorbed; warmer oceans release more dissolved CO2 and absorb less; and thawing tundra produces methane, which creates even more warming per ton than CO2. Each of these processes acts to amplify and accelerate the existing warming trend.

      Anyone in doubt of the reality of global warming should take a serious look at the pictures of the disappearing polar ice this summer. 55 million years ago – sorry, Mr. Fox – the poles had no icecaps. Antarctica was covered by temperate forest and the Arctic was a warm lake. The rest of the earth had a climate like today's Central Africa. CO2 levels were ten times what they are right now, a level that humans and other mammals would find physically intolerable. What happened? The record shows that plants removed teratonnes of carbon from the atmosphere over an extended period. The reduction in CO2 over time immediately precedes the global decline in temperature and tracks perfectly with it.

      If we continue to extract that carbon from where it is buried and reinject it into the atmosphere, we will reverse the process. You can argue that some degree of global warming is tolerable, but it would be hard to find any responsible person, liberal or conservative, who would argue that going back to "hothouse earth" or 3600 ppm of CO2 would be a good thing.

      Again, it is possible to have a rational debate about how urgent the problem is and how drastic the measures to control it should be, but dismissing the whole problem as a nutty left-wing conspiracy is not responsible or sensible.

      This is a serious enough problem that many liberal ecofanatics are willing to rethink half a century of blind opposition to nuclear power. If we dismiss it out of hand, we just position the conservative movement as a bunch of right-wing anti-ecology nuts who can't do basic science and care more about short-term profits than about the future.

      If we concentrate instead on finding the most benign policies that would reduce greenhouse gasses, and we swing our support behind those policies, we position ourselves as the thoughtful but pragmatic stewards of our country's future.

      For example, we should be supporting a carbon tax instead of the Dems' cap and trade boondoggle. Why not? Tax revenue has to come from somewhere; get it from a carbon tax and reduce taxes elsewhere to match. Reducing the consumption of carbon fuels would increase national security, help our balance of trade, and hurt oil exporters like Russia, Venezuela, and Iran. (Ask any general whether cutting oil imports by 60% would make his life easier.) It would also make nuclear power and a variety of other non-carbon energy sources cost competitive without subsidies.

      We should also consider pushing for a large hike in the CAFE standards. 50 MPG is easily doable and economically viable if we halve vehicle weight by switching from steel to carbon fiber construction. We use the technology right now for everything from golf clubs to jet fighters. It's 10 times stronger than steel and has 10 times the energy absorption in a crash, so it would be safer as well as lighter. The only reason Honda and Toyota aren't doing it already is that capital costs are high and marketing a light car would be hard without a government mandate, because the public wrongly believes lighter cars are necessarily less safe.

      The Big 3 sold out to their unions long ago; it's time Republicans stopped coddling $75/hour blue collar workers with public subsidies. Some tough love is in order. If Detroit wants a bailout, let them ask for it as a subsidy for completely retooling to make lightweight, crash-resistant, carbon-fiber vehicles instead of steel. And the funding should be conditional on using Ch. 11 to shed the current unaffordable labor contracts and pension load.

      Miggs of Illinois is right. There's no necessary reason for energy conservation to be anti-business, nor is it necessarily harmful to our economy. Anything that lets America substitute brains and advanced technology for imported raw materials helps our productivity and improves our position in world trade.

      The Dems are sure to support a lot of impractical proposals; if we just concede the battle, then there WILL be a lot of harm to the economy, but it will be the result of our own stupid politics, not global warming.

    13. Dan Pangburn, AZ says:

      For most of earth’s history carbon dioxide level has been several times higher than the present 8,9. The planet plunged in to the Andean-Saharan ice age 440 million years ago 10 when the carbon dioxide level was over ten times higher than now.

      8. Raw science report http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Reference_Docs/
      9. Includes easier-to-read graph which uses the appropriate curve from 8 plus a temperature curve. http://mysite.verizon.net/mhieb/WVFossils/Carboni… or http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/climatec… which appears to come from 8. and only shows carbon dioxide level.

      10. http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm

      —————

      Climatologists got it wrong. There is only one complete and exact computer of global climate and that is the planet itself. It obviously complies with all laws of nature including physics and quantum mechanics. Einstein said “no number of tests can prove I’m right but only one is needed to prove I’m wrong”. That one test, (actually there have been many) that proves to be wrong the theory that added atmospheric carbon dioxide causes significant global warming, was run on the planet computer and the results are archived in the Vostok and EPICA ice cores. NOAA extracted temperature and carbon dioxide from these ice cores. The data is available on line at: Temperature change (or anomalies per their terminology) are per the Vostok, Antarctica ice cores from http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/temp/vostok/vost…. Carbon dioxide levels from http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/vostok.html . Google ‘dan Pangburn global warming’ and select the first hit (Middlebury site) to see the NOAA data plotted on the second graph. Notice that, repeatedly during the last and previous glacial periods, a temperature increasing trend changed to a decreasing trend with the atmospheric carbon dioxide level higher during the temperature down-trend than it had been when the temperature trend was increasing. This proves that there is no net positive feedback in climate and that, at least then, atmospheric carbon dioxide did not drive average global temperature (agt).

      There is no educational requirement in climate science to learn anything about Dynamic System Theory (DST). DST includes how feedback works. Unaware of DST climate scientists are unaware that climate on earth can be evaluated as a dynamic system with agt as output and that the Vostok data prove that net positive feedback does not exist in earth’s climate. Unaware of this, atmosphere/ocean global climate model (AOGCM) users impose significant net positive feedback in the AOGCMs which causes them to erroneously predict global warming. Without significant net positive feedback AOGCMs do not predict significant global warming. (Zero feedback results in 1.2°C from doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide per p631 of ch8 of IPCC AR4. This prediction is probably still high because of faulty parameterization etc.).

      One of the well known observations in science is that added increments of carbon dioxide when atmospheric carbon dioxide level is high have less influence on anything than adding the same size increments did when atmospheric carbon dioxide level was lower. Knowing this, it is easy to deduce that added atmospheric carbon dioxide level now has even less influence on agt than it did during the last (and previous) glacial periods when atmospheric carbon dioxide level was lower and atmospheric carbon dioxide level did not drive agt. Thus added atmospheric carbon dioxide level does not now and never will cause a significant increase in agt.

    14. Don, Idaho says:

      Reply to Josh beckenridge:

      Thanks for the deceitful data which concentrates on a single monthly data point rather than looking at the big picture. If you want to look at the big picture of arctic sea ice, here it is:

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/0810

      "Arctic sea ice extent during the 2008 melt season dropped to the second-lowest level since satellite measurements began in 1979, reaching the lowest point in its annual cycle of melt and growth on Sept. 14,"

      So when you say "the media won't report it", maybe you should say "only my right-wing media reports the deceitful information I want you to see, but the rest of the media does fact checking and eliminates smoke-and-mirrors type information".

      You are welcome for the correction.

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