Category: Global Warming

NASA and EPA Causing More Political Trouble

NASA released a new study that warns about severe weather, such as “megadroughts” that will plague the Southwest and Central Plains of the United States from 2050 to 2099. The study says that greenhouse gas emissions can increase the likelihood of this severe weather.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase along current trajectories throughout the 21st century, there is an 80 percent likelihood of a decades-long megadrought in the Southwest and Central Plains between the years 2050 and 2099.

At the same time, the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules for mercury emissions from power plants (specifically targeting coal power plants) is going to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The mercury emissions rules would help close down every coal power plant that provides close to 40 percent of the electricity in the United States. As the Supreme Court reviews these rules, the court should consider that:

  • There is more mercury in the air from natural sources ― such as volcanoes ― than from all human activity.
  • Mercury emitted from both volcanoes and coal-fired smokestacks resides for months in the air, usually until it is precipitated out by some rainstorm. In addition, a large amount of the mercury that falls in North America originated in highly polluted China.
  • All U.S. emissions are 2 percent of the global total.
  • U.S. power plants emit only half of that ― about 0.5 percent of the total ― and by 2016 will emit even less than that.

The climate is changing, always has and will continue to do so. However, the human impact to that change, especially in the United States, is minimal. Making this issue so politically incendiary distracts our leaders from doing their job, hurts our economy and weakens the U.S. position in the world.

Does it Matter if Alleged Climate Change is Alleged to be Human-Caused?

Three things happened recently to prompt this plea for clearer thinking on the issue of alleged climate change.

  1. A fund-raising letter from the Environmental Defense Fund, a once fine environmental policy think tank that has lost its way on “Global Warming”, which was the subject of the letter.
  2. Paul Jacobs Common Sense column, which focused on disagreement on natural vs. human basis for alleged climate change.
  3. Several of the comments on Bjorn Lomborg’s Wall Street Journal Op-Ed on Climate Change Alarmism focused on human vs. natural causation.

By the way, as an economist, I don’t have a noteworthy opinion on the physical science of climate change. As an environmental economist (before I jumped into school system reform studies), I can see that there is a lot less agreement among climate scientists on this issue than the mainstream media outlets argue. For example, climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer laments: “Two scientists can examine the same data and come to exactly opposite conclusions about causation.” And the unscientific basis for widely-assumed human causation depresses Dr. Spencer.

What depresses me is the continued failure to focus on the central issue, which is the ability to cost effectively address the issue. Instead, there is a lot of focus on the nearly irrelevant causation issue. Suppose scientists detect a huge meteor on a collision course with earth. Can you imagine someone saying ignore it because it is not human-caused? Suppose another ice age is imminent? We wouldn’t worry about cause. We’d be doing benefit-cost analysis on ways to warm things up. If/when catastrophic warming becomes imminent, we’d better stop the finger-pointing and focus on cooling strategies, or lacking cost-effective cooling strategies, we’d better invest in go-it-alone, no-regrets strategies and adaptation to a warmer planet. In this period of uncertainty and controversy about the scope of the threat and cost-effectiveness of feasible strategies, serious people will give special attention to the many available policies that reduce methane and fossil fuel emissions as a side benefit to already attractive policies from other perspectives (= no regrets). One of those is the challenge to eliminate costly shortages of highway space. The popular term for such “shortages” is traffic jam, which are very costly just for the delay they cause, not to mention vehicle wear and tear, increased air pollution, and over-building of roads to meet the demand at a direct price of zero. The ECO 101 cause of all shortages is setting price too low. At rush hour, “free”-way is too cheap.  Economic illiteracy is often very costly.

Human Waste Provides Water and Energy to Poor

Recent efforts have advanced philanthropic efforts to help those that are needy around the globe. Third world nations with extremely poor populations with 1.2 to 2.4 billion people are an easy target for these groups. Over 95 countries have renewable energy support polices compared to 15 countries in 2005.

The climate conferences, such as the Lima Climate Negotiations, had a focus on providing energy resources and other resources to communities with existing infrastructure. However, the rural communities or “off-the-grid” populations are left out. More efforts are needed to give access to these communities so that they can also receive these resources.

Innovative projects, such as a next generation steam engine Omniproccessor, that converts human waste from 100,000 people into 86,000 liters of drinkable water and 250 kilowatts of electricity, are planning to reach these communities.

Climate conferences must be more human centered and less climate centered. Otherwise, too many “off-the-grid” communities around the globe will continue to suffer. Projects like the Omniproccessor have a chance to achieve what the governments continue to fail to do for the extreme poor around the globe, faster and more efficiently.


China-U.S. “Climate” Accord

A big deal is being made over the United States’ and China’s “landmark agreement” to curb carbon emissions. The climate aspects of the agreement are important for the global community — particularly in light of United Nations General Assembly President Sam Kahamba Kutesa’s announcement that he would convene a high-level event on combating climate change in June. While this joint agreement is seen as an important step for climate change enthusiasts, this new accord between China and the U.S. has much more far-reaching energy, trade and security implications.

Energy. As part of its attempts to cut emissions, China plans on expanding its “clean” energy sources, such as solar power and windmills, to produce 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030. President Obama, in return, intends to reduce carbon emissions by up to 28 percent by 2025. Considering China and the United States are the top two carbon polluters, any “meaningful worldwide pact” on the issue would founder without their support, according to The New York Times.

Trade. Cuts to tariffs were a big discussion during the “unexpectedly productive” meeting. Obama agreed to cut tariffs for technology products, including video-game consoles, computer software and medical equipment. Overall, Obama and the Chinese agreed to eliminate more than 200 categories of tariffs, which the Obama administration estimates could create up to 60,000 jobs and generate $1 trillion is sales per year. However, the promotion of two competing free-trade blocs for the Asian region — the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Chinese-led Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific, which was recently approved for study — underscores the continued competition between China and the United States.

Security. Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping made headway in two important security topics during the negotiations. First, Obama and Xi agreed to a military accord to avert clashes between American and Chinese forces in the waters off of the Chinese coast. Additionally, Obama and Xi agreed to resume the U.S.-China working group on cybersecurity issues, which broke down after the U.S. brought hacking charges against several Chinese military officials.

Many of these issues won’t be easy to tackle for the Obama administration. However, Obama still hopes to take the U.S.-China relationship to a “new level.”

To a point, the announcement of the U.S.-China accord is exciting. Yet rather than focusing solely on the often-controversial capping of carbon emissions, perhaps we should focus on the other, arguably bigger announcements to come out of the accord — like reduced tariffs, possibly job creation, and shoring up national security efforts.

Bluefin Tuna in the Artic Linked to Scary Climate Change

Apparently, climate change is warming the waters of the Arctic Ocean and this is encouraging the bluefin tuna to chase their mackerel prey into these waters — and this is a bad thing?

According to a writer on such issues at TakePart, this change is bad, however there is no mention of how or why it is bad. However, there are several mentions that this is the result of climate change and this strange explanation:

Climate change is really challenging political and diplomatic relationships,” said Nick Dulvy, a professor of marine biodiversity and conservation at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. “Species names will change, and if your quotas are tied to a species name, that’s a problem for the fishery.

Numerous comments and responses to this article, from the shocking to the more realistic and informative, this one was particularly useful:

I hate to be the devil’s advocate (I am a journalist, sorry), but to find bluefin tuna in the cold water of the Arctic is no suprise at all. This fish is one of the few to have a warm blood system, of about 30°C. Hence, the bluefin tuna can hunt for prey from the very warm water of Brazil to the very cold of Arctic, without any problem. It is not new at all. For ages, the bluefin tuna just follows its prey, wherever they are. The news can be that (cold blooded) prey are moving North… If some of you are interested in the topic (and read French), look carefully at this.

Do you also find this this correlation interesting?

The New Climate Economy

A new report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate claims that the appropriate action to reduce the risks of global climate change will have many positive effects on nation’s economies.

Without (undefined) urgent action:

  • Global warming could exceed 4 degrees Celsius.
  • Delay in action could cut global consumption growth by 0.3 percent per year in the decade 2030 to 2040.
  • If we act on climate change now, consumption growth may only go down 0.1 percent.

This whole report is centered on the fact that a warming planet is inevitable and that acting now would save more money in the long run. The study supposes the global warming will cause natural resources to dwindle, arable land to be less available, and food and water to become scarce. Furthermore, they believe that regulations now to curb global warming would be beneficial, even if it means short-term economic losses, because it staves off larger economic losses in the future.

Sure, if that were the case anyone with half a mind would say that we should act now rather than later. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We don’t have to accept that global warming will cause unprecedented human disaster. According to the NCPA’s global warming primer, there are several things wrong with the new report:

  • First, we find that 96.6 percent of carbon emissions come from nature, and not humans. The regulations would do nothing but hurt the economy and not solve the problem.
  • Second, there is no consensus on the magnitude of the impact, it is likely that the apocalyptic scenarios won’t pan out even if the Earth is to increase by 2 degrees Celsius.
  • Finally, stabilizing carbon emissions at even 550 ppm would cost trillions of dollars.

These are some things that the report has not considered.

Google Quits ALEC Before Climate Summit

The executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, says that their support of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was a mistake. This announcement comes just before the United Nations Climate Summit. Google has not altered in their support of ALEC in recent years. This sudden change comes as major U.S. companies are being pressured to change their positions, especially financially, on climate change.

Schmidt says that any group that argues against research that shows that humans are the cause of climate change, are just lying. Such a statement and change of support just shows how Google has joined other U.S. companies in buckling to climate change alarmists right before yesterday’s summit.

Rockefellers Buckle to Climate Change Summit

Just before the United Nation Summit on Climate Change that happened yesterday, the long-time Rockefeller Standard Oil family made a major announcement:

On Monday, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced their divestment from the fossil fuel industry “in a move to pressure companies that are adding to climate change.” The amount of divested funds have reached $50 billion and the firm has pledged to triple that total by Q4 2014. The fund is immediately divesting from coal and tar and assessing divestment from other fossil fuels. Although RBF manages assets totaling under $1 billion and is separate from the more endowed Rockefeller Foundation, their announcement supplements the rising public momentum against climate change and non-renewables.

Under lots of pressure, major U.S. companies are buckling to climate change alarmists ahead of the summit. This kind of sudden shift in funds and direction of a company does more harm than any good.

Thousands March in Global Climate Change Rally

With newly appointed U.N. Messenger for Peace (climate change), Leonardo DiCaprio, and former Vice President Al Gore, tens of thousands marched in New York City and other cities around the world right before the United Nation’s Climate Summit.

Chris Rock and Mark Ruffalo also joined the march that included a familiar message of the concern of increasing droughts and storms and the threat of rising oceans.

Despite the collection of fringe groups who called for many other things as well as climate change and others who were clearly hypocrites, the summit and rallies will clearly show off the over hypersensitive issue.

This hypersensitive issue ranks at second from bottom of issues to people in 2014 Gallup poll.

Fighting Global Warming Will Cost $4 Trillion +

A new report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate reports that fighting global warming will cost $4 trillion over 15 years. However, the report also says:

  • Countries will spend an extra $90 trillion on infrastructure.
  • Countries will enact policies to reduce their carbon footprints.

Expanding each participating country’s infrastructure, halt deforestation, regulate carbon dioxide emissions, land use reforms and reducing fossil fuel subsides is just the start of a much larger economic cost than just $4 trillion that the report claims would be the cost to fight global warming.