Nov 10

In a column titled, “The Economic Uses of Al Gore“, The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins, Jr. compares Al Gore’s economic motives versus his stated sincerity to solve the “climate crisis”:

Last spring Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn asked Al Gore during a House hearing if his investments in green energy meant he would benefit personally from cap and trade.

“If you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don’t know me,” Mr. Gore responded (and, yes, according to two reporters present, he sighed).

Mr. Gore is quite right that his arguments should be judged on their merits, not on his investments. He’s wrong to think his investments are irrelevant, and, even more, that sincerity is dispositive of anything. Sincerity is no substitute for disinterestedness.

Here are a couple questions: When so much of his position and prestige are invested in a predicted climate crisis, is Mr. Gore likely to be open to contrary evidence? Is he likely to be particularly fastidious about whether proposed steps will actually have an effect on global warming if they also happen to benefit his investments?

Ms. Blackburn’s challenge was in a sense late. Mr. Gore long ago jumped over to the side where salesmanship, by whatever means, was the trumping priority. As far back as 1989, he insisted there was “no dispute worthy of recognition” about the danger of manmade climate change. By now, he titularly heads a vast establishment with a stake in one side of the argument.

Notice, for instance, after a decade in which the earth appears to have stopped warming and even cooled, that global warming advocates have rushed to embrace a computer simulation that predicts this cooling (in retrospect, of course) and allows for indefinite future cooling, even while assuring that the world is destined to face disastrous warming anyway. Isn’t this what forecasters of doom have done since time immemorial when their deadlines for doom haven’t been met?

Mr. Gore’s own predictions of a climate catastrophe have not lessened, but every time he opens his mouth, the costs of meeting the emergency become easier and easier to swallow. They aren’t even costs anymore; as he says in his new book, they are “profits.”

All policy salesmanship naturally defaults toward the proposition of huge benefits and negligible costs (i.e., free lunchism). Isn’t that where Al Gore is today?

Mr. Gore notes that he has poured his own money into two climate action nonprofits, but, whatever his self-felt motives, aren’t these nonprofits functionally propaganda arms (i.e., advertising) that benefit his for-profit investments?

Then, after going over some of the most recent science that runs contrary to Al Gore’s position, Jenkins concludes:

…we have been convinced that the scientific questions are interesting and irrelevant, since it was never in the cards that Western societies (or Brazil or India or China) would sacrifice economic growth for the uncertain benefits of fighting climate change. Unable to do anything meaningful about climate change, policy would therefore default to satisfying the demand of organized interests for climate pork.

Isn’t that, however much he may be distracted by feelings of sincerity, exactly the economic function of Mr. Gore today?

Read it all at The Wall Street Journal.

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Jun 25

This column by Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel made my day week month.

An excerpt:

Steve Fielding recently asked the Obama administration to reassure him on the science of man-made global warming. When the administration proved unhelpful, Mr. Fielding decided to vote against climate-change legislation.

If you haven’t heard of this politician, it’s because he’s a member of the Australian Senate. As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to pass a climate-change bill, the Australian Parliament is preparing to kill its own country’s carbon-emissions scheme. Why? A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming.

Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as “deniers.” The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country’s new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country’s weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. — 13 times the number who authored the U.N.’s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world’s first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak “frankly” of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming “the worst scientific scandal in history.” Norway’s Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the “new religion.” A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton’s Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists’ open letter.)

The collapse of the “consensus” has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth’s temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Credit for Australia’s own era of renewed enlightenment goes to Dr. Ian Plimer, a well-known Australian geologist. Earlier this year he published “Heaven and Earth,” a damning critique of the “evidence” underpinning man-made global warming. The book is already in its fifth printing. So compelling is it that Paul Sheehan, a noted Australian columnist — and ardent global warming believer — in April humbly pronounced it “an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence.” Australian polls have shown a sharp uptick in public skepticism; the press is back to questioning scientific dogma; blogs are having a field day.

Read the rest at The Wall Street Journal.

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Jun 24

The Wall Street Journal editorial board:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put cap-and-trade legislation on a forced march through the House, and the bill may get a full vote as early as Friday. It looks as if the Democrats will have to destroy the discipline of economics to get it done.

Despite House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman’s many payoffs to Members, rural and Blue Dog Democrats remain wary of voting for a bill that will impose crushing costs on their home-district businesses and consumers. The leadership’s solution to this problem is to simply claim the bill defies the laws of economics.

The hit to GDP is the real threat in this bill. The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment. Some companies will instead move their operations overseas, with the same result.

Even as Democrats have promised that this cap-and-trade legislation won’t pinch wallets, behind the scenes they’ve acknowledged the energy price tsunami that is coming. During the brief few days in which the bill was debated in the House Energy Committee, Republicans offered three amendments: one to suspend the program if gas hit $5 a gallon; one to suspend the program if electricity prices rose 10% over 2009; and one to suspend the program if unemployment rates hit 15%. Democrats defeated all of them.

The reality is that cost estimates for climate legislation are as unreliable as the models predicting climate change. What comes out of the computer is a function of what politicians type in. A better indicator might be what other countries are already experiencing. Britain’s Taxpayer Alliance estimates the average family there is paying nearly $1,300 a year in green taxes for carbon-cutting programs in effect only a few years.

Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history. Even Democrats can’t repeal that reality.

Read it all at The Wall Street Journal.

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Jun 18

From The Wall Street Journal:

Essayist Jamais Cascio certainly deserves credit for creativity and chutzpah in putting forward global geoengineering proposals to cool the planet. Bypassing any further debate regarding the effects of man-made pollution versus normal (and uncontrollable) planetary cycles, Mr. Cascio proposes a stratospheric sulfate injection and pumping seawater into clouds as ways to the slow the Earth’s warming. His planetary-cooling recommendations sound feasible, although he concedes that they may have very undesirable and unknowable side effects.

The most amusing aspect is captured in one of his own questions about climate manipulation: “Would all ‘odd’ weather patterns be ascribed to the geoengineering effort?” It’s amusing in that all of today’s odd weather patterns are ascribed to global warming. The Northeast U.S., which has seen very little sunshine and has experienced abnormally cold temperatures in recent months, is a case in point. The explanation is that global warming causes climate chaos that may produce colder and wetter than normal conditions. As one who prefers warm, sunny weather, I admit that I was a global-warming fan, until it sank in that warming was causing cooling.

Paul Schroer
Bridgeville, Del.

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Jun 08

From The Wall Street Journal:

I get up most mornings at about 5 a.m. and read my Journal by the light of a lamp with sockets. Being greenish and patriotic, I replaced my two 100-watt incandescent bulbs with two of the new fluorescent bulbs of the same alleged wattage. Result: I couldn’t read my Journal. My wife had the same experience. We gave our fluorescent bulbs to someone who doesn’t read.

Arthur Blanchard
Dallas

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