Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a potential running-mate choice for presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, joined other Democratic Senators yesterday on the Senate floor to attack the Cornwall Alliance, and a few other Virginia-based organizations, in a poor attempt to defend climate alarmism against its critics.
As usual, Kaine’s was an argument rife with logical fallacies - appeals to emotion, straw men, ridicule, oversimplification, and misrepresentation.
The one thing the good Senator forgot to include in his speech was any sound science!
According to Kaine, The Cornwall Alliance is part of a “web of denial,” a “shadow organization,” “bizzaro” and “greedy.”
Senator Kaine quoted a tiny piece of our Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change (which he didn’t mention was signed by hundreds of scientists, including over 20 climate scientists), in which we had quoted Psalm 19, and then said,
“So somebody is really using Scripture to argue that making our energy production cleaner, safer, cheaper, violates the Christian tenet of caring for the poor?”
No, Senator Kaine, if you read the full Open Letter you will discover that the argument, which includes both science and economics, shows that pushing technologies that are not currently better for the environment or cheaper (such as wind, solar, and biofuels) hurts those in poverty.
Since Senators Kaine, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and others are banding together to reveal the “web of denial” that appears to be made up only of conservative organizations they claim are funded by ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel corporations that they consider immoral (despite the fact that the energy they provide has been indispensable to lifting and keeping billions of people out of poverty, as Kathleen Hartnett White brilliantly demonstrates in her booklet Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case), what about the “web of denial” created by alarmist organizations - which are funded by renewable energy corporations and governments that stand to gain from climate alarm, and which have been caught exaggerating, fabricating, and falsifying data to support their views, suppressing contrary data, intimidating scientists who disagree, and corrupting the scientific peer-review process?
Senator Kaine claims that 70% of Virginians agree with the “scientific consensus” that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is real and that “it is urgent that we do something about it.”
What “scientific consensus”?
The “97% of scientists” that is the go-to statistic for alarmists has been debunked so thoroughly that it takes serious chutzpah to use it.
Then there is the fact (observable fact mind you, not computer model) that shows there has been no statistically significant long-term global warming for about the last 19 years.
Yet they deny this too.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) has increased drastically during that time, so where is the correlation between increased temperature and CO2?
There is none.
No one argues that humans have absolutely no effect on the environment or on potential warming.
What is in question is whether human emissions of CO2 will create temperature increases so drastic as to cause a catastrophe so great as to justify spending trillions of dollars to mitigate it that could be spent instead to lift billions of people out of poverty and the high rates of disease and premature death that invariably accompany it. And right now the only proof alarmists have is computer model projections that are wildly inaccurate, and a hockey stick graph so derided by the scientific community for its inaccuracies as to be utterly worthless.
That’s some serious denial.
To watch the full speech click here. The Cornwall Alliance is mentioned in the second part of the video.
For more information on the dangers of environmental alarmism to people in poverty, go to here. The Cornwall Alliance is mentioned in the second part of the video.
For more information on the dangers of environmental alarmism to people in poverty, go to our website, www.cornwallalliance.org” title="our website">our website.
“Social Cost of Carbon” - Going, Going, Gone?
June 13, 2016 By E. Calvin Beisner
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency forecasts the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) in the year 2020 to run anywhere from $13 to $137 per metric ton. That’s EPA’s measure of the harm each ton of “carbon” (really carbon dioxide, but who cares with our ill-educated public that doesn’t know the difference between an element and a compound -especially when the shorthand serves the purpose of scaring people needlessly?) emitted into the atmosphere.
Its estimates are based on a combination of computer climate models (that fail accurately to depict past global average temperature) and computer models of how ecosystems and economies will respond to rising temperatures.
But now three scholars have published a paper challenging those (and many other) estimates of the SCC based on empirically driven estimates of climate sensitivity (warming to ensue from doubled atmospheric CO2 concentration after all climate feedbacks have had their effect, i.e., in around two centuries). Kevin Dayaratna, David Kreutzer, and Ross McKitrick’s ”Empirically-Constrained Climate Sensitivity and the Social Cost of Carbon” finds, on the basis of empirical studies, that he computer climate models exaggerate CO2-induced warming, and consequently all the models about any harms attributable to the CO2 also exaggerate.
How badly? Enough that after correction, one widely used estimate falls by 30% to 50%, and another by 80%.
And, indeed, it could even turn out that the SCC is negative - that is, that CO2 added to the atmosphere brings more benefits than harms.
Which means that we wicked Americans, who have higher CO2 emissions per capita than most people, may well by doing so be doing more good for the world than most, too.
America has centuries of fossil fuels, but hydrocarbon deniers want to strangle our future
Fool me once, the adage says, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
The reality-based fossil fuel version states: Fuel me for 150 years, fuel me forever - or at least until creative, entrepreneurial spirits can devise reliable, affordable alternatives. The 2016 Democratic Party would change this adage to read: Fuel me for 150 years, fuel me never again.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton want to regulate drilling and fracking into oblivion, or ban them outright. Clinton also says she is “going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
The draft Democratic Party platform supports a “phase down” of fossil fuel production on public lands, turning those lands into “engines of the clean energy economy,” getting 50% of US electricity from “clean sources” by 2027, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.
This Big Green, Bigger Government, Democratic ideology represents destructive madness.
1) Oil, natural gas and coal replaced human and animal muscle, wood, waterwheels and whale oil. They provided the energy that lifted billions from abject poverty, disease, malnutrition and early death, to the amazing living standards and longevity we enjoy today. They still provide over 80% of America’s and the world’s energy, and the vast majority of nations are burning them in ever-increasing amounts to power their own health and economic transformations. Even wealthy developed countries are reexamining punitive climate and “renewable” energy policies, to embrace fossil fuels anew.
2) Fears that we will run out of oil and gas are unfounded. In 1945, the Institute for Energy Research (IER) reports, the USA had 20 billion barrels of oil reserves. Between 1945 and 2014 we consumed 177 billion barrels and still had 40 billion barrels of proven reserves left in the ground. It’s the same story with iron, copper, aluminum, titanium and other vital raw materials. The more we use, the more we have, thanks to constantly improving exploration, production and other technologies, driven by rising demand and prices, conceived and built by mankind’s increasingly creative genius, our Ultimate Resource.
3) In fact, we are still blessed with centuries of fossil fuels. Oslo-based Rystad Energy consulting calculates that the United States has 264 billion barrels of technologically and economically recoverable oil: 8 billion more than Russia and 52 billion more than Saudi Arabia.
Based on current consumption rates, IER and EIA (Energy Information Administration) data show that US “proven reserves” (recoverable at today’s prices) total 5 years of oil, 13 years of natural gas and 319 years of coal. As prices rise and technologies improve, “technically recoverable” figures soar to 206 years for oil, 83 years for gas and 597 years for coal. “In-place total resource” estimates send these calculations to an astronomical 536, 510 and 12,849 years respectively!
4) According to the IER and economist Steve Moore, this amazing abundance could translate into 6 million new jobs and $1 trillion a year in energy exports. America’s non-environmentally sensitive western public lands could hold $50 trillion in energy resources, which new pipelines, refineries and liquefied natural gas terminals could bring to the world, unleashing incredible job and economic growth. However, Mrs. Clinton and Democrats oppose these facilities and want the resources locked up.
Those policies would be disastrous, especially for western states that would be turned into playgrounds for rich and famous elites, and for our manufacturing heartland. A University of Colorado Leeds School of Business study projects that eliminating 75-80% of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas in the Centennial State would cost it $11 billion per year and 62,000 jobs by 2030.
5) In the absence of government diktats, we will gradually and voluntarily make a transition to new energy sources that we cannot even imagine today, long before we run out of these fossil fuel bounties. We would do it without destroying jobs and economiesjust as we did over these past 150 years. Who among us, just 100 years ago, could have predicted the coal, gas, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants that generate 93% of today’s electricity ... or the cell phone, internet, medical, entertainment, manufacturing and other incredible technologies that are made possible by electricity?
Any coerced transition will destroy millions of jobs and send families, communities, states and nations into social and economic chaos - for no environmental or climate benefit.
6) Widespread wind and solar facilities would have monumental impacts. Industry data reveal that getting 50% of US electricity from wind would require some 465,000 turbines and 48,000 miles of new transmission lines, across croplands and wildlife habitats equal to North Dakota (45,000,000 acres) - and 675,000,000 tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass and rare earth metals. They would impair human health and kill millions of birds and bats annually. This is unconscionable and unsustainable.
And to top it off, we would still need backup coal or gas generators - unless we are willing to have to only minimal, expensive, constantly interrupted electricity, when it is available, rather than sufficient, affordable, dependable power, when we need it for modern lives, livelihoods and living standards.
Ruling elites may be happy to impose that on “commoners.” They will never tolerate it for themselves.
7) Every one of these “clean,” “green,” “sustainable,” “renewable” energy edicts and fantasies is based on assertions that fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases that are causing “dangerous manmade climate change.”
However, as my Climate Hype Exposed book, my numerous articles, and studies and books by hundreds of climate scientists reveal, there is no convincing evidence that carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions have replaced the powerful, interconnected natural forces that have always driven climate change. Climate alarmists cannot show that recent or ongoing climate and weather fluctuations, cycles and events are significantly different from those of the last 50, 150 or 1,500 years.
Climate alarmists cannot separate human influences from natural causes for any recent changes. They do not know how much Earth will warm by 2100. They cannot say at what point further warming will be “dangerous” [ or for which plant, wildlife or human populations. They admit that slashing America’s fossil fuel use will reduce global warming by only a few hundredths of one degree (assuming CO2 drives climate change), especially if most countries continue burning coal, oil and natural gas.
8) If we truly want to Make America great again, Help working class Americans, and Care about the poor - we will not “Keep it in the ground.” We will not squander our bounteous fossil fuel inheritance on the pagan altar of climate chaos. We will not sacrifice our children’s future for illusory ecological benefits.
The draft Democratic Party platform essentially says we must safeguard the assumed needs of future generations, even if it means ignoring or compromising the real needs of current generations including the needs, aspirations and welfare of America’s and the world’s poorest people.
It says we must protect poor and working classes from alleged, exaggerated and imagined climate disasters decades from now by imposing very real energy policy disasters that will adversely affect their jobs, living standards, health, wellbeing and life spans today.
That’s why the Obama EPA alone has issued more than 3,900 new tiny-print rules and regulations, totaling nearly 76,000 pages in the Federal Register, and costing us tens of billions of dollars a year.
Big Green Democrats think they can fool Americans again and again, and continue asserting their moral superiority, condescension and contempt for anyone who does not accept their ideologies and agendas. They believe it’s good policy to send America deeper into energy and economic decline.
Are they right? Or are voters finally waking up? The coming months will tell.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, Heartland Institute and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.
Last week, I published my article ”Democrats keep lying about global warming” about Dr. Steve Running of the University of Montana and his unethical claim to have a Nobel Peace Prize.
Seems Dr. Eric Grimsrud has a problem with my article. He added two comments so far. Here I reply to his comments. My reply is of necessity too long for a comment. So I publish my reply as this new post.
You believe human carbon dioxide emissions will destroy planet Earth. Yet your quest to “prove” your case continues to fail. Here;s why.
You believe your key to proof is to personally denigrate all who claim your scientific conclusion is wrong.
Back in Climate Clash, you claimed Richard Lindzen was a pseudo scientist because you could not prove his published papers on climate were wrong. You are preoccupied with the question of “Who is the smartest?” You believe the answer to this question determines who is correct about climate. It doesn’t.
You brag about your scientific papers because you believe the number of your published papers proves you are correct about climate. It doesn’t.
All your published papers were about a relatively narrow subject in chemistry. You have no demonstrated expertise outside this narrow field. You have no expertise in numerical models, meteorology or climate physics.
You brag about the subjects you studied. You believe this proves you are correct about climate. It doesn’t. Your list shows you missed the most important course: the philosophy of science.
You do not follow the scientific method. In Climate Clash, you actually claimed we did not have time to use the scientific method because your imagined climate disaster was too imminent and dangerous. Time has proved you wrong.
You ignore that to prove your hypothesis you must begin with the null hypothesis: “Climate is normal until proven otherwise.” If you can’t prove the null hypothesis is wrong then your climate hypothesis is wrong. You have not proved climate is abnormal. Nor has anyone else.
You explained above your simplistic “Al Gore” description of the greenhouse effect. You ignore important influences and feedbacks when you draw your simplistic conclusion from your simplistic hypothesis. You ignore that people a lot smarter than you are inserted your simplistic hypothesis into climate models. The climate models tried to “prove” human carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming. They failed.
You ignore the key to science: If a prediction is wrong then your hypothesis is wrong. You ignore that climate models make serious incorrect predictions. Therefore, they are wrong.
We have had 37 years to test climate models. The 102 climate model average over-predicts temperature by a factor of 2.5. That’s like missing your basketball shot by 2.5 hoop diameters. If your prediction is wrong, your theory is wrong.
In passing, you seem to approve it’s OK for Steve Running and the U of Montana to claim he has Nobel Peace Prize, when he does not. Further, you seem to approve it’s OK to claim a Peace Prize proves one is qualified in science. In other words, you approve lying if it helps you achieve your goal.
You claim your “bit of physics” explains the climate problem. You admit meteorology is very complicated. Well, so is atmospheric physics. Both physics and meteorology are central to climate science. That’s why you don’t understand it.
So here is your test.
You must show how the work of the following scientists are wrong. If you can’t show they are wrong, this will prove you are wrong. No name-calling here. Just science. Soon, Connolly & Connolly published a 2015 peer-reviewed paper that plots temperature, total solar irradiance, and CO2 from 1880 to present. The plots show global temperature correlates with total solar irradiance but not with CO2. No correlation, no cause-effect.
Explain how their paper is wrong. Because if they are correct then you are wrong.
Chuck Wiese shows how your climate hypothesis is incorrect here. Chuck is a meteorologist and an expert on radiation transfer in the atmosphere. He understands the physics of climate far better than you do, Eric. You must show Wiese is wrong or you are wrong.
Professor Murry Salby presents two video lectures:
Watch them. While you are at it, pick up a copy of his book, “Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate” here. If you can’t understand Salby’s book or lectures then you should stop pretending you are an atmospheric scientist. Salby uses math and data to prove the rate of change of carbon dioxide is a function of temperature, and temperature is not a function of carbon dioxide. This proves our carbon dioxide does not cause climate change.
Please show where Salby made a mistake in his analysis. Because if he is right, then you are wrong.
David Evans is an expert mathematician. He found climate models contain serious errors. He concludes:
A mistake in climate model architecture changes everything. Heat trapped by increasing carbon dioxide just reroutes to space from water vapor instead. The scare over carbon dioxide was just due to a simple modelling error. A whole category of feedbacks was omitted, which greatly exaggerated the calculated sensitivity to carbon dioxide. Externally-driven albedo involving the Sun is the main cause of warming, but it is omitted from all current climate models. How do you like that? Your scare and alarmism over carbon dioxide was due to a simple modelling error. Evans also found the sun’s behavior follows a mathematical “notch filter” pattern. You may not know what a notch filter is because you have no experience in advanced numerical mathematics. Evan’s discovery shows the sun’s behavior (which is not included in the climate models) explains almost all of the recent global warming that you claim is due to human carbon dioxide. His discovery also predicts the 2020’s will be cooler than the 1980’s.
Unless you can show how David Evans is wrong, your game is over, Eric.
Since you cannot prove Soon, Wiese, Salby, and Evans wrong, your climate claims are wrong. All your climate concern, all your name calling, all your false denigrations of others, all your futile attempts to prove you are a superior being, fail.
It’s time for you to admit your climate claims are wrong. It’s time for you to remove your book ”Thoughts of a Scientist Citizen & Grandpa” from publication. It’s time for you to tell your grandkids you lied to them. They don’t have to minimize their carbon footprints. They don’t have to stop fossil-fueled electric power plants. They don’t have to promote wind energy and drive electric cars. They can enjoy life. They can help improve America. The planet has not warmed since they were born. Their future will be colder than the past.
Climate is a very complex subject. It has degrees of freedom that you have not learned about in chemistry. It is so complicated that no one can learn it all. Climate scientists must specialize. The specialists know much more about climate than you or I will ever know. They are smarter than you are, Eric. And yes, data show I am smarter than you. I have more education and experience in climate physics and meteorology than you have. So get over it.
Who’s the smartest is not the issue. Unlike you, I do not claim my experience in climate physics and meteorology proves I am correct about climate. I accept being wrong when data prove me wrong. You, on the other hand, are easily bamboozled. Science is about the quality of the argument and nothing else. Now you have your homework to do. Unless you can show Soon, Wiese, Salby, and Evans are wrong, then you are wrong about climate.
It is no accident, therefore, that the bankers, the corporate profiteers, the Greens and the National Socialist Workers’ Party of Scotland - the corporatists and the communists together - made common totalitarian cause and heavily promoted the campaign to keep Britain in the EU, that paradise of vested interests and their poisonous lobbyists.
It is likewise no accident that precisely these same national and global vested interests heavily promote the campaign to subject Britain and the world to various unnecessary and damaging measures whose ostensible purpose is to control the climate but whose real ambition is to curb capitalism, fetter freedom, punish prosperity,. limit liberty and deny democracy…
Otherwise every international treaty, being a transfer of power from elected to unelected hands, diminishes democracy. Britain’s membership of the European Union effectively took away our democracy altogether, so that three new laws in five (according to the researchers of the House of Commons Library) or five in six (according to the German Government in a submission some years ago to the German Constitutional Court) are inflicted upon us solely because the unelected Kommissars require it.
Till now, our obligation has been to obey, on pain of unlimited fines.
The vote by the people of Britain to break free from this stifling, sclerotic tyranny has sent a shock-wave through every major international governing entity. It was no accident that the the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Corruption and Devastation, and various world “leaders” including Mr Obama, broke with democratic convention by openly promoting a “Remain” vote in a flagrant attempt to interfere in Britain’s decision.
Mr Obama’s intervention was decisive. The moment he demanded that Britain should remain within the EU, the polls began to swing against it. It was only when, in his maladroit fashion, he had sought to interfere in Britain’s decision that so many undecided voters woke up to the danger that the maneuverings and posturings of the international governing class represent to democracy.
What will Britain’s decision mean for the climate debate? Of course, it will break us free from the EU, whose governing elite had seized upon the climate issue as a purported ex-post-facto justification for the now-hated bloc’s continued existence.
We are left with our own British governing class, which has until now been no less determined than the EU to damage our economic and environmental interests by shutting down vital coal-fired power stations and carpeting our once green and pleasant land with windmills.
Then from Judith Curry, Climate Etc. blog this is a small part of a MUST READ essay.
Ha ha. Well, the politics of climate change policies seems to have influenced the voters. There seems to be a substantial confluence of British climate change skeptics and people that voted ‘yes’ for Brexit. Climate policies are one of the topics of concern regarding EU overreach. It turns out that a large percentage of the British population are skeptical of human caused climate change. From Brexit Is Also A Repudiation Of EU Global Warming Mandates:
Conservative pollster Lord Michael Ashcroft surveyed 12,369 Brits voting in Thursday’s referendum and found 69 percent of those who voted to leave the EU saw the “green movement” as a “force for ill.”
Funny that AGW skepticism was sold as an American aberration. It seems to be alive and well in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.
Will Brexit influence the Paris Climate Change Agreement?
(See the many viewpoints in the post). Judith goes into great detail on how the media and scientists who have been benefiting from the warming scare are reacting.
Whether Brexit turns out to be good or bad (and for exactly what and for whom), within Britain and the EU, remains to be seen. It will surely shake up Brussels and the UNFCCC regarding climate change, which is a good thing.
With regards to climate science, scientists from elite institutions are overwhelmingly against Brexit, and the concerns that have been raised are important ones. But the political rise of skepticism about AGW in Europe could be long-term advantageous to getting climate science out of its current myopic focus on human-caused climate change.
And finally, I can’t resist adding the cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker:
Somewhere along the line in the growth of the administrative state, some very naive people got the idea that giving bureaucrats arbitrary power is no problem because the bureaucrats can be constrained by a requirement that they do a “cost-benefit analysis” before they undertake major actions or regulations. Thus no bureaucratic regulation will proceed unless the benefits exceed the costs. Obviously, if the benefits exceed the costs, the regulation would be a net benefit, and of course it should take effect. What could go wrong?
In the ranks of such touchingly naive people we have, for example, the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Court. The Congress has indulged in hundreds of broad delegations of regulatory power to the administrative state, often with theoretically constraining language that either explicitly requires a cost-benefit analysis, or alternatively says something sort of close to that, such as that any regulation must be “appropriate and necessary.”
In the case of a collection of power plant emissions regulations imposed by EPA in 2011, EPA attempted to take the position that the “appropriate and necessary” test under the Clean Air Act did not require it to consider cost before imposing the regulations. The Supreme Court disagreed in the 2015 case of Michigan v. EPA, and sent EPA back to the drawing board. So with that, agencies will almost always be required to assess cost against benefit before imposing any major action or regulation, and thus everything is now back to perfect balance and equilibrium in the world. Right??
Of course the flaw here is the naive faith that a bureaucracy can be trusted to do an honest cost-benefit analysis, when in fact the essential dynamic of all bureaucracies is that they are only interested in growing their own power, staff, and budget. For today’s lesson, consider what goes by the name of the “Social Cost of Carbon.”
The “Social Cost of Carbon” can fairly be described as the mother of all government cost-benefit analyses. Supposedly it is a sophisticated tote-up of plusses and minuses that stands behind all government efforts to impose regulations in the area of “climate change.” In reality it is a completely dishonest scam that wildly exaggerates costs and ignores benefits in order to justify vast seizures of power unto the government.
You may or may not have heard of the specific term “Social Cost of Carbon,” but undoubtedly you do know that in 2009 when the Obama administration came in, “climate change” was one of its top priorities; yet it was clear that there was going to be no new legislation (even though the Congress was fully in Democratic hands). The administration thus had a huge impetus to proceed by regulations to increase its power and authority.
This was several years before the Supreme Court’s decision in Michigan v. EPA, but the Obamanauts were smart enough to realize that if they were going to have an aggressive regulatory agenda, somewhere in some statute would be something that someone would claim required a determination that the benefits of any proposed regulations exceeded costs. And this “climate change” thing had the potential to impose hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars of costs on the U.S. economy.
This was way too big to entrust to any one little agency. So instead, the White House itself took the reins, and convened what it called the “Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon.” To do the mother of all cost-benefit analyses, you need the mother of all Interagency Working Groups. What agencies? In government acronym-speak, it was CEA, CEQ, DOA, DOC, DOE, DOT, EPA, NEC, OECC, OMB, OSTP, and DOT (here’s a document with the list)—all co-ordinated through the White House itself. Whew! The mission was to assess the costs versus the benefits of emitting carbon into the atmosphere via the burning of fossil fuels.
With this huge collection of scintillatingly brilliant geniuses from literally every important government agency, certainly you could be assured that the result would be perfect and fair and accurate. They came out with their initial results in 2010. The results were subsequently updated in a further document issued in 2013, with with yet a further revision in July 2015.
Now, step back from this for a moment. Think about what fossil fuels have brought to the world over the course of the past century or so. To start with, there’s electricity. Could you go as long as a few days without it? It is light, telecommunications, computers, smartphones, the internet, music, television and movies, refrigeration, air conditioning, tools, appliances, and so many other things.
About 90% of electricity worldwide comes from fossil fuels and thus from the emission of carbon into the atmosphere; and by the way, most of the remaining 10% (nuclear, hydro) is also not OK with environmentalists. Next, coming virtually 100% from fossil fuels, we have transportation—automobiles, planes, trains, buses, ships, even motorcycles. Then we have mechanized agriculture, also depending almost entirely on fossil fuels.
Mechanized agriculture is the difference between having our food supply produced by 2% of the population (as we have today) versus the 90% of the population it took to produce the food before mechanization. Without mechanized agriculture, you would almost certainly be working on a farm today if you wanted to eat; and by the way you would be using a horse to plow the field rather than a tractor. And your plow would be made of wood (can’t make metal without fossil fuels).
Then come mechanized and automated factories, which also depend almost entirely on fossil fuels. Is it even possible to run a steel mill on power from wind turbines? Still other things dependent on fossil fuels: Try mowing your lawn without a mower powered by fossil fuels; or trimming a tree without a trimming device powered by fossil fuels; or plowing your driveway after a snowstorm without a plow powered by fossil fuels. Almost all homes that are heated use fossil fuels to do it. This list is almost endless. Fossil fuels literally have transformed human life, hugely for the better, over the course of little more than the past one hundred years.
Are there any negatives in the use of fossil fuels? Of course there are. Fossil fuels have impurities that end up as pollution in the atmosphere—SO2, NO2, “particulates” (but great progress has been made in reducing the amounts of these impurities that make it into the atmosphere). And then there’s the threat of “climate change,” largely theoretical at this point and projected in models that you may or may not believe.
Suppose that you even believe some of the worst case scenarios projected by the most alarmist of the climate models, and you are then given the task of doing a cost-benefit analysis for the use of fossil fuels by mankind. Your first reaction would probably be, how do you quantify something like this? How do you put a value on what it is worth to people to have basically free streaming music, or air conditioning in Texas, or jet travel to Europe and back?
But even as you ponder some of those questions, I hope that your second reaction would be, this is not even remotely close. On any conceivable scale of measurement, the benefits to mankind from the use of fossil fuels have to outweigh the negatives by a factor of hundreds if not thousands. The benefits so wildly exceed the costs that the whole effort to try to quantify and weigh the two can’t really even be justified. Even if you hugely minimize the benefits and exaggerate the costs, there couldn’t possibly be any way to make the use of fossil fuels by mankind into a net negative. Indeed, if you need a reasonable proxy for the positive benefits of carbon-based energy, a pretty good start would be 100% of GDP. For the U.S. that’s around $17 trillion per year. After all, without carbon-based energy GDP would be a very small fraction of what it is.
Maybe you could knock off a couple of trillion for the part produced by nuclear and hydro, the infinitesimal part produced by wind and solar, and the even more infinitesimal part that you could produce by your own backbreaking human labor in the absence of an energy boost from something else. So a good estimate of what we might call the Social Benefit of Carbon, or alternatively the Negative Social Cost of Carbon, would be around $15 trillion per year.
That’s how you would approach the problem if you were honest, or if you had even a smidgeon of integrity. But remember, this is the government, and their power is at stake.
So in case you haven’t already guessed, the huge collection of government geniuses in the mother of all Interagency Working Groups sweated and struggled over this problem for about a year, and then in February 2010 they came out with a document titled “Technical Support Document:—Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis—Under Executive Order 12866.” And sure enough, their conclusion was that the use of fossil fuels by mankind imposes big costs upon society, hereafter to be known as the “Social Cost of Carbon.” And not just small costs. Gigantic costs.
Of course they give multiple scenarios and estimates to make the whole thing as confusing and incomprehensible as possible. But the simplest answer was, on our preferred assumptions and for this year of 2010, the Social Cost of Carbon is $35 per ton of carbon emitted. (Total carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. run in the range of 7 billion tons per year. That would put the total annual “Social Cost of Carbon” in the range of $250 billion, for the U.S. alone.) As mentioned above, since 2010 there have been two updates, most recently in 2015, and you will not be surprised to learn that the claims as to the Social Cost of Carbon have only increased. At the comparable spot in the model ranges to the $35 per ton claim in 2010, the new 2015 number is $56 per ton. That would put annual U.S. SCC now at around $400 billion. But on other assumptions (particularly as to discount rate) it could be as high as $700 billion! And also, rapidly increasing every year!
So what possible approach to valuing costs and benefits could possibly lead to such frankly insane conclusions? Go to those two “technical support documents” put out by the IWG, and try to even figure out what they are doing. It’s endless bureaucratic doublespeak and bafflegab. We’re using really sophisticated models from the smartest of the smartest at the very best Ivy League schools! We have the DICE model and the FUND model and the PAGE model!
It’s impossible to quote from documents like these in a short blog post, but I’ll try to summarize at least a little. It seems that the enormous costs projected by the models trace almost entirely to temperature rises assumed to occur from greenhouse warming, and that the increased temperatures are assumed to cause harm in four main ways: sea level rise, health effects, agricultural productivity, and so-called “discontinuity events.”
For example, for sea level rise, here’s how they say it works: CO2 will cause global warming in the future; global warming will cause ice to melt; enough ice melting will cause sea level to rise; we project that rising seas will flood Manhattan in, say, the year 2060. How much loss will come from that? Pick an arbitrary large number! How about $1 trillion. No, make it $5 trillion! Now discount that back to the present at a ridiculously low discount rate. It’s easily $1 trillion of “present value.” (Less than that? Then make the 2060 loss $10 trillion!) Your heating your house puts 2 tons per year of CO2 into the air. The Social Cost of Carbon is $56 per ton. Thus your personal contribution from home heating to the flooding of Manhattan in 2060 costs “society” $112 right now this year!
And sorry, there is no offsetting credit for your being warm in your house in the winter. You should have heated your house with a wind turbine! It is really far, far beyond ridiculous.
My short comments on the four things that underlie the bulk of the projected “loss”:
Sea level rise. I can find no convincing evidence that the rate of sea level rise is any faster now in the intensive fossil fuel era than it has been consistently since the end of the last ice age. (The rate, by the way, is about 8 inches per century.) Here’s my favorite indicator: The headquarters of Goldman Sachs is located just a few hundred feet from the Manhattan waterfront, and at most about 15 feet above sea level. That’s what the smart money thinks about sea level rise, at least over the next many decades. (At 8 inches increase in sea level per century, the Goldman Sachs headquarters is safe from the sea for another good couple of millennia.)
Health effects. Assume worst case projected scenarios of five or even six degrees of warming. That’s a lot less than the average temperature difference between, say, New York and Houston. As far as I know, Houston is no less healthy than New York.
Agricultural productivity. There is no question but that higher temperatures and more CO2 make for better, not worse, agricultural productivity.
“Discontinuity events.” This seems to refer to future natural and weather disasters that they have no reason to think will be more frequent or severe in a warmer future than they are now. They are completely making it up.
So to summarize: The government has convened literally everybody who is anybody in the regulatory apparat to put out a document to “prove” to the world what every thinking person knows can’t possibly be true, namely that carbon fuels are a cost rather than a benefit to humanity. It’’s hard to imagine a more transparent and obvious fraud.
Anyway, I take up this subject today because the internet has been abuzz this past week with critiques of the government]s Social Cost of Carbon analysis that somehow seek to deal with it on its own terms. A paper in April by Dayaratna, McKitrick and Kreutzer re-ran the government]s SCC numbers using lower climate sensitivity estimates based on empirical evidence (rather than just models). Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller picked up on that article on June 7 in a piece titled “Experts Debunk Obama’s ‘Social Cost of Carbon’ Estimate—It Might Be Negative!” (Might be??? It’s at least $10 trillion per year negative on any reasonable assumptions.) The generally sensible Judith Curry also comments here on the issue, and equally points out that the government’s SCC figures rely on climate sensitivity estimates that have been refuted by empirical evidence of the past several decades.
Fair enough. But these people give the government way too much credit for fairness and honesty. The Social Cost of Carbon is a preposterous and transparent fraud by the government that is ridiculous in forty different ways. I suppose these people deserve some credit for doing hard work to establish that the government’s representations fall apart even on their own terms, but really, this whole Social Cost of Carbon thing is something that no intelligent person should take seriously.
And yet, it seems that we have to. Meanwhile, the idea that imposing a “cost-benefit” requirement on the government is any meaningful constraint is exposed as complete futility. If they can put out an analysis purporting to make use of fossil fuels a negative for mankind, then they can do literally anything.