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Prince Charles Visits GM’s Astra Plant in the UK



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News from the other side of the pond:

WORKERS said a visit by the Prince of Wales to the Vauxhall plant gave Merseyside’s motor industry a much-needed boost.

Prince Charles met workers and representatives of the UK motor industry in Ellesmere Port yesterday and was given a sneak preview of the new Astra, which will be launched later this year.

The plant’s general manager, Tom Schmidt, said he was sure parent company General Motors’ senior management in the USA would take notice of the support that the Royal visit represented.

Yes, I’m sure GM’s senior management is thrilled that their company’s future is in the hands of climate alarmists like Prince Charles and their mandates for automakers to produce cars that aren’t profitable.

The Dogs Must Be Crazy



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Something would surely seem backward to many in this headline from “Climate Wire” today:

1 billion people invited to turn off the lights this weekend

Of course, the bright side for those 2 billion people who have never flipped a light switch is that they also are shielded from such nincompoopery.

Now, if our poseurs could manage to leave the lights, latte machines… hospital respirators, school buses and the like off, then they might stand a chance of complying with their stated demands. But since deep down they have no intention of doing so, recognize this as being — just like Kyoto, though without the body count and misery — a gesture designed to suit the vanities of the wealthy and soft.

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Gimme a BEE, Gimme a TEE, Gimme a YOU!



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Possibly the voices of sanity on Capitol Hill are finding their legs. If many more exchanges like this one between Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.) and CBO’s David Elmendorf, from a Ways and Means Committee hearing, get out to the public history might not repeat itself.

It could be that President Oprompter won’t even have to ask the House to go out on a limb so the Senate solons can saw it off (as happened with Clinton and the BTU tax), but that instead, they look to save some of the jobs that cap-and-trade would eliminate — starting with their own:

Q: Higher energy prices? Yes.

Q: Any goods not rise in price? Unlikely.

Q: Drag on economy that reduces income and payroll receipts by 25%? Yes.

Washington D.C. – The Ways & Means Committee held a hearing today on addressing price volatility in climate change legislation.  Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) and Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Dr. Douglas Elmendorf engaged in an exchange on the effects higher energy prices could have on American households and businesses. A transcript of Mr. Camp’s questions and Dr. Elmendorf’s answers is below:

REP CAMP: Would a climate change policy that places a price on carbon—
would that mean higher energy prices across the entire economy?

CBO DIRECTOR ELMENDORF: Yes. I don’t know what you mean by the short run,
but at any point in which we are putting a price on carbon emissions, that
would be passed through to the cost that consumers face on energy products
but also all other products that are made using fossil fuels.

REP CAMP:  Thank you.  Are there any goods and services that would not rise
in price in response to that policy?

CBO DIRECTOR ELMENDORF: I don’t know if there are any good that use no
energy in their production.  It seems to me unlikely.

REP CAMP: When CBO estimates the impact of imposing say a cap-and-tax
system on the economy, isn’t it true that when CBO scores those proposals,
that it assumes the increases on energy taxes act as a drag on the economy
and thereby reduce other income and payroll receipts?

CBO DIRECTOR ELMENDORF: Yes. An indirect tax-sales taxes, all sorts of
other indirect taxes- and the carbon tax- so the price of cap-and-trade
allowances would fit in that category.  That kind of revenue would then
reduce the income that people have and the taxes they pay to the government.

REP CAMP: Isn’t it also correct to say the amount of this offsetting loss
and other revenues depends on the design of this specific policy?  The CBO
in January noted that traditionally there is a 25% offset.  Meaning that for
every dollar of revenue generated by cap-and-tax, other tax receipts falls
by 25 cents?

DR. ELMENDORF: Yes. 

A Chinese Solar Bailout



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AP:

Solar stocks surged Thursday on reports that China may roll out new subsidies for solar installations.

Piper Jaffray (nyse: PJCnews - people ) analyst Jesse Pichel said in a research note that the Chinese central government made the proposal for a subsidy worth $3 a watt for large installations. The subsidy may cover more than 60 percent of the cost to install the solar system.

“This subsidy undoubtedly shows the Chinese government’s strong support for the solar industry,” Pichel said.

Shares of Chinese manufacturer Suntech Power Holdings (nyse: STPnews - people ) spiked $3.27, or 42 percent, to $11.12 a share. Trina Solar Ltd. (nyse: TSLnews - people ) stock also shot up $3.63, or 42 percent, to $12.29. JA Solar Holdings (nasdaq: JASOnews - people ) Co. shares surged $1.02, or 38 percent, to $3.68.

In the U.S., First Solar, Inc. (nasdaq: FSLRnews - people ) stock jumped $18.80, or 14 percent, to $152.78 a share. SunPower Corp. (nasdaq: SPWRnews - people ) rose $3.87 a share, or 15.1 percent, to $27.91.

When Will Mother Nature Stop Destroying the Planet?



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Mount Redoubt in Alaska erupted again today, this time sending ash 65,000 feet in the air. I wonder how much of Alaska’s cap-and trade allotment the eruptions have used up? I mean, why should the lower 48 pay for Governor Palin’s inability to control her state’s volcanoes? You’re on your own Alaska!

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Copenhagen Crock



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Mike Hulme, of the University of East Anglia (UEA) and founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, wades through the bilge that poured forth from last week’s hysteria-fest in Copenhagen. It is impossible to fail to discern a growing fear among the global-warming industry that soon this golden goose may stop cranking out so many eggs, and the related agenda is flagging.

 

Hulme raises most of the issues which should have been raised by this event but weren’t. He notes:

Last week’s conference has been widely reported as one at which the world’s scientists delivered a “final warning” to negotiators about the necessity for a powerful political deal on climate.

Some commentators branded it “The Emergency Science Conference”.

The six key messages include statements that:

“the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised”
“there is no excuse for inaction”
“the influence of vested interests that increase emissions” must be reduced
“regardless of how dangerous climate change is defined”, rapid, sustained and effective mitigation is required to avoid reaching it

Busy trying to do a lot in the allotted space, Hulme mostly grazes these with some half-hearted blows. So, let’s delve deeper, taken in order. First, the globe is cooling, and no IPCC model projected that — any more than they allow for 15 years of no warming. The only means of validating these models is by observations, and observations have invalidated them. The first statement is a lie, as is screamed out by the childish worst case (or even worse) is coming true. Pant pant.

 

Keep reading this post . . .

Say Goodbye to Black Cars?



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The California Air Resources Board strikes again:

If you think black is a hot color for a car, you’re not alone. The California Air Resources Board thinks the same thing. And that’s a problem.

The CARB believes the air conditioning systems in black cars work harder and waste more energy than the ones in lighter colored cars.

It also wants the car companies to come up with new, more energy efficent paints.

But they haven’t been able to come up with a new black paint.

The best the carmakers can do, so far, looks like “mud-puddle brown.”

Obama’s War on Oil



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Today’s Wall Street Journal has a piece on the Obama administration’s tax battles with the oil industry.  The Journal quotes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as hinting that Big Oil stands to be the biggest losers:

In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Salazar signaled that the administration might reconsider some proposed tax increases on small, independent producers.

“If it is going to have a disproportionate impact on a mom-and-pop kind of operation, I do think that’s something that should be taken into consideration,” Mr. Salazar said.

Curious. Give a break to “mom-and-pop” oil companies, so that they are not disproportionately affected.  But stick it to the major oil producers that deliver the bulk of the nation’s oil — which will, in turn, negatively affect far more people than will be helped by small producers escaping the taxman’s bite. Brilliant.

How’s this for an alternative? Level the playing field. Don’t put consumers on the hook for the higher costs that result from increased regulation and higher tax burdens. Don’t favor some fuels over others (but if you just cannot stand not to subsidize, don’t favor the energy sources that do little to meet our energy needs over the ones that pull the weight). Let various fuels make it or break it in the marketplace, so we can see which ones deliver to the American people the power they need at a price they can afford. Allow domestic oil and gas producers to explore for and extract from currently off-limits areas with abundant reserves of petroleum and other fossil fuels, rather than doing nothing while at the same time decrying our dependence on foreign oil. Don’t mandate the large-scale use of energies that aren’t ready for prime time, technologically and/or economically. Just a thought.

Rising Levels of Disgust



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Scientific American’s commenting readers are underwhelmed by President Obama’s ridiculous reprisal of then-vice president Al Gore’s claim — in what would become his usual practice of capitalizing on others’ misfortune for his own political (and now financial) gain – that Spring floods in North Dakota are the result of global warming.

Prius in the News



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Hilarious. Prius is ditching its innovative “collapsible fuel bladder” for a traditional fuel tank, but the reason might surprise you. It surprised me, at least:

The new 2010 Prius — the third generation of the groundbreaking gas-electric hybrid — will use a rigid tank made of a lightweight resin rather than the bladder.

“The chief reason was because one of the sore points with the current-generation Prius” dealt with the fuel tank and gauge, Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong said.

The change is coming too late for Darlene Sharar, an engineering technician who lives in rural Washington and often drives in areas where gas stations are few and far between.

“In any other car I’ve owned, I know a tank of gas will get me ‘X’ number of miles,” said Sharar, adding that she often could pump no more than seven gallons of gas into her 2008 Prius, even when the fuel gauge was flashing “empty.”

“Instead of a range of 500 miles, I’ve got a range of 300 miles,” she said. (The Prius gets 46 miles per gallon in combined city-highway driving, according to government figures.)

If a Big Three automaker had this problem, we would have heard a much greater outcry from the MSM.

More Outrageous Bonuses?



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Some 7,500 workers at a bailed-out company have accepted $45,000 each to stop working at that bailed-out company. Doing the math, that’s $337,500,000 of taxpayer money.

Of course, the outrage from the Democrats will be muted, as the bailed-out company is GM.

‘Chu’sing Winners and Losers?



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Here’s an interesting blog post on BNET, a resource site for business executives, on the solar industry and the recent decision by Energy Secretary Steven Chu to fund solar panel maker Solyndra:

Optisolar, a company that likely scored in the top five list of most promising thin-film startups for many solar industry watchers, appears to be out for the count. Having sold its project portfolio to First Solar, it has now closed its factories and settled back in hopes of attracting a stray investment. . . .

What interests me in this debacle is pondering why Optisolar would collapse right after First Solar paid the company $400 million. That’s no small amount; in fact, it exceeds any single venture investment made in a thin-film panel maker to date. . . .

My guess is that it was a private equity or hedge fund that went from good times to very bad in the recession, and found a need to suddenly call back its investment in Optisolar. The easiest way to do so would closely resemble what actually happened: Selling off the project portfolio and quickly closing the rest of the company to prevent further cash losses, hopefully pending sale of the remaining assets.

That all makes Optisolar something of a special case. Then again, no matter how unusual the circumstances of one’s death, the end result is the same for all who suffer it. Optisolar’s case, taken alongside the sudden, spectacular DOE funding success of Solyndra, serves to more brightly illuminate those solar companies that have neither shut down nor received further investments.

Those include thin-film high fliers like Miasole, which was supposed to be raising $200 million over half a year ago, and Heliovolt, which recently laid off employees. Of course, I might as well mention nearly any company currently stuck in the deadly mid-sized startup phase, and I don’t have any special insight the survival chances of those two. The point is that an entire generation of cleantech companies is caught in an unpleasant place right now. By the time the recessionary clouds clear up, many more may well be in Optisolar’s shoes.

As I wrote on Monday, shouldn’t we learn a little more about Solyndra and why it was so very much more special than others in the solar industry?

You say Or-EYE-on, I say Enron



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Greg, Rob Bradley over at Master Resource offers some support for the idea that maybe President Oprompter’s struggles with “Or-EYE-on as opposed to OAR-ee-on” were because he was simply trying to not say “Enron” — the Left’s former poster child for global-warming corporate social responsibility, and the father of CO2 cap-and-trade! However apt the context, that company is the One Who Must Not Be Named.

 

As Bradley blogs — and wrote in his book Capitalism at Work — the past surely seems to be prologue:

Enron hoodwinked the public back in 1994, claiming that its proposed $150 million project could produce solar power “at rates competitive with those of energy generated from oil, gas and coal.”

 

A business-section feature in the New York Times, “Solar Power, for Earthly Prices: Enron Plans to Make the Sun Affordable,” reported Enron’s pledge to deliver power for $0.055 per kilowatt hour from a 100 megawatt solar farm in the Nevada desert within two years, comparable to the average cost of delivered electricity across the nation. Enron’s rate was unheard of, exceeding even the most optimistic estimates from environmental pressure groups. But it was highly contrived, depending on a raft of government subsidies, as well as questionable assumptions about financing, technology, and delivery schedules. The rate was also back-loaded, with compounded annual cost escalations for thirty years….

 

But the smoke-and-mirrors project was too much for the Clinton Administration — and even for Enron, despite a suite of special subsidies. It languished and quietly died. Nevertheless, it was a heady PR moment for a politically correct company and a credulous press that either did not know or did not report the whole story.

Appeasement in Our Time



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“You were given the choice between war and dishonour . . . you chose dishonour and you will have war.”

 

In the cap-and-trade arena, we have further evidence — from London naturally — of what we will suffer if we succumb to this agenda of political vanity and pressure group activism: You were given the choice between cap-and-trade and a “carbon” tax . . . you chose cap-n-trade and you will have a “carbon” tax, too. Churchill’s aphorism continues to pertain.

 

Consider again Europe’s experience, for whom a carbon dioxide tax was Plan A, then scrapped as politically impossible, only now to be resurrected and under consideration on top of cap-and-trade in the wake of cap-and-trade’s failure to reduce emissions. This has been clear in Commission and Parliament records for more than a year. Today, Open Europe’s daily briefing includes the following from the UK’s Left-wing mag New Statesman:

New research: Europe’s ETS is “deeply flawed”

 

An article in the New Statesman by the Sunday Times’ Environment Editor, Jonathan Leake, looks at new research from Cambridge University, commissioned by the Government, which argues that “the current European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is deeply flawed and should be replaced – or ay [sic] least augmented – with a green tax.”

 

The research also argues that the ETS needs to provide more long-term price stability, saying “a market-based trading system such as the ETS is very unlikely to generate consistent high prices, and this instability could undermine the whole point of the scheme.”

Oh, and when that Member of Congress slickly tries to glide past your inquiry by saying you see, we’re going to avoid Europe’s problems with cap-and-trade, ask him to let Europe in on his secret. Because they have no idea how to avoid their problems. And neither does Congress.

 

Most PG readers, however, know how: get off the energy-rationing wagon — or at least just own up to an enormous, direct energy tax. Of course, that still leaves the problem that no computer model says you’ll change the temperature. But, hey, you can at least say you “did something.”

Help Wanted at the EPA



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Team Obama’s vetting issues hit the EPA:

President Obama’s pick for the No. 2 spot at the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew his name from consideration today, citing scrutiny of his one-time affiliation with a now-defunct nonprofit that in 2007 was found by the EPA Inspector General’s Office to have mismanaged more than $25 million in EPA grants.

“It has come to my attention that America’s Clean Water Foundation, where I once served on the board of directors, has become the subject of scrutiny,” said deputy EPA administrator-nominee Jonathan Z. Cannon in a statement released by the EPA withdrawing his name. “While my service on the board of that now-dissolved organization is not the subject of the scrutiny … I do not wish to present any distraction to the agency.”

The Clean Water Foundation was found to have funneled more than $21 million of the EPA dollars to contractor Validus Services LLC, a subsidiary of the American Pork Producers Council, and the inspector general recommended the federal environmental stewards try to recovery all $25 million the agency had shelled out to Clean Water to help farmers and states comply with clean water laws and assess environmental risks. The Clean Water Foundation disbanded in 2006.

UPDATE:  TOTUS weighs in. . .

In between shots of ouzo in the Oval office tonight, we got some more bad news.

Toes came in with a long face and, looking right at Geithner, announced that another nominee had withdrawn. Geithner went pale and fell into a fetal position on the floor.

Then Rahm announced that it was Jon Cannon, who was going to be deputy head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and we all had a good laugh. The whole thing would have been funnier, but it looks like Timmy has put himself into some kind of fugue state. That’s good news for the economy, but it sucks for Gibbsy, because Geithner was his designated driver and Gibbsy can’t drive a stick.

Not Again!



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Al Gore’s $300 million baby (again, where’d that money come from, Mr. where-you-get-your-support-dictates-your-opinions?), the We Campaign, sent out a “Big announcement” e-mail today (asking, of all things, for money):

We’re expanding our massive online movement with the launch of a substantial field operation in states across this country.

I think this means it’s going to snow again.

Say Anything



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These are too much. It seems that the global warming industry doesn’t think much of you, or your elected representatives, in these tough times.

First, get a load of this most recent effort to sell the public on more massive taxpayer expenditures for “renewable” projects, this time from Denmark, the land of everyone becoming millionaires from selling windmills to each other. Or, well, not so much really, but the land of throwing hundreds of millions in subsidies in the name of the oh-so-Euro fetish, having a “national champion” industry.

E&E Daily headline today:

“If you build it, tourists, politicians and the media will come.”

So, it may not provide the electricity needed for schools, hospitals . . . or making steel and plastics for more windmills — but what a tourist attraction!

Off the floor yet? Here’s the next story, from a rent-seeker of a very similar snout at the very same trough, the Chicago Climate Exchange, whose business is soooo booming — they really do use this argument — that it warrants a mandate making everyone participate:

CCX’s Sandor claims carbon market will save economy

Wait! Wait! There’s more! Next up:

Climate change to have role in U.N. peacekeeping efforts:

I’d try and convince you the next story was “Gore is penning ‘Inconvenient’ follow-up,” but that would strain credulity.

Delivering the Juice



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Right Side News has an interesting piece from Diane M. Grassi on the current condition of the U.S. electric grid.

For over 70 years, federal laws have played a vital and critical role in the operation, production, distribution and protection of the US electrical power grid. Federal laws in concert with state laws and regulations have necessarily dictated that the power grid be shielded from market manipulation and criminal behavior.

But as the nearly 100 year old power grid has aged, facing a growing population and higher load demands for power, the industry has simultaneously become more and more deregulated by mandate. And deregulation has led to less and less necessary preventative maintenance, upgrades in technology as well as necessary investment in research and development. And the poorly maintained grid in many of the areas of the country, predominantly the mid-Atlantic and northeast states, has but put even more stress upon its transmission lines.

The basic structure of the North American transmission system is made up of over 140 control centers and approximately 3500 utility providers covering over 200,000 miles. Utility generating plants, transmission and sub-transmission systems, distribution systems and customer loads travel over a two-part power grid; one in the east and one in the west. Texas has its own grid.

Compounding the vast network and intricacy of the grid is the interconnectivity and delivery of power that in many cases is incompatible with widely varying levels of equipment integrity, data systems and personnel training. It is the secondary system which supplies the distribution of electricity to consumers, where most of the power failures occur, and that which require time to repair. And the network of sub-stations feeding electricity to neighborhoods, via feeders which flow to transformers, is where supposed problems arise during local outages, further exacerbated by non-maintained equipment.

But although deregulation of the utility industry began over two decades ago, it was the 1992 Energy Policy Act which changed the way electricity was sold to local consumers for the first time. Energy companies were permitted to install their own plants and sought customers throughout the country, but not necessarily in the same geographic region. Energy brokers then entered into the picture and utilized the open market to buy and sell power. And thus began the potential unreliability of energy delivery.

Purchasing power from plants hundreds of miles away from a respective region put unprecedented burdens upon the transmission system, raising the likelihood of power failures at the local level. Most importantly, the electrical grid, as it was originally envisioned, was never designed to absorb the transmission of high voltage capacity across the continent, and especially in absence of comparable and upgraded systems in place.

I’ve written about the shortcomings of the current electric grid, with regard to the large-scale addition of wind power. Stated simply, the grid wasn’t built for intermittent energy sources. If we expect to get more of our electricity from wind and solar power — in the absence of commercial-scale electricity storage – then the grid will have to be modernized, in part by interconnecting the various regional grids with high-voltage transmisssion lines. For a detailed look at this possibility, check out The Million-Volt Answer to Oil from the Manhattan Institute’s Peter Huber.

I’ll Need Some Popcorn for this Fight



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Wait until Democrats start making a stink when they realize bailout money is going to lawyers for the automakers who are suing to stop the new emissions laws. From the “Wheels” blog at NYTimes.com:

Bernie Madoff had a bail hearing that same day, so it’s not surprising that coverage was sparse for the oral arguments in the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals case, pitting automakers against the state of Vermont, et al.

California, whose emissions standards are much tougher than the federal alternative, adopted rules to regulate greenhouse gas from tailpipes in 2005. Vermont is one of at least 13 states, representing about 40 percent of the car market, which opted to follow its lead. Angered automakers took the states to federal court in California, Vermont and Rhode Island. They have been repeatedly rebuffed in these legal proceedings; hence the appeals and the March 19 oral arguments in Manhattan.

Steve Hinchman is a lawyer at the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation, one of four environmental intervenors in the case. “This is the first of three appellate cases automakers are trying to bring to block the state standards,” Mr. Hinchman said. “It’s a full-court press to try and stop states from using their long-established Clean Air Act authority to require cleaner cars.”

Mr. Hinchman criticized “industry lawyers who are telling the courts that they can’t afford to build cleaner, better cars. That’s the exact opposite of what their lobbyists are telling Congress and the American public.”

Kathleen M. Sullivan of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, attorney for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents 11 carmakers, declined to comment on the case, other than to confirm that oral arguments were heard before a three-judge federal panel last week.

But the automakers have made clear that they’re trying to avoid being regulated by what they call a “patchwork” of laws. According to Charles Territo, a spokesman for the Alliance: “Our position has always been that the Energy Policy and Conservation Act prohibits states from setting their own fuel economy standards. And because measuring fuel economy actually begins as grams of carbon dioxide per mile, whether or not California’s regulations are tallied in grams per mile of carbon dioxide or miles per gallon, they are effectively fuel economy standards. And they should be preempted under federal law.”

Maybe Congress will invent a new tax on the revenues generated by attorneys who take fees from bailed-out companies?

Patrick J. Michaels on Climate of Extremes



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If you haven’t had a chance yet, do listen to John J. Miller interview Cato Institute scholar and Planet Gore contributor Patrick J. Michaels, author of Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know.

The basic summary: warming is happening, but it’s not nearly as bad as the alarmists say, and we’ll adapt with no problems.

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