Planet Kucinich


Well, this is certainly worth, um, “analysis”.

Choice excerpts:

“News reports have indicated that refinery profit margins on the West Coast have increased substantially, from an average of $17 per barrel over the past five years to $39 per barrel currently.

“The number of refineries in California has fallen by more than half since the early 1980s, but more important, the remaining refineries have not increased supply capacity to keep pace with consumer demand. West Coast refineries ran at about 76% of capacity in 1985. Outages at one refinery were easily compensated for by increased production at other refineries. Now, West Coast refineries are running at nearly 92% of capacity, leaving little room even for maintenance without spiking prices due to lack of supply.

It simply defies explanation that there could possibly have been a decline in the number of new oil refineries built in California since the early 1980s, what with lawmakers of Cong. Kucinich’s caliber around (yes, he had yet to grace Congress’ hallowed halls, but his, er, type, is no stranger).

As we approach this year’s peak driving season, the Subcommittee wishes to know how these factors of decreasing capacity, decreasing supply, rising profitability and increasing market concentration may be related to cause new record highs in the price of gasoline.

That vexing question requires a Blue-Ribbon Commission.

The Douglas-Douglas Debate


Newt seems to have a more sensible position on global warming than Kerry, but this debate sure wasn’t his best day.


I think the root of Newt’s problem was that he implicitly agreed not just that humans have impacted global temperatures, but that we are on the verge of a global disaster that demands immediate, radical action. Once he had conceded this unsupportable premise, he was then reduced to arguing that his “market-based, technological” approach could address the crisis faster and better than a cap-and-trade system for carbon.


Scientific Predictions


While we talk about what the world might be like in 2054, Hall of Record reminds us of 1954.



As every “since…..!” story begs, whose fault was it then?

Problems with Leo the Eco-Hero


Roy Spencer elsewhere on NRO today:

The glaring hypocrisy of the global-warming crowd would be more amusing if it weren’t so serious. We heap our pious contempt on big polluters when we’re the ones who are driving this pollution. We could simply stop our consuming, of course — though that’s certainly not what Al Gore and his ilk do: They simply purchase forgiveness in the form of carbon credits, thus avoiding the inconvenience of actually reducing their fossil-fuel use. As for me, I’m offsetting my carbon footprint by not cutting down the big trees in my backyard like I had planned to do.

Indeed, why does it seem that environmental concerns are almost exclusively a pastime of the affluent? Maybe because most of humanity is still too poor, too busy trying to make ends meet, and too busy tending to the sick and dying who don’t have access to clean water, refrigerated food, or modern health-care.


Voluntaryism Works


I admit to being rather stunned that Newt — clearly trying so hard to not give a clip usable for the “he’s mean!” lobby against him (yes, after that Mr. Nice performance I have no doubt he is running) — not only allowed,but, as Iain notes, invited a guy to run roughshod over his own time, without rebuke, through interruptions that Newt could have quite civilly admonished–and mostly in rambling discourse that demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to finish a thought, and typically not even a sentence. He just kept throwing out every possible buzzword and catchphrase with no apparent plan to complete any particular train of thought.

And that’s not thoughtless ad hominem; my challenge to you is wait for the transcript then try to make heads or tails of this gushing flow of ice caps and whales and corals and these entire systems and and and…when unaccompanied by all of the gesticulation. Assuming I can get one,  I will note my favorites.

On at least five occasions I was sure that Newt was poised to note that, not only are all mandates not created equal, but this list of success stories in the US was a litany of promises made, period, that no one has successfully used cap-and-trade to reduce emissions, and indeed Europe’s emissions have increased faster than the US beginning the year they abandoned “voluntaryism” (gee, could Bush or Newt get away with that one?) in favor of Kerry’s Wirtschaftswunder of a rationing scheme, a performance gap that is widening. Europe publishes their own charts for heaven’s sake! It shuts down Kerry’s entire, um…it’s hard to say argument…approach.

Newt also let go the horns of low-hanging fruit about the wonders and glories and salvation found in corporate rent-seeking. Exposing that wouldn’t mesh with the “nice” theme I suppose. In short, that was not Newt’s moment. Hopefully, he will rethink the appeasement approach to debating.

Kerry: America is an Outlaw


“We’re living outrageously, an outlaw,” compared to Europe’s (failed) attempts to meet Kyoto standards.

I’m Afraid to Say...


Kerry is running rings around Newt at the moment, constantly interrupting him and taking his time, while painting Newt as using government solutions while he is using private sector solutions.

Newt is responding with the question of what encourages China and India most, which is where he could turn the tables on Kerry by arguing the adaptation point.

He should also be able to point out how the labor-intensive nature of wind power, which Kerry is lauding as job-creating, is an indicator of how uncompetitive it is.

Kerry Traps Newt


He gets Newt to say to “Senator Inhofe” and his colleagues that, “The evidence is such that we must take the most efficient possible steps.” That goes way beyond the sort of no-regrets strategy that he’s been sailing close to, and also ignores the whole mitigation versus adaptation debate which is so important. He’s gone down the mitigation first route, which, as I argue below, is really putting the cart before the horse.

Voluntary Environmentalism


Kerry argues that there is not one example of voluntary measures solving an environmental problem. Newt disagrees, as a former teacher of environmental science. So would these guys.

There’s No Downside, says Kerry


He actually argues that if he and his friends are wrong, then the worst that can happen is that there are more jobs in America. The EIA would disagree.

Kerry on Europe’s Mess


He argues that the Europeans don’t know how to do cap and trade, but America does…

A mistake by Newt


I’m surprised that Newt makes a basic debating mistake by asking Kerry to clarify his plan, which he then uses as an excuse to make another full speech.

Kerry Responds


He doesn’t think a carbon cap will be bureaucratic or invite litigation, again citing rent-seekers’ demands for regulation as evidence of their good intentions.

He claims that his approach is a market one. The father of free-market environmentalism disagrees.

He also says that China wants to limit its emissions. Really?

Newt Responds


He argues that a coercive regulatory litigation regime is just impractical, enormously complicated and transfers a massive amount of power to bureaucrats.

Newt then praises Theodore Roosevelt and argues for tax credits. Ah well.

Yet he then reminds us of the mess that is Superfund, which he sees as the way any carbon bureaucracy will go.

He next reminds us of how the EU is exporting pollution in the name of its emissions trading regime.

Ah, but then he endorses the massive ethanol boondoggle and praises carbon capture and storage, which is a promising technology but even with massive investment many years away from being a working one.

It’s a Moral Issue


…says Senator Kerry. As my colleague Marlo Lewis argues when Al Gore raises this point, the argument goes both ways.

He finishes by arguing for a “global price for carbon.”

Kerry Backs the Rent-Seekers


John Kerry says that General Electric, Wal-Mart, PG&E, and DuPont are all screaming for a national price on carbon. Well, they would, wouldn’t they?

Kerry Begins


…by saying Newt is actually a global warming denier, then goes on to the litany of scientific complaints, including agreeing that we don’t know much about temperatures over 400 years ago but then, essentially, saying that we do know enough…

He praises Jim Hansen as one of the best scientists America has to offer, and suggest that these scientists believe in a “tipping point of catastrophe.” Even the alarmists are a little more subtle than that. He also argues for a very low target for CO2 concentrations – which even sir Nicholas Stern says will be “extremely costly” – before arguing that it won’t be costly.

Newt’s Final Point


Newt remembers the Second Earth Day and the spirit of catastrophism. He reminds how how spectacularly wrong Paul Ehrlich was. He also points out mankind’s adaptive capacity – which the IPCC ignores, as he says. Above all, he is optimistic.

Newt on the science


He begins by re-emphasizing that we know very little about global temperatures over 400 years ago. Then he reminds us that there is no consensus that humans are the only factor influencing the climate, and points out that computer models are only computer models, and even those only suggest moderate sea level rise.

After that, he reminds us of the role of economic development. Failure to commit to economic growth will consign billions to poverty and disaster.

Now Newt gets to the meat – China is going to have cars, India is going to have air conditioning. His focus is on developing new approaches and incentives to ensure those developments. His preferred incentive is prizes, not grants. That’s good.


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