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Treaties for Dummies



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They just don’t get it. Today’s Financial Times carries the following wishful thinking from two of Europe’s most dissonant Kyoto cheerleaders:

“David Miliband, the British environment minister, told the FT it was ‘a matter of “when” not “if” the US becomes part of a global drive to reduce emissions’. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s environment minister, said the US would join an international emissions trading system ‘when Europe’s system was made to work properly. The US won’t let it happen that there’s an international financial market [for emissions certificates] that it is not a part of’.”

Ignorance of our comparative performance and euphemistic treatment of the disaster that is the Emissions Trading Scheme aside, this repeats a meme being ever-more aggressively advanced by the Kyotophiles. Other high-profile examples include the suggestion by UNFCCC executive secretary Michael Zammit Cutajar, at the December 2006 Nairobi talks on the Kyoto Protocol, to postpone until 2010 the negotiations over a “post-2012” Kyoto pact slated for next year. This is purportedly to accommodate the next U.S. president, candidates for which job, Cutajar et al insist, are certainly more amenable to Kyoto than that mean George W. Bush.

Certainly, all of these remarks represent the Kyoto establishment seeking to blame the U.S.’s refusal to join Kyoto for the looming failure of a successor agreement to attract approval by even Kyoto’s original core, covered countries. But raw ignorance is also on full display, particularly the common but false presumptions of the intentions of possible candidates for president, none of whom actually indicate any intention to join Kyoto let a lone a more stringent “Round II”, but instead merely argue for a domestic law that a fraction as stringent as “Kyoto I” (if still opposed by a majority of the U.S. Senate).

Finally, it seems entirely beyond the grasp of Kyotophile politicians and bureaucrats to understand their key problem when it comes to roping the U.S. into this scheme: They will never, ever get the required (Article II, Section 2) two-thirds’ Senate vote to ratify such an agreement. This dreamy notion that a President McCain or Clinton would ride up on a white steed to sign another treaty seems intentionally ignorant of the fact that Bush’s predecessor also signed such a treaty – Kyoto – which got them nowhere, because not one Senator has lifted one finger to try and force a vote.

The evidence suggests that that is highly unlikely to change and, if it did, it would still fail.

Compassionate Conservatism at Work



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Solar research grants to the needy.

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The Kind of Green You Can Spend



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The New York Times has a piece on venture capital firms that portray themselves as environmentally friendly—investing in alternative energy and such—but don’t always live up to their eco-conscious images. The article seems shocked and dismayed that any such firm might also invest in fossil fuels, but has a great bit from Erik Straser of Mohr Davidow Ventures:

“It’s called browntech,” said Erik Straser, a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures. One of that venture firm’s investments is in a start-up called Panasas, which has developed computer storage technology to help oil companies become hyperefficient at finding new places to explore.

Mohr Davidow invests in energy markets, he said, because they are big, and have big profit potential, not foremost because they offer an opportunity to help the environment.

“I’m here to make the kind of green my limited partners can spend,” Mr. Straser said.

Yes, it’s true: investment firms exist to make money—and that’s exactly why they should exist. Not to add some nebulous, ill-defined “social value” to non-interested “stakeholders.” Not to fund pet projects of activist outsiders. Not to limply bend to the will of environmental pressure groups. Nope, none of this. Just to make a profit. As anyone who has ever seen an assembly line knows, specialization creates efficiency, and thus we don’t want companies trying to be all-purpose do-gooders. No, as Milton Friedman famously wrote, the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. And that’s it.

Al Gore’s Science Fiction



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CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis is giving a briefing to Hill staff on this subject soon (from 12:15pm EST) that you can watch on C-Span 2 or via their website here.

Supporting printed material is available here.

The Climate Change Hypocrites



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18 Doughty Street has a great video on the climate change hypocrisy:

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The Great Debate



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The Senate EPW Committee Minority blog has more on the debate this week on whether global warming is a crisis.

A transcript of the debate can be found here.

Two Headlines



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From the front page of The Daily Telegraph website this morning, two headlines, the stories running one after the other: Arctic ice hits ‘tipping point’ Snowy forecast sees off spring hopes

David Miliband Lies to the World



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UK Environment Minister David Miliband starts off his YouTube promotion of the UK’s new climate change bill with a lie. He says the bill, if passed, will constrain every future UK govenment on carbon emissions. The Right Honorable Member is misleading the world. It is a central British constitutional principle that no Parliament may bind its successors. Any future government can repeal any Act.

Meanwhile, UK Conservative Party leader David Cameron has been praised by Al Gore. Gore also added to his litany of half-truths by praising Margaret Thatcher:

“With her training and background in chemistry she was ahead of the game, and when the scientists gave her the briefings she was able to ask molecule by molecule (what it meant). And she did,” he added.

What does Mrs Thatcher think now? Here is my summary of her section on global warming in her last book, Statecraft:

First, she stresses that she was initially skeptical of the arguments about global warming, although she thought they deserved to be treated seriously. She points out that there was “rather little scientific advice available to political leaders from those experts who were doubtful of the global warming thesis” (451). However, by 1990, she had begun to recognize that the issue was being used as a Trojan horse by anti-capitalist forces. That is why she took pains in her Royal Society speech in 1990 to state: “Whatever international action we agree upon to deal with environmental problems, we must enable our economies to grow and develop, because without growth you cannot generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment” (452). In fact, Thatcher makes it clear that she regards global warming less as an “environmental” threat and more as a challenge to human ingenuity that should be grouped with challenges such as AIDS, animal health, and genetically modified foods. In her estimation,

All require first-rate research, mature evaluation and then the appropriate response. But no more than these does climate change mean the end of the world; and it must not either mean the end of free-enterprise capitalism. (457)

Would Mr Gore agree with this, I wonder?

Religion and the Environment, Continued



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Acton’s Jordan Ballor has more on evangelicals and the environment

Here we go with the Daily Round-up



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Some… oh, you know the drill:

  • Two papers from the Director of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska
  • NASA is studying how airborne particles affect climate (we actually know very little about this and its of central importance)
  • Has global warming reduced mortality?
  • New paper from the IEA in London on “Global warming false alarms”
  • What do the leaks from IPCC Working Group II mean?
  • Carl Wunsch of MIT feels he was swindled by the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. Was he?
  • … Channel 4′s Head of Science says he wasn’t
  • The Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research says global warming science is “post normal
  • … British journalist Melanie Phillips is astounded
  • BMW prepares for fight with EU over carbon limits
  • While Siemens prepares to fight EU over light bulb prices

Lots of stuff there. Enjoy!

Is this why Al Gore won’t debate?



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Last night, NPR and intelligence squared hosted a debate in New York City on the motion “Global Warming is not a Crisis.” The proposition, Michael Crichton, Prof. Richard Lindzen and Prof. Philip Stott, won by 46% to 42%. What makes the performance all the more impressive is that before the event the organizers found the motion would have been disapproved of 57% to 30%, so there was quite a swing as a result of the arguments deployed.

A cynic (who, me?) might suggest that this sort of result illustrates just why ‘alarmists’ are trying to close down the debate on the issue.

How could I?



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When recommending the Environmental Economics blog yesterday, I failed to mention the blog’s other main contributor, John Whitehead. A sin of omission. Mea culpa. The blog is always worth reading.

Evangelicals and Global Warming



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CNN has another story up about the evangelical divide over global warming.  As usual, it’s the National Evangelical Association’s Richard Cizik against the usual cadre of conservative evangelical political leaders—Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, and longtime conservative activist Paul Weyrich, just to name a few.  Now, I think Cizik is mistaken to suggest that global warming poses a catastrophic threat that requires government action (and not like Kyoto/cap-and-trade will do much to lower temperatures anyway), but I also think that the Dobson crowd’s resistance to environmental issues might be a little much.  As the free-market environmentalism movement has shown, it’s entirely possible to be concerned for the welfare of the environment and not want to see public action taken in the name of protecting it.  There’s a great case to be made that markets and property rights do a better job of protecting nature than public land ownership and top-down rule-making. 

Additionally, it always seems odd to me when religious groups argue for more government. Do church leaders really want to give more power to an explicitly secular, already-powerful societal institution?  If the Cizik crowd could focus their energies in the direction of free-market environmentalism, not only would they put a damper on a lot of the evangelical acrimony over the issue, they’d be advocating policies more in their interests—and, perhaps most importantly, more likely to work.

GORE’S QUESTION MARK



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Al Gore’s penchant is well-known; he seems to stumble more frequently than most into making outrageous statements such as he “took the initiative in creating the internet”, and tantalizing intimations (NYT password required) that he and Tipper were the model for Erich Segal’s Oliver Barrett and Jenny Cavalieri in “Love Story” (widely – in left-media circles – defended as a misquote).

On his signature issue, catastrophic Man-made global warming, he has similarly been making claims for years that he has been sounding the warming alarm since the mid-1970’s…which would be during the height of the catastrophic man-made global cooling craze, when meteorologists “[were] almost unanimous” about this phenomenon.

Consider the latest example, an email communication with the New York Times (OK, we know Dems are afraid of Fox News, but isn’t agreeing to communicate with the ever-faithful Grey Lady a sign that Gore is taking his refusal to be trapped into discussion about his claims a little far?) “He said that after 30 years of trying to communicate the dangers of global warming, ‘I think that I’m finally getting a little better at it.’”

Let’s all agree that this is a stretch of the truth, by at least half.

The record reflects that it is still under two decades since Gore emceed the debut of catastrophic Man-made global warming at a Senate hearing – this 1988 appearance described by left-leaning Salon as an “early alarm” harkening images of Paul Revere (about Hansen), mind you – which was hot on the heels and an unannounced 180° from the prevailing consensus over catastrophic cooling.

No, it hasn’t been 30 years any more than Gore is getting better at this. What’s next, insisting that he invented the question mark?

G-g-g-global Warming



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This story is surely proof that God has a sense of humor. It even leads with the punch line:

A North Pole expedition meant to bring attention to global warming was called off after one of the explorers got frostbite.

Of course, the story ends with the obligatory escape hatch that warm and cold weather are predicted by global warming models. That’s icing on the cake. (hat tip to Jim Fitzgerald )

Hurricanes and Global Warming



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We’re endlessly told that damage from hurricanes has been going up and that this is all the fault of global warming. Tosh of course, damage from hurricanes has been going up because more people are building more expensive things in areas where hurricanes strike.

The next round of the argument seems to be that ah, yes, but we will have more hurricanes of greater intensity from global warming. Something which David Friedman doesn’t think is true

Consider first the physics. A hurricane is a heat engine; it converts thermal energy into work in the form of swirling winds. In principle one could use windmills to turn the hurricane into, say, electrical power, although I doubt it is a practical project. A heat engine that simply turns heat into work is a perpetual motion machine of the second kind, impossible because it violates the second law of thermodynamics. Actual heat engines take heat from a hot source, convert some of it into work, and dump some of it into a colder sink. They run not off the absolute temperature of the source but off the temperature difference between source and sink.

(…)

 Global warming, however, as the second commenter pointed out, affects both air and sea. There is no reason to expect it to change the difference between air and sea temperature, so the evidence that warm seasons generate hurricanes is irrelevant to the question of whether global warming would.

An interesting point don’t you think? Also worth pointing out that David Friedman is indeed a trained physicist .  

Not Energetic



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So wait a minute Iain.  They couldn’t go forward because of “drained batteries”?  Aren’t we supposed to be reducing our energy usage or something?  Isn’t there virtue in unspoiled nature?  I’m so confused…

Daily Round-up



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I tried posting this earlier, but it disappeared into the ether; here are some tidbits and links you may have missed:

And finally, two intrepid explorers have called off a trek to the Arctic designed to raise awareness of global warming because of the extreme cold:

The explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, on Saturday called off what was intended to be a 530-mile trek across the Arctic Ocean after Arnesen suffered frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained the batteries in some of their electronic equipment.

“Ann said losing toes and going forward at all costs was never part of the journey,” said Ann Atwood, who helped organize the expedition.

So there you have it – going forward at all costs isn’t part of the journey.

It’s that time of year again



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Spring is almost here, so with it will come gas price rises and, as sure as God made little green apples, accusations of price gouging against the oil companies. Lynne Kiesling has the definitive post on the fundamentals of this phenomenon, as she has for the previous two years.

He sees straw people



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Environmental economist Tim Haab (whose blog, env-econ.net, should be a daily read for anyone interested in energy and environmental economics, even if you don’t agree with all of it) Keep reading this post . . .

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