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Hate Al Gore? Disagree With, Yes...



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Pity perhaps, but hate Al Gore? Why, I’ve never even met the man; so what is Jonathan Chait talking about ?

National Review magazine, with its popular website, is a perfect example. It has a blog dedicated to casting doubt on global warming, or solutions to global warming, or anybody who advocates a solution. Its title is “Planet Gore.” The psychology at work here is pretty clear: Your average conservative may not know anything about climate science, but conservatives do know they hate Al Gore. So, hold up Gore as a hate figure and conservatives will let that dictate their thinking on the issue.

As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. My own view is very close to that of Bjorn Lomborg’s:

In written testimony for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and author critical of people who present environmental problems as a crisis, asserted that Mr. Gore’s portrayal of global warming as a problem, and his prescription for solving it, were deeply flawed.

Mr. Lomborg said that “global warming is real and man-made,” but that a focus on intensified energy research would be more effective and far cheaper than caps or taxes on greenhouse gas emissions or energy sources that produce them.

Where I part company with Al Gore is that I actually listen to and read scientists on the subject. For example, Al said to Congress last week that this is a “planetary emergency”. James Annan, who is indeed a climate scientist (his work has recently concentrated on climate sensitivity, how much warming will there be with a doubling of atmospheric CO2, his answer generally assumed to be correct: a lot less than some others have been saying):

The only real surprise was that any scientists would try to oppose the motion – that “global warming is not a crisis” – and it’s only to be expected that they would struggle. Of course it’s not a “crisis”, but rather a long-term problem. There is nothing special about this year, or even this decade, compared to the previous or next, other than that it happens to be the one we are currently in. In fact the entire problem centres on the fact that climate change is a long-term issue, rather than something that can come to a turning point and be resolved.

If it’s not a crisis then it’s hardly an emergency, is it, even of the planetary kind? This is the heart of my opposition to the Goracle’s message: it’s his extremism, his brushing aside of the actual science (both of climate change and economics) which makes him so dangerous. He wants to bounce all into something that we don’t actually need to be bounced into. He’s working to a political timetable, not to a scientific one.

(I should perhaps reveal an interest here. Given my day job, as part of the international scandium oligopoly, the banning of incandescent light bulbs would hugely raise my income. Scandium is used in some of the alternative technologies, but not in incandescents. Despite that, I still think it’s a damn fool idea to ban them.)

Al Gore, Renaissance Man?



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Al Gore. Inventor of the Internet. Climatologist. Now add auto industry expert to the list.

The Goracle raised blood pressures in Detroit Wednesday when he lectured U.S. automakers on their business model. A main reason “our auto companies are in trouble,” he told the Senate climate panel, is “they got all these gas guzzlers they can’t sell that people don’t want to buy.”

Bunkum.

In December, GM rode the backs of double-digit sales increases in its big new Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs to turn its first quarterly profit in two years. Just last month, sales of its biggest gas-guzzler – the Chevy Suburban – were up a whopping 33 percent. Profit margins on light trucks run upwards of $7000 a vehicle, which is foreign makers have also been jumping into the SUV market.

Overall, of course, SUV sales were down last year due to higher gas prices (proving market conditions – not federal fuel mandates – move consumer choices), but that hurt Japanese as well as Big 3 makers. Sales of Toyota’s big Land Cruiser and Sequoia SUVs were off 30 percent, for example. The difference is that Toyota still makes money when consumers switch to their sedans, but struggling American cos. like Ford do not.

Why? Because UAW labor costs are a crippling $1500 per vehicle higher than their Japanese counterparts. That’s the very same union that plowed many of those labor costs into eight years of Gore/Clinton candidacies.

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Kyoto Jobs



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Rich Lowry’s column today addresses the myth of the purported economic benefits to be reaped from adopting the Kyoto agenda. Hey, it’s supposedly a “global treaty” (covering 34 countries, that is) so there must be evidence in abundance, right? We know it’s working in Europe and, as Rich notes, those jobs are actually likely to be created in China and India. I have received calls from European colleagues after they’ve walked out of meetings with governmental officials offering “temporary exemptions” for energy intensive industries in certain countries experiencing capital flight, in order to get them to sign on to a “post-2012” agreement.

As noted in these pages once before, we already have 175 living breathing possibly even voting examples of “Kyoto jobs”. I have also had occasion to raise it not once but twice to a particularly prominent legislator hailing from the same state as these jobs. On neither occasion did he seem remotely impressed by the talking point.

At some point between now and the 2008 campaign, somebody had better find it useful or we might well jump on Europe’s sinking policy ship.

About that Moral Superiority



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After the spectacular success found in making an “evergreen” promise to swear off of nuclear power (that is, they renew – translated: postpone – the promise every now and then, with the latest vow being by 2050), Sweden recently decided to swear off of oil, too!

Of late, Sweden has also assumed a particularly annoying boastfulness about its greenhouse gas emissions and Kyoto performance, which I must remind you – as they certainly don’t – amounted to a promise not to increase their emissions beyond a certain amount (4% above 1990 levels). Their current official projection offered to the European Environment Agency in mid-2006, of being at or just below that, is apparently the stuff that Kyoto legends are made of.

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Everything is relative, however, so context for such boastfulness is found in the fact that tdoes in fact leave them as just one of two among the EU-15 who project emissions consistent with their promises under the Kyoto Protocol.

Today’s news also suggests that a little more Scandinavian reserve might be in order.

Little Green Book



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Russell Roberts notes how Al Gore wants to do for US energy production what Mao did for Chinese steel production.

I must say that this particular push by Gore further begs (to my mind) the question of who, precisely, underwrote his PowerPoint Tour and other activities outside of his heavily remunerated (see links) speaking engagements? It is worth noting that BP, which donated $100 fuel cards to attendees of Gore’s pre-Oscar party, is pushing this peasant-production idea hard, particularly in the form of a mandate in the UK that every home be a net contributor to “the grid” through microwind and the like. As I note in my book, although hailed by academia and the media for its “soft” persuasion, BP is no stranger to larding out money for its massive lobbying, er, public affairs efforts.

One of BP’s in-house PR gurus in London was kind enough to enthusiastically walk me through this a couple of years ago, responding to my disbelief with patient explanation about the need for a mandate to overcome societal stigma on microwind turbines, traceable to their association with government housing where it is mandated (frankly I’ve never personally witnessed the product of such mandates and this growing obsession in the UK, though my visits are generally to urban London where such turbines would be even more futile). Eyesores to be sure, he told me, but that’s a temporary reaction; after all, people were up in arms over the blight of satellite dishes, only to then get used to them, and once they’re made to get used to this the same comfort will accrue.

And if they don’t? Well, Mao had answers for that, too.

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Welcome Back, Hotter



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On The Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart poked fun at Gore’s “flame retardant baby” metaphor, at how he was treated with contempt by Sen. Inhofe, and at Gore’s weight. It’s the first video that comes up on The Daily Show web site this morning. This can’t have been what Gore expected from The Daily Show, and is an interesting cultural indicator.

Cloud of Smug, cont.



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Sure, Goldman Sachs and Enron once feverishly collaborated on what a trading scheme and exchange floor for swapping carbon ration coupons would look like — hint, UK traders call it “our new playground” — and that the Bush administration’s fiercest internal advocates of such a scheme happen to be Goldman alumni (SecTres Paulsen and WH CoS Bolten). But maybe it’s time we gave them their due for seriousness of purpose.

“Goldman Sachs has been one of the most aggressive firms on Wall Street about taking action on climate change; the company sends its bankers home at night in hybrid limousines.”

The New York Times. February 25.

“Written without a hint of irony,” Charles Krauthammer observes, “this front-page dispatch captured perfectly the eco-pretensions of the rich and the stupefying gullibility with which they are received.”

Hat Tip to Brandon Dutcher at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

The Economist Wields the Stiletto



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The Economist, which has been all over the map on climate change, has a neat line in its latest leader:

“Testifying before Congress on March 21st, the former vice-president was as cautious and understated as any other movie star. “

The Goremobile



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Al and Tipper arrived at Wednesday’s Capitol hearings in a spanking new, black 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid. Ford touts the “the most fuel efficient SUV in the world” as going over 30 percent farther on a tank of gas than a standard Mariner (32 mpg vs. 20).

Or, as the Goracle might say: “If your baby has a fever. . . you should feed it just two-thirds of a spoonful of poison.”

Of course, morality doesn’t come cheap: The $30,000 Mariner hybrid stickers for $5 grand more than the standard model. Uncle Sam chips in a bit with a $3000 tax break. And the Gores own two – one for DC, the other for their 10,000 square foot Nashville home.

So that’s a $6000 subsidy we taxpayers are putting in St. Gore’s collection box.

Lomborg’s Defense



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You can read Bjorn’s own responses to several of the various charges laid at his door by Rep. Gordon here. One example: the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty invalidated their original finding of dishonesty and closed the case back in 2004.

An eye-witness account of Lomborg’s House testimony



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From a friend:

Lomborg did a great job attacking crisis mentality on Climate Change and Kyoto. Said all peer-reviewed cost-benefit studies suggest we should do very little re climate – “Vast frivolous projects like the Kyoto Protocol.”Chairman Bart Gordon did a vicious hit job on him in his introduction. Said while America takes great pride in freedom of speech, we have to separate science from opinion. Then said every credible organization has said Lomborg is basically wrong and dishonest. Danish Scientific Committee on Dishonesty, the NAS, Science, Nature, Scientific American, etc. Also said Lomborg believed “Jews weren’t singled out by Nazis.” Your opinion has been disputed on everything.
[That last insinuation is despicable. I can only presume it came from some ideologically-blinkered staffer reading this article, whose point is to show how despicable the argument is as used against Lomborg!]
Lomborg quietly responded “Thank you very much for your welcome here.”[Rep. Inslee] was even nastier if possible Said “You’re saying America is not capable of taking care of HIV, malaria and global warming all at the same time. But I am here to tell you you’re wrong. Maybe Denmark can’t do all those things at the same time, but America can.”Lomborg’s response was great. “If you say you can and will do all these things, why didn’t you do them in the past ten years?” Re Inslee and Gore, “If it’s so easy (costless) to reduce CO2, why did CO2 emissions rise 18% while Gore was VP?” “You not only didn’t do everything, you didn’t do either (anything)!!”

“If the costs are negligible, then just jump on it. If there are $50 bills just lying around, you would think someone would pick them up. That it wouldn’t be something you would have to regulate.” After Gordon’s initial ad hominen attack on Lomborg he left and only D who stayed was Inslee as chair. There were no other Ds at any time. About 9-12 Rs. Most of whom commented on fact that Ds had no interest in ideas or the truth. Only wanted to applaud Gore and then left. By far the two outstanding GOP stars who asked the most intelligent questions, asked for refutation of specific Gore points, and who seemed to understand what was going on, etc., were John Shadegg of AZ and John Shimkus of IL. Clearly they were both well-versed and had had some good staff work. (Shadegg also said the Ds must be afraid to hear what you’re saying and that’s why none of them are here.) Lomborg to Shadegg: re Gore freezing CO2 emissions, “You could do it but it wouldn’t accomplish anything.” Re then cutting C02 emisssions by 90%, “”I just think it is ludicrous and cost would be in excess of $85 trillion.” Sullivan of OK asked for two most outrageous Gorisms. Lomborg: “The 20 foot sea level rise is unbelievable — especially that he can get away with those things.” And “That it’s actually going to be costless and that we’ll actually make money doing it.” Sullivan — in 20 years will the world be a disaster? “No. Of course not.” Inslee became indignant that Lomborg was criticizing Gore, “You have constantly, repeatedly misrepresented what the Vice Preisdent of the United States has said.”Lomborg also stressed how Gore and others never discuss both sides of an issue. They go on and on about heat deaths and never mention cold deaths. Couple times he talked about how in UK everyone is still talking about 2,000 heat deaths from 2003 but don’t say a word about the 25,000 cold deaths that occur every year. Said of course there will be an increase in heat deaths, but there will be a vast decrease in cold deaths. Was also good and specific on malaria, hurricanes, and sea level. I’m sure he irritated Inslee and Gordon appearing suitless and shirtless and tieless, wearing his tight black muscle T-shirt.

A vastly important contribution to the debate we have to have. No wonder certain parties didn’t want to hear it.

Lomborg Online



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I meant to post this yesterday, but, via Ron Bailey at Reason, I see that Lomborg’s press release and testimony are online at Copenhagen Consensus Center.

Lomborg: Gore Approach Costs Lives



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Bjorn Lomborg testified after Al Gore yesterday, although very few people saw it. In his testimony, not yet online as far as I can find, he made the following bold assertion:

Let us be frank. Al Gore and the many people he has inspired have good will and great intentions. However, he has got carried away and come to show only worst-case scenarios. This is unlikely to form the basis for a sound policy judgment. The problem is compounded in that if we follow Al Gore’s recommendations, we will likely end up choosing very bad policies to solve the many problems we agree need attention.

In short, following Gore’s logic, with its good will and fine intentions, will actually end up costing millions of lives.

But backed it up with the data:

Take malaria. Dealing with malaria by affecting a change in global warming through the Kyoto Protocol will probably save in the order of 0.1% of annual malaria deaths averaged over the century (289.5m/9109.5m * 7%/2 (Arnell et al., 2002:439; Wigley, 1998:2287) or save about 1,000 lives each year (at 1m deaths, (Awash & UN Millennium Project. Working Group on Malaria., 2005:1). In comparison, a targeted approach could cut malaria deaths by 75% or 750,000 per year averaged over the century. (Notice, because of growth in population and climate effects, the actual numbers would probably be about 1,400 and 850,000 on average over the century.) Moreover, the cost of Kyoto would be $180 billion annually, compared to just $3 billion annually for the targeted malaria policy (Awash & UN Millennium Project. Working Group on Malaria., 2005:2; Weyant & Hill, 1999). Kyoto would therefore save 140,000 people at 60 times the cost, whereas a targeted malaria policy would save more than 85 million. Not initiating the targeted malaria policy first means forgoing saving – or simply costing – 85 million lives.

If that doesn’t demonstrate the vast opportunity cost of the Gore approach, I’m not sure what will.

 

Two in the Post



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For your reading pleasure: Planet Gore’s Iain Murray and Corner-regular John Podhoretz both have great pieces on Gore in the New York Post today. 

The Goreacle Speaks



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A couple of videos from Gore’s testimony yesterday:

 

Fox’s Story on Gore’s refusal to the Republican opening statements countering his statements (unfortunately, the quality is kind of poor):

And here’s the aforementioned snippy clip between Inhofe and Boxer:


 
 And finally, here’s Inhofe asking Gore to “change the way he lives.”

 

Smoke This



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I was confronted yet again yesterday with a green alleging that by rejecting the lifestyle changes mandated by climate alarmism and its related proposals one is akin to someone paid by the tobacco companies to deny the link between smoking and cancer. This particular straw argument is I suppose a step down from the trendy “Holocaust denier!” or its shortened variant, “denier”, yet odd nonetheless–if only due to the seemingly disproportionate proclivity of greens to light up (based on my unscientific example of attending many Kyoto confabs).

But now we must also wonder about their Surgeon General, Al Gore, a chain-smoker under this analogy if ever there was one.

The Goracle



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Hillary Thinks Al’s Running



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At Al Gore’s Senate appearance, Hillary asked Al whether he prefers a carbon tax or economy-wide cap and trade.

Al said he wants “both.” No doubt like Samuel Gompers, at any given point when asked what is it that he wants, he will respond, “More.”

I’m Watching C-SPAN and..



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Sen. James Inhofe appears to have just asked Al Gore to commit to using no more energy than the average home without using “gimmicks” like carbon offsets. Gore has evaded, but doesn’t seem willing to respond in the affirmative.

The two are getting pretty snippy with each other, talking over each other and such. As far as C-SPAN goes, this is pretty tense television.

Update: Gore just invited Inhofe (who, I should’ve mentioned before, is probably the Senate’s biggest opponent of global warming policy) to breakfast. But now they’re getting snippy again.

Update 2: There’s a clip  of Sen. Boxer more or less reprimanding Inhofe–or at least asserting control–after he didn’t allow Gore to respond to a question over at Hot Air.  At the Corner, John Podhoretz thinks Inhofe was out of line.   

Barton’s Statement



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Rep. Barton, Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, had a strong statement/commentary on Al Gore’s testimony that can be found here. This was a line that a lot of people will remember, I think:

You just gave us an idea for a straight CO2 freeze, if I heard you correctly. I think that’s an idea that’s flawed. If you take that literally, we can add no new industry, nor new cars and trucks on our streets, and apparently no new people. People are mobile-source emitters. Every person emits 0.2 tons of CO2 a year, so an absolute true freeze would be no new industry, no new people, and no new cars.

But in fact the next few lines are the substantive ones. Just what would we want from a global warming policy?

I think we need to approach any legislative initiatives in this area with an eye on four basic principles: We want to be sure it actually helps the environment; we want to keep the lights on at an affordable price; we want to keep the American economy strong and American jobs here, and we can’t get out in front of what is technologically possible at the current time.

Kyoto – which Gore endorsed – would do little to help the environment. Taxes and cap and trade will raise prices and turn lights off. Unliateral restrictions not matched by America’s competitors would harm American competitiveness and almost certainly move jobs – and their concomitant emissions, remember – overseas. And much of the technology Gore talks about is years away; carbon capture and storage, for instance, is at least ten years away from practical deployment. As a study in Science magazine in 2002 concluded, “CO2 is a combustion product vital to how civilization is powered; it cannot be regulated away.”

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