Planet Gore

Games People Play

We knew that the alarmist industry wouldn’t be able to stand it when the truth came out that the US’s carbon dioxide emissions — the focus of the panoply of regulatory global warming initiatives — continue to increase much more slowly than those of the “world leader” European Union (which, under Kyoto is the EU-15). After all, as previously noted Senate Democrats rushed out a subject-changing response to a claim by White House spokesman Tony Snow that “there is a carbon cap system in place in Europe; we are doing a better job of reducing emissions here.” (I have the Democrats’ document, but it isn’t something one can link to so far as I know; in short, they ignored — that is, changed — the baseline from Mr. Snow’s, and the gas(es) to which he referred…other than that they didn’t meet apples with oranges but, then again, those two apples were all that there was to the claim.)

Now we see further evidence, with an organization called Pacific Institute making the following facially absurd argument:

Throughout the first half of 2007, the White House has falsely claimed that the United States is doing better than Europe in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This claim was officially made by the White House on February 7 and has been repeated in various forms by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton, and Science Advisor to the President John Marburger, most recently on May 31, 2007.[FN] The White House is misusing science and data to make this claim, as the Pacific Institute first pointed out on March 8.[FN] The White House can only back up this claim by looking at a single greenhouse gas over a narrow timeline. Looking at the full range of gases over a longer period, the conclusion reverses completely: the European Union is curbing [sic] greenhouse gas emissions more aggressively and successfully than the United States. Interestingly, the origin of this claim is not the White House at all, but appears to be the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which published a version of this claim in the Washington Times, five days before the White House began using it.
We believe the false claim – that the United States was doing better than the European Union in reducing greenhouse gas emissions – first appeared in a February 2, 2007 Washington Times oped by Christopher Horner, a well-known climate skeptic from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In that op-ed, Horner recommended the following strategy for the White House: Pick any year since the Kyoto Protocol was agreed to in 1997, Mr. Bush should have said, and the U.S. CO2 emission performance is superior to that of all major Kyoto parties, including and most notably Europe (CO2 being the focus of the many pending legislative proposals).” (emphases added, notes omitted)

And so on, serially, accurately quoting the White House (and the apparently quite-influential me) as specifically referring not to “greenhouse gases”, of which there are 6 (7 if you count the dominant gas water vapor, which Kyoto etc. don’t), but to 1 of the 6, which has a name, which we use: carbon dioxide, “(CO2 being the focus of the many pending legislative proposals)“.
They invoke various complaints that I am arbitrary in choosing the year that Kyoto was agreed, or the more modern 2000; I’m not clear how the year Europe made its promise is less arbitrary than 1990, which can only be viewed as other-than-arbitrary if one admits it was chosen — in 1997 — because it affords Europe the phony veneer of Kyoto-based reductions when in fact they simply shut down East Germany and the UK dashed-for-gas, preceding and unrelated-to a treaty agreed 7 years later.
They naturally revert to that last refuge of subject/metric switchers, the claim that anyway the US’s overall CO2 emissions were higher. Were that not only so transparently silly a fall-back, but also a transparent abandonment of their original arguments, it would merit a response (a quick check indicates that their claim about the 1997-2004 period is closer to true than mine: As they claim, Europe’s CO2 emissions increased at a greater pace than the US — thereby reaffirming my point…”paging Dr. Pyrrhus” — but not by a factor of two).
But on the larger scale, this is emblematic of the Kyoto discussion: misleading and terminally faux-clever. They confuse the specific with the general — intentionally, it seems — and decry that those who are able to distinguish the specific from the general are simply “cherry-picking.” So, when confronted with something that doesn’t meet with their pre-defined storylines, they just claim, somewhat pathetically, that others are just making things up. Then they serially defeat their own claim, I suppose in the hope that their fan base will be too exercised to catch that.
Does the specific matter in comparison to the general? I didn’t realize that it was me who made CO2 such a big deal; I’d better go back and check my Day Timer. I mean, watch Al Gore’s movie, if you can, and tell me about the proxy charts he (dishonestly) focuses on. Why, that cherry-picker talks about 650,000 years of the supposedly climate-dictating carbon dioxide! Peruse the debate. Look at the laws. Or, just read the words that this group quotes, then ignores. Yet, what is the point behind such contortions, stressing that I am making the distinction between CO2 and “greenhouse gases”, then proceeding to ignore their own breathless point of emphasis in order to make a false claim of me making a false claim? This is the rhetorical equivalent of an Escher print: though changing the subject by claiming that other people are changing the subject is rather a fraction as clever as the original.
I cannot tell you their motivations, but can only guess. But as it is so clearly important to these people to portray me as White House puppet master, I invite them to try again.


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