|The Week That Was
November 8, 2003
1. New on the Web: MCLIEBERMAN IS KYOTO LITE, writes Gov. Pete du Pont. Costly and just as ineffective.
2. ENERGY-RATIONING BY ANOTHER NAME STILL SPELLS "KYOTO"
3. MANDATORY EMISSION CONTROL SHOULD BE OPPOSED
4. EXPECT MORE ATTACKS ON ANTI-KYOTO CONCLUSIONS
7. HISS & WIND & McLIEBERMAN
BY S. FRED SINGER, in Investors Business Daily
Senators thankfully rejected a proposal by Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman that would have imposed an energy-rationing scheme similar to that of the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol, you'll recall, is the international treaty rejected by the Senate in 1997 and by George Bush in his 2000 presidential campaign. If ratified, it would make the U.S. cut energy use by 35% before 2012. Its cost in lost income and jobs would be enormous; its impact on controlling climate change, as all agree, would be negligible.
It is important to recall the recent history of this issue. All of the arguments advanced years ago remain. Climate science gives even less reason now to support the economically damaging actions demanded by both Kyoto and McCain-Lieberman. Six years have brought only growing uncertainty as to the existence of a global warming trend and more conviction that Kyoto-like policies would have minimal impact in reducing it.
The Protocol was negotiated in November 1997, mainly through the personal intervention of Vice President Al Gore. Yet on July 25, 1997, the Senate had unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel that stated the president should not sign any protocol that required greenhouse-gas reductions without commitments from developing countries, or that would result in serious harm to the U.S. economy.
On Nov. 9, 1998, with the signing imminent, Byrd sent a letter to President Clinton stating, "Signing the Kyoto Protocol now would be contrary to the plain language of the (Senate resolution). . . . Signing now implies a commitment to the protocol that may undermine our future leverage with the biggest emitters (of greenhouse gases) in the developing world."
Three days later, acting Ambassador Peter Burleigh signed the Protocol on behalf of the U.S. In an attempt to blunt anticipated criticism, Gore said that "signing the Protocol, while an important step forward, imposes no obligations on the United States."
Gore reiterated the administration's pledge not to submit it to the Senate for its advice and consent "without the meaningful participation of key developing countries." Left unspecified was who would make such a determination. In any case, the White House argued the protocol was a "work in progress" and not ready for ratification.
Hagel disagreed. In a press release that day, he argued the Byrd-Hagel Resolution explicitly stated the U.S. should not be a signatory to any protocol that excludes developing countries or causes serious harm to the U.S. economy.
"The Kyoto Protocol fails both of these tests. . . . If this treaty is good enough to sign, it's good enough to be submitted to the Senate for an open, honest debate."
Additionally, five Republican House members released a statement expressing their deep disappointment over the signing.
"Signing this treaty without intending to submit it to the Senate for ratification as required by our Constitution sends conflicting messages. The interpretation by other nations will be that the U.S. intends to implement the Kyoto Protocol. But . . . the administration is attempting to tell the American people who are concerned about soaring energy prices and the loss of jobs: 'Don't worry, signing this document doesn't mean anything.' "
Democratic Rep. John Dingell was more blunt: "The administration's apparent decision to sign . . . is unsurprising but still unwise. . . . The weak, pusillanimous, fatally flawed Kyoto agreement places America's industry, jobs and people at risk, and does little to address any possible threat of climate change."
Two years later, candidate George Bush used almost the same words in rejecting Kyoto. Interestingly, President Bush has received an avalanche of criticism for saying he'll never submit Kyoto to the Senate from many of the same senators who in essence voted to instruct his predecessor not to sign it in the first place.
The McCain-Lieberman proposal is clearly contrary to the clear mandate delivered by the Senate in 1997. In reality, McCain-Lieberman would be worse than Kyoto since it would require a unilateral reduction of emissions, even if Kyoto fails to go into force -- a situation that appears increasingly likely since Russia, an essential country, appears to be leaning against ratifying it.
Passage of McCain-Lieberman would have put the U.S. in the anomalous
position of formally declaring its opposition to the economically disastrous
requirements of Kyoto, while at the same time unilaterally implementing
William Pedersen ("Inside the Bush Greenhouse," Oct. 27) claims that the Bush administration "could convert global warming policy from a drain on its political strength and credibility into an asset" by endorsing "modest mandatory measures" to control greenhouse emissions. He also contends that President Bush could adopt "moderate greenhouse limits" without compromising either his "conservative principles" or his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.
Pedersen might as well say it is possible to be a little bit pregnant. Bush could not propose to regulate carbon dioxide - the inescapable byproduct of the carbon-based fuels that supply 86 percent of all the energy Americans use - without legitimizing the Kyoto agenda of climate alarmism and energy rationing.
Pedersen ascribes Bush's global warming travails to "the self-contradiction of a policy that admits the need for action yet rejects even modest mandatory measures." But the alleged contradiction disappears once it is understood that there is no regulatory solution to the potential problem of global warming. According to pro-Kyoto scientists, full implementation of the treaty by all industrial nations would only avert 7/100ths of a degree Celsius of global warming by 2050! Real "action" on climate change, should it be needed, will depend on technological breakthroughs in energy production and/or carbon capture. Bush's emphasis on technological research and development is correct.
Pedersen opposes Kyoto not only because it costs too much, but also because
"We do not know enough at present to establish a planetary limit."
He proposes "reductions not in carbon emissions directly, but in
the 'carbon intensity' of an economy - the ratio of carbon emissions to
gross national product." But if we do not know enough to establish
a "planetary limit" on emissions, we do not know enough to establish
carbon intensity targets either. Absent real knowledge of the level at
which carbon-dioxide concentrations must be stabilized, there is no scientific
basis for setting either emission limits or intensity targets.
Kyoto is "scientifically flawed."
William Pedersen ("Inside the Bush Greenhouse," Oct. 27) advocates
control of greenhouse-gas emissions. In refusing to support the anti-growth
Kyoto Protocol, George Bush has termed it "fatally flawed."
Recently, Vladimir Putin went further and pronounced it "scientifically
flawed." That's an even more basic reason to oppose all mandatory
emission controls, like the McCain-Lieberman bill, deceptively labeled
"Climate Stewardship Act."
When you question a multi-billion-dollar windfall you'd better look out and, make no mistake about it, the Kyoto Protocol translates into monster money for many researchers, bureaucrats and public institutions.
In addition it is also perhaps the most potent weapon in the arsenal of those who oppose western capitalism and push instead for massive intervention.
That's why Toronto-based analyst Steve McIntyre and University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick had better be battening down the hatches. Their paper, published this week in the respected British journal Energy and Environment, is arguably the most damaging attack to date on the science behind Kyoto.
In a nutshell, they convincingly reveal that flawed calculations, incorrect data and a biased selection of climate records led Kyoto linchpin Michael Mann of the University of Virginia to declare that the 20th-century temperature rise was unprecedented in the past millennium. After correcting the data and then employing Mann's own methodologies they found no such increase in global temperature had taken place, which places Kyoto's whole rationale in question.
The Canadian study comes on the heels of a recent Harvard climate study that made headlines in the scientific community by arguing that we are not living in the warmest period in the past 1,000 years, as Kyoto proponents claim. The authors, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, reviewed over 250 research papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature on past climate and concluded temperatures were higher in medieval times, from about 800 to 1300 AD, than they are now.
Upon reviewing the study David Legates, director of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware, stated that it should lead the scientific community to the "inescapable conclusion that climate variability has been a natural occurrence."
A year ago respected scientist Christopher Essex observed, "global warming ceased to be the subject of scientific debate years ago", but that sorry state of affairs now seems to be changing as an increasing number of scientists, even before the recent Canadian study, were recoiling against the political hijacking of the debate.
In September at the closing session of the UN's World Climate Change Conference in Moscow, the conference chairman acknowledged that scientists who questioned the Kyoto "consensus" made up 90 per cent of the contributions from the floor. They pointed to numerous flaws and doubts in the scientific case underlying worries about climate change.
Keep in mind that this new research focuses on the science of climate change and doesn't include the numerous attacks on the economic analysis and modeling in Kyoto that John Reilly of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change declared were "an insult to serious analysis."
Asked why he changed his position on a particular issue John Maynard Keynes once responded, "When the facts change, I change -- what do you do, sir?"
In the case of Kyoto the answer predictable -- shoot the messenger. Both McKitrick and McIntyre can expect an avalanche of personal attacks from the politically motivated. In Canada far too much money is at stake to derail the Kyoto juggernaut.
© Copyright 2003 Vancouver Sun
5. White House Acknowledges Climate Report Was Not Subjected to Sound
Science Law: CEI Drops Lawsuit Against Bush Administration
Washington, D.C., November 6, 2003- The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has publicly acknowledged that the National Assessment on Climate Change was not subjected to OSTP's Information Quality Act guidelines. This acknowledgement now appears prominently on the document posted on the U. S. Global Change Research Programs web site (<http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/nacc/>). With this admission, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has withdrawn its complaint in federal court that the National Assessment did not meet the minimal scientific standards required by the Federal Data Quality Act.
A subsequent product disseminated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Action Report 2002, repeats many of the scientifically unsupportable assertions contained in the National Assessment and should now be subjected to FDQA guidelines, as should the next National Assessment due in October 2004.
The record shows that the Clinton White House pressured bureaucrats to rush out an incomplete and inaccurate report despite protests from government scientists, said Christopher C. Horner, Senior Fellow at CEI. The government also subsequently confirmed that the two climate models selected for the National Assessment are outliers, chosen to guarantee extreme results and incapable of replicating even past climate trends.
CEI argued in its complaint that the National Assessment violates legal
requirements of objectivity and utility by employing computer models proven
unreliable and by revising past climate history to incorrectly portray
20th century climate as unusual.
6. Hot potato revisited: A lack-of-progress report on the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change
The IPCC's procedure relied, first, on measuring gaps between incomes
in poor countries and incomes in rich countries, and, second, on supposing
that those gaps would be substantially narrowed, or entirely closed, by
the end of this century. Contrary to standard practice, the IPCC measured
the initial gaps using market-based exchange rates rather than rates adjusted
for differences in purchasing power. This error makes the initial income
gaps seem far larger than they really are, so the subsequent catching-up
is correspondingly faster. The developing-country growth rates yielded
by this method are historically implausible, to put it mildly. The emissions
forecasts based on those implausibly high growth rates are accordingly
The fact that the IPCC mobilised as many as 15 authors to supply its
response is interesting. The panel's watchword is strength in numbers
(lacking though it may be in strength at numbers). The exercise criticised
by Mr Castles and Mr Henderson involved 53 authors, plus 89 expert reviewers
and many others besides. Can so many experts get it wrong? The experts
themselves may doubt it, but the answer is yes. The problem is that this
horde of authorities is drawn from a narrow professional milieu. Economic
and statistical expertise is not among their strengths. Making matters
worse, the panel's approach lays great emphasis on peer review of submissions.
When the peers in question are drawn from a restricted professional domain-whereas
the issues under consideration make demands upon a wide range of professional
skills-peer review is not a way to assure the highest standards of work
by exposing research to scepticism. It is just the opposite: a kind of
intellectual restrictive practice, which allows flawed or downright shoddy
work to acquire a standing it does not deserve.
Part of the remedy proposed by Mr Castles and Mr Henderson in their new
article is to get officials from finance and economics ministries into
the long-range emissions-forecasting business. The Australian Treasury
is now starting to take an active interest in IPCC-related issues, and
a letter to the British Treasury drawing attention to Castles-Henderson
(evidently it failed to notice unassisted) has just received a positive,
if long delayed, response. More must be done, and soon. Work on a question
of this sort would sit well with Mr Henderson's former employer, the OECD.
The organisation's economic policy committee-a panel of top economic officials
from national ministries-will next week install Gregory Mankiw, head of
America's Council of Economic Advisers, as its new chairman. If Mr Mankiw
is asking himself what new work that body ought to take on under his leadership,
he need look no further than the dangerous economic incompetence of the
7. Hiss & Wind & McLieberman
Memo To: Howard Dean, presidential contender
Every week or so I check your website to see if you have improved your position on the economic policies you would pursue in the White House. Nothing much has changed lately on that score, but now I find you have embraced the idea of using "wind power" to cut down on the amount of carbon dioxide mankind is spewing into the troposphere with his (and her) gas guzzling SUVs. My recommendation is that you take some time off the campaign trail to smell the roses and forget about "global warming" as a pressing problem. And especially ditch the idea of windmills. Let Ralph Nader have that coo-coo Greenie vote.
Here, Dr. Dean, are a few items that have recently come to my attention. I suggest you and your staff take a gander. The first is a cheery column by the politically incorrect Jeremy Clarkson of the Sun, the U.K.'s best-selling newspaper. (Hint: It runs photos of naked ladies on Page 3 every day.) The second is by Fred Singer, written as a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal on the subject of "McLieberman," i.e., the cross between Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, both of whom have been spewing CO2 into the Senate chamber recently. Singer, a climatologist who has a PhD in physics, knows even more about global warming than Ralph Nader does, and has a better sense of humor too.
PS: Have someone on your staff calculate how much CO2 has spewed into the troposphere in Southern California these past few weeks. I'll bet more than all the CO2 of all the motor vehicles on earth for the last few years. No kidding.
SEPP Comment: Some readers have questioned our recent publication by Jeremy Clarkson about windpower in Britain. Perhaps this letter by economics guru Jude Wanniski will clarify matters. But then again, it may not.