In science, refuting an accepted belief is celebrated as an advance in knowledge; in religion it is condemned as heresy. Bob Parks (Physics, U of Maryland)
The Senate passed the Wall Street bailout bill by a vote of 74 to 25 on Wednesday. Included in the Senate bill was the extension of tax credits for various types of renewable energy, including windmills and solar panels. The House voted on Friday in favor of the Senate bill by a 263 to 171 margin, after rejecting its own version on Monday by a 202 to 228 vote. The White House has indicated that President Bush will sign the bill into law as soon as possible. So the renewable energy industry can rest easy tonight in the knowledge that their taxpayer subsidies will not expire on January 1st. (h/t Myron Ebell, CEI). See also Item #1.
During a week when Americans were focused on perhaps the greatest economic challenge this country has faced in over a generation, House Democrats released a set of principles on October 2nd that outline an aggressive plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions. The plan could be even more economically restrictive than the failed Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which would have cost $6.7 trillion dollars, according to the bill's own sponsors. That $6.7 trillion cost would have been passed on to families and workers across the country in the form of higher gas prices, higher electricity and heating/cooling bills, more expensive consumer goods, and higher workplace costs. [ Marc_Morano@epw.senate.gov]
http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=c4584465-802a-23ad-46a7-cf9cfff3d7b9 When it comes to being in touch with Americans, the House Democrats need a reality check. The current financial crisis only reinforces the public's wariness about any climate bill that attempts to increase the costs of energy and jeopardizes jobs.
And on a personal note:
Heartland Liberty Prize
SEPP Science Editorial #7 (10/4/08)
Sarah Palin is the only major candidate who has expressed doubts about manmade global warming – and she is right. This attack in the CS Monitor does not understand the interpretation of a temperature trend:
The common way to define a temperature trend is to equate it to the slope of a straight line that provides the ‘best fit’ for values of temperatures (usually yearly averages) plotted against time. The implicit assumption is that the trend does not vary with time. But we know that’s not true; climate is always changing –warming or cooling. The ‘trend’ therefore depends on the choice of the time interval – the beginning year and the ending year. (Think of the fluctuations of the stock market.) And the choice is often quite arbitrary. So, for example, we have seen an overall warming trend since 1850, the end of the Little Ice Age [Akasofu 2008], and a cooling since 1998.
A different problem has to do with the quality of the data. It is generally agreed that atmospheric temperature data are more reliable than surface data. But ‘global’ data from weather balloons go back only 50 years – and the truly global data from satellites only 30 years. The latter show a warming trend from 1979 to present. But one can also interpret the data as showing essentially zero trend from 1979 to 1997, followed by a sudden ‘jump’ and another zero or even cooling trend since 1998 [NIPCC 2008, Fig. 13]. The point is that the observations do not correspond to what greenhouse models would predict.
So Sarah Palin is right. The temperature record shows a mixture of natural and human causes, with the latter quite a bit smaller. There is absolutely no reason to believe that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) will be of any consequence – even by 2100. And, of course, impacts of any AGW will be unimportant too.
1. Using a ‘climate audit’ provision in the Bailout bill constructively
4. UK creates a department of energy and climate: A bad idea
5. Poland leads revolt against EU climate regulations
6. Recovery from the Little Ice Age
7. The green bubble bursts: Amid the energy crisis, Democrats are losing the high ground on the environment to a GOP that is pushing oil drilling)
8. Alarmist climate report from Australia
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Letter to Editor, from The Economist print edition (Sep 25th 2008)
Cooling the planet SIR, Your assertion that global warming is happening faster than expected exhibits a disturbing degree of cognitive dissonance (Adapt or die, September 13th). Since 1998 the world’ average surface temperature has exhibited no warming, according to all the main temperature records. (Prof) Philip Stott.
SEPP Comment: We always find it amusing to read that global warming is happening “faster than expected.” It obviously admits that the models are wrong –again!
According to the IPCC Assessment Report approved by governments with great fanfare in January 2001, the projected warming between 2000 and 2010 would be between 0.14C and 0.24C (see http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/552.htm ). It’s not happening, and the UK Met Office effectively admits this in its media release of 3 Jan 2008. The forecast value for 2008 mean temperature is considered indistinguishable from any of the years 2001-2007, given the uncertainties in the data.
global mean temperatures for each of the years 2001 to 2008 are
indistinguishable one from another, how can the global warming be happening
faster than expected?
“Worse than expected”: Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement
manufacturing are rising faster than the worst-case scenario drawn up by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to the latest
worldwide carbon budget, released by the Global Carbon Project, CO2 levels rose
by 3.5% a year between 2000 and 2007, compared with 2.7% as calculated by the
IPCC. During the 1990s, emissions rose at 0.9% a year. China is now the biggest emitter of CO2 and
responsible for 21% of the world's emissions - up from 14% in 2002. This knocks
the United States into second place, contributing 19% of global emissions.
India is fourth, but looks set to take third place from Russia this year. 1
Oct 2008 | Nature 455, 581 (2008) | doi:10.1038/455581a
The U.S. Faces Serious Risks of Brownouts or Blackouts in 2009, Study Warns. Enviro Group Lawsuits, Cost Concerns, Climate Regulation Uncertainty Cited As Major Obstacles To Grid Improvements. http://www.nextgenenergy.org/nextgen+blackout+study.aspx
Items from Climate News Notes www.climateclearinghouse.com
Lehman Brothers Shuts Carbon Trading Desk
On September 16, 2008, Reuters reported that Lehman Brothers, the investment bank that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, has shut down its carbon emissions trading desk. Lehman was believed to have been more involved in the Clean Development Mechanism market, rather than day-to-day trading. (See www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50239/story.htm)
Greenhouse Gas Registry Bill Introduced
On September 11, 2008, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), introduced H.R. 6877, the “Greenhouse Gas Registry Act”, which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. This bill directs EPA to set up the registry. (See http://thomas.loc.gov)
Bill Seeks Protection For Renewal Energy Investments
On September 26, 2008, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), introduced H.R. 7146, to create a Clean Energy Investment Fund to finance alternative energy projects. (See http://thomas.loc.gov)
RGGI auction begins
On September 25, 2008, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative formally launched the auctioning of 12,565,387 carbon-dioxide emissions allowances at the Mercantile Exchange in lower Manhattan. Government officials of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maryland attended. The results of the auction will be posted on September 29, 2008. (See www.rggi.org)
French To Build British Nuclear Plants
On September 25, 2008, Reuters reported that France’s state owned utility, EDF, which operates 58 nuclear reactors in France, has agreed to buy British Energy and to build and operate new nuclear power stations in the UK. (See www.planetark.com.dailynewsstory.cfm.newsid/50352/story.htm)
House Passes Renewable Energy Tax Bill
On September 26, 2008, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 7060, the “ Renewable Energy and Job Creation Tax Act of 2008”, by a vote of 257 to 166. Among other things, the bill extends the tax credit for wind energy producers by one year, and for biomass, geothermal hydropower and waste to energy facilities for nearly three years. (See http://thomas.loc.gov)
Inhofe Releases Report On Environmental Groups
On September 25, 2008, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, released a report, “Political Activity of Environmental Groups and Their Support Foundations”. Inhofe argues that such “non-profit” groups are really “disguised efforts to raise money for Democratic political campaigns”. (See http://epw.senate.gov)
Boxer Holds Hearing On EPA ANPR On Co2
On September 23, 2008, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, held a hearing on the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. Witnesses included Robert Meyers, EPA; Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board; William Kovacs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Marlo Lewis, Competitive Enterprise Institute.
U.S. Chamber report cites burden of EPA regulation of CO2
On September 23, 2008, William Kovacs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that regulating carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act would cause a “cascade of unintended regulatory consequences”, particularly for small businesses. The Chamber has issued a report, “A Regulatory Burden: The Compliance Dimension of Regulating CO2, as a Pollutant”. (http://ewp.senate.gov and www.uschamber.com)
EU. Bans Mercury
Exports in 2011:
"The European Union [officially] banned on Thursday [September 25] all exports of mercury from the 27-nation bloc in a bid to cut global supplies," reports Reuters (September 25). Under the ban, mercury that is no longer being used in the chlor-alkali process, or that is being decommissioned from other industrial processes, has to be put into safe storage once the export ban takes effect in March 2011. European Minerals statistics (p. 277) indicates mercury exports totaled slightly more than 1,000 tons in 2006. The EU has been debating the mercury export issue for some time, but this reflects the final approach outlined for managing mercury exports.
UNDER THE BOTTOM LINE
Environmental Defense Fund Offers $10,000 Prize to Explain Carbon Trading
Meat must be rationed to four portions a week, says report on climate change. Study looks at food impact on greenhouse gases. Return to old-fashioned cooking habits urged. The Guardian (UK), Sept 30 2008.
People will have to be rationed to four modest portions of meat and one litre of milk a week if the world is to avoid run-away climate change, a major new report warns. The report, by the Food Climate Research Network, based at the University of Surrey, also says total food consumption should be reduced, especially "low nutritional value" treats such as alcohol, sweets and chocolates.
It urges people to return to habits their mothers or grandmothers would have been familiar with: buying locally in-season products, cooking in bulk and in pots with lids or pressure cookers, avoiding waste and walking to the shops - alongside more modern tips such as using the microwave and internet shopping.
goes much further than any previous advice after mounting concern about the
impact of the livestock industry on greenhouse gases and rising food prices. It
follows a four-year study of the impact of food on climate change and is
thought to be the most thorough study of its kind.
1. CARBON AUDIT: CAN WE TURN THIS THREAT INTO AN OPPORTUNITY? Posted by Marlo Lewis
Section 117 of the just-passed bailout bill requires a “carbon audit” of the tax code. The provision requires the Secretary of the Treasury, working with the National Academy of Science, to undertake a comprehensive review of the 1986 Internal Revenue Code to “identify the types of and specific tax provisions that have the largest effects on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and to estimate the magnitude of those effects.” The study is authorized at $1.5 million and is due in two years.
Presumably, the sponsors of this provision hope to use the study to lobby for carbon taxes and repeal of what they are pleased to call “special tax breaks” for ”polluting” industries.
But free-market energy advocates could have some fun with this. For example, several studies indicate that corn ethanol–the beneficiary of billions in tax breaks–potentially emits more greenhouse gases than the gasoline it replaces. We should advise the Secretary and the NAS to address those studies, and kick up a fuss if they don’t.
We should also make noise if they ignore provisions of the tax code that impede capital investment, hence capital stock turnover, hence declines in energy and emissions intensity.
A 2007 study commissioned by the American Council on Capital Formation found that “The United States generally has less favorable tax depreciation rules for electric generation, electric transmission and distribution, and petroleum refining than many other countries, including a number of the U.S.’s major trading partners.”
For example, after five years, U.S. firms can recover only 29.5 percent of their investment in combined heat and power systems, compared to 57.7 percent for Korean, 63.1 percent for Canadian, and 100 percent Malaysian firms. Similarly with smart meters. After five years, U.S. firms recover 29.5 percent of their investment, compared to 63.1 percent for German, and 100 percent for Indian firms.
Reducing the tax penalty on capital investment fosters wealth creation while accelerating deployment and diffusion of new technologies, which are more energy efficient and less carbon intensive than older capital stock. Thus, replacing today’s plodding depreciation schedules with accelerated depreciation or even full expensing is a true “no regrets” policy–a reform desirable for its economic merits regardless of one’s views about global warming.
The Secretary and the NAS would be well advised to read the ACCF study as well as scientific studies questioning the low-carbon bona fides of corn ethanol.
2. REGULATING GLOBAL WARMING: EXPANDING THE AUTHORITY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
In May 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that greenhouse gases met the definition of an air pollutant in the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded in 2008 by issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that explains how the Clean Air Act applies to regulating emissions of greenhouse gases thought to contribute to global warming. The notice will likely be followed by regulations to reduce emissions. Unfortunately, such regulations would significantly increase energy prices, but would not affect the global level of greenhouse gases, says Amanda Berg, legislative assistant for the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Attempting to reduce such a small fraction of the factors that contribute to the overall greenhouse effect will be extremely costly and ineffective.
Furthermore, the proposed EPA rule would result in an unprecedented expansion of the EPA's power, giving them the authority to regulate nearly every sector of the economy and personal decisions about housing and transportation. These sweeping regulations would cause energy prices to rise, but would be futile because of their negligible impact on the overall concentration of greenhouse gases, concludes Berg.
Source: Amanda Berg, "Regulating Global Warming: Expanding the Authority of the Environmental Protection Agency," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis, No. 164, October 2, 2008.
3. ENERGY FRAUD! ANOTHER ENERGY SWINDLE THAT WILL COST CONSUMERS AND TAXPAYERS
Since publication of my book, Energy Keepers - Energy Killers: The new civil rights battle, millions of Americans have become aware that this country has vast untapped energy resources.
Three-fourths of US voters now support expanded onshore and offshore drilling. A bipartisan coalition in Congress wants to increase domestic petroleum, coal and nuclear power, while fostering conservation and wind, solar and other energy opportunities.
They’ve been blocked at every turn by liberal Democrats, many of whom are working with radical environmentalists to eliminate proven hydrocarbon and nuclear technologies that provide 93% of our energy, and replace them with systems that currently generate less than 1% of the energy that safeguards our jobs, homes, security and prosperity.
However, political realities and voter outrage over soaring gasoline, food and heating costs forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid to devise an elaborate hoax. It had the trappings of a pro-energy bill – but was as authentic as the betting house and announcer in the classic Newman-Redford film, The Sting.
Their legislation “expanded offshore leasing” – but only beyond 100 miles off most of our coasts, and 50 miles off four states that would get no revenues from leasing or production, and thus would have no incentive to permit leasing. In other words, it allowed leasing only where there was no petroleum, or where drilling and production would be so far offshore and so expensive that no sane company would do it. The bill made 88% of our nation’s offshore oil and gas permanently off limits – along with jobs and some $800 billion in revenues that development would generate for state and federal governments.
The pseudo-energy bill also imposed new subsidies to promote unreliable wind and solar power – paying for them with higher taxes, higher electricity rates and new taxes on oil companies, which then would have less money to drill in the few places that aren’t off limits. It mandated that utilities magically increase their wind and solar electricity generation from 1.5% today to 15% 2020.
Drafted largely by environmentalists and lobbyists, the legislation would have undermined our free market system and given Congress and bureaucrats the power of Roman emperors to give thumbs up or down to companies, industries and jobs. It would have made lobbyists and pressure groups more important to business success or failure than quality products and services, innovative R&D or sound management.
It narrowly passed the House on a party-line vote. But Senate Democratic leaders knew they didn’t have the votes to override a threatened veto. So they let the bill die. However, Congressman Steny Hoyer says restoring the offshore oil-drilling ban “will be a top priority” for Democrats in 2009.
They hope we won’t still be angry about this attempted swindle and soaring energy prices. I wouldn’t bet the rent money on that.
Americans know better than ever before how important abundant, reliable, affordable energy is to our national security, way of life and civil rights.
We know what soaring fuel prices are doing to our airline, tourism, manufacturing and other industries, Meals on Wheels volunteers, and our ability to buy food, heat and cool our homes, take a vacation, and save for college and retirement. We know high prices make it impossible for many to give more to charity than Senator Joe Biden’s lousy $328 a year.
We know what our businesses, schools, hospitals and lives would be like if the electricity went off every time the wind stopped blowing. What Phoenix, Dallas and Miami would be like without affordable air-conditioning. What Green Bay, New York and Toronto would be like without affordable heating.
In one year, we could double offshore oil production from California, once we issue leases and permits to drill from platforms that already exist right off the Golden State coast. We could go to the Eastern Gulf of Mexico – near Florida, not far from where the Cubans and Chinese are talking about drilling just 45 miles off the Sunshine State coast. In a few years, we’d have significant production – without harming the environment. Ditto off the Virginia coast, out West, and in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Our energy woes have nothing to do with technology or the will of oil companies to lease and drill. They’re due to politics, moratoriums, lawsuits and anti-drilling pressure-group tactics that block drilling everywhere we turn. We’re fed up with it.
This anti-energy insanity has got to stop. We’re the only country on Earth that deliberately locks up its own energy resources, and then spends $700 billion a year (the price of the Wall Street bailout) to import substitutes. We’re driving up energy prices and forcing poor families to choose between buying a gallon of milk or a gallon of gasoline.
If Congress can’t get its act together this year, we’ll make darn sure it gets religion next year.
Roy Innis is chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality and its Stop the War on the Poor campaign.
[H/t Paul Driessen]
4. MARRYING ENERGY DEMAND AND SUPPLY
By Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst
"We have moved into a new energy world. The volatility of the global oil price has had a major impact on the world economy at the same time as we are obliged to make major cuts in CO2. It no longer makes sense to have one department responsible for energy demand and another for energy supply." This is how a senior UK government insider explained the widely praised decision on Friday to create a new Department for Energy and Climate.
Three factors were in play, the insider said: uncertainty about future energy supplies and prices; the Climate Change Bill becoming legally binding with an expectation that it will point to an 80% CO2 reduction by 2050; and the need to secure an international climate agreement. "Our only response to the combination of these is to bear down on energy demand," the source said. "So we have had to bring demand into the same place as supply."
The new department to be headed by Ed Miliband [brother of UK foreign secretary] will bring under the same roof the energy team from Berr (Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) and the climate team from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).
SEPP Comment: If you want our opinion: a terrible idea. The only hope left for the British economy was to have energy supply under the control of a minister of trade and industry, or equivalent. Now they will have (ex-IPCC chairman) Bob Watson advising Ed Milliband -- the blind leading the blind.
How sad for us Anglophiles!
5. EU CLIMATE POLICY:
POLAND LEADS REVOLT OVER RUSSIA FEARS
By Michael Levitin in Berlin, The Daily Telegraph, 4 October 2008
Poland has claimed that it has assembled enough votes
to block a landmark EU climate change agreement after spearheading a revolt by
Eastern European states that fear the package would increase their dependence
on Russian natural gas supplies.
A six-nation bloc on the EU's eastern fringes signed a pact to fight a proposal designed to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by a fifth by 2020.
The target represents the EU's landmark initiative to address the pressures of climate change and would return the continent's output of CO2 to 1990 levels.
Poland has led efforts to fend off adoption of the package. An aide to the country's environment minister, Maciej Nowicki said Greece had joined the opposition, alongside Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria,
"Poland's Environment Minister signed in Greece an agreement referring to the climate package," Joanna Mackowiak, a ministry spokeswoman said. "We have the blocking minority."
While viewed in Brussels as a necessary act of leadership in the climate change debate by Europe, the proposal has been criticised for granting an unfair advantage to the richer Western European nations.
In particular introducing a 100 per cent auction of carbon trading quotas by 2013 is likely to force the closure of heavy polluting coal power stations and force the Eastern states to build natural gas facilities that would buy Russian pipeline supplies.
Warsaw has vowed to avoid that prospect at all costs. "It's not the biggest success when you build up a blocking minority" said Miss Mackowiak. "It's when the minority sticks together to the very end."
While Poland currently relies on its domestic coal reserves to meet 90 per cent of its energy needs, other countries in the block fear they will be trapped in permanent dependence on the Kremlin.
"We are dependent on Russia for 97 per cent of our gas and more than 90 per cent of our petrol," said Jan Skoda, Slovakia's foreign ministry spokesman. "We're caught with a double-edged sword.
"We are concerned that dependence of any kind is not good for our or anybody's strategic interests. On the one hand we want to accept the protocol's conclusions, reduce carbon dioxide and proceed toward a healthier climate. On the other hand we have to keep our capacity to compete."
Russia's lightening strike against Georgia in August raised fears of Moscow's strategic dominance over its near neighbours to the top of Europe's agenda.
But the aftermath of the war exposed divisions between Germany and other countries that hope to build alternative pipelines or resource routes and countries to end Russia's stranglehold on the European energy market, and those like Poland that want to stand up to Moscow.
German politicians have condemned the threat to derail the Commission's plan. Renate Künast, chair of the German Green Party said: "Eastern Europe does not need coal, it needs to switch to a sustainable energy supply.
"This switch must be supported by Old Europe, and especially Germany. But using gas does not mean using natural gas from Russia. It means producing biogas. The countries in Eastern Europe have the potential to become biogas exporters."
But an advisor to the dominant Christian Democratic Union in the ruling coalition cautioned against an outright dismissal of the renegades position. "The Russians have used energy for political reasons," said Uwe Täger of the CDU.
"Belorussia had problems. Ukraine had problems. We're watching very carefully what's happening there. We have to help each other to avoid creating a divided energy policy with too much dependence."
6. THE RECOVERY FROM THE LITTLE
ICE AGE (A POSSIBLE CAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING) AND THE RECENT HALTING OF THE
WARMING (THE MULTI-DECADAL OSCILLATION)
Revised September 25, 2008 under a new title (.pdf, 52pp, 59.32Mb)
Two natural components of the presently progressing climate change are identified.
The first one is an almost linear global temperature increase of about 0.5 C/100 years (~1 F/100years), which seems to have started at least one hundred years before 1946 when manmade CO2 in the atmosphere began to increase rapidly. This value of 0.5 C/100 years may be compared with what the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists consider to be the manmade greenhouse effect of 0.6 C/100 years. This 100-year long linear warming trend is likely to be a natural change. One possible cause of this linear increase may be Earths continuing recovery from the Little Ice Age (1400-1800). This trend (0.5C/100 years) should be subtracted from the temperature data during the last 100 years when estimating the manmade contribution to the present global warming trend. As a result, there is a possibility that only a small fraction of the present warming trend is attributable to the greenhouse effect resulting from human activities. Note that both glaciers in many places in the world and sea ice in the Arctic Ocean that had developed during the Little Ice Age began to recede after 1800 and are still receding; their recession is thus not a recent phenomenon.
The second one is the multi-decadal oscillation, which is superposed on the linear change. One of them is the Pacific multi-decadal oscillation, which is a natural change. This particular change has a positive rate of change of about 0.15 C/10 years from about 1975, and is thought to be a sure sign of the greenhouse effect by the IPCC. But, this positive trend stopped after 2000 and now has a negative slope. As a result, the global warming trend stopped in about 2000-2001.
Therefore, it appears that the two natural changes have a greater effect on temperature changes than the greenhouse effects of CO2. These facts are contrary to the IPCC Report (2007, p.10), which states that most of the present warming is due very likely to be the manmade greenhouse effect. They predict that the warming trend continues after 2000. Contrary to their prediction, the warming halted after 2000.
There is an urgent need to correctly identify natural changes and remove them from the present global warming/cooling trend, in order to accurately identify the contribution of the manmade greenhouse effect. Only then can the contribution of CO2 be studied quantitatively.
International Arctic Research Center
University of Alaska Fairbanks
7. THE GREEN BUBBLE
BURSTS: AMID THE ENERGY CRISIS,
DEMOCRATS ARE LOSING THE HIGH GROUND ON THE ENVIRONMENT TO A GOP THAT IS
PUSHING OIL DRILLING.
By Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, LA Times, September 30, 2008
As the election enters its endgame, Democrats and their environmental allies face a political challenge they could hardly have imagined just a few months ago. America's growing dependence on fossil fuels, once viewed as a Democratic trump card held alongside the Iraq war and the deflating economy, has become a lodestone instead. Republicans stole the energy issue from Democrats by proposing expanded drilling -- particularly lifting bans on offshore oil drilling -- to bring down gasoline prices. Whereas Barack Obama told Americans to properly inflate their tires, Republicans at their convention gleefully chanted "Drill, baby, drill!" Obama's point on conservation and efficiency was lost on an electorate eager for a solution to what they perceive as a supply crisis.
Democrats and greens ended up in this predicament because they believed their own press clippings -- or, perhaps more accurately, Al Gore's. After the release of the documentary film and book "An Inconvenient Truth," greens convinced themselves that U.S. public opinion on climate change had shifted dramatically, despite having no empirical evidence that was the case. In fact, public concern about global warming was about the same before the movie -- 65% told a Gallup poll in 2007 that global warming was a somewhat or very important concern in comparison to 63% in 1989. Global warming remains a low-priority issue, hovering near the bottom of the Pew Center for People and the Press' top 20 priorities.
By contrast, public concern about gasoline and energy prices has shifted dramatically. While liberals and environmentalists were congratulating themselves on the triumph of climate science over fossil-fuel-funded ignorance, planning inauguration parties and writing legislation for the next Democratic president and Congress, gas prices became the second-highest concern after the economy, according to Gallup.
This summer, elite opinion ran headlong into American popular opinion. The train wreck happened in the Senate and went by the name of the Climate Security Act. That bill to cap U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would have, by all accounts (even the authors'), increased gasoline and energy prices. Despite clear evidence that energy-price anxiety was rising, Democrats brought the bill to the Senate floor in June when gas prices were well over $4 a gallon in most of the country. Republicans were all too happy to join that fight.
Indeed, they so relished the opportunity to accuse Democrats of raising gasoline prices in the midst of an energy crisis, they insisted that the 500-page bill be read into the Senate record in its entirety in order to prolong the debate. Within days, Senate Democrats started jumping ship. Democratic leaders finally killed the debate to avert an embarrassing defeat, but by then they had handed Republicans a powerful political club.
Republicans have been bludgeoning Democrats with it ever since. They held dramatic "hearings," unauthorized by the Democratic leadership, on the need for expanded oil drilling to lower gas prices. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich quickly announced a book, "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less," a movie and a petition drive. And Republican presidential candidate John McCain stopped making speeches about his support for bipartisan climate action, which is how he had started his campaign, and attacked Obama and congressional Democrats for opposing drilling instead.
On June 9, three days after the emissions cap-and-trade bill died in the Senate, Obama led McCain by eight points, according to Gallup. By June 24, the race was in a dead heat, a shift owed in no small part to Republicans battering Democrats on energy. Seeing the writing on the wall, Obama reversed his opposition to drilling in August, and congressional Democrats quickly followed suit.
But the damage has largely been done. In following greens, Democrats allowed McCain and Republicans to cast them as the party out of touch with the pocketbook concerns of middle-class Americans and captive to special interests that prioritize remote wilderness over economic prosperity.
In a tacit acknowledgment of their defeat, some green leaders, such as the Sierra Club's Carl Pope, have endorsed the Democrats' pro-drilling strategy. But few of them seem to realize the political implications. The most influential environmental groups in Washington -- the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund -- are continuing to bet the farm on a strategy that relies on emissions limits and other regulations aimed at making fossil fuels more expensive in order to encourage conservation, efficiency and renewable energy. But with an economic recession likely, and energy prices sure to remain high for years to come thanks to expanding demand in China and other developing countries, any strategy predicated centrally on making fossil fuels more expensive is doomed to failure.
A better approach is to make clean energy cheap through technology innovation funded directly by the federal government. In contrast to raising energy prices, investing somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion annually in technology R&D, infrastructure and transmission lines to bring power from windy and sunny places to cities is overwhelmingly popular with voters.. Instead of embracing this big investment, greens and Democrats push instead for tiny tax credits for renewable energy -- nothing approaching the national commitment that's needed.
With just six weeks before the election, the bursting of the green bubble is a wake-up call for Democrats. Environmental groups, perpetually certain that a new ecological age is about to dawn in America, have serially overestimated their strength and misread public opinion. Democrats must break once and for all from green orthodoxy that focuses primarily on making dirty energy more expensive and instead embrace a strategy to make clean energy cheap.
By continuing to hew to the green agenda, Democrats have not only put in jeopardy their chance of taking back the White House and growing their majority in Congress, they also have set back the prospects of establishing policies that might effectively address the climate and energy crises.
Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger are authors of "Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility" and co-founders of the Breakthrough Institute.
8. EARLY HALLOWEEN: GLOBAL WARMING WILL 'HAUNT HUMANITY UNTIL THE END OF TIME' – AUSTRALIAN OFFICIAL WARNS, September 30, 2008
Excerpt: Failure to deal with climate change now will haunt
humanity forever, the nations top greenhouse adviser has warned as he issued a
rallying cry for action. Professor Ross Garnaut has warmed to the idea of a
deep, fast cut to Australia’s emissions in his final report, released today.
After infuriating green groups earlier this month by calling for a 10 per cent
cut in Australia's emissions by 2020, he’s now more open to a deeper 25 per
cent cut. Prof Garnaut issued a blunt assessment of the dangers of climate
change as he launched the 620-page report. If we fail, on a balance of
probabilities, the failure of our generation will haunt humanity until the end
of time, he told reporters in Canberra. We are entering territory here that
humanity has not been in before. We will delude ourselves if we think that
uncertainty about the climate change science... is a cause for delay. 
Prof Garnaut said the global financial crisis, which worsened overnight, was no
excuse to delay acting on climate change. Financial crises are short-term
phenomena ... climate change is a long-term structural issue.
The big question now is what costume will Professor Garnaut wear to his predicted climate Monster Mash? asks Marc Morano