Analyzing the politics of climate change
San Francisco Examiner, June 9, 2009
We hear it every day. News headlines read: “Global Warming Biggest Threat of 21st Century, Experts say.” (businessweek.com. May 13th, 2009. Gardner, Amanda). News anchors provide us with a choice, either we believe the scientists that support global warming hypotheses, or we reject science as a whole. Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” show, was interviewing Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana when they had an exchange about the issue of global warming. Mr. Matthews then took a tangent that suggested we may either believe in science or maintain a belief in God, but to have it both ways is an impossibility. He stated, “There are people that really are against science in your party who really do question not just the science behind the climate change but the science behind evolutionary fact, that we were taught – you and I – in our biology books. They don’t accept the scientific method. They believe in belief itself.” (NewsBusters.org. “Chris Matthews Portrays GOP as Anti-Science.” Raezler, Colleen. May 7th, 2009. From an interview on “Hardball” dated May 5th, 2009.)
Still, others would characterize the specter of global warming as a political phenomena, destined to die out just like the warnings of a little ice age died out in the 1970’s. In his book “Liberty and Tyranny”, Mark Levin remarks about the false alarmism of global cooling in the 1970’s and the current global warming debate. He writes, “Of course, there was no new Ice Age. The ‘almost unanimous’ opinion of weather experts about man-made global cooling was wrong. The Enviro-statist then swung in the opposite direction, insisting that it is the ‘almost unanimous’ opinion of scientists and other experts rather than cooling, the earth is actually warming, and man is the culprit once again.” (“Liberty and Tyranny” p.129. Levin, Mark. Published 2009).
So what are we to believe? Why is global warming such a politically charged issue? What does science support? What can we do, if anything to quell the specter of global warming and climate change? And finally, what is fact and what is fiction?
Politics is politics as the old saying goes. Global warming has become a political hot button for several reasons. Among these reasons is the ability for politicians to garner support and finances for their elections. The spread of the idea of global warming has spurred many activist groups such as Greenpeace USA, an international group founded in 1971 to battle climate change and nuclear testing. Greenpeace says that it does not endorse political candidates, yet Greenpeace employees can be seen supporting President Obama’s initiatives at every turn. An article on greenpeace.org dated February 4th, 2009 called, “Carbon Footprint Analysis of Economic Recovery Package” lavishes support for the politically charged stimulus bill that eventually passed through congress and was signed into law. In this article, Greenpeace claims that the stimulus money, used for repair of existing highways and creation of public transport, could reduce our carbon emissions by “61 million metric tons annually, equivalent to the greenhouses gases from electricity use in 7.9 million American homes, or taking 13 million cars off the road.”
Another instance of Greenpeace displaying partisan behavior came on April 1st, 2009 in New Hampshire as local Greenpeace members urged their senators to pass the Obama Budget plan. An article entitled, “Greenpeace Urges New Hampshire Senators to Support President Obama’s Budget”(examiner.com) points out that Greenpeace supports a cap and trade policy in the budget that would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 83% below 2005 levels by 2050. The article also refers to millions of dollars being spent on new environmental initiatives to create new green jobs and move away from foreign oil and the use of coal.
A blogger on greenpeace.org seemed to sum up to relationship between politics and environmental groups on November 5th, 2008 with his or her “Memo to Obama.” The writer tells Obama that Greenpeace is “non-partisan” and that Greenpeace “supports policies not politicians.” The blogger then writes that many at Greenpeace “are jumping up and down this morning with glee..” due to the election of Barack Obama. While Greenpeace is steadfast in its organizational convictions, it seems susceptible to politicians willing to utilize their intentions. President Obama has promised massive reductions in the use of coal and foreign oil, forging defacto campaign support for himself through the powerful Greenpeace organization. Greenpeace believes that we can change the climate for the better through political policies. If they are correct, the Barack Obama Presidency should put an end to the “global warming crisis” for he, is their candidate for change.
Another environmental activist group with major political implications is the Sierra Club. The Sierra club unabashedly campaigned for Barack Obama in the last Presidential election. On their website, one finds the Sierra Club boasting:
1) An independent direct contact program that’s reached tens of thousands of targeted swing voters in key battleground states. Efforts to promote Barack Obama and his job-creating plans for clean energy focused in NH, CO and OH have included 140,248 phone contacts and 478,540 pieces of mail. 2) Our independent canvass knocked on 60,000 doors in PA, OH and VA to discuss Obama’s plans for 5 million new green jobs in the U.S. through clean energy and fair trade.3) The Sierra Club is also engaged in an extensive independent canvass on campuses in Denver, Colorado educating young voters on Barack Obama and key ballot initiatives in the state. 4) Organizers for the independent program are conducting outreach and voter education about the Presidential and targeted Senate candidates NH, NM, CO, PA, OH, MN, WI, NV and OR. 5) Separately, Sierra Club’s largest-ever grassroots program coordinated with campaigns deployed 55 staff and thousands of volunteer Sierra Club members to the Obama campaign and targeted Congressional races in 15 states–5 senate races and 33 house races.
Moreover, on the Sierra Club’s politics home page(sierraclub) one finds the listing of eight new senators, six Democrats and two Republicans. Of these senators, five received the Sierra Club endorsement, all five were Democrats even though the Sierra Club commends the Republican senators for having forward looking green energy policies. A study out of San Diego State University done in 2004 reveals the political bias of the California branch of the Sierra Club. An excerpt from their study reads:
“Looked at in another way, the pattern of endorsements suggests that the Sierra Club is more focused on supporting the Democratic Party than on supporting the environment. Of the 17 Democrats with the lowest OE scores, 82% were endorsed by the Sierra Club in 2002. Of the 16 Democrats with the highest scores, 88% were endorsed by the Sierra Club. (Senator Boxer was not running and is not counted here). Of the 20 Republicans, none was endorsed.
Thus, a Democratic candidate has roughly an 85% chance of being endorsed regardless of how bad their overall environmental record is, while a Republican has, at least in California, a 0% chance of being endorsed regardless of how good their record is.” (sdsu.edu)
The Sierra Club, like Greenpeace, either has an active role in promoting the Democrat party, or are unwitting participants in a political game. The following paragraphs will detail the damage done by the global warming movement, and the potential human suffering as a result of the current economic policies in the United States of America.
On April 17th, 2009 in an article written by Sam Kazman for the Wall Street Journal, information regarding CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards on American automobiles. CAFÉ standards were invented in 1975 during a global cooling media blitz and served as a political response to the Arab Oil embargo. Since then, automakers in this country have been forced to produce smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. Currently, the fuel emission standard is 27.5 MPG, and the new standard is to be increased to 39 MPG by 2016 on many vehicles.. Enter Mr. Kazman’s article that depicts what is happening as a result of these smaller vehicles.
He writes, “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that in a series of test crashes between minicars and midsize models, minis such as the Smart car provided significantly less protection for their passengers.”
Later in the same article, Mr. Kazman goes on to cite the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety regarding information that 2,000 people per year die as the result of CAFÉ standards: “A 2002 National Research Council study found that the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards contributed to about 2,000 deaths per year through their restrictions on car size and weight.” (online.wsj.com)
This statistic means that we have lost approximately 72,000 lives in this country alone as a result of one policy geared towards climate change. We must now weigh the loss of human life against the effectiveness of CAFÉ standards to achieve their original purpose. CAFÉ standards, designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil, reduce consumption, and reduce carbon emissions may not be performing the way congress thought they would in 1975.
On February 13 of 2002, H. Sterling Burnett, who holds a PH.D. from Bowling Greene State University, wrote an article for the National Center for Policy Analysis pertaining to CAFÉ standards. In his article “Cafe’s Three Strikes- It Should be Out”, Mr. Burnett points out that CAFÉ standards have not lived up to their promises and in fact have done more harm than good. Pertaining to the issue of reducing dependence on foreign oil, Burnett says that in 1974 we imported 35% of our oil for consumption while 27 years later in 2002, we were importing 52% of oil for consumption. In this instance, CAFÉ standards have failed to reduce our dependence on foreign oil even though our fuel efficiencies have improved markedly:” Since 1974, domestic new car fuel economy has increased 114 percent, and light truck fuel economy has increased 56 percent.”(www.ncpa.org)
Continuing with his article, Burnett turns to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the NAS for the facts regarding CAFÉ standards effects on climate change.
“The EPA estimates that car and light truck emissions in the U.S. make up, at most, 1.5 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, even if human activities do cause an increase in global temperature, raising CAFE standards to 40 mpg would reduce the car and light truck portion of greenhouse gases by less than one-half of 1 percent – a negligible amount. The NSA study found that higher CAFE standards could actually be counter productive in fighting global warming, stating: “. . . [R]eplacing the cast iron and steel components of vehicles with lighter weight materials (e.g., aluminum, plastics or composites) may reduce fuel consumption but would generate a different set of environmental impacts, as well as resulting in different kinds of indirect energy consumption.” “Greenhouse gas emissions from the production of substitute materials, such as aluminum or carbon fibers or plastics, could substantially offset decreases of those emissions achieved through improved fuel economy.” In other words, while increasing CAFE standards might reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobile tailpipes, these reductions would be offset by increases in emissions from the new technologies needed to produce more efficient cars. (https://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba388)
Pertaining to CAFÉ standards, a lynch pin policy for environmentally inclined politicians and activist groups, the facts bear out that they do not serve their intended purposes. CAFÉ standards do not reduce our dependence on foreign oil, they do not provide for cleaner air, and because more MPG cause us to drive more, CAFÉ standards do not serve to reduce carbon emissions. These facts, combined with the amount of human suffering caused by CAFÉ standards such as death and undue, job destroying burdens on automakers should cause concern in any decent human being.
Scientists rebuke popular claims
Still, the question of whether or not humans are causing our Earth to warm is of yet unanswered in this writing. We have only scratched the surface of how well meaning, environmentally friendly policies can have disastrous results for mankind and the Earth alike. To provide some counter to the well publicized belief that we are indeed causing climate change, we turn to scientists that have indeed resisted the status quo.
In 2006, Professor Bob Carter, a geologist at James Carter University in Queensland, penned an article for the UK Telegraph. Dated April 9th 2006, Professor Carter writes that global warming ended in 1998. He also attributes climate change to a natural procession of things, rather than a man made phenomena.
“Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).
Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society’s continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”
“ Two simple graphs provide needed context, and exemplify the dynamic, fluctuating nature of climate change. The first is a temperature curve for the last six million years, which shows a three-million year period when it was several degrees warmer than today, followed by a three-million year cooling trend which was accompanied by an increase in the magnitude of the pervasive, higher frequency, cold and warm climate cycles. During the last three such warm (interglacial) periods, temperatures at high latitudes were as much as 5 degrees warmer than today’s. The second graph shows the average global temperature over the last eight years, which has proved to be a period of stasis.
The essence of the issue is this. Climate changes naturally all the time, partly in predictable cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid episodic shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate that our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of benignly warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90 per cent of the last two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and economic damage, than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming.” (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3624242/
Professor Carter is far from alone in his analysis of man made global warming. On April 6th of 2006, 60 scientists signed a proposal to the Canadian Prime Minister asking for a review of the determinations made at the Kyoto Convention. The rational of these scientists was that there is no evidence that humans are causing any climate change, cooling or warming, and that the factors of climate change are at best undetermined. The scientists that signed on to this letter reasoned that billions of dollars dedicated to “fight climate change” through environmental policies are misguided and wasteful. An excerpt from this letter furnishes the cruxt of their argument.
“”Climate change is real” is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural “noise.” The new Canadian government’s commitment to reducing air, land and water pollution is commendable, but allocating funds to “stopping climate change” would be irrational. We need to continue intensive research into the real causes of climate change and help our most vulnerable citizens adapt to whatever nature throws at us next.
We believe the Canadian public and government decision-makers need and deserve to hear the whole story concerning this very complex issue. It was only 30 years ago that many of today’s global-warming alarmists were telling us that the world was in the midst of a global-cooling catastrophe. But the science continued to evolve, and still does, even though so many choose to ignore it when it does not fit with predetermined political agendas.”(https://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=3711460e-
Even more scientists today question how much of an impact human beings are having on global warming and climate change. CO2 gas emissions have been described as the culprit of man made climate change. In the book, “Liberty and Tyranny”, Mark Levin revisits several scientists that not only question the science behind global warming and climate change, but offer scientific evidence that human involvement in the process is minimal.
On page 136 of the book, Levin writes, “ As the National Center for Public Policy Research reports, in 2008, ‘Dr. Arthur Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine announced that more than 31,000 scientists had signed a petition rejecting the theory of human-caused global warming. A significant number of scientists, climatologists, and meteorologists have expressed doubt about the danger of global warming and whether or not humans are having a significant impact for the worse on the climate.’ Moreover, numerous experts are now claiming that, once again, the world is cooling.”
Levin also references Dr. Nir Shariv on page 135 in regards to CO2 emissions. Dr. Shariv notes, “Like many others, I was personally sure that CO2 was the bad culprit in the story of global warming. But after carefully digging into the evidence, I realized that things are far more complicated than the story told to us by many climate scientists or the stories regurgitated by the media. Solar activity can explain a large part of 20th century global warming. If the amount of CO2 doubled by 2100, it will not dramatically increase the global temperature. Even if we halved the CO2 output, and the CO2 increase by 2100 would be, say, a 50% increase relative to today instead of a doubled amount, the expected reductions in the rise of global temperature would be less than 0.5C. This is not significant.”
Also in Levin’s book, a geologist by the name of Dudley Hughes describes the significance of CO2 . He says, “Earth’s atmosphere is made up of several major gases. For simplicity, let us picture a football stadium with about 10,000 people in the stands. Assume each person represents a small volume of one type of gas…Carbon Dioxide represents only about 4 parts in 10,000, the smallest volume of any major atmospheric gas.”
Dudley Hughes also wrote in 2007 that “Carbon Dioxide Levels are a Blessing, Not a Problem.” In this article, Hughes points out that, in reference to the football stadium analogy, “Moreover, those who name CO2 as a pollutant are not concerned with the 4 parts, but only with 1 part–the portion added during the past 150 years by the burning of fossil fuels. This 1/10,000 increase is the target of the Kyoto Protocol.”
This article features an entire section on the importance of CO2 for humankind and planet Earth alike, and the historical levels of CO2 in our atmosphere:
“A thin veneer of sedimentary rocks blankets the Earth’s surface and, along with ice cores from glaciers, can provide a reasonable geologic history of the Earth’s past atmosphere. Scientific study of these rocks suggests the Earth’s atmosphere in ancient times had considerably more CO2 than today.
Many experiments have demonstrated that the rate of plant growth is largely governed by the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. As atmospheric CO2 increases, the growth rate of plants increases dramatically. Similarly, the plant growth rate decreases as atmospheric CO2 decreases.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the basic food for plants, and since plants provide the food for animal life (including humans), CO2 is the base of the food chain for all advanced life forms on Earth.
The present level of CO2 in the atmosphere is extremely low by historical standards. If atmospheric CO2 is significantly reduced, it is more likely that slower plant growth could affect world food supplies while having little effect on global warming. The life of all plants and animals on Earth is dependent on CO2 for food and oxygen. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is the staff of life for our planet.” (https://www.heartland.org/policybot/results/20952/
Cap and Trade
Another popular political program is what is known as “cap and trade.” Cap and trade is a system whereby the government permits fossil fuel burning companies to emit a certain amounts of six different greenhouse gases. When a particular company has reached the maximum amount of allowable greenhouse gas emissions, it must then “purchase” more from the government or buy more from other companies that are under the cap. “Purchase” is placed in quotations because what the company is paying for, is really the right to conduct business, and provide their services or products. What are the effects of cap and trade? Who benefits? What does it mean for us?
Cap and trade programs are designed to combat greenhouse gas emissions that are purportedly blamed for the prospect of deadly climate change. By making energy production more expensive, the idea is to curtail its use thereby creating less energy due to the new lag in demand. President Obama, fully aware of the harm that a cap and trade system would do to an average person’s pocket book stated that, “ When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket, even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gasses, coal power plants, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retro-fit their operations. That will cost money they will pass that money on to the consumers.” – Barack Obama, January 2008 in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Newspaper (newsbusters.org)
If President Obama is correct and his cap and trade policy proposal does cause skyrocketing energy prices, thus forcing a burden on to average citizens, just how much will it cost? One estimate suggests that the most recently proposed cap and trade bill will cost the average American household $3,100 per year. On May 2nd, 2009 economist Robert Murphy wrote for townhall.com:
“To repeat, the MIT professor agrees that households will pay $3,100 per year in higher prices, in order for businesses to buy the carbon allowances auctioned off by the government. But in his mind, whether that $3,100 is spent by the people who earned the money in the first place or whether it’s spent by politicians is irrelevant; what the households lose in the form of higher energy prices, they gain in the form of bigger government spending.” (townhall.com)
Not only does the proposed cap and trade program hit the household pocket book, but in the name of reducing greenhouse gases proven earlier to have little effect on the health of planet earth, this program would also cause American jobs to be sent overseas, adding to the climbing unemployment rate. On May 10th, 2009 in an article written for the Washington Times, writer Joe Barton comments on the overall cost of cap and trade, and references studies relating to job losses:
“Fast forward to this week. Without actual numbers or the resulting cost estimates, we’re left to ponder the broad ranges of economic damage. The news is necessarily vague, but none of it is good. Your electricity bill will increase by 77 percent to 129 percent. Filling up your gas tank will cost anywhere from 60 percent to 144 percent more. The cost of home heating oil and natural gas will nearly double.
Do you think the above estimate will help the economy or hurt it? Most would answer that it will hurt, and cost millions of Americans jobs. If Democrats manage to pass a cap-and-trade fiasco, millions of lost American jobs will likely pop up overseas. Already the recession seems to get deeper by the day. Michigan has an unemployment rate of 12 percent. Indiana has a 10 percent unemployment rate. Ohio is at 9.7 percent. California and Georgia are both at 9.2 percent unemployment. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, a cap-and-trade law will cost 3 million to 4 million net jobs lost. The Heritage Foundation puts it between 1.8 million and 5.3 million, and Charles Rivers Associates estimated it as high as 7 million. Because there is so little protection for industry jobs that rely heavily on affordable and dependable baseload power, I think we can expect to start buying more Mexican cement, Chinese fertilizer and Indian steel.”
An inconvenient conclusion
We have thus far discovered that there are activists and politicians whipping up an environmental frenzy that has cost money, jobs, and lives. We have been told that climate change is one of our biggest challenges, and that man made climate change is real and must be changed. However, as discussed earlier, we have found that major policies geared towards hindering man made climate change are failures, and that the Earth’s climate has constantly changed over billions of years regardless of human activity.
Be it the so called “cow tax” whereby farmers and ranchers would be charged to offset the damage done to the environment by the flatulence of their livestock, (nytimes.com) or the cutting off of water supply to California farmers that may cost 60,000 jobs this year alone due to one federal judge’s concern for a fish, (blogs.kqed.org) the debate over what causes climate change shall rage on.
The research is not conclusive, and there is no scientific consensus on the fact that man is causing climate change. The evidence offered in this brief report indicates that science is proving that man made climate change is merely a political tool to impose taxes, regulate industry, and create a more dependent or controlled society.