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Climate Measure Fails in Senate:

Yesterday the Senate considered an amendment to the water projects bill that would have required the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider the impact of climate change on proposed water projects. The measure was largely symbolic, but it divided the Senate nonetheless, attracting a bare majority -- 51 votes -- but not enough Senators to pass under the rules for the bill. The AP story is here.

Randy R. (mail):
Question: As a practical matter, wouldn't the Corps want to consider climate change on proposed water projects regardless? I mean, don't they want their projects to succeed? I don't quite get it. Does this mean that they can't or won't consider climate change?

I know the Corps has bungled many projects in the past because they thought they knew more about nature than nature itself. But I had hoped they had learned a thing or two....
5.16.2007 12:48pm
Steve:
Is the reason that it's a symbolic measure that the Corps is already taking climate change into account? Would the amendment have changed anything, other than mandating that they keep doing what they're doing?

The Republicans really need to start looking to Newt Gingrich rather than James Inhofe as their guide on this issue. They really come off like flat-earthers.
5.16.2007 12:50pm
A.S.:
Why are the Democrats putting up this piddly little bill as an important vote on climate change? If they had any courage, they simply put up a vote on Kyoto... which has already been signed by an American President and simply needs Senate ratification.
5.16.2007 1:07pm
Matthew Gross (mail):
Given that AGW predictions are based of models, whose model are they supposed to be following? An inch or so of sea level is not a minor detail.
5.16.2007 1:08pm
Roy:
I don't even really believe in Global Warming and yet I would think that this is a common sense proposal. The Corps has screwed up enough projects by not taking into account established environmental hazards, requiring them to consider more extreme conditions than they do already would seem prudent, regardless of whether or not globa warming is occuring.

Now if only this could have applied to the BLM as well.
5.16.2007 1:22pm
Le Messurier (mail):

AS wrote:

Why are the Democrats putting up this piddly little bill as an important vote on climate change? If they had any courage, they simply put up a vote on Kyoto... which has already been signed by an American President and simply needs Senate ratification.

I'm reading sarcasm here, but with or with out, approving the treaty makes sense. We should approve a treaty that is failing in almost all the countries that signed it; doesn't include the number 2 (soon to be number one) culprit; doesn't include another very large "polluter"(India) and gives a free ride to who knows how many other counties. And we should approve it because vertually every economic model seems to indicate that it would all but destroy our economy; and the free riders would be very happy to have our economy suffer for their own selfish reasons (their products would be very much more competitive). Other than that I can't think of a single reason not to approve it. Kyoto is a dead issue; a failed issue; and a course attempt to make the United States the fall guy. It ain't going nowhere.
5.16.2007 1:52pm
Avatar (mail):
Pretending that we know enough about the specific effects of climate change to predict how it would affect -individual water projects- is just plain stupid.

This bill, though, is designed to elicit a specific response. If the Corps has to put together a certain sort of climate impact statement, and it has virtually no data with which to do so, what you're going to get is a wild-assed guess; they don't have the option to say "sod off", after all. So a certain number of these projections are going to include worst-case scenario data, simply because the Corps-folk in question won't want people blaming them if something bad does happen later on.

Then the AGW crowd has a whole new bevy of reports to point to. "Look, see? Even the Army Corps of Engineers think that global warming is an impending disaster, and you should give us total control of the world's economic output right away to stop it!"

It's just a form of information pollution, is all.
5.16.2007 2:14pm
KeithK (mail):
As far as I know, Kyoto has not been submitted to the Senate for ratification. As such the Senate can't just to ratify it, even if they wanted to (which I highly would happen anyway). FWIW the ever reliable wikipedia supports my statement.
5.16.2007 2:19pm
Steve:
Pretending that we know enough about the specific effects of climate change to predict how it would affect -individual water projects- is just plain stupid.

And yet the Corps advises that they already consider the issue of climate change in designing projects. Should we advise them that commneter "Avatar" considers them stupid for doing so?
5.16.2007 2:30pm
Disappointed alum:
Good idea.

I agree with Avatar completely. Even assuming that climate change is predominantly caused by humans, which remains very questionable for anyone with a healthy degree of scientific skepticism, the effects and magnitude of global warming in the future are nothing short of wholly uncertain and speculative.

Requiring the ACE to add another layer of bureaucracy and invite administrative challenges and self-aggrandizing lawyer mess will be expensive and be an invitation for political gamesmanship. It would also induce the ACE to accede to left-leaning studies just to allow it to play the game, as a practical matter of political economy.
5.16.2007 2:40pm
Randy R. (mail):
So because some people are skeptical about global warming, the Corps should completely ignore any evidence of it, and assume that it is NOT going to happen?
How stupid is that?
5.16.2007 3:06pm
Randy R. (mail):
BTW, estimates of the cost of implementing Kyoto ranged as high as $500 billion, and it was said that this would cripple our economy.

The war in Iraq has exceeded $500 billion by huge amounts, with more spending on the way, and I don't see our economy crippled.
5.16.2007 3:22pm
NIB (mail):
This entire exercise is just more political nonsense. Clearly, the Corp does and should consider climate history and information as part of their process. This concept of 'climate change' and 'global warming' is a separate and completely different set of politics, inane treaties and environmental fanaticism that border on religious dogma. This latter subject matter is not science and certainly should not be codified into US law (or regulations).

Good grief, no thinking individual will trust, or bet the farm on, a three day weather forecast. Our best climatologists need to wait until the last 5 minutes to 'accurately' predict a hurricane landfall.

Just one non-professional, non-lawyer opinion.
5.16.2007 4:01pm
A.S.:
As far as I know, Kyoto has not been submitted to the Senate for ratification. As such the Senate can't just to ratify it, even if they wanted to

Ah, the old "sign the treaty but don't submit it for ratification" trick. Very nice. Perhaps one might ask some of our Democrat Presidential candidates whether they plan to submit Kyoto to the Senate for ratification?
5.16.2007 4:10pm
davod (mail):
Keith:

Kyoto was put up for ratification during Clinton's term. It failed 98 to zero.

Randy: I would suggest that you pulled the $500 billion out the air because it looks good compared with the Iraq war spending. Our economy would be set back by 20 percent if the US, or any industrialized country for that matter, were to fully impliment what is required under Kyoto. Would a 20 percent setback in the economy add up to $500 billion. I would suggest much more. Even Gore has admitted that with these draconian measure you would reduce the problem by maybe 10 to 15 percent.

Fortunately, help is on the way. Earth hating Bush has been working on this for years and in 2005 signed agreements with a number of countries including China and India as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate

And, on top of that, Bush has an environmentally friendly ranch house. That devilish bugger. The things Bush does to throw us off the track of him being an enemy of the environment.
5.16.2007 4:12pm
M. Gross (mail):
Kyoto was never submitted for ratification. There was, however, resolution passed that said the senate would not ratify it.
5.16.2007 4:39pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Expected weather conditions are taken into consideration on all Corps projects. For example, a 100-year-flood will be considered in a water project. This is based on historical records. We know the history of floods. We don't know the future. If we pretend to know the future, we still won't know the future.
5.16.2007 5:42pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'If we pretend to know the future, we still won't know the future.'

I'm stealin' that.

It is not a matter of 'some' people being skeptical, Randy. Every person who has examined the evidence knows that climate models are crap.

Notoriously, there is no theory of clouds. Now, as of just last week, it turns out there is not even any observation of clouds -- it seems that there is a haze around clouds that had not been noticed before.

GIGO.

'Useless Arithmetic' by Orrin Pilkey is a good new book about why quantitative models of geophysical systems do not work. It is not about the GCMs but other types of models. Same objections apply, though.
5.16.2007 6:20pm
Randy R. (mail):
The figure of $500 billion came from Cecil of the Striaght Dope, who usually gets these things right. But so what -- maybe it's a trillion dollars? The Iraq war is still getting up there, and some say it has surpassed a trillion already. And still no effect on the economy.

so where did you get the 20% setback? Was *that* pulled out of hat simply to make the treaty look bad?

NIB: This concept of 'climate change' and 'global warming' is a separate and completely different set of politics, inane treaties and environmental fanaticism that border on religious dogma. This latter subject matter is not science.

The religious dogma is those who wish to ignore the evidence. Fortunately, even Bush said that climate change is real -- he just wants to do very little about it.

There seems to be two concepts here -- the subject of climate change as a result of a warming earth (of which there is very little doubt. Most scientists have concluded that the earth is warming. The melting glaciers is just one symptom of it). There is another issue of forecasting weather.

It's true that we don't know what sorts of specific weather will occure due to global warming. We don't know next week's weather, so anything further into the future is speculation. Nonetheless, if you melt the world's glaciers, sea level will indeed rise, and it has already engulfed some small islands in the Indian Ocean. All that fresh water mixing with salt water will change the conveyor belts that move warm and cool air around the globe. Some places will get cooler and some places will get hotter, some wetter, some drier (which is why people prefer the term climate change).

It's strange -- even the detractors who are scientists don't claim that their counterparts are fanaticists, or religionists. Real scientists are merely looking for the truth and scientifically supported statements. It's the politicians and those who hate environmentalists who are the real dogmatists. It's very sad that the health of our planet has become so politicized, but I guess that was Rove's plan all along.
5.16.2007 6:29pm
OK Lawyer:
Nonetheless, if you melt the world's glaciers, sea level will indeed rise, and it has already engulfed some small islands in the Indian Ocean.

Will a glass of water overflow when your ice melts?
5.16.2007 7:16pm
Anonymous Reader:
OK Lawyer,

Yes, because Randy R. said so.

Anonymous Reader
5.16.2007 9:01pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Whether glaciers are melting, net, is very much in doubt.

Low islands go under water from time to time. The Low Archipelago (mid Pacific) is thought to have been under water 800 years ago.

You may be thinking of some islands in Bangladesh, which are sinking, but not because of global warming.

For all we know, the next ice age began several hundred years ago, and injecting carbon into the atmosphere is holding it back. If the next ice age has started, our instruments would be unable to detect it -- the annual fall in temperature (averaged) would be considerably below the accuracy to which we know the global surface temperature.
5.17.2007 12:04am
Randy R. (mail):
"Will a glass of water overflow when your ice melts?"

No.

However, that isn't the situation. Glaciers are not in water -- they are on top of land. When they melt, the water gets added to the ocean volume, which expands. Try it: Fill a glass with water. Then hold ice cubes over the glass resting on a strainer. As the cubes melt, they add water to the glass, and it overflows. Simple, no?

Now I understand why people are so sceptical of climate change -- they haven't even a basic grasp of elementary physics, and that makes them very susceptible to incorrect soundbites.

this isn't the place to discuss whether climate change is occurring, so I will bow out.
5.17.2007 12:03pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Your grasp isn't so firm, either, Randy.

The glaciers on land are not melting, net. Where they are melting, as in northwest Europe, humans didn't cause it, so humans cannot prevent it.

Anyplace is the right place to knock down phony arguments.
5.17.2007 1:29pm