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A Climate Deal for Conservatives:

In today's New York Times, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) and supply-side guru Arthur Laffer propose a new carbon tax to be offset by reductions in other taxes, such as income and payroll taxes. I think this is a good idea (and not just because I have endorsed it before).

Conservatives, even those vehemently opposed to GHG controls, should like this deal because it is substantially better than the status quo. As a consequence of Massachusetts v. EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency will be required to regulate GHGs, and not just from motor vehicles. The EPA has affirmed the potential negative consequences of climate change too many times for it to avoid making the endangerment finding that triggers regulation under several Clean Air Act provisions. As a consequence, it is only a matter of time before agency is mandated to control such emissions from new motor vehicles and a wide range of other sources, including power plants, factories, and perhaps even non-industrial buildings. Such regulation would be tremendously costly, but not terribly cost-effective, and thus much worse than a revenue-neutral carbon tax. A tax trade of this sort is also the best chance conservatives have to enact pro-growth tax cuts in the current environment.

Advocates of a cap-and-trade system should also support this sort of proposal. Some like to think that the Obama administration could enact a cap-and-trade system under the Clean Air Act through administrative fiat. This is sheer fantasy. The Clean Air Act is not that flexible, and any idea to the contrary should have been dashed when the U.S. Court of Appeals invalidated the Bush Administration's effort to create a regional cap-and-trade regime for other pollutants. The most prominent cap-and-trade program, that for acid rain precursors, was enacted by Congress. Legislative change will also be required for an equivalent GHG control regime.

The primary reason to oppose carbon taxes is the potential political cost. No politician wants to be on record supporting a tax increase. Yet the sort of cap-and-trade scheme endorsed by President-elect Obama will have the same effect as a new tax. Indeed, it's likely to be worse because a cap-and-trade system will be particularly vulnerable to special interest pleading that will increase its costs and reduce its effectiveness. Capping the most ubiquitous by-product of modern civilization will be a tremendously costly enterprise. If it is to be done, it must be done as efficiently as possible.

With a deal of the sort Inglis and Laffer propose, a carbon tax might not be the political poison pill that some fear. Offsetting the tax with other reductions would offset the negative economic consequences of taxing carbon. Moreover, if the promise of pro-growth tax cuts could lure enough Republicans to support the plan, Congressional Democrats would have political cover to enact an ambitious plan. So, if the Obama Administration wants to enact a transformative climate change policy, trading a carbon tax for tax breaks could be a way to do it.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Exxon CEO and Climate Alarmist Agree:
  2. A Climate Deal for Conservatives:
Ventrue Capital (mail) (www):
I strongly agree! In fact, how about a carbon tax with a matching reduction in other taxes *and* a matching reduction in spending?
12.28.2008 11:44am
Fiftycal (mail):
Yes, this could return us to a nation of tax PAYERS. Since the rich/poor, legal/illegal, black/white, hetro/homosexual ALL PRODUCE CO2, a per person carbon TAX would be fairly distributed among the citizenry. And everyone would have to pay it. Of course, people that exercise or perform heavy labor produce more CO2 than sedentary types, so the "carbon police" could ad a surtax to those groups. Any estimates on how much deadly CO2 a person creates in a year and how much to TAX them?
12.28.2008 12:34pm
Ben Franklin (mail):
Anyone who thinks the government will add a new revenue source and reduce other sources by a like amount is either naive or just plain dense. It doesn't work that way. Any offsetting reductions would be temporary if they occur at all while the new taxes would be permanent. That is precisely the entire point of the AGW movement. The left has control of the all branches of government and the policy making arm of the courts. There is no counterbalancing force to make them do anything other than implement their command and control agenda.

As an engineer all I can say is that I will certainly look forward to riding my unicorn to work under the new Obama administration. If you enjoyed the massive market interference in the mortgage industry just wait until you get a load of a bunch of scientifically illiterate politicians trying to set energy policy to appease the hysterical followers of a millennial cult.

The sole advantage I can see to a carbon tax is that since we emit it each time we open our mouths any fair tax by volume would effectively bankrupt the legal profession. I cannot see any downside to this and then the rest of us can get on with running a modern economy unmolested by the Luddites.
12.28.2008 12:34pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Almost anything Arthur Laffer says is suspect. Look at his debate with Peter Schiff on 8/28/2006. Laffer got everything wrong and Peter got everything right. Laffer is a joke-- this guy is the original architect of voodoo economics, and that ridiculous curve. Listen carefully to how Laffer reasons; the man is a schmuck.

Do we really want a new tax, even if it offsets another tax, that's based on faulty physics at best, and at worst an outright lie?
12.28.2008 12:51pm
Stuart M. (mail):
I like the idea of raising the price of gasoline, because it will have all sorts of beneficial effects -- starting with enhancing national security and moving on to environmental and land use effects. I also think it's a good thing to make it overall revenue neutral.

Where I think it breaks down is that this scheme is highly favorable to the old dense core cities of the Northeast and Midwest, which are more compact and less automobile-dependent. I happen to live in NY, so the idea that my payroll taxes go down is very appealing, especially because I take a bus to work and won't have to pay much additional gas tax. But I don't see why I should get preferential treatment ahead of some sales clerk at Wal-Mart in Phoenix.
12.28.2008 12:56pm
Oren:

Any estimates on how much deadly CO2 a person creates in a year and how much to TAX them?

Much less than a car produces in an average commute.
12.28.2008 1:01pm
PaddyL (mail):
Taxing energy production and consumption in order to abate a non-existent problem is sheer folly.

It is past the time for pundits and policy makers to realize and acknowledge that anthropogenic global warming only exists in computer programs called Climate General Circulation Models. ALL experimental research and ALL climate analysis using empirical data show that warming stopped in 1998 and has been cooling for 5 years. Moreover, the climate variability that has been observed and measured for the past 150 + years is within normal limits.
12.28.2008 1:33pm
Stuart M. (mail):
Paddy, how about the national security aspects of freeing us from or at least reducing our dependency on petroleum -- a resource disproportionately controlled by the world's worst regimes? How about the land use implications in terms of sprawl and efficient transportation modes? How about plain old reduction of pollution?

Wouldn't you like for us to be able to tell the Saudis, Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin, et al that they can go drink their oil for all we care?

A gasoline tax helps make alternative energy much more economical. For that reason alone we should do it. The collateral social benefits are icing on the cake.
12.28.2008 1:44pm
first history:
Charles Krauthammer has a similar proposal in the Weekly Standard, arguing for a dollar increase in the Federal gas tax with a $14 per week decrease in the FICA tax (assuming the average motorist purchases 14 gallons each week.)
12.28.2008 1:46pm
Curt Fischer:
This is a very welcome proposal. First, a tax is not completely immune to political manipulation, but it is much less likely to have "safety valves" and other measures that are likely to totally emasculate cap-and-trace measures.

VC readers may be interested to know that it is largely in line with the policy preferences of not only Prof. Adler, but also noted anti-alarmist AGW scholar Roger Pielke, Jr. The alarmist crowd tends not to like ideas like these because in their view they are insufficiently drastic.

Fiftycal: Not that you care, but I believe the idea behind carbon taxes is to control atmospheric CO2 levels, not society's CO2 emissions rate per se. So if you and a couple billion of your bretheren began to drink gasoline or eat coal, climate activists might start thinking about taxing your breath. Until then, you can breathe easy....except, I suspect that in your case, some observers might come to support a Fiftycal breath tax for reasons unrelated to AGW.

Zarkov: I do not think the physics is faulty. I'm not sure that anything in the carbon tax proposal is faulty, but if anything deserves greater scrutiny and further study, it is the economics, not the physics. Most AGW activists focus solely on the negative externalities stemming from (possible scenarios of) global climate change. Positive externalities may partially compensate for the negative, and even if they don't, the likely cost the negative externalities may be less than the cost of the CO2 tax. It's hard to say without digging into the details.
12.28.2008 1:47pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Curt Fischer:

"I do not think the physics is faulty."

The physics is both incomplete and faulty. The models can't handle the cloud physics and leave out other effects and feedbacks. I have posted on this before.
12.28.2008 2:28pm
Portland (mail):

I'm not sure that anything in the carbon tax proposal is faulty, but if anything deserves greater scrutiny and further study, it is the economics, not the physics. Most AGW activists focus solely on the negative externalities stemming from (possible scenarios of) global climate change.


You can always find people on either side in any argument whose arguments are simplistic, hyperbolic, or counterfactual. This is true of global warming as it is of anything else.

It is also true that many environmentalists who begin with a suspicion of market economics or deregulation are likely to propose solutions which, like Alder's offsetting tax cuts, reflect their broader ideological goals.

It is not true that most of the people who support action to mitigate AGW "focus solely on the negative externalities." Neither do they ignore economic concerns. The IPCC report attempts to identify and quantify positive as well as negative effects of global warming, and even attempts to estimate a carbon price ($42 a ton, if memory serves) which might keep CO2 at what they estimate is a relatively safe level.


It is past the time for pundits and policy makers to realize and acknowledge that anthropogenic global warming only exists in computer programs called Climate General Circulation Models.


The warmest ten years on record have occurred since 1995; global warming is an objective fact which is proven by temperature records, as well as numerous secondary supporting evidence like glacier retreats, acidification of the oceans, loss of arctic ice, changes in growing seasons and so on.


ALL experimental research and ALL climate analysis using empirical data show that warming stopped in 1998 and has been cooling for 5 years.


Nope. 2005 was the hottest year on record, see here. The fact that the temperature doesn't set a record every year doesn't mean the process of warming has stopped; it simply means that the underlying year-to-year variability in average temperatures is greater than a single year of warming. Look at a few decades of average temperatures, and the trend is unmistakable.



Moreover, the climate variability that has been observed and measured for the past 150 + years is within normal limits.


Not at all. This level of warming, at this speed, was last seen tens of millions of years ago, and the extinction of most forms of life went along with it. It's not normal at at.
12.28.2008 2:28pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Charles Krauthammer has a similar proposal in the Weekly Standard, arguing for a dollar increase in the Federal gas tax with a $14 per week decrease in the FICA tax.."

But SS is a pay as you go system. The FICA tax is needed to pay current beneficiaries. How do we make up the shortfall? SS could cash in its special-issue non-tradable Treasury Bonds, but then Treasury has to raise taxes or roll over the debt. In the end we must resort to printed money like Zimbabwe because the US is broke.
12.28.2008 2:33pm
Portland (mail):

The physics is both incomplete and faulty. The models can't handle the cloud physics and leave out other effects and feedbacks. I have posted on this before.


It was nonsense then; it's nonsense now. The models have performed splendidly in predicting the temperature increases of the last thirty years; their main fault is that they have been too conservative, because not all of the positive feedbacks are well understood.

You are not a scientist, and your "evidence" that the models are flawed comes from one sentence for the IPCC report which you have quoted out of context, and laughably claim is the truth of matter somehow escaping the massive censorship you believe explains why the report as a whole demonstrates, to use its words, the global warming is "unequivocal."
12.28.2008 2:35pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"The models have performed splendidly in predicting the temperature increases of the last thirty years;..."

The models have so many tunable parameters, you can fit virtually any time series with them. If the models are so splendid, then how come the uncertainty in the climate sensitivity is a factor of 3?

"You are not a scientist,..."


You have no basis for that statement. It's actually wrong.

"... comes from one sentence for the IPCC report which you have quoted out of context ..."

That's a completer misrepresentation. Go back and read again.
12.28.2008 2:44pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"It was nonsense then; it's nonsense now. The models have performed splendidly in predicting the temperature increases of the last thirty years; their main fault is that they have been too conservative, because not all of the positive feedbacks are well understood."

When were the models created?
12.28.2008 2:50pm
Curt Fischer:
Zarkov: Yes, climatologists' understanding of cloud physics is incomplete. But the physical fact is that more CO2 in the atmosphere means higher temperatures over the long term. A better understanding of cloud physics might change what we mean by "higher", but that's about it.

Since we don't have an understanding of what temperature changes are socioeconomically OK, and which ones aren't, I view the problem as one of socioeconomics more than physics, even though you are right that the physics isn't perfect.
12.28.2008 2:56pm
Portland (mail):

The models have so many tunable parameters, you can fit virtually any time series with them.


Ah, so the models do work, in other words, but you think the task is too easy. Sorry, try another story.


"You are not a scientist,..."

You have no basis for that statement. It's actually wrong.


No, it isn't. You aren't a scientist. You don't think like one or write like one. But prove me wrong; cite your original research in a peer-reviewed journal. Didn't think so.


That's a completer misrepresentation. Go back and read again.


You baseless bromides and dishonest rhetoric are flattered unduly by a first reading. I'm not going to go digging in the archives to confirm what I already know. You brought it into this discussion, you go find it.
12.28.2008 3:07pm
Portland (mail):

When were the models created?


Depends on the model, obviously. The first really good GW-predicting models came out of the Woods Hole meetings in 1979. History of climate models is here.

A complicating factor is that models are tested to see if they can reproduce past changes as well as predict future ones. Models that could be adjusted and adjusted until they fit retrospective data would obviously be suspect, but the models in use today have been tested both prospectively and retrospectively and work exceptionally well.

Large uncertainties remain in the projections. There are two things to keep in mind about these uncertainties:

1. They mostly reflect the difference between bad, bad, and truly awful. Uncertainty does not always imply that we know nothing important about what's going on. Someone can come into an ED with a raging infection, and there is a high degree of uncertainty about whether it is gram-negative or gram-positive, about where in the body it is, about what antibiotics it is resistant to. Despite these uncertainties, you can still say with confidence that something bad is going down and you're going to have to deal with it.

2. As we talking about the last time we discussed GW, uncertainty in a complex system that we depend on to survive is, if anything, a call for more aggressive action, not an excuse for inaction. To continue the analogy, if we don't know exactly what or where an infection is, it becomes all the more urgent to hit it hard and fast.
12.28.2008 3:29pm
ATM (mail):
Taxing hydrocarbons to make alternative energy sources price competitive is a sure fire way to make the overall economy noncompetitive, because China and the rest of the developing world will not follow suit. Energy is too important of a contributor to the cost of productive activity to foolishly go about increasing the cost of it. Instead, it would be better to subsidize the alternative energy source costs by taxing frivioulous economic activity. Tax movies, sports, music, consumer entertainment goods which are small contributors to the overall cost for real productive activity, and use those proceeds to subsidize alternative energy if you must.

But prove me wrong; cite your original research in a peer-reviewed journal.

The fundamental problem with global warming research is that you can't do an actual physical controlled experiment to demonstrate that human produced CO2 is having an effect on the climate in the direction that is postulated. And if you think models are sufficient, would you accept taking a new medication based on computer models predicting it will have some beneficial effect or would you only accept it if a controlled randomized double blind study was performed to it had a beneficial effect and that the benefits outweighed the risks. As I see it, climate warming alarmists are prescribing a course of action without performing an actual controlled study to show that it is required.
12.28.2008 3:34pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"To continue the analogy, if we don't know exactly what or where an infection is, it becomes all the more urgent to hit it hard and fast."

So, if we don't know what the infection is, how do we know carbon is the infection? As a thought experiment, if we decided climate change was due to solar activity, how would we hit it hard and fast?
12.28.2008 3:59pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Portland,

If you are the scientist that you claim to be, then you should know that you need to cite sources, instead of merely stating your conclusions. In particular, I would be interested in studies of the accuracy of future predictions of the models, and also studies taking into account positive externalities.

The reason for the later request is that I frankly don't care whether the ocean rises a couple inches or twenty feet. I tend to live a mile or two above sea level, and will continue to do so as long as I can. Far more land is likely to be opened to farming than will be lost to flooding, given the shapes of the major land masses on this planet. Before we go off and spend trillions of dollars on addressing AGW, as you seem to be suggesting, I would like to see much more work on the trade-offs between a warmer and a cooler climate (even assuming that you are correct about the reality of AGW and CO2 causation).

If carbon really is a major culprit, I would also like to see different methods of controlling or reducing such compared before we jump into what appears at first glance to be one of the least efficient mechanisms to do so.
12.28.2008 4:18pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Portland:
The models have so many tunable parameters, you can fit virtually any time series with them.
Ah, so the models do work, in other words, but you think the task is too easy. Sorry, try another story
What he is essentially saying is that you can match any sequence of data points with enough variables or parameters. I think that it was HS (could have been as an undergraduate, but definitely not later) when we learned to fit an Nth degree polynomial to N data points. That doesn't mean that the model is good for anything, but rather, that it perfectly reflects past data. This is why, of course, models have to be able to predict future events as well as they do past ones, since it is assumed that they were calibrated using the past events.

BTW, what type of "scientist" are you anyway? Are you a climate modeler? Or a climatologist or climate scientist? A link to your credentials would be useful so that we can independently determine whether you have any credibility in your conclusions concerning climatic modeling.
12.28.2008 4:32pm
John Moore (www):
Any drastic change in the tax system that is "revenue neutral" will have short term negative impact, because the economy has evolved around the current regime.

Hence, if we were to follow the "precautionary principle" so beloved by AGW alarmists, we would not make such drastic changes.

......

As to the "settled science" aspect of GW.... one needs to be very careful. The earth has been warming - this is a very high probability result. Mankind may have been contributing to it - this is fairly high probability also (from simple radiative physics).

Beyond that, the climate modelers can holler and shout consensus all they want, but two critical facts should be known by those in this debate:

1) The projections which cause the alarmist policy proposals require strong positive feedback in the climate system (way beyond simple radiative physics). Some scientists believe the models get this right. Some disagree. It is *not* settled. People with very impressive credentials are on both sides of this debate.

2) The climate alarmists will not be satisfied by anything but drastic carbon reduction. For example, the Kyoto goals are trivial compared to what is needed to stabilize the climate per the alarming projections. A carbon tax sufficient to cause the CO2 reduction would cripple the economy for decades (and that's ignoring international effects).
12.28.2008 4:57pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
One of my worries about any cap and trade system is the question about who gets what to start with. There is invariably some rent seeking and favoritism involved in setting the initial conditions. Who gets what initial caps? And that inherently benefits the established industries at the expense of the new and emerging ones.

That is why I think that a carbon tax could be much more "fairly" imposed. But such a carbon tax would almost necessarily move our remaining smoke stack industries over seas, to countries that are willing to sacrifice their clean air (and water) for economic advantage. Of course, that can be countered by high import tariffs, and welcome to 1929.

Of course, the idea that other taxes would be reduced sufficiently so that we would have no net increase in taxes with this carbon tax is somewhere between willfully blind and delusional.
12.28.2008 4:59pm
pmorem (mail):

The warmest ten years on record have occurred since 1995; global warming is an objective fact which is proven by temperature records, as well as numerous secondary supporting evidence like glacier retreats, acidification of the oceans, loss of arctic ice, changes in growing seasons and so on.




ALL experimental research and ALL climate analysis using empirical data show that warming stopped in 1998 and has been cooling for 5 years.




Nope. 2005 was the hottest year on record, see here. The fact that the temperature doesn't set a record every year doesn't mean the process of warming has stopped; it simply means that the underlying year-to-year variability in average temperatures is greater than a single year of warming. Look at a few decades of average temperatures, and the trend is unmistakable.


You cite GISTEMP as if it were some kind of quality data source. It is not. There is no software assurance process in place for GISTEMP. It is not in compliance with NASA standards. The data is not internally verified. Per Gavin Schmidt, GISS spends less that 0.25 FTE maintaining it. The underlying data is junk, per surfacestations.org.

It's junk. All you can be certain of regarding GISTEMP is that its data approximately matches the expectations of Hansen and company.

Oh, and yes, I am a software engineer, with experience in safety critical systems, and I have investigated this material, including the use of FOIA.
12.28.2008 5:04pm
Eli Rabett (www):
ATM, you are basically asking whether one should trust models or measurements of the future. Since the later are sadly lacking one must depend on the former.

And yes, this is done in many fields, including medicine.
12.28.2008 5:04pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"And yes, this is done in many fields, including medicine."

How is it done in medicine?
12.28.2008 5:20pm
John Moore (www):
@Eli Rabett

You are basically asking whether one should trust models or measurements of the future

This is a false dichotomy. The uncertainty in the model estimate must be taken into account in resulting policy recommendations, yet it is not.

Models in many fields can be very accurate and trusted thoroughly. For example, electromagnetic finite element models are routinely used in the design process of antennas. They work - when you build the antenna, it is always close to the forecast (unless you approach a singularity in your design).

Climate models (GCM's for the most part), on the other hand, are extremely complex, highly parameterized, and grossly undersampled spatially and temporally. They are known to be poor forecasters of atmospheric conditions, since they are used for weather forecasting in addition to climate modeling, so their weaknesses are well known - although in climate usage they face additional problems.

So no, the choice is not trusting models or measurements of the future. The policy discussions should use normal prudence, including risk assessments, relative risk of various phenomena for which resources might be allocated (third world water qality, meteor strike, whatever), and very importantly, the uncertainty in forecasting the response of the global human system to climate policies.
12.28.2008 5:31pm
methodact:
OMG!!! Here it is, the proposals for the Carbon Tax, right out in the open!!! This is one of Alex Jones' longest and most familiar memes, that there will soon appear calls for the Carbon Tax, to be paid directly to the International Bankers under a variety of guises such as supporting the United Nations, et al.

It is proved!!! This is not a product of Alex Jones' imagination; here are actual documented calls for outright Carbon Taxes from some of the highest placed shills for the New World Order.

Long live Alex Jones!!! Alex Jones is proved right once again!!!
12.28.2008 6:09pm
Eli Rabett (www):
John, model results in all fields are stated as probabilities for a specific scenario. For climate models globally the projections are trustworthy, locally not so much and this is acknowledged. You are setting up a strawman.
12.28.2008 6:38pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Curt Fischer:

"A better understanding of cloud physics might change what we mean by "higher", but that's about it."


The feedbacks which include the cloud physics are where the action is. CO2 alone will cause only a modest temperature increase. Most of the uncertainty in the climate sensitivity factor comes from the different cloud cover parameterizations . Some exhibit positive feedback, others negative feedback. The models don't know which (if any) are right, so they run them all and form an envelope of uncertainty.
12.28.2008 6:41pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Off label use of medicines.
12.28.2008 6:44pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Portand:

You have consistently engaged in virtually nothing but personal insults. I don't have to prove myself you. When you decide to be civil and stick to factual arguments, we can resume.
12.28.2008 7:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Off label use of medicines."

Doesn't that quickly generate a data base of actual results of using the medicine for a given symptom? And if the emperical data does not support the model, do doctors continue using the drug for off label uses?
12.28.2008 7:04pm
Portland (mail):
Let's start here:


The fundamental problem with global warming research is that you can't do an actual physical controlled experiment to demonstrate that human produced CO2 is having an effect on the climate in the direction that is postulated. And if you think models are sufficient, would you accept taking a new medication based on computer models predicting it will have some beneficial effect or would you only accept it if a controlled randomized double blind study was performed to it had a beneficial effect and that the benefits outweighed the risks. As I see it, climate warming alarmists are prescribing a course of action without performing an actual controlled study to show that it is required.


There are many areas of science in which the kinds of experiments you can do are constrained by the nature of your subject matter. Cosmology, geology, sociology, ecology -- you can't do a classic, single-variable, reproducible experiment addressing the most important questions. But that doesn't mean you can't do hard science.

You repeat the myth that global warming is only visible in climate models. Not true. It's visible in the world. We use climate modeling to try and understand what might happen next. So far the models seem pretty good, if conservative. There is nothing unscientific about using models in science, and in fact many medicines start with a theoretical physiological model, proceed to testing with animal models, and only then, after we have good reason to think they will help, are tested in humans.
12.28.2008 7:16pm
Portland (mail):

You have consistently engaged in virtually nothing but personal insults. I don't have to prove myself you. When you decide to be civil and stick to factual arguments, we can resume.


You are indulging in a favorite crackpot argument tactic; projection. You are right to acknowledge that you've proved nothing (to me or to anyone) and in the unlikely event that you ever find evidence or a rational argument to back up your denialism, I'll be waiting for you with an open mind.
12.28.2008 7:18pm
Portland (mail):

You cite GISTEMP as if it were some kind of quality data source. It is not. There is no software assurance process in place for GISTEMP. It is not in compliance with NASA standards. The data is not internally verified. Per Gavin Schmidt, GISS spends less that 0.25 FTE maintaining it. The underlying data is junk, per surfacestations.org.

It's junk. All you can be certain of regarding GISTEMP is that its data approximately matches the expectations of Hansen and company.

Oh, and yes, I am a software engineer, with experience in safety critical systems, and I have investigated this material, including the use of FOIA.


Prove it. The GISS and the NOAA data support one another. Non-crackpot scientists accept the data. Prove that the vast majority of climate scientists are wrong in accepting these multiple independently confirmed data sets, and that unsupported non-peer-reviewed website has uncovered the conspiracy.

For now, I'll take the numbers accepted by climate scientists as accurate. As a wise man once said, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.
12.28.2008 7:24pm
Portland (mail):

Any drastic change in the tax system that is "revenue neutral" will have short term negative impact, because the economy has evolved around the current regime.

Hence, if we were to follow the "precautionary principle" so beloved by AGW alarmists, we would not make such drastic changes.


How silly. Tax changes will have an impact, but there is nothing to say it will be a negative impact -- that's just your ideological prejudices talking. The "precautionary principle" has nothing to do with a modest change in the tax law -- changes in tax law happen all the time. The rapid human-driven global warming we are experiencing has never happened in the history of human civilization. Apples to oranges.
......


As to the "settled science" aspect of GW.... one needs to be very careful. The earth has been warming - this is a very high probability result. Mankind may have been contributing to it - this is fairly high probability also (from simple radiative physics).


Good. I'm glad we have that degree of common ground. Denialists, please direct your crackpot objections to the reality of global warming to this gentleman. Let him explain it to you. Division of labor.


Beyond that, the climate modelers can holler and shout consensus all they want, but two critical facts should be known by those in this debate:


They don't have to holler and shout; they publish. Denailist holler and shout, because it's hard to get noticed when you have nothing to support your argument. So they pound the table. As I mentioned above, projection is a common feature of crackpot argument.


1) The projections which cause the alarmist policy proposals require strong positive feedback in the climate system (way beyond simple radiative physics). Some scientists believe the models get this right. Some disagree. It is *not* settled. People with very impressive credentials are on both sides of this debate.


The degree of positive feedback is not settled. The range of informed opinion however, ranges from very expensive and destructive verses irreversible and catastrophic. Those who think that warming is going to stop, given business as usual, without major negative effects, are neither numerous nor impressive. Nor -- and this is even more important than how impressive they are -- have they done any good science to back up their skepticism.


2) The climate alarmists will not be satisfied by anything but drastic carbon reduction. For example, the Kyoto goals are trivial compared to what is needed to stabilize the climate per the alarming projections. A carbon tax sufficient to cause the CO2 reduction would cripple the economy for decades (and that's ignoring international effects).


You sing the praises of uncertainty, and then you make a blanket statement about the future with no evidence of any kind to back it up.

You persist in labeling advocates for CO2 restriction as "alarmists" but you have provided any evidence for that assertion, either. This is not about two sides in a political debate and who is going to "get their way" or "be satisfied." It's about an objective threat to human life and prosperity that needs to be understood as well as possible and be adverted or mitigated to the degree that is practical.
12.28.2008 7:41pm
pmorem (mail):
Portland wrote:

Prove it. The GISS and the NOAA data support one another. Non-crackpot scientists accept the data. Prove that the vast majority of climate scientists are wrong in accepting these multiple independently confirmed data sets, and that unsupported non-peer-reviewed website has uncovered the conspiracy.


The N0AA and GISS numbers are not independent. GISTEMP gathers NOAA numbers (USHCN and GHCN), runs them through some rather questionable "homogenization", and reports the result. HadCRU also uses the same data set. Of course they're going to match up.

My statement regarding Software Assurance stands. I have a letter from NASA stating that they have not analyzed the Software Assurance requirements for GISTEMP or GCM, nor recorded a guessed requirement. Unfortunately it's not available electronically.
12.28.2008 8:20pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> > Any estimates on how much deadly CO2 a person creates in a year and how much to TAX them?

> Much less than a car produces in an average commute.

Huh? The mass of food consumed daily is comparable to the mass of gasoline used for commuting. Food doesn't get converted completely to CO2, but it's not clear that it's "much less", especially if we count the fuel used to produce said food.
12.28.2008 8:29pm
pmorem (mail):

You persist in labeling advocates for CO2 restriction as "alarmists" but you have provided any evidence for that assertion, either. This is not about two sides in a political debate and who is going to "get their way" or "be satisfied." It's about an objective threat to human life and prosperity that needs to be understood as well as possible and be adverted or mitigated to the degree that is practical.


Agreed.

1) This is not the only threat to life. I direct your attention to Apophis (aka 2004 MN4) as a representative.

2) There is some possibility that we are heading for a significant cooling cycle due to solar forcing. I don't know if this is true or not, but it's a risk to be considered.

3) A dramatic reduction in the expectation of future wealth is in itself a serious risk. Certain countries like China are stable based on expectation of future wealth. If that expecation is reduced, there is a serious risk of a real war.

4) Many of the policies proposed involve removing land from food production and using it for "green" energy production. The impact of these policies is not fully considered. It may get lots of people dead. It may also limit our ability to respond to #2 above.

5) Within the "green" movement, there is a common sentiment that "a lot of us are going to have to die". I am aware of at least some people who see this as a feature, rather than a bug. Ghouls.

I am strongly opposed to significant percentage excess mortality. Fanatic, even.

I want good data, good science, and an intelligent conversation about future objectives and policy. The whole notion that "the debate is over" is highly offensive, and very dangerous.

If I thought the science supported the policy considerations, I'd be much more open to policy. I don't think it does.

I really don't want to see a couple billion people die.
12.28.2008 8:32pm
Portland (mail):

The N0AA and GISS numbers are not independent. GISTEMP gathers NOAA numbers (USHCN and GHCN), runs them through some rather questionable "homogenization", and reports the result. HadCRU also uses the same data set. Of course they're going to match up.


The two systems use some, but not all, of the same data. There is no "of course" about hundreds thousands of independent observations from air, land, sea and space confirming the warming trend. I would like, again, for you to provide some evidence that the data is incorrect. It is broadly accepted by the scientific community, and matches up well with secondary evidence such as the rapid disappearance of the Arctic ice cap.

It's not enough to simply deny the facts. Where's your proof? And why haven't you published it?
12.28.2008 9:14pm
lyarbrou (mail):
Portland,

I think you need to look more closely at some of the actual climate science rather than what is appearing in the media.

1. A leading German scientist (Von Storch)did a survey of climate scientists and found that a majority don't believe that climate can be predicted even ten years in advance, much less 100 years.

See also:
Confidence, uncertainty and decision-support relevance in climate predictions.
Phil. Trans. Royal Society (2007)
Stainforth DA, Allen MR, Tredger ER, and Smith LA (2007)
...."Complex climate models, as predictive tools for many variables and scales, cannot be meaningfully calibrated because they are simulating a never before experienced state of the system; the problem is one of extrapolation. It is therefore inappropriate to apply any of the currently available generic techniques which utilize observations to calibrate or weight models to produce forecast probabilities for the real world. To do so is misleading to the users of climate science in wider society."

2. As Roger Pielke Sr. has noted, the results from global general circulation models are not predictions, they are sensitivity experiments. They calculate possible responses based only on the input variables used in the equations. Many important variables are not included-indeed there are probably a number that are not currently known.

climate forecast
climate hypothesis

The climate issue, with respect to how humans are influencing the climate system, can be segmented into three distinct hypotheses. These are:

1* The human influence is minimal and natural variations dominate climate variations on all time scale;
2* While natural variations are important, the human influence is significant and involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings (including, but not limited to the human input of CO2);
3* The human influence is dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide.


A new Nature paper by Keenlyside et al. entitled “Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector” provides evidence that is inconsistent with the third hypothesis. This paper writes in the abstract

“The climate of the North Atlantic region exhibits fluctuations on decadal timescales that have large societal consequences. Prominent examples include hurricane activity in the Atlantic, and surface-temperature and rainfall variations over North America, Europe and northern Africa……Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming.”

3. If the temperature increase precedes the rise in CO2 by ~1000 years it becomes hard to rationalize CO2 as the driver of warming.
From Science(2007)
Southern Hemisphere and Deep-Sea Warming Led Deglacial Atmospheric CO2 Rise and Tropical Warming
Lowell Stott,1* Axel Timmermann,2 Robert Thunell3
Science 19 October 2007:
Vol. 318. no. 5849, pp. 435 - 438

.....Deep-sea temperatures warmed by ~2°C between 19 and 17 thousand years before the present (ky B.P.), leading the rise in atmospheric CO2 and tropical–surface-ocean warming by ~1000 years. The cause of this deglacial deep-water warming does not lie within the tropics, nor can its early onset between 19 and 17 ky B.P. be attributed to CO2 forcing. Increasing austral-spring insolation combined with sea-ice albedo feedbacks appear to be the key factors responsible for this warming.
12.28.2008 9:33pm
Portland (mail):
Let's look at this argument, which is interesting and in places serious:


1) This is not the only threat to life. I direct your attention to Apophis (aka 2004 MN4) as a representative.


You are confusing uncertainty in the degree of disaster with total ignorance of the probabilities. Major problems for human life if global warming is unaddressed are highly likely, not highly unlikely, as are the various cosmological disasters to which we might be subject.

2) There is some possibility that we are heading for a significant cooling cycle due to solar forcing. I don't know if this is true or not, but it's a risk to be considered.


I'm sorry, what? What is "some possibility"? Why do you think there is such a possibility? We are not obligated to consider everything that might possibly go wrong. The problem of global warming is, to reiterate, not in the category of terrible, unlikely things, but rather a highly probable thing, the result of which, for human life, are uncertain within a range of destructive and very expensive to irreversible and catastrophic. Uncertainty over the degree of damage does not imply that the damage itself is an improbably event.


3) A dramatic reduction in the expectation of future wealth is in itself a serious risk. Certain countries like China are stable based on expectation of future wealth. If that expecation is reduced, there is a serious risk of a real war.


If you would kindly provide the evidence that global warming cannot be fought without dramatic reduction in economic growth, then we could consider the likely consequences of such a reduction. In fact, there is no such evidence.

There are many relatively inexpensive things we can do to reduce global warming -- shifting some taxes to carbon taxes, as the OP suggests, is one of them. Since the greater and faster the warming, the greater the danger, the sensible thing to do, to minimize risk, is to make all of the changes that do not result in a dramatic decrease in wealth, and then see where we are.


4) Many of the policies proposed involve removing land from food production and using it for "green" energy production. The impact of these policies is not fully considered. It may get lots of people dead. It may also limit our ability to respond to #2 above.


If you shift land from growing food to solar energy, you can always switch it back if food becomes scare. If the land loses its topsoil to erosion during a megadrought; well, that's a more serious problem. Global warming is a far greater threat to food production than green energy.

Nor am I convinced green energy means the loss of a lot of agricultural land. Wind power can and does coexist with warming and herding. Solar power plants (as opposed to roof panels and the like) are often located in deserts, for obvious reasons, not on agricultural land. And conservation, of course, doesn't require any land at all.


5) Within the "green" movement, there is a common sentiment that "a lot of us are going to have to die". I am aware of at least some people who see this as a feature, rather than a bug. Ghouls.


This is a purely specious point. There is no such "common sentiment." While "some people" may be said to believe anything you like, that has nothing to do with the green movement as a whole, unless all movements are going to be defined by their fringes. And even were this somehow true of the "green movement" that would not have anything to do with the reality of global warming or the need to combat it -- ad hominem arguments are not going to protect the food webs that keep us alive from lethal disruptions caused by global warming.


I want good data, good science, and an intelligent conversation about future objectives and policy. The whole notion that "the debate is over" is highly offensive, and very dangerous.


Good data and good science exist. Policy debates are ongoing. The debate is over as to the existence of global warming and humans' role in it. The question of what to do about it -- primarily a political and economic question, not a scientific one -- is very much up in the air.

You can be as offended as you like by the scientific consensus, but it isn't going anywhere. Denialists -- many motivated, like yourself, by political hostility to the green movement, or, in the case of the oil and coal companies, greed -- are attempting to replicate the tobacco companies' successful strategy of disinformation about smoking; unable to refute the evidence, they are pushing a faux "controversy" angle, to try and delay or avert constructive policy changes.


If I thought the science supported the policy considerations, I'd be much more open to policy. I don't think it does.


The science is actually a lot more alarming than the policy-makers have as yet brought themselves to acknowledge.


I really don't want to see a couple billion people die.


Your Orwellian logic seems to be that we shouldn't fight global warming, which could cause a couple of billion deaths, because the people who want to fight it are talking (warning of) a couple of billion deaths, which in your opinion means they want a couple of billion deaths (ghouls!), which means we shouldn't fight global warming (the thing that threatens to bring about those deaths). Black is white, war is peace, freedom is slavery, &c.
12.28.2008 9:47pm
John Moore (www):
@Portland

How silly. Tax changes will have an impact, but there is nothing to say it will be a negative impact -- that's just your ideological prejudices talking.


Perhaps you should read more closely. I said "short term." It has nothing to do with my ideological prejudice. I think supporting housing with a mortgage tax deduction is ideologically wrong, but it would be disastrous to repeal it.

In the same way, any major change in the tax system that remains revenue neutral will, short term, be damaging. The reason is simple, as I explained: the economy has evolved around the current set of rules. Changing them will destroy expensive investments. Longer term, it *might* still net positive.

They don't have to holler and shout; they publish. Denailist holler and shout, because it's hard to get noticed when you have nothing to support your argument.


Offensive nonsense. The term "denialist" was deliberately injected into the debate to cast skeptics in the same role as holocaust deniers. That is offensive. That you use that instead of "skeptic" shows that you are not arguing with respect, but rather preaching to those you view as misguided fools. Arrogant alarmist!

And btw, if you can come up with an accurate but less pejorative term than "alarmist," I'd be glad to use it.


The degree of positive feedback is not settled. The range of informed opinion however, ranges from very expensive and destructive verses irreversible and catastrophic.


Nonsense on stilts. The range of informed opinion ranges from negative feedback to catastrophic.

Those who think that warming is going to stop, given business as usual, without major negative effects, are neither numerous nor impressive.

What exactly are you trying to say? The sentence makes no sense in the context of your argument. However, it is possible you are trying to inject a strawman in here ("warming is going to stop given business as usual.").

Do you deny that warming may stop, given business as usual?

Do you deny that the upwards temperature trend stopped in 1998 (which itself was a very strong El Nino year)?

Are you a denialist?


You sing the praises of uncertainty, and then you make a blanket statement about the future with no evidence of any kind to back it up.

Tsk tsk. There is uncertainty in climate forecasting - lots of it. There is very little uncertainty about the sign of the economic effects of the drastic cuts needed to meet the goals, not of Kyoto, but of the primary AGW policy proponents. Furthermore, reducing CO2 emissions to pre-1950's level (and THAT is what is needed to avert the catastrophe per the alarmist numbers), would certainly drive the world economy into deep depression. Not much uncertainty there!



This is not about two sides in a political debate and who is going to "get their way" or "be satisfied." It's about an objective threat to human life and prosperity that needs to be understood as well as possible and be adverted or mitigated to the degree that is practical.


No, this is indeed about two sides (at least) in a policy debate and who is going to get their way. No matter what the science says, with what degree of uncertainty, it is simply not an interesting issue outside of the policy realm. And in a democracy, that means the political realm.

Furthermore, only most extreme of the alarmists consider AGW to be a significant threat to human life. It is certainly not a threat on the level of an asteroid strike, which is an absolute certainty. It is highly uncertain whether the uncertain warming will even be a net negative to human life and prosperity.

Beyond that, have you considered at all the impacts upon the human social system of AGW policies? Do you claim to be able to predict them too?
12.28.2008 9:57pm
John Moore (www):
You are confusing uncertainty in the degree of disaster with total ignorance of the probabilities. Major problems for human life if global warming is unaddressed are highly likely, not highly unlikely, as are the various cosmological disasters to which we might be subject.


And if AGW is addressed, major problems for human life are highly likely, not highly unlikely, as are the various cosmological disasters to which we might be subject.

BTW, since we are now into the realm of policy rather than science, please state your policy recommendations about AGW - preferably in terms of base year CO2 emissions.

Why do you think there is such a possibility? We are not obligated to consider everything that might possibly go wrong. The problem of global warming is, to reiterate, not in the category of terrible, unlikely things, but rather a highly probable thing, the result of which, for human life, are uncertain within a range of destructive and very expensive to irreversible and catastrophic.


A bald assertion far beyond the consensus opinion of pro-AGW scientists. Furthermore, we are obligated to consider appropriate allocation of our resources, whether for AGW prevention, mitigation, or more mundane things, like feeding the poor or preventing global thermonuclear warfare, or of building beach resorts in Siberia - my favorite usage.

The probability of major impact on human life from nuclear and especially biological warfare is at least as high as that from AGW.
12.28.2008 10:02pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And btw, if you can come up with an accurate but less pejorative term than "alarmist," I'd be glad to use it.
I'd like to propose the phrase "hysterical nutjob," based upon this loony claim:
global warming, which could cause a couple of billion deaths
12.28.2008 10:11pm
John Moore (www):

Your Orwellian logic seems to be that we shouldn't fight global warming, which could cause a couple of billion deaths, because the people who want to fight it are talking (warning of) a couple of billion deaths, which in your opinion means they want a couple of billion deaths (ghouls!), which means we shouldn't fight global warming (the thing that threatens to bring about those deaths). Black is white, war is peace, freedom is slavery, &c.


Why don't you at least try to understand what some of us are trying to say. I'll lay it out in simple terms for you:

1) economic changes result in non-economic consequences, including human morbidity and mortality, not to mention warfare and political instability. Most damaging, negative economic impact trickles downward, hurting the poorest the worst.

2) short term major reductions in CO2 emissions in the industrialized world will lead to dramatic economic cutbacks, which will lead, directly, to much suffering and many deaths among the poor.

3) THEREFORE it is appropriate to balance the cost of reducing AGW (taking into account probabilities) with the benefit of AGW (taking the same things into account)

......

Now let's get to more advanced concepts....

1) We do not have a world dictatorship. Unless you can prevent free-riding by those not conforming to the CO2 restrictions, you achieve nothing, but at great cost.

2) Political and economic power is directly correlated with energy usage, for obvious reasons. If CO2 reductions produce significant reductions in energy usage in some countries, they will be weakened relative to those which do not conform - leading to defeat of the AGW policies.

3)Never in the course of human history (see precautionary principle above) has such a major restriction been attempted against the whole planet. The precautionary principle says that we should move with great haste to prevent that restriction, since it might cause massive deaths and warfare.

4) Population growth is strongly anti-correlated with prosperity, and prosperity is strongly correlated with energy usage. Reducing energy usage thus reduces energy usage thus increases population growth. This results in negative environmental consequences.

FINALLY...

What's the rush? Technology is moving at a rapid clip, and yet alarmists are rushing to pick a technology right now and make us use it, or are rushing to limit our CO2 limitations right now. It is very likely that technological progress taking place now will produce more energy efficient technologies, and it is not clear that this process can be rushed.

Furthermore, peak oil is likely to drive us away from a lot of petroleum usage.

So whatsa problem right now? Would prudence suggest we learn more and develop more technology, and improve prosperity in the world (thereby reducing population), before we jump into the uncharted seas of energy scrooginess?

AND ALSO...

So... again, what are your policy prescriptions? How will you sell them to Vladimir Putin, the Chinese, and the Iranians? How about to Americans once the economy goes into the pit and they figure out that AGW policies caused it?
12.28.2008 10:15pm
John Moore (www):
O'Sullivan's first law is likely to apply here:

All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing
12.28.2008 10:25pm
John Moore (www):
oops - ignore previous post - wrong thread.
12.28.2008 10:26pm
John Moore (www):

They don't have to holler and shout; they publish.

Then I wish they'd shut up and quit hollerin and shoutin.
12.28.2008 11:20pm
Eli Rabett (www):
For the lurkers, since you can't tell the players without a scorecard, there are essentially two instrumental data sets from which temperature CHANGE (anomaly) maps are created

The surface record which uses sea surface temperature measurements from ships and now sondes and surface station measurements Global Historical Climate Network, of which the USHCN, maintained by NOAA is part extending back to ~1880. The weather service of each country coordinates measurements in its land, and the World Meteorlogical Organization provides overal coordination.

The Microwave Sounder Unit record composed of measurements of microwave radiation from several satellites extending back to 1978.

Each of these is used by various groups to construct maps of temperature CHANGE and a global record. It is important to understand that you cannot directly compare the temperature in Nome or Miami, but you can ask how much they changed from year to year. Same is true for the temperature in Dec and June. They are all in statistical agreement with each other although they differ in detail.

Groups that create surface temperature anomaly records are GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Science), NOAA and the Hadley Center.

Groups that create temperature anomaly records for the stratosphere and troposphere (the lowest tropospheric records are still for a few km up) are a group now at the University of Alabama Huntsville/NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, often referred to as UAH, and a group at Remote Sensing Systems (RSS)

The original UAH record differed from the others (RSS came about 10 years later) but as corrections were made mostly concerned with orbital decay of the satellites, it has come into agreement.
12.29.2008 9:13am
Dan Weber (www):
Watching the reactions to "let's replace the income tax with a carbon tax" is very educational.

Conservatives have been begging for a consumption tax for decades. It's a very easy argument to make: whatever you tax, you get less of, and so taxing income discourages the production of economic value.

Yet, when actually presented with a consumption tax proposal, they have a fit. Even if global warming is a giant fraud, they are still being offered a consumption tax. (And if you really think that global warming is a fraud, you would be well-advised to take this deal fast. You won't get it again.)

Liberals, too, should love this idea. Just read up on this page about how global warming could kill billions of people.

Yet, when presented with a proposal that will actually and directly reduce carbon emissions, they hate it. I guess it turns out that stopping global warming really wasn't that important.

This is an excellent example of how to call someone's bluff. It's just amazing because it calls the bluff of both parties at once.
12.29.2008 11:47am
Eli Rabett (www):
The proposal is to replace part of the payroll taxes and income taxes, or some mix of sales and excise taxes with a carbon tax. It ain't just income tax The point of a mix is that so the carbon tax falls lightly across the population, while giving us an opportunity and incentive to decrease fossil fuel use, esp coal. Of course, the tax will increase with time as a virtuous cycle takes hold to maintain the funding needed for the things that people need the government to do in a civilized society, like protect our cities from hurricane damage and help us to recover [insert rant here about how you don't need no damn government. . . ]
12.29.2008 1:13pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Yet, when actually presented with a consumption tax proposal, they have a fit."

There is a big difference between targeted consumption taxes and general consumption taxes. Most of the advocacy for a consumption tax envisions a very broad based tax that does not pick winners and losers. The advocacy is for a form of consumption tax, not simply any consumption tax. The desirability is a function of the impementation.
12.29.2008 1:50pm
Dan Weber (www):
"Carbon tax" sounds extremely broad to me. Just about everything uses fossil fuels somewhere along the line.

This avoids all the lobbying over things like "do we put a sales tax on food/medical care/real estate/automobiles?" No need to debate how an ethanol car gets a CAFE rating.

Just tax the sale of the energy and you're done (from an administrative standpoint). No value-added accounting to mess with.
12.29.2008 2:46pm
John Moore (www):
Taxation always results in shifts in economic activity. A carbon tax is not a consumption tax, but a targeted consumption tax. Furthermore, the definition of "carbon" will result in all sorts of regulatory fiddling and fussing, with room for lots of lobbying and special interests. Furthermore, it is likely to lead to carbon tax credits or deductions for various dubious things.

That being said, a carbon tax is preferable to most of the policy nostrums being floated - especially the noxious carbon cap and trade silliness.
12.29.2008 2:58pm
Elliot123 (mail):
""Carbon tax" sounds extremely broad to me. Just about everything uses fossil fuels somewhere along the line."

Correct, but it's not nearly as broad as the consumption tax advocated by the conservatives. We could say communications and paper taxes sound extremely broad, too. But they would also be targeted rather than general. Many things are used somewhere along the line. The advocates have been calling for a consumption tax on all of them, not just targeted taxes.

If a consumption tax hit everything, including carbon based fuel, communications, and paper, then it would be supported by consumption tax advocates.

It's a bit like an advocate for a graduated federal income tax objecting if it were only applied to people in New York and nobody else. Would we demand those people support it because it is a graduated income tax, and New Yorkers have an effect on everything somewhere down the line?
12.29.2008 3:24pm
ginsocal (mail):
Well, let’s see. Maybe I can help out a little bit, here. By way of background, part of my job is to research impacts on the environment of various types of projects, from city general plans to large private developments.

The problems with the current conventional wisdom among the ignorant elite (such as O! and Co.) are twofold. One, the evidence that CO2 drives climate change isn’t there. In fact, it appears to be just the opposite: CO2 concentrations climb IN RESPONSE to increased temperature. A further fly in the ointment is one, the small amount of CO2 in the atmosphere-350-380 PPM. That “parts per million,” folks. That’s .035-.038%. Do you know that there is another element in the atmosphere that’s 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2? It’s called, “water vapor.” And, it constitutes 80+% of the atmosphere. Should we call that a pollutant, now?

One final note about CO2. A new report from Australia says that 90% of the CO2 in the atmosphere comes from...dirt. That’s right-soil. So, now we can reduce mankind’s contribution to atmospheric CO2 to .00035%. Three parts per million. Not enough to do any damage, I’m afraid.

The second problem is this: the planet has been warming for the last 12,000 years, or so. During that time, sea levels have risen about 300 feet. Without, I might add, any significant effect on the planet’s wildlife. So, when these crackers start in with the hysterical claim the another 30 foot rise in sea level will wipe out life on earth, well, one has to chuckle. They seem so earnest. But, they are completely, demonstrably wrong.

The goal of these people is pretty clear: they want to dictate how we live. Simple as that. The moniker “watermelon” is extremely apt, as the only prescription they have for stemming this impending “disaster,” is a socialist economy. Everyone working for the betterment of the State, which is imperiled by “global warming.” It’s a bunch of crap, but they don’t want to see that. It conflicts with the narrative.
12.29.2008 4:43pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Do you know that there is another element in the atmosphere that’s 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2? It’s called, “water vapor.” And, it constitutes 80+% of the atmosphere. Should we call that a pollutant, now?"

Thank God there is finally a way to accuse the hydrogen car of being a polluter. Scratch one alternative energy source from Obama's wish list.
12.29.2008 6:22pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Gee do you know that water vapor condenses, and then it rains, so that the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is regulated by the temperature of the sea surface the lapse rate (the temperature decrease as altitude increases) You could pour as much water vapor into the atmosphere as you wanted and all that would happen is that it would rain out, maintaining the relative humidity.

Water vapor responds to and amplifies temperature changes driven by other things. For example, small amounts of cooling driven by orbital variations are amplifies by a decrease in water vapor to produce ice ages. Coming out of an ice age the same thing happens in reverse. The same is true of CO2, the orbital driven cooling (Milankovitch cycles) decreases CO2 in the atmosphere, by driving more of it into the oceans, coming out of the ice age, the warming of the ocean drives the CO2 out. In the case of the ice age cycles both water vapor and CO2 (and trapped methane) act as amplifiers.

What we have done in the past 100 years (and are doing at an even faster rate) is increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, principally CO2 but also methane and nitrogen oxides. These external injections, called forcings, are having exactly (pretty much) the same effect as orbital changes in increasing global temperature (and other things).

Ginsocial is a very good example of it's not what you don't know that gets you in trouble, it's what you think you know and is wrong.
12.29.2008 6:51pm
Randy R. (mail):
"So, when these crackers start in with the hysterical claim the another 30 foot rise in sea level will wipe out life on earth, well, one has to chuckle. They seem so earnest. But, they are completely, demonstrably wrong."

Well, it is a fact that there are hundreds of millions of people who live in coastal areas that will be swamped if the sea levels rise a few feet. Most scientists predict that when the sea level rises, you have more disastrous flooding issues. (I'm not talking about the risk of more and stronger hurricanes). The flooding in Burma a few years ago caused the death of many thousands, and that sort of think will increase if sea levels rise.

But hey, what's the problem of putting the lives of millions of people at risk? It's only worth a chuckle.
12.30.2008 12:14am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Well, it is a fact that there are hundreds of millions of people who live in coastal areas that will be swamped if the sea levels rise a few feet."

If they are too dumb to move back as the sea inches forward over the years, it's just natural selection at work.
12.30.2008 10:28am
Dan Weber (www):
I have some skepticism about AGW. Too much of the argument seems to be "believe in it or else."

But then I see the people arguing against it are saying things like this:
It’s called, “water vapor.” And, it constitutes 80+% of the atmosphere.
I mean, really. 80% of the atmosphere is water vapor? Come on.
12.30.2008 12:48pm
John Moore (www):
No doubt it was typo, and was meant to mean % of greenhouse effect, in which case it's a bit high.

Of course, far more interesting is clouds, but since nobody can forecast them worth a darn, you don't hear much about them.
12.31.2008 5:31pm

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