Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.
View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.
The Los Angeles Times‘ front-page headline Tuesday comes across as remarkably upbeat: “California is ahead of the game as Obama releases Clean Power Plan.”
But the story’s lead paragraph reads more like a threat than a promise: “President Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants over the next 15 years will force states to address climate change by pushing them to act more like California.”
The president cited California’s example when he announced the plan on Monday, recalling the smog that hung over the Los Angeles basin in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “You fast-forward 30, 40 years later, and we solved those problems,” Obama said.
Well, yes, we did — and it’s a good thing, too. But the president is conflating those clean-air rules with policies of a more recent vintage.
California has led the way in pushing utilities to adopt renewable energy from sources such as windmills and solar panels in lieu of natural gas and coal-fired plants. According to the Times: “In 2013, the most recent year available, nearly 19% of California’s electricity came from renewable sources, while less than 8% came from coal, according to the California Energy Commission. In January, Brown proposed an ambitious target of 50% renewables by 2030.”
The story doesn’t mention, however, that the Golden State ranks close to the top in terms of energy prices. It’s no coincidence that the cost of renewable energy in California increased by 55 percent between 2003 and 2013, as the renewable portfolio standard was being phased in. And costs will continue to rise, in no small part because the state Public Utilities Commission earlier this year ordered changes in California’s tiered pricing for electricity, moving from four tiers to two. As a result, the first tier rate will increase significantly, and the second tier rate will rise marginally.
The Times also reports that California is on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 as required under AB 32, the “Global Warming Solutions Act” of 2006. Gov. Jerry Brown in January issued an executive order that would accelerate the mandate’s requirements, with the goal of reducing emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. Expect rates to go higher still.
Not surprisingly, Brown hailed Obama’s plan as “bold and absolutely necessary.”
But a new Manhattan Institute report by Jonathan A. Lesser of Continental Economics highlights the real consequences of California’s decarbonization efforts, some unintended, some not. Among Lesser’s key findings:
This is the model that President Obama lauds and his EPA wants to emulate. The EPA’s new regulations would mandate that states cut carbon emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
A tough Wall Street Journal editorial notes that the EPA’s final rule “is 9 percent steeper than the draft the Environmental Protection Agency issued in June 2014,” and opines: “The damage to growth, consumer incomes and U.S. competitiveness will be immense—assuming the rule isn’t tossed by the courts or rescinded by the next Administration.”
Steven F. Hayward, a professor of politics at Pepperdine University and an expert in environmental policy, observed in a post at Power Line on Monday, “By [EPA's] own admission, full implementation of the emissions targets will avert only 0.018 degrees C of warming by the year 2100. I’m sure we’ll all notice that much change in temps!”
The final rule is nearly 1,600 pages long, and the regulatory impact analysis is nearly 400 pages, so needless to say it will take some time for the lawyers and wonks to sort everything out. But Hayward found an odd paragraph in near the middle of the impact analysis that led him to wonder if the government is putting us on:
As indicated in the RIA [Regulatory Impact Assessment] for this rule, we expect that the main impact of this rule on the nation’s mix of generation will be to reduce coal-fired generation, but in an amount and by a rate that is consistent with recent historical declines in coal-fired generation. Specifically, from approximately 2005 to 2014, coal-fired generation declined at a rate that was greater than the rate of reduced coal-fired generation that we expect from this rulemaking from 2015 to 2030. In addition, under this rule, the trends for all other types of generation, including natural gas-fired generation, nuclear generation, and renewable generation, will remain generally consistent with what their trends would be in the absence of this rule. [Hayward's emphasis.]
Hayward poses a fascinating question: “if the electricity sector under this new regulation is going to unfold more or less along the lines of business as usual, why are we bothering with this regulation in the first place? Is the EPA seriously admitting that their regulation does nothing substantial at all, or that they’ve spotted a parade going down the street and decided to march at the head of it?”
The Wall Street Journal’s editors encourage a vigorous legal challenge to the new rules, noting:
The Supreme Court did give EPA the authority to regulate carbon emissions in Mass. v. EPA in 2007. But that was not a roving license to do anything the EPA wants. The High Court has rebuked the agency twice in the last two years for exceeding its statutory powers.
“When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate a significant portion of the American economy, we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism,” the Court warned last year. “We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast economic and political significance.”
Congress did no such thing with the Clean Power Plan, which is a new world balanced on a fragment of the Clear Air Act called Section 111(d). This passage runs a couple hundred words and was added to the law in 1977, well before the global warming stampede. Historically Section 111(d) has applied “inside the fence line,” meaning the EPA can set performance standards for individual plants, not for everything connected to those sources that either produces or uses electricity.
When the EPA rule does arrive before the Justices, maybe they’ll rethink their doctrine of “Chevron deference,” in which the judiciary hands the bureaucracy broad leeway to interpret ambiguous laws. An agency using a 38-year-old provision as pretext for the cap-and-tax plan that a Democratic Congress rejected in 2010 and couldn’t get 50 Senate votes now is the all-time nadir of administrative “interpretation.”
“This plan is essentially a tax on the livelihood of every American,” the Journal’s editorial concludes, “which makes it all the more extraordinary that it is essentially one man’s order.” As California goes, so goes the nation? Let’s hope not.
Ambassador Francis Rooney, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, discusses Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, why the Pope should not get involved in divisive and contested political issues like climate policy, and why the climate change debate should not be couched as rich countries versus poor countries.
Listen to the interview here.
In last week’s column about Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and creation, I pointed out some of the ways climate change alarmists have appropriated the pontiff’s language to advance agendas quite different from that of the Catholic Church. (Population control? Seriously?)
Well, the hits just keep on coming. Actor/activist Robert Redford on Sunday cited Pope Francis in his case for doing something — anything — to address the threat of climate change.
“As Pope Francis has told us, we have a moral obligation to be responsible stewards of the earth and all it supports,” Redford wrote, which is true as far as it goes. “That means protecting future generations from the dangers of climate change.” Well, maybe.
But what does Redford have in mind exactly? On that point — and as with so many others who share his point of view — he’s maddeningly vague. “Our best business minds grasp the historic opportunity for us to lead the world in the clean energy economy of tomorrow,” he writes. “And a new American generation understands the urgency of acting now.”
He may be referring to the U.N.’s stated desire to “decarbonize the economy” by the end of the century. Or he might be talking about covering the country with solar panels and windmills. Whatever it is that he means, it won’t be cheap and it will require plenty of coercion.
It’s one thing to point out how greens lean on the Pope’s encyclical for their pet causes, but in fairness, Francis hasn’t made himself easy to defend. The Pope’s latest choice in climate change advisors is enough to send the most devout Catholic or free market devotee into the slough of despond. As I mentioned in the column, Francis is hardly a friend of capitalism. But he looks like Milton Friedman compared to Naomi Klein.
Robert Tracinski has an answer.
“We don’t know whether current warming departs from natural variation, nor have scientists proven the underlying mechanisms by which humans could cause such an increase,” writes Tracinski at The Federalist. “But even if we did know these things, we would have to be able to forecast with reasonable accuracy how big the effect is going to be. A very small warming may not even be noticeable or may have mostly salutary effects, such as a slightly longer growing season, whereas the impact of a much larger warming is likely to cause greater disruption.”
And therein lies the trillion dollar question: If meteorologists can’t consistently predict the weather from day-to-day, how on earth can humanity justify spending vast amounts of money on temperature predictions that fluctuate from “global cooling” to “global warming” only to settle on “climate change”?
As Tracinski says, “Given the abysmal record of climate forecasting, we should tell the warmists to go back and make a new set of predictions, then come back to us in 20 or 30 years and tell us how these predictions panned out. Then we’ll talk.”
CFIF’s Timothy Lee, Senior Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs, discusses this week’s United Nation’s summit on climate change, more inconvenient truths about global warming, and Harry Reid’s court packing efforts.
Listen to the interview here.
CFIF Senior Vice President Timothy Lee discusses how the U.S. has fallen from the top ten most economically free nations in the world and how, in unrelated news, temperatures have fallen too despite the warnings from the global warming alarmists.
Listen to the interview here.
In case you needed further proof of the slightly sadistic quality of the most wall-eyed environmental extremists, I provide you with documentary evidence from Greenpeace, which has produced this video to terrify children into hectoring their parents about global warming:
As James Taylor from the Heartland Institute notes, there’s one big problem with this (well, apart from the reimagining of Santa as Mephistopheles): polar sea ice is doing just fine. But you can understand Greenpeace’s dilemma: it’s hard to make a horror film out of that.
h/t: Jim Lakely
In a chilling decision to silence discussion about climate change, the Los Angeles Times opinion page announced that letters to the editor that “deny global warming,” imply that “climate change is a hoax,” claim global warming is “a scheme by liberals to curtail personal freedom,” or dispute that “that human activity is indeed linked to climate change” are banned from its pages.
The choice by the hysterically hyper-environmentalist loons that run the LA Times opinion pages to restrict sincere debate and differences of opinion from a forum that is intended to challenge readers’ views is equal parts depressing, disgusting and alarming.
The LA Times opinion page points out that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently claimed “it was was 95 percent certain that we fossil-fuel-burning humans are driving global warming.” The problems with that statement are numerous. For one, that nagging 5 percent of doubt should be enough to keep the channels of discussion and debate open. Also, there remains a significant minority of members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who disagree with the assertion that humans alter the Earth’s climate. Many others debate the extent to which human action is responsible for changes in the climate. In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s majority rule structure, their voices are powerless.
Even if there were indisputable proof that human actions directly cause climate change, there would be the question of “how much?.” Solar activity appears to play a much larger role in climate change than humans ever could – and we can’t do anything about that.
That means the real debate should be: “If humans play a minute role in climate change, what reactions are actually justified?”
If human activity causes temperatures to rise or fall a tiny fraction of a degree over some long period of time, should we prevent developing countries from rising out of poverty? Should we stand in the way of economic growth that would lead to greater global stability, improved health and educational outcomes, and increased longevity? Should the poorest people in the world be left without food, medicines and clean drinking water in the name of stopping them from producing CO2?
Those are serious questions that must be raised, considered and debated in years to come. Sadly, it appears the LA Times is more than happy to keep such discussions out of its pages.
In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the rhetoric and actions of global warming alarmists and how the actual facts contradict their ideological crusade.
The more time passes, the more global warming’s apostles begin to look like members of a doomsday cult. You can only predict the end incorrectly so many times, after all, without losing your credibility amongst all but the true believers. After early leaks of the upcoming report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed that the (Nobel Prize-winning, mind you) IPCC had dramatically erred in calculating global temperature changes, a study in the journal Natural Climate Change found that:
Out of 117 predictions [made during the 1990s], three were roughly accurate and 114 overestimated the amount of warming. On average, the predictions forecasted two times more global warming than actually occurred.
More damning still is this news:
A peer-reviewed climate change study released Wednesday by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change finds the threat of man-made global warming to be not only greatly exaggerated but so small as to be “embedded within the background variability of the natural climate system” and not dangerous.
A more thorough summary is here.
Climate alarmists like Barack Obama typically – but falsely – claim that their agenda rests upon “settled science.” Of course, that doesn’t explain why they’ve shifted their rhetoric from “global warming” to “climate change” after temperatures flattened over the past two decades despite continual increases in worldwide carbon output.
In that vein, Marlo Lewis over at the Competitive Enterprise Institute made an interesting observation regarding a new paper entitled “Can Climate Models Explain the Recent Stagnation in Global Warming?” from German meteorologist Hans von Storch. Out of 62 global average temperature projections from climate models used in an upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, only 2% were as low or lower than the actual flat temperature trend over the past 15 years.
So the next time someone claims that anthropomorphic (man-caused) global warming is “settled science” among climatologists, calmly point out that only 2% of those within that herd of independent minds projected temperatures at or below the temperatures that actually occurred.
In my column this week, I take aim at President Obama’s announcement earlier this week that he’s unilaterally moving the EPA towards forcing carbon emission reductions on coal producers. Of course, this will impact the job prospects of precisely the sort of everymen that liberals claim to champion, an observation rendered beautifully concise by Rupert Darwall writing at the Prospect blog:
A brilliant tweet at the time of the Thatcher funeral encapsulates the left’s ideological confusion—being in favour of coal miners and against what they mined.
If you missed President Obama’s big climate change speech at Georgetown University earlier today, count yourself lucky. At this point, one has to assume that the White House speechwriters are making his remarks this dreary as an intentional means of keeping the public away from the content (in this case, a huge push to regulate carbon emissions from coal plants — the nation’s cheapest and most widespread source of electricity).
Two things stood out from the remarks:
1. Obama is all in on executive power. In the same week that the Supreme Court announced that they’re going to take up the President’s patently unconstitutional recess appointments to the NLRB, here he was once again bypassing Congress and the public. Obama is proposing nothing less than a reordering of our energy economy (let’s not forget his 2008 campaign trail promise to bankrupt coal producers) — and he’s doing it all through executive directives to the EPA. Congress had the chance to pass cap and trade back in the first two years of this Administration and they couldn’t get it done despite the fact that Democrats controlled both houses. Part of the reason: there was a Treasury Department analysis at the time that said passage would be tantamount to a 15 percent income tax increase. The people and their elected representatives have spoken. The President has ignored them.
2. Obama’s condescension towards climate change skeptics (such as yours truly) is astonishing. While the left has a tendency to boast about their reverence for science, they don’t seem to have much respect for the process of critical inquiry that the process requires. Obama today referred to climate skeptics as “members of the flat earth society” (ah yes, the man who was going to heal our national wounds). Just once, I’d like to see someone on the left acknowledge the fact that you can’t get to the virtues of widespread carbon reduction without going through a series of increasingly specific propositions, all of which are subject to some measure of debate:
– Climate change is occurring
– Climate change will produce significant negative effects on humanity
– Climate change is, at least in part, caused by human activity
– There are actions we can take to reduce the prospect of climate change
– The benefits of those actions outweigh the costs
– There are not other policies available with a superior cost-benefit ratio
Perhaps the president has already answered these questions in his own head, but he’s been remarkably mum about them publicly. My guess is that the glib insult is a way of obscuring the fact that he has no real responses.
Those who believe that it’s in the best interest of the nation for Barack Obama’s presidency to terminate next January have been feeling their oats a bit lately. As Jennifer Rubin noted yesterday at the Washington Post’s “Right Turn” blog:
Whatever you think is the cause of the economic doldrums, it has now dawned on the Democrats and the press that Obama could lose this thing.
Quite so. But even if one indulges in the most optimistic projections for November, there’s a danger in getting too comfortable. There could be mischief brewing for the lame duck congressional session following the presidential election. As Conn Carroll reports in the Washington Examiner:
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday, [Senator John] Kerry announced that he would not be submitting the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea [LOST] for a vote before the November election. Instead, Kerry intends to hold a series of hearings before the election, building the case for passage, before pushing the treaty in a lame-duck session. This is the exact same game plan Kerry executed to pass the New START treaty during the 2010 lame duck…
…If the Senate approves LOST this December, any country that believes itself harmed by global warming could force the U.S. into binding arbitration, most likely in front of the Annex VII Arbitral Tribunal, LOST’s default dispute resolution forum.
Any judgment from that tribunal would be final, unappealable, and immediately enforceable in U.S. federal court. In 1982, a similar arbitration body forced Canada to set hourly caps on their sulfur dioxide emissions, causing industry to spend millions on mitigation efforts. A LOST tribunal could set similar caps on U.S. carbon emissions, triggering trillions in economic damage.
Cap and trade, of course, was Obama’s other major first-term initiative besides Obamacare, but when the politics surrounding the former issue became toxic — and congressional Republicans hit back hard on the cap and trade plan — the administration backed off. But is anyone willing to bet that Obama’s sense of fair play will prevent him from backdooring through the policy in the dying days of his administration?
If so, you’d have to believe that a president who has no compunctions about stripping fundamental religious freedoms through administrative fiat, who’s already busy promising the Russian government that he’ll “have more flexibility” on missile defense when he doesn’t have to face the American electorate again, and who has already flirted with extralegal methods for enacting international carbon reduction would suddenly be stricken by conscience after facing the sting of rejection from the voters.
Those odds don’t look good. Which is why conservatives need to remain on guard until the day Obama departs for Chicago.
Free Market America, a new group operating in partnership with Americans for Limited Government, has a powerful new video out that makes an important point: if one was setting out to intentionally inflict harm on the American economy via energy policy, the resulting strategy would look a lot like what the Obama Administration is proposing.
The point here is not that Obama’s agenda is a covert plot to damage the nation — it’s not — but rather that its effects will be just as calamitous as if it was. Take a look for yourself:
Unbelievable. From the Daily Caller:
Concerned that too many “deniers” are in the meteorology business, global warming activists this month launched a campaign to recruit local weathermen to hop aboard the alarmism bandwagon and expose those who are not fully convinced that the world is facing man-made doom.
The Forecast the Facts campaign — led by 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters and the Citizen Engagement Lab — is pushing for more of a focus on global warming in weather forecasts, and is highlighting the many meteorologists who do not share their beliefs.
“Our goal is nothing short of changing how the entire profession of meteorology tackles the issue of climate change,” the group explains on their website. “We’ll empower everyday people to make sure meteorologists understand that their viewers are counting on them to get this story right, and that those who continue to shirk their professional responsibility will be held accountable.”
I’m not sure whether my title line sounds more like a disreputable law firm or an unpublished fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Anyway …
There are a lot of good points flying around these discussions. Let me hit on a couple of things in Ashton’s post from earlier today.
He’s certainly right that Santorum may get an unexpected star turn during the NewsMax debate moderated by Donald Trump later this month. Like Ashton, I find the whole affair unsavory (a point I’ve been making over at Ricochet, though I’ve been getting significant pushback there), but I find Santorum’s decision to participate much more reasonable than Newt’s. The former is in such dire need of a Hail Mary pass that he can’t let quibbles with the format keep him from one last shot at a broad swath of the electorate. Newt, whose surge is continuing unabated, doesn’t need the exposure — and his participation is at odds with his repeated insistence that he’s the Serious candidate in the race.
One final note regarding Huntsman, whom Ashton mentioned in passing. As the anti-Newt campaign has developed legs in recent weeks (particularly with the Republican establishment in Washington), there has been yet another search for a conservative alternative, which has led some pundits (including the esteemed George Will) to posit that Huntsman deserves another look. Their rationale? That the former Utah governor has been the most consistently conservative candidate in the field — both in rhetoric and in record — on taxes, guns, and abortion.
This is another example of the principle I keep coming back to as we discuss presidential candidates: having the right positions on paper is necessary, but not sufficient. Huntsman may be good on a handful of issues, but his campaign has been weighed down by the fact that he consistently picks fights with the conservative base, often over superfluous issues (did we really need another election year argument over evolution? Has there ever been a significant presidential decision that hinged on that debate?). He’s the guy who comes back from a stint as Ambassador to China to tell us how bad we look overseas. He’s the guy who tells the Republican Party how primitive it is. And the primary he’d most like to win is with the media.
Why hasn’t Huntsman taken off? Because the only time he communicates with conservatives is to tell them how ashamed of them he is.
It’s a little something called “false consciousness.” An essential aspect of Marxist thinking (though it was actually propagated by his partner, Friedrich Engels), false consciousness is a term that one uses to tell an ideological adversary, in essence, “You disagree with me not because of your reasoned conclusion, but because your ability to understand reality is so polluted as to prevent you from even discovering truth without the enlightened guidance of your betters.”
That seems to be the tact that former Vice President Gore is taking on — what else? — climate change skepticism. And his need for proselytization is now taking on a particularly bizarre form. According to Reuters:
“24 Hours of Reality” will broadcast a presentation by Al Gore every hour for 24 hours across 24 different time zones from Wednesday to Thursday, with the aim of convincing climate change deniers and driving action against global warming among households, schools and businesses.
The campaign also asks people to hand over control of their social networking accounts on Facebook and Twitter to it for 24 hours to deliver Gore’s message.
That last paragraph is particularly cultish. Tell the former VP to get his own damn Twitter account.
Gore and his ilk are accustomed to referring to their critics as “anti-science”. Yet they’re the ones engaged in something that sounds a lot more like televangelism than a climatology symposium.
Here’s an idea: if Gore really wants to be seen as a paragon of sweet reason — and really intends to convert the skeptics — why not have that hour of programming feature a debate between himself and one of the leading critics of his theories? Someone, perhaps, like Christopher Monckton of the British House of Lords, the former Thatcher advisor who has been challenging Gore to a scrimmage on global warming for years.
Of course, this format would put Gore on the spot. But when the science is ‘undeniable’ that should be an easy fight to win, no?