Tag: Climate Change

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Saturday Night Science: The Planet Remade

 

“The Planet Remade” by Oliver MortonWe live in a profoundly unnatural world. Since the start of the industrial revolution, and rapidly accelerating throughout the twentieth century, the actions of humans have begun to influence the flow of energy and materials in the Earth’s biosphere on a global scale. Earth’s current human population and standard of living are made possible entirely by industrial production of nitrogen-based fertilisers and crop plants bred to efficiently exploit them. Industrial production of fixed (chemically reactive) nitrogen from the atmosphere now substantially exceeds all of that produced by the natural soil bacteria on the planet which, prior to 1950, accounted for almost all of the nitrogen required to grow plants. Fixing nitrogen by the Haber-Bosch process is energy-intensive, and consumes around 1.5 percent of all the world’s energy usage and, as a feedstock, 3–5% of natural gas produced worldwide. When we eat these crops, or animals fed from them, we are, in a sense, eating fossil fuels. On the order of four out of five nitrogen molecules that make up your body were made in a factory by the Haber-Bosch process. We are the children, not of nature, but of industry.

The industrial production of fertiliser, along with crops tailored to use them, is entirely responsible for the rapid growth of the Earth’s population, which has increased from around 2.5 billion in 1950, when industrial fertiliser and “green revolution” crops came into wide use, to more than 7 billion today. This was accompanied not by the collapse into global penury predicted by Malthusian doom-sayers, but rather a broad-based rise in the standard of living, with extreme poverty and malnutrition falling to all-time historical lows. In the lifetimes of many people, including this scribbler, our species has taken over the flow of nitrogen through the Earth’s biosphere, replacing a process mediated by bacteria for billions of years with one performed in factories. The flow of nitrogen from atmosphere to soil, to plants and the creatures who eat them, back to soil, sea, and ultimately the atmosphere is now largely in the hands of humans, and their very lives have become dependent upon it.

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Americans watched with forlorn fascination as devastating hurricanes laid waste to stretches of Florida and Texas. Hoover research fellow Alice Hill explains how the nation can better prepare for future natural disasters. The key word is “resilience.”

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are aghast as the threat to life along the Texas coast gets more dire but they are amazed at the tireless efforts by exhausted heroes to save thousands and thousands of lives. They also disgusted, but not surprised, as North Korea fired a missile over Japan in one of the most provocative acts in years. And they sigh as the mainstream media leap to the conclusion that man-caused climate change is responsible for the extent of the devastation in Texas.

Also a note to our listeners, Three Martini Lunch will spend next week on vacation before resuming on Monday, September 11. We will have episodes for the rest of this week.

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In this AEI Events Podcast, AEI’s Aparna Mathur hosts Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who present their carbon tax proposal. They discuss what their plan would entail and comment on the importance and controversy surrounding their proposal.

Following the senators’ remarks, a panel of experts discusses the possible costs and benefits of a carbon tax proposal. Veronique de Rugy (Mercatus Center) argues that the potential benefits of a carbon tax policy are complicated and minimized by the drawbacks. George Frampton (Partnership for Responsible Growth) believes that the only solution will entail bipartisan compromise. Myron Ebell (Competitive Enterprise Institute) states that a carbon tax is “all pain and no gain” due to the loss of revenue. Adele Morris (Brookings Institution) argued that the proposal is an efficient and comprehensive plan.

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This week on Banter, Myron Ebell and George Frampton debate the advantages and disadvantages of implementing a carbon tax. Ebell is director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment and chair of the Cooler Heads Coalition. Frampton is a cofounder of The Partnership for Responsible Growth and was previously senior of counsel at Covington & Burling LLP in the firm’s climate and clean energy practice. Both participated in a panel discussion at AEI to discuss the implications of the carbon tax proposal Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced at the event. The link below will take you to the full event video.

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Rick Perry Is Right: CO2 Is Not the Control Knob of Climate

 

Energy Secretary Rick PerryTo listen to the corrupt, know-nothing mainstream media, Energy Secretary Rick Perry really stepped in it when he said human emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the major driver of global warming. And, as usual with the MSM, it’s not true. The story is merely fodder for a false narrative about Perry, and the state of climate science.

On Monday, CNBC “Squawk Box” host Joe Kernen asked the secretary whether he believes carbon dioxide “is the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate.” Perry’s answer:

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Trump’s Speech Should Have Been About Nuclear Power, Not the Paris Climate Agreement

 

Maybe the best reason, such as it is, to support American withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement has nothing to do with the climate. Under President Obama, the United States agreed to a de facto treaty without submitting it to the Senate for ratification. As the editors at National Review rightly note, “In a government of laws, process matters.” Government certainly doesn’t need more unilateralism by its chief executive.

Unfortunately, the actual reasons driving withdrawal had more to do with populist politics, nationalism, partisanship, and unreasonable disbelief in climate science than constitutional conservatism. Oh, and plenty of reflexive anti-Obamaism in there, too.

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Forget the Paris Accords

 

The Trump administration is currently facing a major decision—whether to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords on climate change. The huge multi-national agreement was finalized in the closing weeks of the Obama administration, just days before Trump’s surprise victory in the presidential election. The key commitment made by the United States under the accords is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the next decade by about a quarter of their 2005 rate, with further reductions to come thereafter. But during his campaign, Donald Trump promised to pull out of the accords, and, at the recent meeting of the G-7, was the lone holdout against a ringing endorsement of the agreement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been insisting that the United States stay the course, but it appears as if Trump is inclined to honor his campaign promise to pull out of the accords, a position in line with that of Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The President’s instincts are spot on here. He should withdraw the United States from the accords and be prepared to stoutly defend his decision on both political and scientific grounds. Ironically, the best reasons for getting out of the accords are the evident weaknesses in the reasons that a wide range of businesses and environmental groups offer for staying in.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy watching Hillary Clinton remain immersed in her state of denial, as Hillary takes responsibility for losing to Donald Trump but seems to blame everyone else. They also react to Pres. Trump tweeting about nuking the legislative filibuster and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying it’s not going to happen. And they’re almost speechless as the Democrat running for Congress in Montana invites skeptics of the liberal line on climate change to go into their garages and start their cars.

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Adjusting for Publication Bias Reveals True Climate Sensitivity

 

One of my good friends (who I’ve unsuccessfully been prodding to join Ricochet) writes the underappreciated blog “Grok in Fullness” under the pseudonym Jubal Harshaw. Since he’s refused my brow-beatings, I’m forced to regurgitate his brilliance here.

His most recent post references two articles on climate science. The thesis of his article is that there is statistical bias in prestigious journals with regards to climate science (“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”). Both “Publication Bias in Measuring Climate Sensitivity” and the counter article “No evidence of publication bias in climate change science” actually conclude the same thing, titles notwithstanding. Please go there to see all the lovely details complete with “funnel plots” and intellectual rigor.

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Dear President-elect Trump: Don’t Listen to Ben Santer or Other Climate Alarmists

 
Ben Santer: Climate Alarmist

On December 22, Ben Santer – one of the climate scientists most responsible for politicizing and then corrupting climate science — wrote an open letter to Donald Trump once again pretending to speak on behalf of “science.” We can expect many such cries of despair and shouts begging for attention (and continued funding) in the future. In the Trump administration — whether it lasts four years or eight — such histrionics will be a growth industry.

Santer’s entire screed on CNBC’s website — titled “Dear President-elect Trump—Don’t listen to the ‘ignorant voices’ on climate change” — is riddled with alarmism and factual errors. I’m not going to excerpt and rebut it all, but suffice to say: (1) there is no money in skepticism of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but there are endless government grants for alarmism; (2) climate-alarmist “scientists” who prey upon the uninformed have gotten the science wrong for decades; and (3) withdrawing from the non-binding and ineffectual Paris Climate Agreement will not make the US a “pariah,” but the leader that helped save billions of people in emerging economies from another generation of miserable poverty.

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Obsolete Climate Science on CO2

 

The incoming Trump administration has promised dramatic transformations on many vital domestic issues. The best gauge of this development is the fierce level of opposition his policies have generated from Democratic stalwarts. One representative screed is a New York Times Op-Ed by Professors Michael Greenstone and Cass Sunstein, who lecture the incoming president on climate change: “Donald Trump Should Know: This is What Climate Change Costs Us.”

Greenstone and Sunstein have a large stake in the game: During their years in the first Obama administration, they convened an interagency working group (IWG) drawn from various federal agencies that determined that the social cost of carbon (SCC)—or the marginal cost of the release of a ton of carbon into the atmosphere—should be estimated at about $36 per ton (as of 2015). Choose that number and there is much justification for taking major policy steps to curb the emission of carbon dioxide. Greenstone and Sunstein hoped that the working group process would draw on the “latest research in science and economics,” and establish the claimed costs by “accounting for the destruction of property from storms and floods, declining agricultural and labor productivity, elevated mortality rates and more.”

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