Tag: Global Warming



shutterstock_106824764In the most literal sense, the Industrial Revolution was dirty business. Never before in our planet’s history had man done as much damage to the land, the air, and the waters as when we first acquired powered machines. In search of energy, forests were torn down, peat bogs were ripped up, and coal was extracted and burned in ways that we’d find repulsive today.

Though that point is often presented as an ipso facto condemnation of the Industrial Revolution, that’s not the only possible interpretation. Perhaps, as unhealthy and disgusting as that era was, the costs were worth the gains. The very same processes that polluted the Earth also brought goods and services to millions that, only years before, had been available only to the wealthy few (if at all).

Given that the Industrial Revolution began and grew in one of the freest societies to have graced the planet, we might conclude that the British understood the trade-offs and  accepted them. Indeed, despite the the smog clouds and drudgery they offered, cities and industrial mills attracted people like never before, and apparently with good reason: despite all the shortcomings those places offered in terms of health and welfare, life expectancy and purchasing power soared. Simply put, the costs of breathing smog outside were worth the benefits of burning coal inside.

A Fool’s Errand? Attempting to Educate Pope Francis on the Climate and Economics

The First Family of the US with the pope at the White House on September 23, 2015.

The First Family of the US with the pope at the White House on September 23, 2015.

Below is a piece that Heartland Senior Fellow James Taylor and I got published at US News and World Report yesterday about how Pope Francis is being misinformed by the bureaucrats at the United Nations about the causes and consequences of climate change. (Hint: It’s not caused by man, and any natural warming that might occur is not bad .. and might be good!)

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“More big government programs are the answer,” the global warming cultists tell us, “Now, what was the question?”  It turns out that nature has its own way of dealing with climate change, one that doesn’t involve banning SUV’s and “carbon credits”.  Preview Open

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Three Facts to Counter Obama’s Alaska Global Warming Hype


I applaud President Obama for visiting Alaska. I have family there, and it is a state often forgotten when the White House schedules presidential trips. But Obama’s reason for going — to highlight the results of man-caused climate change — is fraudulent. Humans are not causing global warming in Alaska or anywhere else on the globe.

Here follow three facts to counter the nonsense you will hear this week. And by “facts” I mean data collected by incorruptible sources, not predictions based on dodgy computer climate models or readings from land-based stations that skew recorded temperatures upward, keeping alive the ever-failing hypothesis of man-caused global warming.

The EPA’s Flawed Clean Coal Plan


shutterstock_296570639“On August 3, President Obama and the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan – a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change.” So begins the Environmental Protection Agency’s homage to the President and itself. The harder question is whether it is true. On this point, there is a sharp division of opinion between the traditional supporters and traditional detractors of these sorts of measures, with few (if anyone) occupying a middle ground that finds some merit but expresses real concern over the structure and function of the plan. Nonetheless, it is better to back off for the moment from extravagant claims that the end is near if we don’t (or do) embrace this particular plan.

Let’s put aside the EPA’s shaky legal authority and concentrate on the plan itself. A sensible approach divides the regulatory inquiry into two halves. The first asks about the best institutional framework to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs), most notably carbon dioxide. The second asks how to assess, on empirical grounds, the severity of the carbon dioxide problem that the EPA purports to tackle. The EPA falls short on both counts. I shall take them up in order.

The first point to note about the EPA’s clean coal initiative is that, given its inability to secure any congressional action on the subject, the agency is working solely within the existing statutory framework. That is a big mistake from the get-go. The pollution control scheme put into place under the Clean Air Act of 1970 (CAA), as modified by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, is the wrong way to deal with any form of pollution.

The Libertarian Podcast, with Richard Epstein: Coal, Energy, and the Environment


This week, President Obama unveiled his new EPA regulations to combat global warming, a plan that includes mandatory reductions in carbon emissions by the states as well as quotas for the use of renewable energy sources. On this episode of The Libertarian, Professor Epstein looks at both the legal and policy implications of this plan, explains how a classical liberal should approach energy and environmental policy, and warns about the dangers that stem from the growing power of the administrative state.

Want to listen on the go? Subscribe to The Libertarian via iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. Or listen here by using the SoundCloud player after the jump:

Why Hillary’s Lies Don’t Matter


shutterstock_287370743The only thing that seems to be multiplying faster than the national debt, Donald Trump’s audacious comments, or the left-wing punditry’s gasps of horror over the death of what was apparently the globe’s favorite mammal, is Hillary Clinton’s accumulation of prevarications about … well, nearly everything she’s ever said for the past generation or so.

Hillary’s claims about never having been served a subpoena and maintaining only one device for her emails were lies. Her claim that Colin Powell did the same thing she did — and that she wasn’t required to turn over anything to the proper channels — was another whopper. Finally — and this is the kicker — her insistence that people “should and do trust me” should have generated tears of laughter from pollsters. It was for good reason that the late William Safire once claimed that Hillary Clinton was a “congenital liar.” And that was almost 20 years ago. Matters have not changed at all since that time — and arguably have gotten worse.

The question is whether or not her pathological lying makes any difference to her chances to become the next president. The most likely answer is, tragically: no, not a bit. Why not? Because we live in an era saturated by habitual lying, brazen lawlessness, and spectacular hoaxes.

On the Scene, with Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaever


shutterstock_72959515Last week, I attended the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany as a member of the American delegation of young scientists. The purpose of the meeting was to promote the scientific exchange of ideas between nations and generations. Throughout the week, students from around the world discussed research in physics, chemistry, and medicine with each other, as well as the dozens of laureates in attendance.

Ivar Giaever — who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973 for experimental discoveries characterizing electron tunneling — used the occasion to discuss global climate change. His remarks have recently been discussed by Dennis Prager, and shown up in various news stories. The content speaks for itself and, if you wish to listen for yourself, Giaever’s full, half hour lecture can be viewed below.

My principle interaction with Giaever occurred after his lecture, at a closed-door question and answer session exclusively for students. In it, I witnessed student after student attack Giaever, both for his remarks and as a person. Some initiated their challenges by explicitly stating — or, for those with more tact, insinuating — that he was unintelligent, slow-witted, immoral, or unfeeling.

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Last month, President Obama spoke about the conflict in Nigeria and other north African countries.  He blamed these simmering wars on climate change.   He was continuing on the messaging that his team has been busy promoting, which is that our greatest defense issue is global warming.   Preview Open

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Pope Francis Endorses Climate Science, Trashes Modernity


shutterstock_186370886As promised, the pope’s encyclical came out today, so I spent most of my morning reading and processing so I could say something useful about it. (Amusingly, I was recently pre-interviewed for an NPR panel on the topic, but they got spooked when they discovered that I’m a climate skeptic. Such disreputable views are obviously not suitable for NPR. So I had to wait and read the encyclical today, with the rest of the plebs.)

So here’s something you already knew: Pope Francis believes in climate change. Here’s something else you knew: he’s wary of free markets. Despite that, I found it a very enjoyable read. Neither climate change nor free markets were the central focus. It’s more of a meditation on the dehumanizing, technocratic tendencies of modernity. It occurred to me as I was reading that Pope Francis believes in climate change mainly for the same sorts of reasons that conservatives are prone to doom-and-gloom future projections: the progressive disregard for nature has advanced so far that it seems credible to him that the earth is on the brink of disaster.

So, that’s some interesting food for thought. I’ll pull out a few passages that I liked, and invite others to leave whatever reactions they want to share.

Exxon CEO Pushes Back Against Environmentalists


RexTillersonAt a recent annual shareholders meeting, Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s longtime Chairman and CEO, did something very unusual for a business executive: he questioned the global warming hysteria.

Tillerson said that models predicting the effects of global warming “just aren’t that good,” and that it would be very difficult for the world to meet aggressive emission-reduction targets. He further noted that technology can help deal with rising sea levels or changing weather patterns “that may or may not be induced by climate change.” Tillerson added, “Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity. I know that is an unsatisfactory answer to a lot of people, but it’s an answer that a scientist and an engineer would give you.”

To compound his sins, Tillerson then rejected calls to invest in faddish renewable energy schemes such wind and solar saying, “We choose not to lose money on purpose.” According to the above article, the audience broke out in applause.

Amidst An Epidemic of Bad Research, Man-made Climate Change Is ‘Settled Science’


Bill_Nye_the_Science_GuyThis was a banner week for the unquestioning apostles of Science!, specifically in the area of climate science—the one scientific discipline for which all questions have already been exhaustively answered.

First, there is flooding in Texas which everyone knows beyond all doubt is a result of man caused climate change. There is no other possible explanation. Just ask Bill Nye the Mediocre-Television-Comedian-With-A-Bachelors-In-Engineering Guy:

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I watched Tomorrowland over the weekend. Some impressive graphics and an OK story line but as you would expect with a George Clooney movie, it had message. And that message was, “Trust us. Trust the intellectuals, scientists, artists and know-it-all’s, and just do what we say. Only then can the world be safe.” None to […]

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Climate Wars Heat-up Again


j9CmoiHJ_400x400The American Physical Society (APS) — of which I am a member — is looking to revise its Climate Change Statement. Many scientific societies have decided to issue statements about global warming/climate change. Don’t ask me why they feel the need to do this.

The last statement issued by the APS in 2007 was such a disaster that they had to backpedal in 2010 with a convoluted explanation of why it didn’t say what everyone thought it said. This time around, they convened a panel of experts headed up by Steve Koonin, formerly of Caltech and recently an undersecretary in the Dept. of Energy in the Obama administration. Koonin held a workshop last year to try work out the text of the new statement. Subsequently, Koonin quit the panel responsible for the new statement (Panel on Public Affairs – POPA) and published the opinion piece “Climate Science Is Not Settled” in the Wall Street Journal. Judging by that op-ed, things didn’t work out as he hoped.

Now APS is asking for comments about the new proposed statement. It’s unlikely that member comments made to APS directly will be made public, so Judy Curry — Georgia Tech climatologist and now-famous global warming apostate — is collecting comments from APS members in her blog. Mostly skeptics and contrarians are posting. The comments make for amusing reading.

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Here is an excerpt from a common core 9th grade mathematics textbook, from the chapter  Modeling and Using Exponential Functions: It can be amazing how many different historical events are connected in one way or another. For example, there are some environmentalists who claim that the increase in the world’s population has led to an […]

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13 Most Ridiculous Predictions Made on Earth Day, 1970


shutterstock_115509832Today is Earth Day — an annual event first launched on April 22, 1970. The inaugural festivities (organized in part by then hippie and now convicted murderer Ira Einhorn) predicted death, destruction and disease unless we did exactly as progressives commanded. Sound familiar? Behold the coming apocalypse, as predicted on and around Earth Day, 1970:

  1. “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” — Harvard biologist George Wald
  2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” — Washington University biologist Barry Commoner
  3. “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”New York Times editorial
  4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
  5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born… [By 1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” — Paul Ehrlich
  6. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” — Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day
  7. “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions…. By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” — North Texas State University professor Peter Gunter
  8. “In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” — Life magazine
  9. “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
  10. “Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” — Paul Ehrlich
  11. “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate… that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
  12. “[One] theory assumes that the earth’s cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun’s heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.”Newsweek magazine
  13. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” — Kenneth Watt

A version of this article was posted last year.

The Libertarian Warmist Brigade


shutterstock_170221427Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Professor Jonathan Adler, a scholar with “strong libertarian leanings” urges conservatives to accept man-made global warming, even though it is not “ideologically convenient.” Although I doubt whether his embrace of anthropogenic global warming (AGM) is all that inconvenient — a surefire way for any conservative to gain mainstream credibility is to take up some liberal cause, and lately that means either climate change or same-sex marriage — Adler does, I think, make two important points: 1) one’s ideology should not influence one’s conclusion about climate change (or lack thereof), and; 2) belief in man-made global warming does not necessarily mean that you endorse loony left solutions to climate change.

Fair enough, but Adler himself does not summon any evidence in favor of human-caused warming.  Instead he cites an article in Reason by libertarian science writer Ronald Bailey, who makes the case for AGM. But none of Bailey’s evidence proves any link between human activity and climate change. Indeed, I don’t think he even presents evidence of a long-term warming trend: he cites no data earlier than the 1950s, and much of his data is from the last couple decades — surely a mere blip in climate terms.  Bailey concedes that scientists can only speculate as to the reason for the 17-year hiatus in global warming, and he declares that the growing extent of Antarctic sea ice is “a climate change conundrum.” Other than that, it’s a slam dunk case for AGM.

Ricochetti: is this the best evidence there is for AGM?  I’m not convinced, but if you are, come out and make the case.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of – with Adler and Bailey, you’re in very respectable company.

Curing Gaia


dino_and_earthHuman beings find other human beings really depressing. Even when we are quite fond of the ones in our vicinity, we frequently despair of humanity as a whole. If you don’t believe me, go to church.

I drive around my state a lot, and one of my little enjoyments is to note the sentiments on church marquees. My favorite recent example is this one, from the Reformed Church of Something-or-Other:

Services 9 & 11