Global warming alarmists go overboard
12/14/15 Filed in: Energy
See reader comments posted at the end
A few weeks ago, we previewed an international climate conference that was coming up in Paris (Nov. 30-Dec. 11). Our report questioned the premise that the future of life on Earth as it currently exists is threatened by manmade climate change, noted that some eminent scientists do not subscribe to the theory that global temperatures are inexorably rising due to carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, and suggested that any long-term agreements to which the US might subscribe at the conference “should be considered a treaty requiring Senate ratification (2/3 approval).” Much ado about global warming, 10/26/15.
Forty thousand or so participants converged from around the globe, the conference (COP21) took place, and it produced an agreement that, if taken seriously, could have disastrous results. In effect, ideology triumphed over science, emotions over facts, and cronyism over free markets. So the question now is, how can this drive to curtail the use of fossil fuel energy without regard to economic consequences be stopped?
A. SCIENCE – Given that advocacy of government-mandated reductions in carbon emissions is based on the manmade global warming theory (MMGWT), one might think the COP21 participants deserved an update of the evidence supporting this theory. For example, satellite temperature readings could have been presented – which indicate only a modest warming trend since 1981 and no statistically significant warming since 1998. http://lastresistance.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Hiatus.png
There was no systematic discussion of global temperature trends at the conference to our knowledge. However, a reporter at the conference asked Hoesung Lee, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, about the “hiatus” in global warming since 1998. Mr. Lee hummed by the question without mentioning the satellite data. UN scientist [actually an economist] is a climate change pause denier, Onan Coca, freedomforce.com, 12/10/15.
Lee doubled-down on arguments there’s been no prolonged “hiatus” in global warming, referring to the 10 to 20 year period present in [surface temperature] datasets. Earlier this year, U.S. scientists claimed new adjustments made to sea surface temperature readings eliminated the “hiatus” from the global temperature record. “Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the earth is warming,” Lee said, going on to completely omit satellite data. “For instance, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is rising, sea levels have been rising and the temperature of the ocean has also been rising.”
The speakers were primarily politicians, bureaucrats, or advocates. Even those with a scientific background, such as US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, presumably spoke in an institutional capacity.
To the extent that evidence for the MMGWT was provided, it took the form of airy generalities. Here’s an example, which unlike most of the proceedings at the conference can be readily located on line. President Obama’s remarks at the first session of COP21, 11/30/15.
Our understanding of the ways human beings disrupt the climate advances by the day. Fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000 -- and 2015 is on pace to be the warmest year of all. [The satellite data shown above tell a different story.] No nation -- large or small, wealthy or poor -- is immune to what this means.
This summer, I saw the effects of climate change firsthand in our northernmost state, Alaska, where the sea is already swallowing villages and eroding shorelines; where permafrost thaws and the tundra burns; where glaciers are melting at a pace unprecedented in modern times. And it was a preview of one possible future -- a glimpse of our children’s fate if the climate keeps changing faster than our efforts to address it. Submerged countries. Abandoned cities. Fields that no longer grow. Political disruptions that trigger new conflict, and even more floods of desperate peoples seeking the sanctuary of nations not their own.
Some climate skeptics gathered in Paris too, seeking to make their case against the MMGWT, but they didn’t make much headway.
•Global-warming alarmists showed up in front of a Paris theater to protest the world premier of a film that portrays the MMGWT as unproven at best. Climate Hustle: The perfect antidote to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, James Delingpole, breitbart.com, 12/8/15.
The protestors had come fresh from the COP21 climate conference, alerted by Wanted posters plastered by activists over the streets of central Paris warning them that seven of the world’s most evil fossil fuel lobbyists were in town to disrupt their [the COP21’s] holy mission to bomb the global economy back to the dark ages with carbon reductions, regulations and wealth redistribution.
•Pre-recorded remarks of a Republican senator were aired at a climate skeptic meeting that took place not far from the COP21 site. [Sen. Jim] Inhofe: Obama’s refusal to explain climate deal to Congress is a first, John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 12/7/15.
"The president should spend more time listening to the American people instead of sending signals to the international community meant to save his climate legacy at the expense of hard-working Americans," Inhofe told the conference hosted by the conservative Heartland Institute. "You're doing the lord's work," he told the meeting's attendees. "Let's win this thing together."
•Representatives of Competitive Enterprise Institute, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and Heartland even had the temerity to show up at the COP21 conference – perhaps simply to observe what was going on, perhaps to ask questions, we don’t know. In any case, they were not welcomed with open arms. Global-warming activists ask UN to banish skeptics from Paris Climate Conference, Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 12/7/15.
In sum, the mantra at COP21 was: the science is settled – the debate is over – it is time for action.
B. PLAN – The overall goal of COP21 was to agree on a plan to ensure that global temperatures would not increase by more than two degrees Centigrade over the average global temperature at the end of the industrial era (about 1850). Exactly where this figure came from was unclear, but it had the merit of being measurable and easy to remember. Much ado about global warming, 10/26/15.
There had been months of advance preparation to start drafting an agreement and cajole or shame countries into volunteering “national contributions” to the global effort to reduce carbon emissions. Most of the countries announced their NCs before the conference began.
It was also contemplated that countries with the necessary wherewithal would offer technical assistance and financial incentives to developing countries that needed help. There was to be follow-up monitoring and reporting by every country of compliance with its NC.
US leadership was seen as essential, hopefully bolstered by strong support from China and India. To this end, the president delivered a 14-minute address on the first day of the conference. Climate change a huge problem – US acknowledges its responsibility – much has been accomplished already while driving US economic output to “all-time highs”– now, here in Paris, all of us must move forward together. President Obama’s remarks, 11/30/15.
That’s what we seek in these next two weeks. Not simply an agreement to roll back the pollution we put into our skies, but an agreement that helps us lift people from poverty without condemning the next generation to a planet that’s beyond its capacity to repair. Here, in Paris, we can show the world what is possible when we come together, united in common effort and by a common purpose.
The same day, the president had bilateral meetings with the Chinese and Indian heads of state. The pre-meeting statements of these leaders were upbeat, but neither of them offered near term reductions in overall carbon emissions.
•President Xi Jinping – “At the present, the world economy is recovering slowly. Terrorism is on the rise and climate change is a huge challenge. There is more instability and uncertainty in the international situation. Against this backdrop, it’s very important for China and the United States to be firmly committed to the right direction of building a new model of major country relations and follow the principle of non-confrontation and non-conflict, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation, and carry forward our practical exchanges and cooperation at the bilateral, regional and global levels, which will include enhancing macroeconomic policy coordination, working together to combat all forms of terrorism, and partnering with each other to help the climate conference deliver its expected targets.”
•Prime Minister Narendra Modi – “India is a very nature-loving country and we are setting out, as always, to protect nature in the world. And as you know, Mahatma Gandhi was the biggest champion of nature. And we are going to be making a very important contribution. Our INDCs are also very ambitious. We have set out 175 gigawatt[s] of solar and renewable energy. These are very ambitious targets. And I would just like to once again reiterate that the responsibility that India has will be fully undertaken and fulfilled by it. And we will be working with all countries in the world to ensure that development and protection of the environment go hand in hand. And we also expect full cooperation from all countries.”
China, India and other developing countries aren’t about to curb their economic aspirations to fight global warming, however, so it seems inevitable that global carbon emissions will continue rising. We’ll always have the illusions of Paris; the climate talks will have zero impact on global temperatures, Wall Street Journal, 12/1/15.
The problem is that countries like China (the No. 1 emitter) and India (No. 3) won’t undermine their economic growth or stop eradicating desperate poverty to assuage Western neuralgia. World-wide, some 1.3 billion people still live without electricity. So the negotiators simply gave up the pretense of trying to agree to a legally binding agreement.
By the end of the first week, the delegates had adopted a draft of the envisioned climate agreement. Many sticking points remained to be resolved, however, mostly relating to the inherently conflicting interests of the many countries concerned. Messy midway: Paris draft climate deal ready, long way to go, Karl Ritter, Washington Times, 12/5/15.
A host of disagreements remains, almost all related to defining the obligations and expectations of rich and poor countries, as well as those who don’t fit neatly into either category.
A second week of activity ensued, including several late night meetings of key players, and in the early morning hours of December 12 a final agreement was unveiled that was to be adopted by the conference and presented to the respective countries for approval. This document was fulsomely endorsed by French President Francois Hollande.
The decisive agreement for the planet is here and now. France calls upon you to adopt the first universal agreement on climate.
Whatever its imperfections, the agreement did not lack for ambition. Not only did it affirm the 2 degree Centigrade limit on average global temperature increase since pre-industrial times, but it said the parties would “endeavor” to hold said temperature increase to a maximum of 1.5 degrees.
After the 2-degree (or 1.5 degree) cap kicked in, moreover, carbon emissions would be limited to the amount that could be absorbed by the environment. This meant, according to experts, that “the world will have to all but stop polluting with greenhouse gases by 2070 to reach the 2-degree goal, or by 2050 to reach the 1.5-degree goal.”
Caveat – these goals were strictly aspirational. Even if all National Commitments were met, the global temperature increase was projected to exceed the 2-degree cap, and there was no penalty prescribed if some countries didn’t meet their NCs.
As for money, the developed countries (basically Europe and the US) were on the hook for $100 billion per year (starting in 2020) to help developing countries cut carbon emissions without stunting their economic development. Despite language about how major emerging nations like China and India could contribute to this funding, the agreement didn’t require them to do so. Nearly 200 nations pledge to slow global warming, Karl Ritter, Seth Borenstein & Sylvia Corbet, ap.org, 12/12/15.
C. ASSESSMENT – Some people buy the MMGWT, while others (including us) don’t given the paucity of supporting evidence. In either case, it should be obvious that the growing volume of carbon emissions couldn’t be reversed unless China, India et al. were heavily involved in the effort.
The leaders of these countries understand the benefits of appearing concerned about global warming, and they conduct themselves accordingly. Thus, when President Xi Jinping stepped off his airplane into a sea of cameras at Charles de Gaulle airport, the Communist-party approved announcer said Xi was in Paris to “combat climate change.” Most idiotic aspects of the Paris global warming conference, William Briggs, stream.org, 11/30/15.
When it comes to specific commitments, however, these countries are not giving anything away. Thus, China’s agreement that its carbon emissions will peak around 2030 contrasts with real sacrifices by the US that will contribute to the hollowing out of our industrial base. China’s climate calculation; It uses the Paris talks to get credit for what it would do anyway, Wall Street Journal, 12/7/15.
President Xi’s concession last year was a clever way to extract diplomatic benefits from the U.S. without cost. If the Paris talks lead to a new protocol, the U.S. will give aid to developing countries to pay for little or no change while Americans accept a lower standard of living to meet Mr. Obama’s tough targets. China has played the U.S. President like a Stradivarius.
More generally, if the goals embodied in the Paris agreement were achieved, the costs for the US economy (and much of the global economy) would be profoundly negative.
Sending American backward . . . to 1830? Paul Driessen, towhnall.com, 12/12/15.
. . . there is a strong positive relationship between GDP and carbon-based energy consumption. Slashing fossil energy use that far would thus require decimating economic growth, job creation and preservation, and average per-person incomes. In fact, average world per capita GDP would plummet from a projected $30,600 in 2050 to a miserly $1,200 per year.
The president and his party appear to have swallowed the MMGWT hook, line and sinker. Already united in supporting “clean energy” programs, whether approved by Congress or not, they will steadfastly support US participation in the Paris agreement.
Consider Secretary of State John Kerry’s exultant statement. Nearly 200 nations pledge to slow global warming, op. cit, 12/12/15.
"It's a victory for all of the planet and for future generations," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, adding that the pact will "prevent the worst most devastating consequences of climate change from ever happening."
While the Paris conference was going on, there was a push to tie it to federal and state clean energy policies here in the United States. See these columns in our local newspaper, for example, which just happened to be published during this time frame: (a) Effects of climate change can be felt in Delaware, [Rep.] John Carney, News Journal, 12/6/15A; (b) Progress in Delaware, but more to do on climate change, Gov. Jack Markell & Sen. Chris Coons, News Journal, 12/11/15.
According to Driessen’s 12/12/15 column, written several days before the agreement was finalized, here’s how the administration is likely to proceed.
[The president] is determined to sign whatever is devised in Paris, call it morally binding, and implement still more emission reduction mandates in the United States, even though a majority in Congress and the states oppose his anti-fossil fuel programs, because of their adverse effects on jobs and living standards, especially for poor, working class and minority families.
And there is zero interest in seeking congressional approval of the Paris agreement, as evidenced by US insistence on an obscure wording change. Nearly 200 nations pledge to slow global warming, op. cit, 12/12/15.
The adoption of the agreement was held up for nearly two hours as the United States tried - successfully, in the end - to change the wording on emissions targets. The draft agreement had said developed countries "shall" commit to reducing emissions; in adopting the pact organizers changed the language to say those countries "should" make that commitment. Experts said the final wording means the deal probably won't need congressional approval.
Republicans are unlikely to be supportive of the Paris Agreement, and every effort will be made to brand them as climate change deniers, obstructionists, etc. See, e.g., this column painting Republicans as “dangerously extreme” because they don’t favor a tax on carbon that would supposedly be fully offset by income tax cuts. Even ExxonMobil says climate change is real. So why won’t the GOP? Fred Hiatt, Washington Post, 12/6/15.
While we would prefer energy taxes to energy regulations that accomplish the same results in a less transparent and efficient manner, it’s not clear that the administration is proposing an energy tax at this time. And if it did, the Clean Power Plan, etc. wouldn’t necessarily be dropped, i.e., the upshot might be a carbon tax + these regulations.
As for ExxonMobil’s support for a carbon tax, they’ve probably learned – as have many companies – that it’s smart business to get along with government bureaucrats when possible. Also, like several other oil companies, XOM may envision favorable effects on their natural gas business. Carbon-tax debate brings together unusual allies, Sarah Kent & Justin Scheck, Wall Street Journal, 11/30/15.
It’s also becoming increasingly clear that our system of government will collapse if the executive branch keeps calling all the shots, and that’s not something Americans should lightly accept.
So if the members of Congress want to nip the Paris agreement in the bud, e.g., by refusing to authorize any funds to support US participation, we’re all for them.
This assessment of the “climate” charade at Paris is quite correct. ( I wouldn't have been as kind.) There is NO global climate change recorded in any scientific research reports—only Bill McKibben with his anecdotal extremism, see, e.g., his book The End of Nature. - SAFE member (Georgia)
Good recap on the climate conference. It’s amazing that they can pull off the same old mish mash year after all. It’s like Lucy and the football all over again. – SAFE member (Maryland)
This is absolutely correct - I have Antenna TV and pick up France 24 in English - and the constant refrain was about how the US and Europe are to blame for everything from "climate change" to poverty in Africa and terrorism. Yes, "climate change" is responsible for keeping Africa impoverished by the westerners, for which compensation is demanded. Meanwhile in Asia, they are a manufacturing powerhouse and polluting all over the place, but they receive none of the blame. – SAFE director
The point of this folly was to send tax monies to phony quack scientists to do more “research” and to feed funds into the UN. – SAFE director