I appeared on Dave Congalton’s radio show on News-Talk 920 KVEC to talk about the recent extension of California’s cap-and-trade program on carbon dioxide emissions and the global warming scare that precipitated the legislation. You should be able to find audio of my appearance at the prior link eventually. (Update: You can listen here.)
I wanted to provide some of my source material and to discuss something I didn’t get the opportunity to talk about during the segment.
The 97% Consensus
First, there’s this from Ian Tuttle over at National Review on the so-called 97 percent consensus of climate scientists.
Surely the most suspicious “97 percent” study was conducted in 2013 by Australian scientist John Cook — author of the 2011 book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand and creator of the blog Skeptical Science (subtitle: “Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism.”). In an analysis of 12,000 abstracts, he found “a 97% consensus among papers taking a position on the cause of global warming in the peer-reviewed literature that humans are responsible.” “Among papers taking a position” is a significant qualifier: Only 34 percent of the papers Cook examined expressed any opinion about anthropogenic climate change at all. Since 33 percent appeared to endorse anthropogenic climate change, he divided 33 by 34 and — voilà — 97 percent! When David Legates, a University of Delaware professor who formerly headed the university’s Center for Climatic Research, recreated Cook’s study, he found that “only 41 papers — 0.3 percent of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 expressing an opinion, and not 97.1 percent,” endorsed what Cook claimed. Several scientists whose papers were included in Cook’s initial sample also protested that they had been misinterpreted. “Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain,” Legates concluded.
Of course, as the late Michael Crichton noted:
I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough.
Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.
Believe the Scientists
One caller noted that he’d rather trust the 97 percent, rather than me. Fine, (and this is where I wish I had more time) then believe everything they have to say. According to their own models, economist Bjorn Lomborg notes:
At the moment, California’s greenhouse gas emissions account for less than 1% of global emissions, and a little less than 7% of U.S. emissions. The state now plans to cut its emissions by the equivalent of 181.5 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030 — to 40% below its 1990 levels.
Although this is a much bigger cut than California achieved with its 2006 climate change legislation, it’s still nowhere near enough to have a meaningful effect on global warming overall. Even if California succeeds in making the new cuts and sticks to them for the rest of the century, according to calculations using a standard model of the U.N. Climate Panel, they will amount to a difference of .008 degrees Fahrenheit (.0044 degrees Celsius) — a minuscule drop in the bucket of the cuts needed in order to limit total global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, the number climate activists have identified as a dangerous tipping point.
The cost of this policy is estimated somewhere from $13 to $22.5 billion a year—and these estimates are almost surely on the low end based upon history.
So, is it really worth north of $200 billion to California taxpayers to lower the global temperature .008 degrees? An amount so small that it would be lost in the noise of thermometers that can typically only reliably measure temperatures to the nearest tenth of a degree?
The Syrian Drought
Dave made a big deal about climate change causing a drought in Syria that had contributed to the refugee crisis in that war-torn country. I think it’s probably safer to blame the majority of the refugee crisis on the war and chemical weapons attacks.
Two additional points:
- Pinning localized droughts—or any other natural occurrence like forest fires or flooding, etc.—on “climate change” or “global warming” is a standard tactic of doomsayers. It doesn’t mean there’s a causation or even a correlation.
- It didn’t take me but a minute to locate this Smithsonian Magazine article on the Syrian drought from 2013 that includes this: “Since 1975, Turkey’s dam and hydropower construction has cut water flow to Iraq by 80 percent and to Syria by 40 percent.”
An Inconvenient Al Gore
The Instapundit has been saying for a long time that he’ll start believing that global warming is a crisis when the people telling him it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.
Enter climate con man Al Gore whose latest movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel” opened up in theaters a couple weeks back. Al Gore doesn’t do what he preaches.
In just this past year, Gore burned through enough energy to power the typical American household for more than 21 years, according to a new report by the National Center for Public Policy Research. The former vice president consumed 230,889 kilowatt hours (kWh) at his Nashville residence, which includes his home, pool and driveway entry gate electricity meters. A typical family uses an average of 10,812 kWh of electricity per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
It gets worse.
Last September alone, Gore devoured 30,993 kWh of electricity. That’s enough to power 34 average American homes for a month. Over the last 12 months, Gore used more electricity just heating his outdoor swimming pool than six typical homes use in a year.
Dave commented that the movie mainly was clips of Al Gore here, there and everywhere talking with people about climate change via Skype.
No, I think I got that wrong. He didn’t telecommute to do all those interviews. He flew. On a fossil-fuel powered airplane.
The cap-and-trade law is a tax on electricity and gasoline, and it hits the poor and middle class the hardest. An estimate from the Legislative Analyist’s Office in Sacramento to state Rep. Vince Fong [PDF format] contains the following potential estimates of what cap-and-trade means at the gas pump on top of the recently passed gasoline tax.
By 2031, cap-and-trade will cost consumers between an extra $0.24 and $0.73 per gallon of gas. That’s not chump change.
Electricity prices likewise will rise depending on the cost of the carbon credits.
Cap-and-trade, like the $15 minimum wage, doesn’t make much economic or environmental sense, but it does go a long way to prove that you’re a right-thinking person. This is virtue-signalling to other members of your tribe, not good public policy.