Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Climategate Update 15: Copenhagen, EPA Makes Final Finding On CO2, Courts & Clean Air,

Yesterday, on Dec. 7 ("a day that will live in infamy" indeed) the IPCC started its Copenhagen Conference with the goal of binding the Western world in an economic suicide pact (and, though I am not in any way a conspiracy theorist - I would have to say a move towards global governance based on evidence such as seen here). Meanwhile, perhaps explaining why Obama chose to attend Copenhagen at the end of the conference when all agreements will be announced, Team Obama doubled down. Dismissing Climategate with a wave of her chubby hand, Obama's EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson issued a final ruling that carbon dioxide is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

What that means is that there is now no limit to our government's power to legislate and regulate on every aspect of our economy and every aspect of our individual lives. This is a power grab that our communists of yore could only imagine in their most blissful of dreams. (Update: See this fascinating article by Bret Stephens in the WSJ teasing out many of the similarities between AGW enthusiasts and the totalitarian and communist movements that were once thought to have been left in the dust bin of history.)

Before moving on to discuss the latest in Climategate, it is worth a moment to reflect on the role of our courts in all of this.

Virtually all of our environmental legislation was crafted to give standing - i.e., the right to sue - to aggrieved individuals. What may have seemed a good idea at the time has turned into a national nightmare, with far left wing organizations trolling for proxy plaintiffs then cherry-picking left wing judges in a plethora of law suits. Those law suits have probably cost this country trillions of dollars when you consider not merely the burdens each new decision proactively puts upon all and sundry, but also the lost opportunity costs from all of the things that do not get built, all of the resources that do not get exploited, etc. It is a travesty. It reached its zenith with the Supreme Court decision in the 2007 case of Massachusetts v. EPA. In that case, five unelected left wing judges, none of whom are scientists, substituted their judgment for that of the EPA and our legislature. Those five judges determined that greenhouse gases are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act and that the EPA lacked discretion in how to proceed. This was a supreme act of judicial activism every bit as radical - and likely to be every bit as damaging to our nation - as Plessy v. Ferguson was, as Roe v. Wade has been, and as the Boumediene decision portends to be.

If America is not to be litigated into full blown socialism, a new legislative motif needs to be created that allows cases of individuals actually damaged by an unlawful act under the environmental laws to go forward in order that they may be made whole while keeping questions of environmental policy and the discretion to make environmental policy judgments solely in the hands of our elected representatives. We must strike the balance of fairness to individuals while taking the keys to the courthouse out of the hands of the radical left and decision making authority far from the hands of activist judges. If our regulatory agencies are to be held accountable for acting or not acting, it must be through our legislature and executive branches over whom we exercise control by the ballot - and most decidedly not by ideologically motivated judges who are not accountable at the ballot box and who rarely, if ever, have a strong scientific background. < /RANT end >

Now back to your regularly scheduled Climategate update.

This from the EPA announcing the decision yesterday to make final the finding of carbon dioxide as a pollutant:


On December 7, 2009, the Administrator signed two distinct findings regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:

Endangerment Finding: The Administrator finds that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases--carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)--in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

Cause or Contribute Finding: The Administrator finds that the combined emissions of these well-mixed greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare.

These findings do not themselves impose any requirements on industry or other entities. . . .

That is correct, these findings will not alone force EPA to act. But with the issuance of these findings, the EPA now has complete discretion to begin regulating to their hearts content. And if cap and trade is not passed by Congress, there will be another plethora of law suits seeking to make the EPA take action - if any such impetus is needed for the Obama administration. This is a back door completely around the legislature and our democratic process.

The most immediate ramification of the EPA Administrator's decision to issue the final ruling is on the outlook for jobs. Let's see how well the employment situation improves with this Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of every employer in America. Further, once this regulation starts, watch for our energy infrastructure and industry to shrink, the cost of energy to go steeply upwards, and the cost of everything that uses energy (basically every good and service you will ever purchase) to rise concomitantly. This really should be renamed the Smoot-Hawley Carbon Tariff, as I strongly suspect it will have negative consequences for our economy equal to that of Smoot Hawley when that piece of economic brilliance passed into law in 1930.

In making the decision to issue her finding yesterday, EPA Administrator did so over the objections of several Republicans who asked her to refrain from final action until the issues raised by Climategate were investigated. Although Jackson relied heavily on IPCC 'peer reviewed' science to determine that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant - she dismissed the lawmaker's concerns out of hand:

There is nothing in the hacked emails that undermines the science upon which this decision is based,” Jackson said in announcing the finding this afternoon. She said the controversial messages dealt with only a tiny fraction of the strong evidence of global warming.

As an aside, I wonder how much of the timing of this decision was driven by the unfolding scandal of Climategate itself? The timing of this decision, though obviously connected to the opening of the Copenhagen IPCC meeting, could possibly be a way of getting out in front of Climategate before it has any further chance to fester and truly drive up the heat on the Obama administration. That would explain why Obama suddenly changed travel plans but a few days ago. That said, if indeed this is a counter-Climategate strategy, it is an incredibly risky one.

Obama and his team are courting disaster with this in many different ways. To pretend Climategate is insignificant is pure prevarication. Obama should realize, Americans who feel they've been conned usually display more then a bit of angst at the con man. Moreover, I can think of no bigger scandal at any time in history that so challenges the credibility of an entire class of science. The base climate data has disappeared, "peer reviewed" studies did not include a review of raw data and software programs and thus were as meaningless as a "hope and change" mantra (see this brilliant essay by Mark Steyn on "peer review"). Scientists that challenged any of this were silenced, their work going unpublished. On top of that, you have the deliberate manipulation of data to reach a predetermined conclusion. And this does not even touch on well grounded questions as to whether ongoing climate observations are even themselves corrupt. Add it all up and what you have is anything but credible science. As Robert Avrech so wryly noted, would you gamble your life by choosing to fly on "a plane designed by the University of East Anglia climate change frauds?"

On a different note, Andrew Revkin, writing at the NYT, acknowledges the reverberations of Climategate. That said, he grossly understates what is at stake if AGW is not reality, yet we still enact the AGW agenda. This from the NYT:

Politics, ideology and economic interests interlace the debate, and the stakes on both sides are high. If scientific predictions about global warming’s effects are correct, inaction will lead at best to rising social, economic and environmental disruption, at worst to a calamity far more severe. If the forecasts are wrong, nations could divert hundreds of billions of dollars to curb greenhouse gas emissions at a time when they are struggling to recover from a global recession.

That description of what may happen if the AGW crowd are allowed to bums rush through their agenda is a gross understatement. Just a few thoughts for Mr. Revkin:

- To allow the world's left to push through their agenda means an accretion of power in our federal government that would take us from a government with a few enumerated powers to a form of government with powers so expansive as to be an imperial in form. Indeed, it would be a form of government not acknowledged as legitimate in this country since July 4, 1776.

- To allow the world's left to push through their agenda would mean not just a "diversion of hundreds of billions of dollars," it would mean a massive change in the quality of life for each and every American (at least those not so fortunate as to be part of the left's rent-seeking AGW cabal). It would mean what amounts to a massive tax on each and every American family, not just to fund environmental insanity in the U.S., but also to transfer massive amounts of our tax dollars to third world countries.

- To allow the world's left to push through their agenda will mean the death of our energy infrastructure as the left's war on exploitation of our own resources grows, aging structures go unrepaired, and those that fall out of use are replaced by unproven "green energy." All forms of green energy, with the exception of nuclear, are so fraught with what are, at present, insurmountable problems that they are cost ineffective and not proven at scale. They cannot compete in the energy market today without sizable subsidies - something which is itself a form of taxation.

- To allow the world's left to push through their agenda means that those in the UN and elsewhere who want to see "global governance" just came a step closer. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but last week, a Fox story using two UNEP source documents, by their own words, discussed precisely that - in addition to using propaganda at schools to promote AGW to the level of a religion.

In sum, there is much more at stake than merely the "diversion" of several hundred billion dollars. Mr. Revkin's description of the downside if the AGW crowd are allowed to bums rush through their agenda is akin to saying, on the eve of its landfall, that Hurricane Katrina had some potential to cause damage.

The public seems to be getting the word, even if the AGW crowd is in full damage control mode. Rasmussens latest poll shows an America that believes that talk of a "scientific consensus" is false and that the veracity of climate scientists and the UN's IPCC is questionable. A just released CNN poll shows that belief in man-made global warming has dropped from 54% in the summer to 45% now. The business world is going nuts over the EPA's decision to issue a final ruling on carbon dioxide. And on top of all of this, you have legislation to address global warming that is never going to make it out of the Senate. Indeed, so toxic is this whole issue that you have Democratic Senator Jim Webb writing an open letter to Obama warning him not to commit the U.S. to any binding agreements in Copenhagen. In addition, you have another letter from nine Democratic Senators telling Obama that their support for cap and trade is contingent on all other nations agreeing to similar legislation.

What Obama cannot get by democratic means, he is now seeking to get by an end run with the EPA. Jamming this down the throats of all Americans by non-democratic means, particularly in light of Climategate, seems more than brazen. We elected a President, not a King. I think that Charles Krauthammer hits the nail on the head when he uses the "R" word to warn of the dire consequences of such an action:

"Revolution" is a serious word. Krauthammer is a serious person. It should give one pause, though it seems to be having the opposite effect on the Obama administration. They are at a full gallop down the road paved with the best of intentions.

There is an excellent article in the WSJ, The Copenhagen Concoction, that does about the best job I have seen thus far in putting Climategate in context.

Dr. Richard North at EU Referendum, discusses the claim made by apologists for the CRU that their temperature records, even if the raw data was tossed, still comport with the records from other major agencies:

. . . If you have three or four major centres in the world doing climate analysis, why would they each set up and safeguard data from their own stations? Would a UK or US centre, for example, be allowed to set up its own weather station in Tibet? Would three agencies go through the financial and logistical pain of setting up their own instruments in Antarctica, say, when one could do it and share the data?

So all these "independent" organisations share the same data. And how does that make their results independent? And if they all apply the same "fudge factors", wouldn't their results all look very much the same? And unless we knew which raw data they used, what adjustments they made to those data, and what corrections they had applied during the processing of those data, how do we know what they are actually recording?

That is what Climategate was really all about – and none of the questions asked have been answered. . . .

I think Dr. North sums it up nicely indeed. On a different note, at the Daily Beast they have the Devil's Dictionary for Copenhagen:

D is for deniers. A mere notch above Holocaust deniers, these are the people who refuse to accept that climate change is largely man-induced. Heretics, they'd be burned at the stake if that were not such a bad thing for the ozone layer.

Heh. It is clever and worth the read.

Lastly, the editor's of the Guardian crafted a piece of AGW propoganda for reprint on the eve of Copenhagen. Fifty-nine newspapers across the globe printed it. Do read this post at Plumb Bob Blog commenting on the falsehoods and half truths littering the document. It is about as concise an overview of the status of AGW as you will find on the net. As the blog's author notes near his conclusion:

The left loves to yammer on about the scaremongering of Dick Cheney — a local candidate here in Massachusetts ran ads specifically naming this as his reason for running, despite the fact that Dick Cheney no longer holds office — but they never mention the real scaremongering, the hysteria of global warming alarmism.

I think what the left is doing is called projection - it is central to all the left does.
Prior Posts:

Climategate and Surrealism
More Climategate Fallout
Climategate Update 3
Climategate Update 4: CRU Records Worthless
Climategate Update 5: IPCC's Chairman Mao
Climategate Update 6: Climategate In Video
UNEP, Green Religion & Global Governance
Climate Update 7: IPCC's Chairman Mao Plays The Obama Card, Peer Review Analyzed, Scientific Method Explained For Paul Krugman
Climategate Update 8: The NYT Reports
Climategate Update 9: CRU Head Phil Jones Steps Down During Investigation, An MIT Prof Explains The Holes In AGW Theory, And Climate Fraud Is Everywhere
Climategate Update 10: Climategate Reverberates From The UK To Down Under
Climategate Update 11: Finally An AGW Consensus, "Hockey Stick" Mann Attacks Jones, Gore Goes To Ground
Climategate Update 12: The AGW Wall Starts To Crumble, The Smoking Code & The Tiger Woods Index
Clmategate Update 13: Hack Job Alert - Washington Post Leads With Climategate and A Complete Defense Of Global Warming
Climate Update 14: A Tale of 4 Graphs & An Influential Tree, Hide The Decline Explained, Corrupt Measurements, Goebbelswarming at Copenhagen


Ex-Dissident said...

GW, This is seriously scary stuff. BTW, did you notice the announcement over this weekend, that more jobs were lost yet somehow the unemployment rate went down. They just pull these numbers out of some ass.

OBloodyHell said...

> I think what the left is doing is called projection - it is central to all the left does.

Dr. Sanity has noted this on many occasions in the past. And, as a licensed M.D. Psychiatrist, she has professional standing to make that indication.

OBloodyHell said...

> They just pull these numbers out of some ass.

Not necessarily. More than likely it's a careful tap dance around the actual facts to make a statement with some nominal truth value but utterly misleading in actuality.

The short form: A "truth" by statistical trickery.

OBloodyHell said...

"Obama administration is expected as early as Monday to formally declare carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant."

Does this mean we can now legally require all members of the Obama admin to stop breathing?

Ex-Dissident said...

OBloodyHell, that was a pun: Some ass = Democrat, Donkey,... I meant that these numbers are political while at the same time saying that their scientific value is nil. I guess that I wasn't as clever as I imagined.

Dinah Lord said...

Figures never lie, liars figure!

(OK, GW - I cracked up at this one: "With a wave of her chubby hand...)