The Week That Was (April 5, 2008) brought to you by SEPP

Fred Singer speaking on April 10 at 5.15 p.m. in Rm 332 of the George Mason Law School

(3301 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA; corner of Kirkwood and Fairfax Drive; Orange Line on Metro). 

Title of talk: “Global Warming:  Science, Economics, and some Legal Issues: What Al Gore Never Told You”                               No RSVP required. 


Quotes of the Week:

"There is one great difficulty with a good hypothesis. When it is completed and rounded, the corners smooth and the content cohesive and coherent, it is likely to become a thing in itself, a work of art. It is then like a finished sonnet or a painting completed. One hates to disturb it. Even if subsequent information should shoot a hole in it, one hates to tear it down because it was once beautiful and whole."
----- John Steinbeck, The Log From The Sea Of Cortez

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring about?” ---- Maurice F. Strong, one of the worlds leading environmentalists and senior advisor to various U.N. Secretaries-General

ABC FLAP:  now has over 200 comments.  Check them out and add your own at

See also WEBCommentary by Bob Webster, April 3, 2008


ABC Journalism: Fraudulent or Truthful?

ABC's Dan Harris smears respected physicist, Dr. Fred Singer as a "global warming denier"

The only useful measure of the value of journalism is the degree to which an article informs the public with objective truth. On that basis, the recent story by ABC (Global Warming Denier: Fraud or 'Realist'? Physicist Says Humans Will Benefit From Warmer Planet - Dan Harris) scores an abysmal zero.

GMU talk of April 10:  See ITEM #1 for Summary and Bio.

Activists trying to force EPA to list CO2 as a pollutant, without thinking through the grim economic consequences [ITEM #2].  This is serious business!  Read also the comments.

Hug a logger – and save the environment [ITEM #3]

Remember the Hydrogen Economy?  See how California leads the nation [ITEM#4]

The sad tale of biofuels [ITEM #5]

Kansas kills coal.  [ITEM #6].  A bad omen for the nation .

The real cost of CO2 control is much greater than predicted by Stern Report and others, says Oxford energy economist Dieter Helm  [ITEM #7]


FINAL NOTICE:  TWTW distribution list to be pruned  [ITEM #8]

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NEW BOOK: Nigel Lawson. An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming.  Duckworth Overlook, 149 + x pages, L 9.99.  Publication date 10 April (in London, & again NY in mid May).

[Lord Lawson is a former Chancellor of the Exchequer]

Watch this short movie and relive history: Global Cooling: The Coming Ice Age


Heartland Conference highlights at

Subscription to this newsletter is free and highly recommended

German journalist Ulli Kulke reports on the Heartland Conference:



Talk at George Mason Law School, April 10, 2008


Summary:  The science is settled:  Evidence clearly demonstrates that Carbon dioxide contributes insignificantly to Global Warming and is therefore not a 'pollutant.'  This fact has not yet been widely recognized, and irrational GW fears continue to distort energy policies and foreign policy. All efforts to curtail CO2 emissions, whether global, federal, or at the state level, are pointless -- and in any case, ineffective and very costly.  On the whole, a warmer climate is beneficial.  I will comment on Mass. vs EPA [Supreme Court 2007], the Ninth Circuit Court decision on NHTSA, EPA's position on the Calif waiver request, and the drive to declare polar bears an 'endangered species.'


Bio:  Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and former director of the US Weather Satellite Service.  His most recent  book “Unstoppable Global Warming – Every 1500 Years” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007) presents the evidence for natural climate cycles of warming and cooling.  He is the organizer of NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) and editor of the NIPCC Report "Nature, Not Human Activity, Controls the Climate"  [2008], which responds to the claims of the  UN-IPCC.  As a reviewer of IPCC, he shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.



By FELICITY BARRINGER, The New York Times April 3, 2008


In a new push to get the federal government to act on global warming, a coalition of states, cities and environmental groups took its fight to federal court on Wednesday.  The coalition, led by Massachusetts, is seeking to force the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of heat-trapping gases from new cars and trucks or show that such regulation is unnecessary.


The states and the federal government have long been at odds over regulation.  In 2003, the environmental agency refused to set emission levels for heat-trapping gases because of what it called “substantial scientific uncertainty” about their effects and the best way to deal with them.


In a petition filed Wednesday in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the coalition asks the court to order the agency to publish within 60 days its analysis that found that such emissions endanger humans as well as contribute to climate change.  Publication would lay the foundation for the agency to establish rules to control emissions from tailpipes, as the states have long sought.


When the volatile issue of regulation came before the Supreme Court a year ago, the court sided with the states, ruling 5 to 4 that the Clean Air Act gave the environmental agency the power to regulate emissions from new cars and trucks and that the agency had failed to follow the act’s requirements when it opted not to.


“One year ago today, the court rejected E.P.A.’s claim that it lacks authority under existing law to regulate greenhouse gases,” James Milkey, the chief of the environmental protection division at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. “It has the duty to regulate, not just the authority.”


After the court’s ruling, the E.P.A. administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, said repeatedly that his agency would take the first step toward controlling emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide before the end of 2007.  But in December, after President Bush signed a new law toughening vehicle mileage standards, Mr. Johnson abandoned this timetable.  In a separate action, the agency refused to grant California and other states the waiver necessary to let them control tailpipe emissions on their own.


Last week, Mr. Johnson informed Congress that the environmental agency planned to ask for broad public comment on implications of regulating all emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, not only those from vehicles.  Cars and trucks are responsible for about 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.  “Rather than rushing to judgment on a single issue, this approach allows us to examine all the potential effects of a decision with the benefit of the public insight,” Mr. Johnson wrote.


But, the coalition argues, that could take years. “E.P.A. has squandered almost a decade and now wants to go back, not to Square 1 but rather to Square 0,” Mr. Milkey, who argued the plaintiffs’ case before the Supreme Court, said Wednesday.


An agency spokesman, Jonathan Shradar, said in an e-mail message on Wednesday that officials would “review this new petition” while continuing to gather public comment.  Mr. Shradar called this “a reasonable path forward.”


The coalition’s petition argues that the agency’s initial analysis of the dangers of the gas emissions to human health was submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget in early December, where it remains.  Releasing the analysis “will not halt any E.P.A. plans” to solicit public comment, said David Bookbinder, the lawyer representing the Sierra Club and four other environmental groups, and the appellate court should force the agency to do so.


In related actions Wednesday, Senators Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, introduced a bill that would require the E.P.A. to publish its findings on the public health threat from heat-trapping gases within 60 days and to reconsider its denial of a waiver to allow California to regulate tailpipe emissions.


And a bipartisan majority of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, whose chairman is Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, voted to subpoena the agency’s documents related to its regulation of tailpipe emissions of heat-trapping gases.




A WashPost editorial condemns EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson’s decision to seek public comment rather than propose first-ever carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for new motor vehicles without ever without ever mentioning, much less examining, Johnson’s reasons.

The Post misses the big story: the administrations 11th-hour discovery of the broader regulatory cascade that CO2 emission standards for motor vehicles would trigger.  For openers, potentially hundreds of thousands of previously unregulated businesses, farms, and buildings would have to undergo costly, time-consuming, and environmentally pointless permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program.

In addition, the endangerment finding prerequisite to promulgating CO2 tailpipe standards could set the stage for litigation to establish national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for CO2 -- standards that even outright de-industrialization might not be enough to attain.

No wonder Johnson called a review process to figure out how to apply the Clean Air Act to global warming--something the Act was never designed to do --without creating a regulatory morass.

The fact that the Sierra Club --one of the groups suing EPA today --now says it will support legislation to amend not only PSD but also the NAAQS program, the very cornerstone of the Clean Air Act, is unwitting testimony that Johnson’s decision was based on real and serious concerns.




The EPA findings submitted to OMB last December simply echo the IPCC’s claim that CO2 will cause substantial warming (which – even if true -- should not present a hazard to human health or welfare).  But the NIPCC report “Nature – not Human Activity – Rules the Climate” shows the IPCC claim to have no merit.  Hence controlling CO2 emissions –even if achieved globally – would have insignificant influence on climate.






In the green scheme of things, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD), trees are a good thing and deforestation is bad.  We must plant as many trees as we can to suck up all that CO2, the pollutant that sustains all plant and therefore all animal life on earth.  Old-growth forests must be protected from those nasty loggers.


Trouble is, according to Thomas Bonnicksen, professor emeritus of forest science at Texas A&M University, forests left in "pristine" condition have too many trees and too many dead ones, both of which provide fuel for the devastating forest fires that ravaged California last year.




o   A recent study by Bonnicksen shows that four large California wildfires produced 38 million tons of greenhouse gases through fire and subsequent decay of dead trees


o   10 million tons came from the fires themselves, and 28 million tons came from the post-fire decay.


o   This is equivalent to the emissions from 7 million cars for an entire year.


The four fires studied involved forests averaging 350 trees per acre where 50 an acre is considered normal.  Some California forests have more than 1,000 trees per acre, with young trees growing under big trees, serving as ladder fuel and dead trees and woody debris on the ground.


Bonnicksen advocates thinning the forests so they're less like time bombs waiting to explode.  Harvested trees can be turned into long-lasting wood products that store carbon, he notes, adding that it's important to remove trees destroyed by fires and insects so that they don't decay and send more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.


Reducing the number and severity of wildfires may be the single most important short-term action we can take to lower greenhouse gas emissions and really fight global warming, says Bonnicksen.


Source: Editorial, "Save The Earth -- Hug A Logger," Investor's Business Daily, March 31, 2008.

For Bonnicksen study:                       Hat tip to NCPA




Despite California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's executive order four years ago that "hundreds of hydrogen fueling stations" be built in the state, nary a one has been constructed.  Depending on whom you ask, the blame for the sputtering "hydrogen highway" lies with: energy companies and utilities, for not stepping forward to take state matching money to build stations; automakers, for not making enough hydrogen fuel-cell cars; Democratic lawmakers, for mandating that the hydrogen be produced in a way that reduces greenhouse gases overall; Schwarzenegger, for under-researching and over-promising; and/or plain old bureaucracy. 

     Mary Nichols, chair of the state Air Resources Board, is still optimistic that 50 to 100 stations will be built by 2015.  If so, that will be handy for the drivers of the 175 hydrogen vehicles now on California's roads.  Most experts expect that general retail of the vehicles is at least a decade out.


source: The Mercury News



The rush towards biofuels is threatening world food production and the lives of billions of people, the [UK] Government's Chief Scientific Adviser said yesterday.  Professor John Beddington put himself at odds with ministers who have committed Britain to large increases in the use of biofuels over the coming decades.  In his first important public speech since he was appointed, he described the potential impacts of food shortages as the "elephant in the room" and a problem which rivaled that of climate change.
     --The Times, 7 March 2008

In the pantheon of well-intentioned governmental policies gone awry, massive ethanol biofuel production may go down as one of the biggest blunders in history.  An unholy alliance of environmentalists, agribusiness, biofuel corporations and politicians has been touting ethanol as the cure to all our environmental ills, when in fact it may be doing more harm than good.  An array of unintended consequences is wreaking havoc on the economy, food production and, perhaps most ironically, the environment.

While the search for alternatives to fossil fuels, and in particular the dependence upon foreign sources thereof, is laudable, future avenues must be considered more carefully. As the looming ethanol disaster has demonstrated, yet again, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
     --Cinnamon Stillwell, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 April 2008  Hat tip CCNet



WSJ, REVIEW & OUTLOOK. April 4, 2008

Most sources of energy are beyond the pale in the Democratic Party, but nothing carries quite the moral stigma of coal. The latest excommunication is under way in Kansas, of all places, and it may be a forerunner of national political trends.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius calls it "a moral obligation," as though she were opposing crimes against humanity. This is a reference to coal companies guilty of nothing more than attempting to provide power to consumers. But their misfortunes include emitting carbon dioxide into the current political atmosphere, and also the presence of Ms. Sebelius, who recently invented another way of enacting her preferred global-warming policies without legislation.

No one disputes that Kansas needs more baseload energy capacity to meet growing demand, especially at peak times and in the more rural west. In 2006, Sunflower Electric proposed to add two new generators to one of its existing coal facilities. The plans met or exceeded every federal and state air-quality and environmental regulation, and included the latest pollution control technologies.

But in October, one of Ms. Sebelius's cabinet secretaries, Roderick Bremby, denied Sunflower its permits. Using "emergency" discretion, he creatively ruled the expansion an imminent danger to the public – because the estimated 11 million tons of greenhouse gases it would emit each year might contribute to climate change. It was the first time ever that such reasoning formed the sole basis for blocking a power project; and, in the absence of any state laws relating to carbon control, it amounted to a public policy putsch.

Ms. Sebelius joined the green regulatory lobby that wants to unilaterally classify CO2 as an "air pollutant," though it has none of the qualities that have always defined the term under federal or state law. Her effort is also an opening charge for a national moratorium on new coal plants, which is backed by the likes of Democrats Harry Reid, Ed Markey and, needless to say, Al Gore.

By wide bipartisan margins, the Kansas legislature passed a bill resurrecting the project and closing the "discretion" loophole, telling Ms. Sebelius to obey the rules on the books. She vetoed that measure late last month, which the legislature will try to override today, and the votes may come up a few short.

The losers here are ordinary Kansans, who won't benefit from a reliable source of low-cost power and will pay higher electricity rates. The state is running up against the limits of its ability to provide electricity for its growing population and economy. The current generating fleet has an average age nearing 40 years and hence is less efficient (not to mention more polluting).

Ms. Sebelius suggests commercial wind power as an alternative. The numbers suffice as rebuttal: Some three-quarters of Kansas electricity comes from coal-fired utilities. Currently all "renewables," including wind, account for 2%, at best.

Ms. Sebelius is a Democratic wunderkind and her name is circulating for a cabinet post in an Obama Administration, maybe even Vice President. She's representative of the party's "no, nothing" wing, which knows only what energy it wants to ban or limit, not what it is going to offer in place. Coal provides more than half of U.S. electricity because it is cheap and abundant – and viable. Wind turbines and the rest of the boutique alternatives are none of those, a reality that Democrats are going to have to square when they actually bother to pass a climate-change bill.



By DIETER HELM,    OPINION, WSJ Europe, March 13, 2008

EU leaders will gather today and tomorrow in Brussels to sign off on the European Commission's proposals to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 -- with the added bait of a 30% reduction if the U.S. and other countries make meaningful commitments.  For the U.S., it appears that the question is no longer about whether it will adopt targets, but rather about how and what.

To some this all looks like good progress.  Yet it is based upon the very shaky arithmetic of the Kyoto Protocol and its legacy.  The Kyoto framework looks at the emissions that countries produce within their borders, and this is seductively flattering.  Both the U.S. and Europe have seen their CO2 output growth slowing even as economic growth has marched on.  It might appear that economic growth and emissions have been decoupled. [Sins of Emission] Barbara Kelley

The 2006 Stern report seemed to confirm this rosy scenario, suggesting that additional emissions cuts could be achieved at the comparatively trivial cost of around 1% of gross domestic product.

But this is just smoke and mirrors.  The projected growth of global emissions clearly tracks the growth of energy demand.  The world's CO2 output is likely to increase by some 50% by 2030, paralleling the growth of energy demand and economic growth.  There is no global decoupling.

But, say the U.S. and the Europeans, this is because of China and India and their failure to match our emissions reductions.  The U.S. in particular insists that any post-Kyoto agreement must, at a minimum, involve emissions caps on China as well.  And in one sense the Americans are right: There will be no solution to global warming if China builds 1,000 new coal power stations in the next couple of decades.

This is, however, only half right.  The critical question is: Who "owns" the emissions? China is an energy-intensive, export-oriented country.  It makes many of the highly polluting industrial products that used to be made in the U.S. and Europe.  We exported our smokestack industries to developing countries like China and import their products.

If this carbon outsourcing is factored back in, the U.K.'s impressive emissions cuts over the past two decades don't look so impressive anymore.  Rather than falling by over 15% since 1990, they actually rose by around 19%.  And even this is flattering, since the U.K. closed most of its coal industry in the 1990s for reasons unrelated to climate change.  No doubt, recalculating the figures for other European countries and the U.S. would reveal a similar pattern.

After all, the U.S. and the EU together account for nearly half of world GDP.  And it is consumption, not production, which matters.  This means that if global warming is to be limited, the U.S. and Europe will have to take much more drastic action to reduce those emissions embedded in their own consumption.  Their appropriate emissions-reduction targets will have to be based on the consumption of goods that cause those emissions in the first place.

This not only means that the true scale of required emissions reductions in the Western world will be much higher but that the impact on economic growth and living standards there will also be more severe than so far believed.

Politicians like to cite the 1% of GDP quoted in the Stern report, as this sounds like a manageable figure.  But they delude themselves and the voters by not looking at the small print.  The report says it would cost 1% of GDP only if there is an optimal use of new technology.  The report also assumes that there will be no policy costs, meaning the implementation of new technology will effectively be cost-free.

A moment's reflection tells us otherwise.  There is no evidence that policy designed to reduce emissions is going to be optimal or efficient.  In the U.K., for example, official figures indicate renewables have turned out to be staggeringly expensive.  Some wind-generated energy, for example, has cost between £280 and £510 [$1020] per ton of carbon abated. This compares with the £10-£20 per ton price of carbon on the European emissions trading market.

But even these astonishing costs pale into insignificance against biofuels.  The inefficient and costly production of ethanol in the U.S., which may not even be carbon-neutral, is perhaps only topped by such examples as Indonesia, where virgin rainforest is being cut down to grow palm oil.  There is no reason at all to believe that these enormous policy costs are about to be rectified.  On the contrary: The recent EU commitments to biofuels and renewables are very likely to compound the damage.

The U.S. and Europe refuse to acknowledge that halting the relentless rise in the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will take a significant slice out of economic growth.  It will probably mean living standards will have to be cut if our consumption is going to be environmentally sustainable.  We are simply living beyond our -- and the planet's -- means.

This is not a welcome message for politicians to give to their voters.  But it happens to be what is required to tackle this global crisis.  Not since the late 1930s, in the run-up to World War II, has such a massive restructuring of major economies been required.  Nobody told the British or American people then that the challenge of creating a wartime economy was going to be cheap.  They should stop pretending that the enormous challenge of decarbonizing the major economies can be done on the cheap, either.


Mr. Helm is a professor of energy policy at Oxford.




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