S. Fred Singer
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics. An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute and the Independent Institute, and an elected fellow of several scientific and engineering organizations. He co-authored the New York Times best-seller Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 years. In 2007, he founded and has since chaired the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), which has released several scientific reports [See www.NIPCCreport.org]. For recent writings, see http://www.americanthinker.com/s_fred_singer/ and also Google Scholar. This article is republished from The American Thinker.
President Barack Obama has decided to make "combating climate change" one of the top priorities of his second term; his EPA has pursued policies that amount to a "war on coal" - or more specifically on emissions of carbon dioxide. On June 2, EPA announced a goal of a 30 percent reduction by 2030 - focusing mainly on coal-fired power plants that currently supply well over one-third of U.S. electricity.
The proposed EPA rules would cost approximately $51 billion a year and destroy 224,000 jobs each year through 2030. The poor and people on fixed incomes will be hurt the most. And all this pain will be for absolutely no gain: It will have no impact at all on the global climate, according to reports published by the libertarian Heartland Institute - based on peer-reviewed climate science.
Apparently, Mr. Obama has become convinced that CO2 is responsible for global warming - and that anthropogenic GW (AGW) is dangerous. Or perhaps, there are more sinister motives.
Never mind the lack of evidence about any significant human influence on climate or the fact that the atmosphere is a "global commons" - with the U.S. emitting only about one-tenth of all CO2, while China alone emits nearly one-half. According to official reports released on May 14, China now burns 49 percent of the world's supply of coal, the U.S. only 11 percent.
But since climate change is nearly all naturally caused, Obama should learn the lesson of King Canute, who supposedly commanded the tides to cease rising and falling.
Yet on May 4, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) issued its third National Climate Assessment (NCA), a collection of imagined future climate catastrophes and disasters for every section of the country. Its purpose is to convince the public that only quick action to cut emissions of carbon dioxide could avert these horrible events. The handsome report comes with beautiful pictures and graphs in color, a total of 841 pages. It was expensive too; representing four years of work by hundreds of people; but it sank quickly, like a lead balloon. Consequently, the media, with much help from the White House Office of Science and Technology, have done everything possible to keep the excitement going.
Yet daily we read of new discoveries, generally on the front page of the New York Times, which portend some awful calamity: killer heat waves, more droughts and floods, more hurricanes and tornadoes, looming losses of agriculture in poor countries, raising fears of famines and millions of environmental refugees, collapse of Antarctic ice sheets, and rise of sea levels flooding coastal cities, etc. - scenarios dreamt up in Hollywood.
The NCA report ambles on about rising rates of heat waves, droughts, floods, severe weather, hurricanes, etc. But there is no evidence whatsoever to support such claims; the official statistics show no such increase in the rates; there is no recent acceleration in the steady rise of sea level, which has been ongoing since the last ice age - a 400-foot rise in the past 18,000 years.
A group of retired military brass has rediscovered what they call "strategic climate change." It is an old fable that started out a few years ago, claiming global warming would enhance conflict over resources throughout the world and create even more environmental refugees.
The media also played up some fairly routine observations about the west Antarctic ice sheet in yet another attempt to convince the public that sea level rise is a much greater problem than rising temperatures - particularly since most citizens are aware by now that global temperatures have been flat for the past 15 years - in spite of a 10 percent rise in the level of CO2.
During the same 15-year period, the UN-created IPCC has issued three Assessment Reports (in 2001, 2007, and 2013). Hilariously, their politically oriented summaries claim increasing certainty (66 percent, 90 percent, and even greater than 95 percent, respectively) for AGW, based on supposed agreement between models and actual data!
As documented by the independent NIPCC (2013), the discrepancy between what climate models calculate and what the actual observations tell us is striking. Yet all speculation about future climate is based on these models, which obviously have never been validated.
But let me congratulate the USGCRP for not falling into the same trap as in their first report (2000), initiated by then-vice president Al Gore. In order to enhance the scariness of future impacts on different regions of the United States (they chose 18 regions), the report authors selected two climate models that had particularly high "climate sensitivity" and would give more temperature rise for the same increase of carbon-dioxide level.
Unfortunately for the (Gore) NCA, the two models gave opposite results for most of the 18 regions. For example, one model would predict that North Dakota would turn into a swamp, while the other predicted that it would turn into a desert. Altogether, about half the results were in opposite directions.
NIPCC can also be read as "Not-IPCC." And indeed, its conclusions disagree starkly with those of the IPCC. Both groups of climate scientists use the same procedure in summarizing the published literature - except that NIPCC includes papers which the IPCC ignores since they disagree with the pre-conceived AGW story; these papers also suggest possible natural causes for observed climate changes, such as solar variability and internal oscillations of the atmosphere-ocean system.
On reflection, this third NCA report is probably the worst of all. It represents a full press effort by the White House to scare the public into accepting higher prices for fossil fuels. It goes hand in hand with the effort of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) to assign a high "social cost" to carbon-based fuels in their so-called SCC (Social Cost of Carbon) calculations. Unfortunately for OMB, the social "cost" of carbon is almost certainly negative: that is, more CO2 is good for U.S. because it benefits agriculture. But the SCC calculations don't include the benefits of increased CO2. One can learn about these by reading Volume 2 of NIPCC's "Climate Change Reconsidered-II," published in April 2014.
The reaction to NCA was not slow in coming. The NCA is more alarming than even the latest IPCC report published in 2013. For example the sea level predictions are about double those of IPCC 2013. Further, the IPCC does not foresee a rise in severe weather, floods, or droughts, based on historical data that show no significant trend with rising temperature. Even the alarmist U.S. National Academy of Sciences has taken a cool stance towards the NCA.
A direct rebuttal of the NCA is provided by an independent group of 15 scientists. It has been picked up by several media outlets - but of course not by the New York Times or Washington Post. I quote from their rebuttal:
Unilateral CO2 emission control by the United States promises to damage the economy of the United States without any benefits. In fact, increasing CO2 in the atmosphere facilitates achieving the goal of raising the poor out of poverty through increasing food production.
What of the Future?
Sometime this summer, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will issue its decision in South-Eastern Legal Foundation vs. EPA, an important case having to do with whether the EPA's Endangerment Finding (EF) on CO2 should be upheld. Much is at stake here. SCOTUS can stop the EPA drive to remove plentiful, cheap coal, which the U.S. exports to other nations, and which until recently has provided over half of U.S. electricity. Coal will either remain a preferred fuel or will be replaced and raise the cost of electric generation.
If SCOTUS cannot stop the EPA, perhaps a change in the Senate in the November elections will do the trick. It will certainly put both House and Senate in support of low-cost energy and benefit economic growth and jobs. It would of course go counter to the campaign promise of Barack Obama that "electricity prices would skyrocket."
Higher Energy Cost Increases Poverty
Why would the White House want to make energy more costly for Americans? I don't really think that they believe in limiting CO2 emission as a way to stop the climate from warming - if indeed CO2 is as effective as the NCA thinks.
I quote here from a letter submitted to OMB [on SCC]:
Artificially raising the price of energy is the same thing as impoverishing the American People. It is shocking and disgusting that our government would intentionally pursue this goal, particularly without any scientific basis whatsoever.
The currently calculated SCC estimates [by OMB] are being used to justify proposed EPA regulations, and also as input regarding a proper carbon tax levels should a future Congress elect to move in this direction . . . and these SCC estimates are for the entire world not just for the U.S. It matters a great deal what other key countries are to do in these regards. . . . And, in short, the current SCC estimates are not only worthless, they are extremely dangerous . . . to U.S. energy, economic and national security related policy.
A Final Thought
Why would the White House want to make energy more expensive and depress the standard of living for most of the U.S. population? The problem becomes very acute for those in the lower income brackets where they have to decide between food and heat; whether to starve, or to freeze. Of course, they won't be permitted to starve or freeze; they will now receive energy vouchers in addition to food stamps. These subsidies will have to be paid for by taxes - mainly from middle-income earners; they are the ones who will lose out in this scenario.
But perhaps that's the ultimate purpose: To make a larger fraction of the population more dependent on government handouts - a Machiavellian scheme. So maybe that's why the NCA is as alarming as it is: to make people more amenable to accept higher energy costs and more dependent on government. *