Congress Moves to Handcuff the EPA

August 3rd, 2010 at 10:48 pm | 40 Comments |

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There is a big push by oil and coal state lawmakers, with most Republicans happily on the bandwagon, to strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Leading the charge is Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who is the author of a resolution that would block EPA action by “disapproving” its finding that GHG emissions endanger public health and welfare.

The resolution was defeated earlier this summer, but Murkowski is undeterred and has pledged to try again.

Senator Murkowski, with her state already enduring serious impacts from climate change, has expressed concern about the problem and, at times, seemed open to placing limits on the GHG emissions that scientists agree are causing it.

However, given the zeal with which she is currently trying to block any limits on these emissions, it appears that any concern she may have about the health of our atmosphere is trumped by her desire to preserve the oil industry’s ability to pollute.

Murkowski, along with many other Senators who support these limits, has framed this attack on EPA and its Clean Air Act authority as an effort to place responsibility for addressing GHG emissions in the hands of Congress “where it belongs.”

It is true that Congress could adopt market-friendly legislation that discourages GHG pollution by placing a price on it—similar to the approach conceived by the Reagan Administration that successfully reduced other pollutants such as lead in gasoline and sulfur-dioxide from power plants.

In the context of such legislation, it would certainly be fair to assess EPA’s responsibility and ensure against over-lapping regulations that interfere with the way the price signal is supposed to function.

Murkowski’s framing insinuates that her resolution is paving the way for Congress to take action.

Unfortunately, that is not what is going on here.

Murkowski has not been pushing at all for legislation to price carbon, and efforts by sponsors of such legislation to gain her support have been unsuccessful.

Instead she is putting all of her energy and passion into preempting EPA. “You attack it at all fronts,” Murkowski recently told Politico. “You go the judicial route. You go the legislative route.”

Furthermore, the prospects for climate legislation passing Congress this year have been sunk by a combination of inept Democrat leadership and Republicans who reflexively oppose any legislation to price GHG pollution. The outlook for next year is uncertain at best.

The refrain “Congress needs a chance to act” is becoming more laughable each year. Since 1993 the Senate has considered numerous climate bills, many of them bi-partisan, but each time partisan politics and special interest influence have prevented the “world’s greatest deliberative body” from even having a constructive debate.

If it was not clear before, it should be now. Murkowski’s resolution has nothing to do with Congress passing climate legislation. It is an effort solely designed to ensure that the fossil fuel industries can continue pumping GHG pollution into the atmosphere without restraint.

It is time for any member of Congress who still supports Senator Murkowski’s endeavor—or similar efforts—to drop all pretenses and tell the voters why they support the unfettered polluting of our life-sustaining atmosphere.

Recent Posts by David Jenkins



40 Comments so far ↓

  • eapr9

    Good for Senator Murkowski (R-AK)!. The epa needs to be defanged. It is out of control. CO2 is plant food not a pollutant.

  • CO Independent

    Is this DailyKos? Sorry, I thought I was at a conservative website.

    Man, representative government sucks. These morons in Congress should get out of the way and let the unelected bureaucrats in the administrative state govern. Government by the people, of the people and for the people my azz.

  • balconesfault

    CO2 is plant food not a pollutant.

    Nitrates too! And sulphur! And that ozone stuff is just super-rich oxygen, right? And particulate matter … really? There’s actually a limit on particulate matter? Everytime wind sweeps across a field you get plenty of particulate matter!

    Why should the EPA be regulating emissions of any of these things!

  • balconesfault

    These morons in Congress should get out of the way and let the unelected bureaucrats in the administrative state govern.

    The morons in Congress have a responsibility – they’ve passed this legislation called the Clean Air Act which empowers the EPA to regulate pollutants which they conclude are harmful to human health and the environment.

    If the principle is now that Congressmen are more qualified to make the determination of what is harmful to human health and the environment, and not “unelected bureaucrats” (aka scientists and engineers in the EPA), then the CAA should be modified to reflect this new paradigm.

  • msmilack

    Is there any portion of public life that the GOP has not turned its back on? Nothing matters, not even the environment which effects all of us. I don’t know how they live with themselves these days.

  • Rabiner

    CO Independent:

    I’m curious do you deny the science of climate change? Or that GHG is a pollutant that should be regulated? That pricing GHG is reasonable since it is a negative externality produced by industry?

    While I agree governing through bureaucratic agencies isn’t ideal, considering that Congress is unwilling to take serious the threat of GHG on our environment who else is going do it?

  • vidoqo

    Because limiting the externalities of climate emissions is inconvenient, therefor it must not be true. Just like all the crack I smoke is actually good for me, and stealing from my neighbors isn’t really stealing because their stuff is now just mine.

    Re-defining reality is fun!

  • eapr9

    Wow you want unelected regulators to run your country. Excellent plan for losing your freedom, but then again most of you vote democrat.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy/energy_update

  • TerryF98

    “Is this DailyKos? Sorry, I thought I was at a conservative website.”

    Yep a well thought out factual article that lays things out for the reader and invites nuanced comments. That event is a rarity on Conservative websites I must admit.

  • alinak

    Really I’m curious do you deny the science of climate change. Now i feel that
    Government by the people, Government of the people & Government for the people.
    http://www.ecancerchemotherapy.com

  • Watusie

    Obama has already said he will veto Murkowski’s bill if it should ever get to his desk. A rather important fact, I cannot fathom why the OP would not have mentioned it.

  • Stewardship

    Sorry for playing the same tune over and over again, but http://www.climateconservative.org has all of the factual background on why conservatives should be leading on energy and climate change legislation. Reagan is probably spinning in his grave with the way libertarians have redefined the conservative cause.

  • balconesfault

    I sometimes have the feeling that the GOP is split into 3 camps, and this issue plays to all of them.

    There is the hardcore libertarian camp … whose opinion on this is basically any movement towards top-down climate change legislation is simply a new door for statism. And even those who believe climate change may be occurring consider whatever happens on that front to be less threatening than government expanding their powers. Let’s face it – if your core belief is that kids whose parents can’t support them shouldn’t have access to AFDC or CHIPS, and the elderly who did a lousy job of saving money for retirement really shouldn’t be taking their money via Social Security and Medicare – some people who are too incompetent to move to places where climate change won’t have adverse effects and species that can’t survive rapid ecosystem change aren’t really much of a reason to deviating from their principles.

    There is the hardcore corporate profiteering camp … fighting climate change would negatively impact the profits of some major established businesses, mainly coal and oil … and climate change could actually create massive new revenue streams for corporations in the future. Think of oil leases in areas currently covered by Arctic icecap … huge infrastructure projects to keep protecting coastal cities as the waters rise … major water transmission projects (and potential for the ultimate prize, water arbitrage and control by the private sector) as climate change causes droughts to parts of the nation.

    Then there’s the dispensationalist crowd. A lot of them are flat out convinced that they’re living in the end-times already, so climate change might just be another fun thing that God has planned for all the sinners who will be left behind after rapture vaccums the saved up to heaven. Why inconvenience themselves to try to stop it when it’s part of Divine design?

  • Watusie

    I know many, many church-going conservatives who think the climate change can’t happen no matter what because God won’t let it. What do you do with people like that?

  • djenkins

    balconesfault, there are also traditionalist conservatives who value conservation and stewardship and Republicans that are more centrist for other reasons. Every national poll I have seen of rank and file Republicans’ views about climate change indicate that roughly 50 percent support a cap on carbon emissions and over 80 percent agree that environmental stewardship is a conservative value. The problem is that the most vocal and most prominent elements of our party come from the radical minority that are sucked in by folks like Beck and Limbaugh.

    Watusie, tell them that God designed the earth and all of its processes…one of which is the carbon cycle that keeps out atmospheric chemistry in balance. It takes excess carbon out of the atmosphere and stores in underground in the form of coal and oil. When we did up those fossil fuels, burn them, and shoot eons of carbon back into the atmosphere, we are impruidently and arrogantly monkeying with God’s design.

  • A clear and accurate Republican voice | CLF Scoop

    [...] gases damaging our climate. But, as David Jenkins of Republicans for Environmental Protection describes on the Frum Forum website that effort is under attack by an effort led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski [...]

  • medinnus

    The bill was defeated before, has little to no chance of passing now, would be vetoed if it did pass. Its posturing, pure and simple “I introduced a bill to defang the EPA, who are blinded by science. And in case you hadn’t heard, Global Warming is a myth, a conspiracy by the socialist traitor Kenyan Sekrit Muslim Obama to ruin our economy!”

    In the meantime, the people backing the bill get checks from coal and oil lobbyists to keep trying. What’s so hard to understand.

    Congress business as usual.

  • Jim_M

    Don’t yeah just LOVE religious arguments on the inter-web thing?

    …next.

  • balconesfault

    djenkins: balconesfault, there are also traditionalist conservatives who value conservation and stewardship and Republicans that are more centrist for other reasons.

    One of the major reasons I broke with the Republican party was the antipathy of many in the Party leadership against environmentalists. For me, that happened during the Reagan Administration, as anti-environmentalists like Burford and Watts were given the responsibility of protecting our nation’s resources. I give Bush I credit for reversing this somewhat, but the real “centrist” debate over environmental issues takes place almost wholly within the Democratic Party these days. Environmentalists in the Republican Party, no matter what their numbers, have as much traction as someone trying to cross an algae-coated streambed downstream of a gated golf-course community.

  • easton

    eapr9, wow, regulations means running things? you really are a cuckoo bird, aren’t you? And, of course, if Congress enacted the regulations, that would be terrible for freedom too because it deprives us of our God given right to pollute.
    And if CO2 is so good, might I suggest you take a few plants with you into the garage, close it up nice and tight, and start your car and you can watch your plants thrive.

  • djenkins

    easton, the deadly chemical in your suggested test is carbon monoxide, not CO2. Putting a plastic bag over ones head (which I advise against) would be a more accurate demonstration that too much CO2 is bad.

    In 1986 a sudden outgassing of 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 from Lake Nyos in Cameroon sent a CO2 cloud rushing down two valleys, displacing all the air and suffocating some 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock.

    Other perfectly natural substances that can be harmful to our health include mercury and sewage.

  • sinz54

    Regardless of Murkowski’s motives,

    something as sweeping as controlling climate change shouldn’t be undertaken by the EPA (which was never set up to deal with the world’s climate) without accountability to the American people through the Congress. That will turn climate change into the ultimate exercise of unaccountable Presidential power, where the EPA can grant climate change waivers to industries and unions likely to vote Democrat, while punishing other areas with draconian restrictions. The head of the EPA will become a virtual dictator over all the energy production in the United States, from fireplaces to electric power plants.

    It appears that liberals like “balconesfault” stopped opposing the so-called “imperial Presidency” the moment Obama became President.

  • jreb

    easton
    “And if CO2 is so good, might I suggest you take a few plants with you into the garage, close it up nice and tight, and start your car and you can watch your plants thrive.”

    You would have carbon monoxide (CO), not carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon Monoxide is a byproduct of running a car in an enclosed space.

  • easton

    jreb, shhh….if eaper is gullible enough to believe this he can believe anything.

  • DeepSouthPopulist

    The fact that climate change skeptics are often described as “deniers” is reason enough for skepticism of the climate change political agenda.

    The word “denier” carries very nasty connotations and was not inserted into the debate by accident.

    Using this term is a deliberate attempt to delegitimatize and smear skeptics with labels rather than engage their arguments.

    There is no other reasonable explanation for using such a loaded word as “denier,” as opposed to “skeptic,” “dissenting minority,” other more neutral term.

    People write as if the energy industry is the only side here with a political agenda. Let’s not forget this country’s hardcore Left environmental wing also has a political agenda which makes them just as likely to shade the truth or lie as anyone on the energy side.

    Academic science is also very political and fraught with in-fighting, struggles and battles over who gets research funding and who doesn’t, and many scientists gravitate toward research areas likely to get funded.

    I’d venture a guess that if you discard science from anyone with a stake in this issue, such as anyone dependent on funding from the government, Leftwing groups, or big energy, you will find little truly neutral science.

  • Stewardship

    Good gravy DeepSouth….I thought the anti-science train had been retired. The best ‘case’ against your view is the science departments at University of Texas and Texas Tech…deep in the heart of crude country…where some of the leading proponents of action to curb climate change have paychecks funded by taxes on the oil and gas industry.

    Any reputable scientist (and his or her employer, presumably an institution of higher learning) who could disprove climate change would reap a windfall of cash from Exxon and other fossil fuel interests. Yet, I’ve not seen one ‘skeptic’ scientific source that can’t be linked to funding from the fossil fuel industry prior to their “findings.”

  • balconesfault

    Sinz: something as sweeping as controlling climate change shouldn’t be undertaken by the EPA (which was never set up to deal with the world’s climate) without accountability to the American people through the Congress.

    The EPA was directed by Congress to regulate pollutants which threaten human health and the environment.

    a) do you believe that climate change threatens human health and the environment?

    b) do you believe CO2 from fossil fuel combustion is a pollutant which causes climate change?

    If your answer to the above is yes – then EPA has a responsibility to act.

    That will turn climate change into the ultimate exercise of unaccountable Presidential power, where the EPA can grant climate change waivers to industries and unions likely to vote Democrat, while punishing other areas with draconian restrictions.

    First, I’m not sure what CO2 emitting industries are inherently “likely to vote Democrat”. Second, I would hope that Congress would act swiftly to block this injustice were it to take place.

    The whole reason EPA is acting is because Congress, after signaling for well over a decade an intention to act on climate change, has proven themselves utterly incapable of doing so. Congress taking on the lead on this certainly is preferable. But once again, Congress did pass the Clean Air Act, which directs EPA to regulate pollutants which threaten human health and the environment. For you to call this “overreach” in the face of legislative gridlock means that you must consider the answers to the questions (a) and/or (b) above to be no.

    And if you believe that the answers to (a) and/or (b) above are no, then you should also object to Congress passing any climate change legislation.

    Perhaps I need to add a 4th grouping to my opponents list. Those who are so rabidly anti-Democrat partisan that they are willing to oppose any measure, even ones broadly consistent with policies that they themselves favor, if those measures are proposed by Democrats. No progress towards good government should be allowed if it ends up being viewed in the public as a Democratic Party success.

  • LFC

    Watusie asked… I know many, many church-going conservatives who think the climate change can’t happen no matter what because God won’t let it. What do you do with people like that?

    Ask them why they feel God will take away all of the impacts for their laziness and greed. Ask them why God hasn’t fixed the ozone hole. Ask them if God will also clear their arteries when they eat too much fatty food. Why, for this topic only, does God suddenly change roles and become Mr. Fix-it, taking away the consequences of our actions?

  • CO Independent

    @ Rabiner

    >> I’m curious do you deny the science of climate change? Or that GHG is a pollutant that should be regulated? That pricing GHG is reasonable since it is a negative externality produced by industry?

    Again, we differ in our outlook but you are a person of good faith, so I will try to give you a good faith answer to the first two questions. The third question is a policy question. If you want to address that we can do so separately.

    There has been precious little meaningful science in the climate change world. Properly practiced, science requires open access to data sources and methodologies, peer review, and the welcome engagement of contrasting research and conclusions. From its inception, climate “science” has been characterized by the precise opposite–closed “research” methodologies and data that are not openly peer reviewed, and a pervasive atmosphere of intimidation and exclusion for anyone who criticizes the or questions climate “science” orthodoxy. This is academic thuggery, not science.

    Virtually every major tenant of climate science orthodoxy has been discredited. A brief listing:
    1. The now infamous “hockey stick” graph–discredited. Professor Mike Mann under investigation by Penn State for academic fraud.
    2. IPCC–completely discredited.
    3. Surface Temperature data and methodologies–discredited.
    4. Sea Ice data–discredited.

    FYI, I get most of my AGW information from the “Watts Up” website and the “Climate Skeptic” site to which it links. Both are unaffiliated and Watts Up received the Best Science Blog award in 2008. It is an excellent source for those genuinely interested in ascertaining some truth in this matter.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/

    So yes, I am a global warming skeptic. (It’s interesting that you use the term “deny” as the AGW crowd has adopted the pejorative “denier” to discount their critics, a tactic they borrowed explicitly from the Holocaust denier crowd.) The AGW crowd has not, to date, established that the earth is experiencing a warming period that is out of the normal cycle of temperature fluctuation, much less that any such warming is caused by human intervention. Is it possible? Yes. Has it been demonstrated? No.

    Belief in AGW is like a religious faith. Believers in AGW believe because they want to believe in AGW, not because they have researched the data and drawn a fact-based conclusion. So my question back at you is: why do you believe in AGW? Do you rely on specific research conclusions? Have you reviewed the soundness of the research? I suspect not.

    Finally, to pick a nit I assume you know that there is no such compound as GHG. GHG is an acronym for Greenhouse Gases, which is intended to encompass multiple compounds but primarily CO2. CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a byproduct of respiration and an input to photosynthesis. Part of the cycle of life. To the extent Djenkins’ post tried to characterize CO2 as toxic it is incredibly misleading and stupid. CO2 is denser than air, so it displaces air at ground level. These people suffocated because the CO2 displaced the air they breathe at ground level. Had their valley been flooded with water the effect would have been precisely the same–they would have suffocated because the O2 they normally breathe had been displaced by H2O–we call that drowning. Ergo, by Djenkins’ reasoning water must be a pollutant. Moronic.

  • balconesfault

    CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a byproduct of respiration and an input to photosynthesis.

    CO2 produced from the combustion of petroleum hydrocarbons, rather than from respiration, is a pollutant.

    As a byproduct of respiration, CO2 is part of a natural cycle – there is a carbon balance that cycles between carbon being exhaled by animals, carbon being captured by plants using energy from the sun, carbon in plants being consumed by animals, which then use it to generate energy producing the CO2 byproduct they exhale.

    When we’re drilling holes deep into the earth and stripping mountaintops to gain access to carbon which has been sequestered from that cycle for hundreds of millions of years … the carbon released is now a pollutant. You might as well argue that arsenic or chromium that are present in industrial exhausts are not pollutants, because all are critical nutrients for humans and are naturally formed.

  • CO Independent

    >> CO2 produced from the combustion of petroleum hydrocarbons, rather than from respiration, is a pollutant. . . When we’re drilling holes deep into the earth and stripping mountaintops to gain access to carbon which has been sequestered from that cycle for hundreds of millions of years … the carbon released is now a pollutant.

    A fascinating peek into the mind of a lefty. Riddle me this:
    1. Will you be labeling the “good CO2″ molecules and the “pollutant CO2″ molecules in the atmosphere?
    2. It is commonly accepted in lefty circles that deforestation has reduced the CO2 intake side of the cycle. Does this mean that some of the CO2 which previously was good CO2 is now a pollutant?
    3. Conversely, if we grow more plants, does that convert some of the “pollutant CO2″ molecules into “good CO2″ molecules?
    4. We’ve had a few small forest fires here in the last few weeks. Forest fires are part of nature’s cycle. Is the CO2 they release “good CO2″ or “pollutant CO2″?
    5. Volcanic activity releases large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Is this CO2 good or pollutant?

    I get your point about the carbon cycle, but the fact is that atmospheric carbon concentration has varied widely over eons, long before the industrial revolution, and we’re still here to talk about it. There has been no detrimental impact to human health. To the contrary, human health, lifespan, and wealth has increased in direct correlation to increased CO2 levels. This is not a coincidence–industrialization generates wealth which makes possible things like scientists who can develop antibiotics and vaccines.

    You want to jump off this train, by all means go ahead. I won’t expect a responsive post from you since your internet usage generates polluting CO2. As for me, I’ll stay firmly on the side of continued economic progress, which I guess makes me a progressive!

  • JJWFromME

    I get your point about the carbon cycle, but the fact is that atmospheric carbon concentration has varied widely over eons

    You’re not getting it. The reason that it has varied is that plants took the CO2 out of the air, so the planet cooled down. Now, we’re taking the fossilized, processed CO2 out of the ground, so the air is heating back up. If the environment had time to adjust to this new temperature (soils and crops could adjust to new rainfall patterns, for instance.) there would be no problem. But we’re doing this over decades, not millions of years, so the change is going to be radical, and I can’t imagine it not being dangerous.

    So instead of sending our hard earned dollars to Saudi and cooking the planet, we should be keeping those dollars here, and developing the technological means to stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. It’s really a no brainer. The point is not to release fossilized CO2.

  • balconesfault

    A fascinating peek into the mind of a lefty. Riddle me this:
    1. Will you be labeling the “good CO2″ molecules and the “pollutant CO2″ molecules in the atmosphere?

    Nope. Next.

    2. It is commonly accepted in lefty circles that deforestation has reduced the CO2 intake side of the cycle. Does this mean that some of the CO2 which previously was good CO2 is now a pollutant?

    Again, you’re trying to pin the label on individual molecules. The labeling of “pollutant” comes from the source, and not from the molecules.

    As a comparison, we know that a major rainfall event is going to put a lot of silt into rivers and streams. Additionally, if due to development activity a lot of vegetation has been cleared and land left exposed, a major rainfall event will cause much higher loads of silt to runoff.

    This may shock you, but the EPA requires every development project greater than 5 acres to have plans and practices to prevent the runoff of additional silt. Next time you see some development going on look for the silt fences that they’ve erected for these controls. This is necessary to keep massive silt loadings from causing severe damage to aquatic ecosystems. The 500 pounds of sediment that might run off a recently cleared field during a storm are not in any way different from the 10 pounts of sediment that might have run off had the field still been covered in normal vegetation – the only difference is that a much higher quantity is resulting do to human activity. That is the same case with CO2 – the problem is that there is a much higher quantity of carbon being injected into the atmosphere due to human activity.

    3. Conversely, if we grow more plants, does that convert some of the “pollutant CO2″ molecules into “good CO2″ molecules?

    No, but it is a legitimate means of balancing out the generation of pollutant CO2 molecules. As such, it is considered a mitigation measure.

    4. We’ve had a few small forest fires here in the last few weeks. Forest fires are part of nature’s cycle. Is the CO2 they release “good CO2″ or “pollutant CO2″?

    See 1. But you can consider forests as a form of “carbon sequestration” … and thus a forest fire eliminates for some period of time that form of sequestration.

    5. Volcanic activity releases large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Is this CO2 good or pollutant?

    As a non-anthroprogenic, non-controllable source, it would be silly to label it a pollutant. By definition, a pollutant is “a waste material that pollutes air, water or soil.” What comes out of a volcano might not be desirable from a human POV, but it is perverse to call it a waste material.

    ************

    Try this way of thinking of it. Imagine filling your upstairs bathtub with water with the drain open but the tap wide open. Eventually, even with the tub draining, water will spill over the top and onto your floor … then filling the space below the floor, dripping down the walls, collapsing the sheetrock, causing thousands of dollars in repairs.

    The water that spilled over the top of the tub is indistinguishable from the water that stayed in the tub or went down the drain. It is nonsensical to label the individual water molecules that remained in the tub “good water”, and those that damaged the downstairs flooring “bad water”.

    That’s what we’re dealing with due to carbon. The “pollutant” is the amount of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere at a rate faster than the ecosystem can absorb it. Since animals are going to keep breathing and forests will keep burning and regrowing and volcanoes will keep belching out into the future, just as they have in the past, those can all be considered equivalent to the amount of water that can be poured into the tub at the same rate the drain can empty the tub once it is full (the tub will drain at a faster rate the fuller it gets thanks to water pressure).

    The “pollutant” then becomes the amount of water that is poured into the tub at a rate faster than the tub can drain – this is the water which damages your house. In the case of carbon, this amount is the amount we’re releasing by digging up and pumping up carbon that has been captured for millenia and rapidly combusting it so it enters the atmosphere.

  • CO Independent

    >> You’re not getting it. The reason that it has varied is that plants took the CO2 out of the air, so the planet cooled down. Now, we’re taking the fossilized, processed CO2 out of the ground, so the air is heating back up. If the environment had time to adjust to this new temperature (soils and crops could adjust to new rainfall patterns, for instance.) there would be no problem. But we’re doing this over decades, not millions of years, so the change is going to be radical, and I can’t imagine it not being dangerous.

    This post exemplifies my previous point that belief in AGW is more like religious faith than science. You posit that changes in CO2 levels drive temperature changes. Yet you have no evidence to support this belief. You just believe it. Further, just like a religious cult, you believe in “Apocalypse Soon” if we don’t amend our ways. It’s always just around the corner–too far away to predict with any accuracy but certainly close enough to redirect billions in resources to avoid.

    Google “is there a correlation between atmospheric CO2 levels and temperature” and I think you’ll be surprised by what you find. Quick answer: not much correlation, no causation.

  • Rabiner

    CO Independent:

    I’ll agree that CO2 may not be a pollutant. However are other GHG’s pollutants?

    You never answered my ‘policy question’ however. If an industry produces a negative externality, should government put a price (tax) on that externality so that the full cost to society is included in the price of the good produced?

    I ask that specific question because we may disagree with the science (I think the world is experiences a change in climate and GHGs can be pollutants) but in terms of policy would you rather allow dirty industries socialize the costs of negatize externalities so their goods are ‘cheaper’ to purchase?

    “This post exemplifies my previous point that belief in AGW is more like religious faith than science. You posit that changes in CO2 levels drive temperature changes. Yet you have no evidence to support this belief. You just believe it. Further, just like a religious cult, you believe in “Apocalypse Soon” if we don’t amend our ways. It’s always just around the corner–too far away to predict with any accuracy but certainly close enough to redirect billions in resources to avoid.”

    I’d be skeptical to call it ‘religious’ in how people view AGW. The US Government report recently showed how the last decade was the hottest on record and the previous decade was the hottest on record then and so forth. Now can I say with 100% confidence that CO2 is causing the increase in temperatures? No, but I’m not an expert nor attempt to claim it. But I’m willing to defer to the majority to scientists in this field who have come to the same conclusion that certain atmospheric gases are causing a change in global climate.

  • JJWFromME

    This post exemplifies my previous point that belief in AGW is more like religious faith than science.

    This is a ridiculous talking point. Do all these dozens of concurring scientific organizations reach their conclusions based on “religious faith”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Statements_by_concurring_organizations

    That argument is a joke.

    People have known since the 19th century that CO2 traps heat. To claim that it doesn’t is called “just making stuff up.” They’ve even done experiments that isolate CO2 as a cause of the warming:

    http://www.tinyurl.com/heatisonline

  • JJWFromME

    If your argument is that CO2 isn’t the *causal* factor of the warming we’re experiencing, that’s a bit more of a sophisticated argument, but the above experiments I linked to above show that that’s wrong (again, through experiment and empirical evidence you can isolate CO2 as a cause of warming). But there are more details as to why here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/02/co2-lags-not-leads.php

  • CO Independent

    @ Rabiner:

    I’m short on time today so don’t know if I can respond fully. I said yesterday I would address the policy question separately if you wanted.

    I agree that externalities should be subjected to a cost/benefit analysis, and costs that can be quantified should be internalized. The burden should be on the regulator to demonstrate: (1) that there is, in fact, a societal cost imposed; and (2) a reasonable approximation of that cost.

    As to CO2, the societal cost to date is precisely zero. Moreover, there is no evidence that there will ever be a societal cost due to AGW caused by CO2. On the benefit side, the generation of cheap energy by burning fossil fuels has driven the greatest increase in the standard of living of humans in history. In my book the trade-off is worth it. You may feel differently, in which case you should live by your principles and move off the grid.

    As to deferring to the AGW scientists and experts, it would be to your benefit to spend some time reviewing the skeptic’s websites and literature. You’ll get results like the hottest decade ever when you place your temperature monitors in asphalt parking lots in Phoenix and airport tarmac in Oklahoma (http://gallery.surfacestations.org/UCAR-slides/index.html). As the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. Their data is crap.

  • JJWFromME

    As to CO2, the societal cost to date is precisely zero.

    Um no. The fresh water from the Andes and Himalayas is in the process of going away. The California wildfires are more likely than not climate change produced. Officials have recently said that this year’s hurricane-producing warm waters in the gulf of Mexico can’t be explained, except by climate change.

    As for your temperature readings, there’s a whole industry of “skeptics” who are dedicated to finding little outrages and acting if one problem discards an entire data set, or whole set of data sets. It’s akin to conspiracy mongering. You take one detail, blow it out of proportion, and say “see, these guys are full of crap”. Of course no data gathering process is perfect. But if you’re getting the same results from so many different places, and so many scientific organizations and institutions putting their reputations on the line to deliver you what they consider undeniable conclusions, the only way to debunk all this is to find little outrages and declare that there’s been a vast conspiracy.

    And by the way, these conspiracy mongers constantly make amateur mistakes. But are they held accountable for their mistakes like professional scientists are? Of course not. They can keep making demonstrable mistakes day after day, because they’re not being paid to be right, or develop good reputations like professional scientists are. They are paid to generate public doubt, and the *appearance* that there’s uncertainty. Period.

    If you look up the skeptics, look at who they’re working for, what their training and credentials are, and whether they’ve managed to get anything published anywhere. Outside MIT’s Richard Lindzen, who has pretty much had to concede his skeptical positions over the last several years, there’s nobody with a real solid professional reputation, and working in the field, that I’ve heard of, who remains skeptical about climate change.

  • easton

    Truly idiotic discussion, of course we should limit green house gases considering how the source of most of the oil comes from the middle east. I have no idea why Republicans are so idiotic that they blather on and on about the environmental impact since the National security impact alone is more than sufficient. Look at the idiocy of CO independent, does this guy love Al Qaeda, why else would he come up with such garbage to support burning fossil fuels? Cost benefit analysis, are you serious? 9 years of fighting in the Middle east at a cost of well over a trillion dollars, with no end in sight, as well as the billions of dollars that outflow from the United States to the Middle east.

    At this point I will take any agency that will force the United States to begin the process of moving away from the fossil fuel industry towards renewable, nuclear, etc. because it is in our national interest.