Fact-Free Fear Mongering from the Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun’s May 3rd editorial “The climate clash” is a classic example of the fact-free fear mongering that has come to characterize global warming alarmism

The Sun bemoans the “depressingly familiar…partisan squabble” between cap and trade advocates and skeptics. That is, the siren song of green jobs and phantom economic boon of cap and trade versus the all too clear reality that cap and trade will amount to a massive energy tax on working families, lead to energy rationing, and government handouts to rent seeking alternative energy interests.

Instead, the Sun declares those debates stale, and calls for high minded pragmatism in order to avert the coming “global environmental disaster.” The debate may be old and stale, yet the fact remains that these arguments lie at the very core of the issue, you can’t get around them.

Moreover, the clever conceit underling the Sun’s argument is that it’s pragmatic call to do something i.e., implement a carbon reduction scheme clearly favors the alarmist view. The Sun acts as if it is above partisan arguments, but those with eyes to see this rhetorical slight of hand, know the trick for what it is: The Sun is simultaneously taking the alarmist side in the very policy debate it decries. Again, this is not news to anyone paying attention, and the Sun editorial board isn’t fooling anyone who hasn’t gulped the green kool-aid.

So now that we’ve torn down the Sun’s pragmatic façade let’s expose its argument to the facts.

Claim: “The burning of fossil fuels has generated greenhouse gases that are raising the temperature of this planet in a manner that is unprecedented and that threatens the health, welfare and security not only of this nation but of the entire world.”

The first nine words of that sentence are true, the rest is not. Despite the increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the planet has not warmed, and arguably cooled since 1997. I would also like the Sun editorialist to explain how, if GHGs, specifically carbon dioxide, drive warming then why do atmospheric concentrations lag behind temperature? Furthermore, GHGs comprise only 2% of the entire atmosphere and of that 2%, carbon dioxide comprises only 3.62%. Man’s contribution to that 3.62% of the total 2% of GHGs in the atmosphere: 3.4%. In all humanity’s total contribution to the greenhouse effect is a whopping 0.28%.

Despite the Sun’s assertion of imminent man-made disaster, observed data and the planet itself have proven quite inconvenient. The irony here is that the answer to why the earth’s climate changes (heating and cooling) lies right on the masthead of their newspaper.

Claim: “That fact (and the science of climate change is settled enough to refer to it as such)…”

Again the Sun is deliberately misleading its readers. The obvious inference here is to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. However, the real question is which report. There are two, the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM), and the Assessment Report (AR) and both say very different things about climate change. The Sun, as most mainstream media always do, refers to the SPM—a decidedly political document—not the underlying scientific AR Report. Only 52 scientists (and 115 diplomats) contributed to the SPM. Only four of the 23 panelists reviewing the AR report chapter that hypothesizes man as the driver of global warming endorsed it. Only 62 of the IPCC’s 308 reviewers even read it.

How can any science with such faulty peer-review be “settled?”

Also, if the science is settled why have more than 700 scientists spoken out against the very claims the Sun is parroting? Just doing the math, that’s more than 13 times the number of scientists that contributed to the SPM!

Claim: “Legislation championed by U.S. Reps. Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, and Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, is needed to set the nation on a permanent course… It would establish long-term goals that promote renewable sources of energy and reward conservation and efficiency… Part of that strategy is likely to involve creation of a cap-and-trade system, or possibly a carbon tax… that is almost certain to eventually raise the cost of electricity. But by imposing this burden gradually and using cap-and-trade revenue to invest in alternative energy and conservation that will save consumers money in the long run, the negative impact should be negligible.”

Oh yes indeed it will raise the cost of electricity—through the roof. Just to give you an example of the cost of the Waxman-Markey legislation, take a look at the costs of last year’s cap and trade bill, Lieberman-Warner would have affected Maryland. Over the next 15 years electricity costs would increase by $2,149, natural gas costs by $1,750, and gasoline costs by $2,013. In the next 10 years Maryland would lose over 6,000 jobs.

But what about those vaunted green jobs? Well even with those new (government mandated) green jobs, we would still see a net loss of millions of other jobs.

Of course, the Waxman-Markey aims to be much larger in scope than Lieberman-Warner.

UPDATE: Analysis of Waxman-Markey shows that it would produce only one nine hundredth of a degree difference in temperature by 2100 and avoid only two years of warming.

Where would your money er… uh… I mean “investments” go? To rent seeking alternative energy barons like General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who said, “Rest assured, I am not tackling climate concerns because it’s moral or trendy or good for PR…the biggest driver for me is business potential…” GE figured out Enron’s game (Kyoto “would be good for Enron stock”) and assumed much of the defunct energy company’s alternative energy interests after it went belly up.

Energy derived from fossil fuels would be squeezed out of the market for government favored green energy like wind and solar. However, even fully realized, these—already heavily subsidized—forms of energy can only supply a fraction of our energy demand, which would lead to energy rationing.

Energy conservation, while not necessarily a bad thing, is also another siren song. Most of the conservation schemes like decoupling–which Maryland implemented–leads to increased energy costs and incentivizes utilities to charge consumers more to use less energy.

If you are still un-persuaded to the economic folly of cap and trade, and still believe in the over-hyped, faulty computer modeled predictions of the apocalypse then know this: even if all developed nations met and held their Kyoto targets for 100 years, the effect would be a meaningless seven hundredth of a degree change in global temperature.

Try as they might, the editorialists at the Sun cannot get around those facts.

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