A minimum of global warming?

I actually wrote this last night but wasn’t going to crosspost to Red Maryland until I noticed I got some good comments on it. So I’ll add to the discussion here. I also added the response to the global warming bill from the Maryland Republican Party.

According to the weather.com website, the average February 28 high temperature for Salisbury is 50 degrees while the low is normally 31. So why is it 22 degrees out as I write this at 8:30 in the evening?

Well, weather here is like that in many other places – the standard joke is if you don’t like the conditions on the Shore, wait 5 minutes and they will change. The last couple days we’ve been under the influence of a frigid high-pressure system, something that happens a couple times a winter. This one just happens to be later than most. But we’re in a winter that has seen unusually large amounts of snow in various regions of the country, along with similar reports from China and snow falling in Baghdad for the first time in memory.

And there are ominous signs that this could be a future trend. A recent editorial in Investor’s Business Daily points out research by Canadian scientists suggesting that the activity on the sun is entering a phase known as the Maunder Minimum, with a decided lack of sunspot activity over the last year or so – unusual for solar activity, which tends to fluctuate in an 11-year cycle. The last similar phase, one the phenomenon was named for, traces back to the 17th century and coincided with a century of very chilly global weather.

(Believe it or not, I’m using the fold.)

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While these scientists are looking for additional funding to conduct their solar research, they come to a much different conclusion than many of their peers in the community:

R. Timothy Patterson, professor of geology and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Center of Canada’s Carleton University, says that “CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet’s climate on long, medium and even short time scales.”

Rather, he says, “I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of energy on this planet.”

Patterson, sharing Tapping’s concern, says: “Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth.”

“Solar activity has overpowered any effect that CO2 has had before, and it most likely will again,” Patterson says. “If we were to have even a medium-sized solar minimum, we could be looking at a lot more bad effects than ‘global warming’ would have had.”

Of course, Investor’s Business Daily is no scientific journal, but why should we be skeptical about observations such as the ones this Canadian team has found when we readily accept the word of non-scientist Al Gore about global warming being imminent because of all the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels? Yes, there are scientists who agree with Al Gore, but how many of them are looking for research grants too? Besides, the warmest year in recorded history wasn’t 2007, or even 1998 – it was in 1934, well before the SUV was invented.

So I’m going to accept the premise, borne out by historic events, that we’re in for an era of lower global temperatures. In the meantime, we in Maryland may have to deal with the effects of the regulations proposed in HB712/SB309. Among its goals are, “achieving a mandated 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2020 and a mandated 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2050.” Not only that, this bill would require:

  • a cap-and-trade system for emissions trading (of course, these credits would be purchased from the state, with the proceeds going to help reduce energy bills for low-income residents and “measures to reduce vehicle miles traveled”);
  • require electric companies to track and account for the greenhouse gases they create;
  • also, “if, in the Department’s discretion, auction proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are inadequate to fund the necessary administrative and technical costs of implementing this subtitle, the Department may establish a Greenhouse Gas Emissions fee of no more than 4 cents per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted to be paid by a source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.”

So, beginning with the adoption of the bill on June 1st, the Department of the Environment has three months to put together the list of compliance measures that would start in 2009, and the measure would fully culminate by 2012.

Of course, these idealists in Annapolis don’t look at the impact this would have on Maryland residents and businesses. If you thought the electric rate increases we’ve had over the last couple years were bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Of course, should these increases be denied by the PSC, then the companies will have no choice but to limit the supply or face bankruptcy. Can anyone say rolling blackouts?

And a “measure to reduce vehicle miles traveled” sounds to me like a car tax based on the number of miles you drive. That would be after they invest huge tax dollars in mass transit that no one really wants to ride and slash highway funding so that the traffic which does remain will be in perpetual gridlock on pothole-strewn roads.

Meanwhile, heating your home through these colder winters will become an iffy proposition because of the supply shortages and extremely high costs for electricity or fossil fuels like heating oil or natural gas. (That is, if you still have a job in Maryland since businesses will flee these repressive regulations as quickly as possible.)

I don’t accept the premise that this bill is even necessary given the recent research on a theory that is more valid as that of mankind causing global warming. Certainly we will someday need to evolve past fossil fuels to power our lives but that day is beyond the lifespan of both me and my daughter, plus any children she has. We have plenty of oil and natural gas out there but too many restrictions on fetching our native supplies, not to mention the virtually untapped nuclear power aspect of generating electricity. If we spent half as much time dismantling restrictions on drilling for oil as we did debating the fallacy of manmade global warming, gas might not be over $3 a gallon.

And we wouldn’t have to worry about those colder winters ahead, knowing that we had the energy available to be able to heat our homes in a comfortable manner at a reasonable cost. Unfortunately, the thought of energy independence doesn’t seem to permeate the minds of those in Annapolis who think they know better.

And the GOP response:

Democrats in the General Assembly have now held hearings on Senate Bill 309 and House Bill 712, bills that would require the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 90% by 2050. Recent newspaper articles have focused on the impact these bills would have on Maryland’s economy and the likelihood that factories would shut down and people would lose jobs. The fiscal note for these bills indicates that there will be significant cost implications for small business, but that no study has been conducted.

Dr. Jim Pelura, Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, released the following statement:

“Marylanders are blessed to live among such beautiful natural resources, and we have a duty to be good stewards of what we enjoy today and pass on to future generations. There are ways for us to accomplish our mutual goals of a healthy economy and healthy environment, but it cannot be found in more government regulation.”

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