(My friend Wolf Howling was kind enough to allow me to publish his essay synthesizing the economic, scientific, and legal issues arising from the political and academic worlds’ embrace of climate change. His essay is somewhat longer than the usual post, but extremely accessible and informative.)
We stand at a critical tipping point in crucial areas of economics, science and the law, all related to climate change and all highlighted by recent steps that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) took to adjust our historic temperature record in response to a study that NOAA scientist Tom Karl conducted. That change to the temperature record, which seemingly relies on a few keystrokes, rather than data, to find warming where none existed before, comes at a critical time, when our government is about to undertake two huge commitments ostensibly to mitigate climate change.
First, the EPA has just imposed its Clean Power Plan to affect climate change mitigation. Estimates are that the plan will cost the United States over two trillion dollars in economic growth, without having any impact on climate change.
Second, the United Nations will be hosting a Conference on Climate Change in Paris (“COP21” or “Paris Conference”) this month. Attendees will work on a massive plan to redistribute the world’s wealth, in addition to considering plans for international taxation and creation of a court of “climate justice.”
Either the Clean Power Plan or the Paris Agreement has the power to hobble our economy. If both are put into play, the economic effect will be disastrous.
NOAA’s study and its subsequent change to the historic temperature record also go to the very essence of scientific integrity. What defines science? Is our approach to climate change valid science? Should we be relying on any recent scientific pronouncements to justify policy in general, let alone the massive economic burdens the climate change crowd would impose?
In terms of the law, this push for climate change mitigation raises multiple issues. What is the danger to our Constitution and our Republican form of government if the EPA can unilaterally legislate an economy changing regulation without the vote of our elected representatives, or if NOAA can ignore a congressional subpoena without consequence, or if Obama can commit our nation to the Green Fund and the court of climate justice without Congress’s approval?
The NOAA Study and Adjustments To Our Temperature Records
In June, Tom Karl, a top level official at NOAA released a study, “Possible Artifacts Of Data Biases In The Recent Global Warming Hiatus,” purporting to show that temperatures over the past two decades have not paused but, instead, have been steadily increasing. On the recommendations in that paper, both NOAA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (“GISS”) have altered America’s historic temperature records. It was an incredibly fortuitous study as it not only found warming that science’s best minds and increasingly accurate measurements had missed, but it did so just as the UN prepares to host the Paris Conference and just before the EPA released its Clean Power Plan.
Karl’s study is problematic at best. The study ignores our most accurate measurements from satellite data, which show that global warming stopped almost twenty years ago, on both land and seas. Further, Karl’s changes to ocean temperature records and Arctic temperature estimates are just brazenly inappropriate.
To understand how brazen Karl’s work is, a little history is in order. Since 2000, a multinational effort has been under way to position and use so called “ARGO” buoys to measure, among other things, ocean temperatures and currents. There are over 4,000 such buoys spread out over the world’s oceans providing this data. The buoys are not perfect, since they do not provide daily temperature and satellite data must supplement their information. Nevertheless, there is no question that the ARGO system provides the most accurate data available. Despite this accuracy, Karl unilaterally adjusted the ARGO buoy temperatures upwards to bring them in line with inherently inaccurate sea temperature measurements taken from ship engines. An article that Dr. Richard Lindzen and others posted at the CATO Institute explains just how biased towards warming Karl’s work is:
[Karl’s] treatment of the buoy sea-surface temperature (SST) data was guaranteed to put a warming trend in recent data. They were adjusted upwards 0.12°C to make them “homogeneous” with the longer-running temperature records taken from engine intake channels in marine vessels. As has been acknowledged by numerous scientists, the engine intake data are clearly contaminated by heat conduction from the structure, and they were never intended for scientific use.
On the other hand, environmental monitoring is the specific purpose for the buoys. Adjusting good data upwards to match bad data seems questionable, and the fact that the buoy network becomes increasingly dense in the last two decades means that this adjustment must put a warming trend in the data.
My only complaint with the paragraph above is the description of what Karl did as “questionable.” There is nothing questionable about it. Anyone who tried to change the data that way for, say, a securities prospectus would find himself facing criminal charges. Nor was this Karl’s only fraudulent act. Additionally, he rejiggered Arctic temperature estimations in a manner wholly unwarranted and guaranteed to produce warming. The Lindzen article again explains what Karl did:
The extension of high-latitude arctic land data over the Arctic Ocean is also questionable. Much of the Arctic Ocean is ice-covered even in high summer, meaning the surface temperature must remain near freezing. Extending land data out into the ocean will obviously induce substantially exaggerated temperatures.
In other words, Karl has blatantly cooked the books. And Karl is not just any scientist; he is a high level public employee in charge of one version of our historic temperature records. He has now altered that version of our records based on this study for reasons seeming to have far more to do with politics than science.
Congress has decided to investigate this most recent change and has subpoenaed NOAA’s records related to the Karl study. The other day, NOAA announced that it will not honor the subpoena, citing to “the confidentiality of the requested documents and the integrity of the scientific process .” Obviously Mr. Karl has a very dark sense of humor to claim that the “integrity of the scientific process” is at stake by making all taxpayer-funded documents about a scientific study public. Prof. Judith Curry disagrees with Mr. Karl, concluding in a recent op-ed, “If the House Science Committee can work to minimize the political influence on government-funded research, and also help to resolve legitimate scientific issues, it will have done both science and the policies that depend on science a big favor.”
And do note, what Karl did in 2015 – i.e., adjusting our historic temperature records – is something that our government record keepers at NASA and NOAA have done multiple times over the past two decades. Those changes to the temperature record, never published for comment or publicly justified, have been coming (dare I say it) fast and furious over the last three years because raw temperature data has shown no warming since 1997: “By the count of researcher Marcia Wyatt In a widely circulated presentation, the U.S. government’s published temperature data for the years 1880 to 2010 has been tinkered with 16 times in the past three years.”
And here is the mystery about those changes: Every major adjustment of our temperature records during the past two decades has been to adjust pre-1950 temperatures downwards and post 1950 upwards, thus creating an ever greater illusion of warming. As science writer Richard Booker wrote in the Telegraph a few months ago, “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever.”
One simple example illustrates how the scandal operates. Back in 2008, if you were to have looked at both NASA’s and NOAA’s historic temperature records for January, 1915, and January, 2000, you would have found the difference between the two to be .39 Celsius of warming. Fast forward to 2015, and if you look at both NASA’s and NOAA’s historic temperature records for the same two months, you would find the difference between the two to be .52 Celsius of warming. Certainly something is heating up in our historical temperature records. It appears to be the pixels.
This temperature manipulation reeks of fraud, it it renders our temperature records untrustworthy, and it provides the false information that is then fed into computer models to serve as grist for the resulting prophecies about catastrophic global warming. Worse, these adjustments to raw data have been significant,accounting for as much as half of all the warming that is supposed to have occurred in the 20th century.
Economics of Climate Change Mitigation
The global warming movement is of recent origin. It began in the late 1950’s but didn’t pick up much steam (scientists were concerned with a coming Ice Age for much of that time) until the UN created its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) in 1988. The IPCC’s responsibility was to investigate solely “man-made” global warming (explaining the supreme over-emphasis on carbon dioxide as the primary driver of our climate). Since 1988, spending on climate change has exploded. In August, 2015, the “Climate Change Business Journal . . . calculated that global warming is now a $1.5 trillion a year industry” and growing significantly. That is 2% of the world’s annual economic output. And that number is set to grow even more astronomically, particularly in the U.S.
Since 2009, the Obama administration has spent approximately $120 billion on environmental issues, most related to climate change research and mitigation. That number, moreover, is dwarfed many times over by the added costs the business community has to pay to comply with government imposed mandates – costs inevitably passed on to consumers:
The Small Business Administration estimates that compliance with such regulations costs the U.S. economy more than $1.75 trillion per year — about 12%-14% of GDP, and half of the $3.456 trillion Washington is currently spending. The Competitive Enterprise Institute believes the annual cost is closer to $1.8 trillion when an estimated $55.4 billion regulatory administration and policing budget is included. CEI further observes that those regulation costs exceed 2008 corporate pretax profits of $1.436 trillion; tower over estimated individual income taxes of $936 billion by 87%; and reveal a federal government whose share of the entire economy reaches 35.5% when combined with federal 2010 spending outlays.
Looking forward, the Green World’s big economic bets are the UN’s Paris Conference and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, both of which are upon us. Both portend to exponentially increase the bill for climate change mitigation.
Clean Power Plan
The EPA only recently issued its Clean Power Plan, and the plan is already being challenged in court. It places carbon limits on those states – mostly red states – that emit the most carbon and awards those states – mostly blue states — that emit the least.
. . . President Obama unveiled the Clean Power Plan (CPP) . . . which aims to cut CO 2 emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and limit emissions from newly built plants. Obama says the rule is key to galvanizing global support for a United Nations climate agreement, but it will come at a huge cost to the U.S. economy.
“The final plan will shutter 66 power plants and eliminate 125,800 jobs in the coal industry,” according to Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the right-leaning American Action Forum. “Perhaps more alarming, using the 2012 baseline for coal generation and projections for 2030 output, the industry could shrink by 48 percent.”
“At $8.4 billion, the CPP is almost ten times more expensive than the most burdensome rule of 2015 to date,” Batkins wrote in an analysis of the rule.
It’s not just job losses that have CPP critics worried, the rule could also cost the U.S. economy $2.5 trillion by 2030 — the year the rule is expected to be fully implemented. Nick Loris, an energy economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, wrote that the “cumulative economic impact of higher energy prices will be hundreds of thousands of jobs lost and more than $2.5 trillion in lost economic growth.”
Two final notes on the Clean Power Plan: First, despite these punishing costs to our economy, the “EPA itself admits that the plan’s utility against the threat of climate change will be so small (reducing warming by 0.016 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century) that it will be impossible to measure.” That is insane. Second, artificially driving up energy costs affects the price of everything and acts as a massive regressive tax that will be felt most by those in the lower and middle class – the people who are least able to afford it.
To add insult to injury, the wealthy and upper middle classes are the primary beneficiaries of the subsidies and tax breaks relating to climate change mitigation. In today’s economy, it is only they who have the disposable income to take advantage of the government largess.
Tesla electric cars are a case in point. You will recall Obama’s goal to have one million electric cars on the road by 2015. Accordingly, the government provided loans to companies such as Tesla and then tried to create a market for these vehicles by providing federal (and encouraging state) subsidies on the other end. Not surprisingly, 90% of the people buying or leasing Teslas and other electric cars are in the top 25% income bracket, and they are receiving around $12,000 in tax breaks towards their purchase or lease. The situation is only a little better when looking at other government subsidized programs, such as home weatherization or installing solar panels.
UN Conference on Climate Change
The goal of the Paris Conference is to finalize a binding agreement to transfer wealth from the developed world into a “green fund” that the UN will administer. The UN will dole out money from this fund to various nations, ostensibly to mitigate the damage from the catastrophic climate that the UN’s computer models assure us is in the offing. The numbers involved are huge, starting at $100 billion annually, then increasing, if the UN has its say, to $1.1 trillion annually in today’s dollars. It will include not just direct transfers of wealth, mostly from the U.S. but, many hope, international taxes on money transfers:
. . . . The V-20 ministers . . . proposed an international financial transaction tax to raise more money for fighting climate change and said they would create a climate risk pooling mechanism to “improve recovery from climate-induced extreme weather events and disasters” through insurance.
“Climate finance is going to be a dealmaker or deal-breaker in Paris, so unless there is a credible roadmap on the table on how these imbalances are going to be addressed, we do see developing countries putting a Paris agreement potentially at risk,” Kreisler said.
“The $100 billion is a very important political commitment that developed countries made in Copenhagen but it’s really the tip of the iceberg,” said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute. “The real question is about the shifting of the trillions.” [emphasis added]
The International Energy Agency has estimated an additional $1.1 trillion will be needed annually through mid-century to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, the goal of international climate negotiations of which Paris will be the 21st round.
“The $100 billion is a political number,” Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the U.N.-run talks. “It was pulled out of a hat. But it must be respected.”
And lest there be any doubt about who will be expected to fund this massive transfer of wealth, here is the UN’s proposed formula:
. . . the total amount of greenhouse gases, expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent, emitted by a Party to the Convention since 1750 A.D. shall be added and divided by the current population of that Party. Based on the thus obtained per capita greenhouse gas emissions and population size of each Party to the Convention, the average global per capita emissions of greenhouse gases shall be used to evaluate the status of the greenhouse gas emissions of a Party to the Convention. Each Party to the Convention whose per capita greenhouse gas emissions exceed the global average per capita greenhouse gas emissions shall be proposed to be inscribed in Annex I to the Convention, and the remaining Parties shall not be proposed to be inscribed in Annex I to the Convention.”
. . . The significance of Annex 1 is that if you are on it, you will be paying for the whole circus – US$100 billion per annum for kleptocracies.
In other words, Western Europe will pick up part of the tab while the U.S. picks up the majority of it. And the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter today, China, will be raking in the free money. Bolivia also expects to do quite handsomely.
The proposed agreement also creates a court of climate justice:
At the upcoming United Nations Climate Summit in Paris, participating nations have prepared a treaty that would create an “International Tribunal of Climate Justice” giving Third World countries the power to haul the U.S. into a global court with enforcement powers.
Congress would be bypassed – left out in the cold – by this climate deal, critics say.
Policies once left to sovereign nations could be turned over to a U.N. body if the U.S. and its allies approve the proposed deal in Paris during the summit scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 11.
According to the proposed draft text of the climate treaty, the tribunal would take up issues such as “climate justice,” “climate finance,” “technology transfers,” and “climate debt.”
Given the long laundry list of supposed ills that various studies claim are caused by anthropogenic global warming — ranging from the seas’ rise, to heat waves, to every conceivable natural disaster, and much, much more (do visit the link for the complete list) — if America were ever to agree to something of this nature, putting its economy and technology in the hands of an international body that includes many unfriendly nations claiming damage from climate change, would be the equivalent of national economic suicide.
Capitalism and Democracy versus the UN Model of Authoritarianism and Socialism
This plan at the UN Paris Conference is socialist redistribution on an intentional scale. Additionally, if multinational taxation is to be imposed and a court of climate justice created , this would mark the beginning of a true international government. It would be in irreconcilable conflict with our laws and Constitution.
And indeed, most who embrace catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, whether honestly or for other reasons, make it clear that they see democracy and capitalism as the enemies of climate change mitigation. The list of climate change believers who have embraced authoritarian government and socialist forced redistribution of wealth as the keys to tackling climate change is long indeed, and includes among its number pundits such as Tom Friedman,
“One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks,” he wrote in 2009. “But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.”
Likewise, there is United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, who has said that “democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China . . . is the best model.” She is also on record calling for an end to capitalism. She describes as her goal to “intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.”
Actually, Figueres seems deeply ignorant about history. Marx intentionally changed the capitalist model in the mid 19th century and many countries applied his economic theories in the 20th century – all to their extreme detriment. I can see nothing in Figueres’s proposals that Marx has not already proposed. Under the guise of climate change mitigation, she would impose a combined governing and economic model that has failed catastrophically everywhere it has been tried.
Another example comes from Climate Change Researcher Alice Bows Larkin who gave a recent TED talk about the economics of climate change. Echoing numerous others in the movement, she stated that wealthy nations would have to drastically reduce carbon output, and as a consequence, plan to forego “economic growth” and endure a sustained period of “planned austerity.” We who have sinned by outperforming others must do penance.
Most recently of note is the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, who expressed his desire to see some form of socialism and authoritarianism imposed on the U.S. in order to combat catastrophic climate change that he believes is just around the corner.
This embrace of authoritarianism and praise of China as regards climate change mitigation is mind numbing. China plays along with this kabuki dance of supposed climate change mitigation for three reasons: First, climate change mitigation in the West has become a significant source of capital for China and holds out the promise of far more. Second, it costs China nothing. China has had to do nothing more than engage in purely pro forma mitigation to make the West’s climate warriors salivate — a vague promise to limit its carbon production in 2030 to whatever is its peak is between now and then. Third, it is certain that every one of the planned climate change mitigation efforts in our nation and internationally will ultimately weaken the US, and many will do so while strengthening China.
As it stands today, China is by far the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for well over 20% of all carbon dioxide produced by mankind annually. That number is only going to drastically increase. China is adding coal fired energy plants at the rate of one a week. Plus, China is getting paid at every point in the climate change mitigation tango. China is the largest producer of solar panels – a significant portion of the vaunted 2008 Stimulus went to China for their solar panels and windmills – and the world’s largest producer of rare earth metals used in much of “green” technology, from wind mills to Prius engines. Then, in the ultimate gut punch, China wants to be the big beneficiary of the UN’s Green Fund to be negotiated in Paris. As part of this fund, China wants any western technology relating to energy transferred to China free of intellectual property rights.
Corruption, Waste, and Cronyism Endemic To Climate Change Mitigation
Government mandates impose virtually every aspect of climate change mitigation. As such, climate change mitigation is not subject to market forces. Without that feedback and discipline, and with the amount of money involved, there can be no greater invitation to theft, fraud, waste, and crony capitalism.
We have already seen massive fraud with the EU’s attempt to impose cap and trade. At one point, Europol estimated that organized crime was carrying out 90% of the carbon credit trading and that it was costing the EU billions in tax fraud alone.
Likewise, nothing invites waste like government guaranteed loans. It takes the entrepreneur’s skin out of the game – a concept central to capitalism – and puts taxpayer dollars at risk instead.
Then there are the mandates that even the greens have come to see as nonsensical, but with monied interests behind them they are seemingly impossible to end. The poster child for this legal and near untouchable corruption is the ethanol mandate and associated subsidies, all of which force consumption of an inefficient and expensive fuel that has proven significantly harmful to the environment and to engines. It is a fuel that saves no carbon dioxide, and its production has ripple effects throughout the world’s economy as land formally used for production of food and feedstock is repurposed to the production of ethanol, driving up the costs of food worldwide and driving countless people unnecessarily into poverty. Yet those who are raking in the money and the government subsidies for this travesty fight tooth and nail to keep it alive.
And then there are the many individuals who milk the system, whether in government, academia, or through their government connections. Jim Hansen, the godfather of America’s global warming hysteria, headed up NASA GISS where he was in charge of one of our temperature records for decades. When he wasn’t coordinating with NOAA’s Karl to make inexplicable changes to those temperature records, overseeing all of NASA’s questionable climate related experiments, the private sector was paying him very well for speeches and books vociferously promoting global warming. As one pundit wrote, “Dr. Hansen very well may be the country’s first millionaire bureaucrat — thanks to this flood of outside income since 2006 all clearly related to his public employment.” To call this simply a conflict of interest is to mock the term.
Al Gore has also made an incredibly lucrative career off of the global warming gravy train, but at least he did it after his public service. Since he left government office in 2001 with a net worth of $1.7 million, he has managed to increase his worth today by nearly a factor of 200 – to over $300 million. He should be listed as the world’s greatest investor at this point – except that he is not an investor, he is the world’s most successful rent-seeking parasite. He is in the unique position of shilling for government mandates and subsidies relating to climate change mitigation at the UN and various nations, and then building a trough at the other end to catch the money being spent on those mandates. How does it feel to know that Gore is off on his private jet getting his second chakra released on money taken from your pocket?
Michael Mann is yet another person who has ridden the climate change gravy train, at least professionally. He created the famed “hockey stick,” a graph based on his 1998 tree ring proxy study in which he did away with the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. The “hockey stick” showed a stable world temperature for 900 years that suddenly rose ever upwards in the 20th century, ostensibly due to humanity’s increasing production of carbon dioxide. But it had some problems, as Matt Ridley explains:
And of course there was the mother of all scandals, the “hockey stick” itself: a graph that purported to show the warming of the last three decades of the twentieth century as unprecedented in a millennium, a graph that the IPCC was so thrilled with that it published it six times in its third assessment report and displayed it behind the IPCC chairman at his press conference. It was a graph that persuaded me to abandon my skepticism (until I found out about its flaws), because I thought Nature magazine would never have published it without checking. And it is a graph that was systematically shown by Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick to be wholly misleading, as McKitrick recounts in glorious detail in his chapter in The Facts.
Its hockey-stick shape depended heavily on one set of data from bristlecone pine trees in the American south-west, enhanced by a statistical approach to over-emphasize some 200 times any hockey-stick shaped graph. Yet bristlecone tree-rings do not, according to those who collected the data, reflect temperature at all. What is more, the scientist behind the original paper, Michael Mann, had known all along that his data depended heavily on these inappropriate trees and a few other series, because when finally prevailed upon to release his data he accidentally included a file called “censored” that proved as much: he had tested the effect of removing the bristlecone pine series and one other, and found that the hockey-stick shape disappeared.
Nonetheless, the hockey stick made Mann a celebrity in the global warming movement and his hockey stick was for years – until it became an embarrassment even to the climatistas – the icon of the global warming movement. His notoriety earned him a full professorship at Penn State. And while those who challenge the anthropogenic climate change theory have struggled to receive grants let alone get published, Michael Mann has suffered no such problem. Indeed, despite his hockey stick and the “hide the decline” fraud in the 2001 IPCC Report, he is still gainfully employed in academia and has suffered no professional consequence.
The most recent example of the graft built into climate change mitigation is Prof. Jagdish Shukla of George Mason University. Dr. Shukula is a staunch proponent of climate change theory. Taxpayers have sent him over $63.5 million in less than two decades to enable him to conduct experiments related to climate change. It has recently come to light, though, that Dr. Shukula has been using those grants as a personal piggy bank for himself and his family by running them through his family corporation. In this way, he siphoned off over $30 million, apparently with NOAA’s and NASA’s full knowledge.
It is of note that each of the individuals above, all with a tremendous financial stake in global warming, has at one time or another called for the government to prosecute those who contest the dogma of global warming and/or to prosecute fossil fuel producers for “crimes against humanity.” In addition, several have acted aggressively to shut out of publications and out of the media those scientists disputing AGW theory. In this, many in the MSM abet them, censoring any challenges to global warming theology in their publications or broadcasts.
Nor can we forget the incredible waste that is found in climate mitigation programs. Perhaps most infamous are Spain’s and America’s attempts to create a new class of green jobs that would provide substantial and lucrative employment, offsetting some of the damage to the respective nation’s economies done by mandating significant resources to climate change mitigation. Obama’s green jobs program, pitched as a plan that would lead to 5 million new “green jobs” within ten years, was an utter fiasco, wasting billions for virtually zero return. Spain’s attempt to remake its socialist economy with green jobs was likewise a disaster.
Then of course, there is the fraud that draconian regulations inevitably invite. For instance, Volkswagen was recently caught having built into the computers of their diesel cars an algorithm that would allow the engine to recognize emissions tests and adjust the emissions output accordingly, thus satisfying ever more rigorous EPA regulations. Once the test was completed, the engine would return to a mix that emitted more nitrogen oxides during actual driving. Through this neat little fraud, beginning in 2009 and continuing until it was recently exposed, Volkswagen produced “clean” diesel cars that were being eaten up by the green crowd.
And last but not least is the cronyism that inevitably accompanies green programs, where the chosen beneficiaries of tax payer dollars in the forms of guaranteed loans or grants are almost invariably politically connected:
. . . The Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program, Section 1705, was created by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). It established $16 billion in lending power for the DOE, which seems to have been earmarked specifically for Obama Cronies. At least 90 percent of Section 1705 loan recipients have significant political connections to Obama and other high-ranking Democrats. Fund-raising for Democrat campaigns has paid off handsomely, for a number of people.
Section 1705 loans are directly responsible for such big-name bankrupt boondoggles as Solyndra, Beacon Power, Abound Solar, Fisker Automotive and the Vehicle Production Group. Many of these same companies also received free taxpayer cash from the 1603 Treasury Program. A little known program which has given out more than $19 billion in “free” money, to these – now bankrupt – climate friendly, Democrat-crony-run organizations. The fact that foreign corporations have received roughly 25 percent of the money spent in the ‘Section 1603’ American renewable energy stimulus program, isn’t even supposed to be mentioned.
We stand at the precipice of real economic hardship if the green crowd is able to impose both the Clean Power Plan and the UN Paris agreement on the United States. Between the two, we could see over an additional trillion dollars a year funneled out of our economy within the foreseeable future, killing economic growth and entering a period of declining quality of life – at least for those not in the inner circle of academia and politics.
Make no mistake — climate change mitigation is a juggernaut. Right now, the world is expending 2% of the value of all its gross products and services on climate change mitigation and that number could easily reach 4 or 5% in just the next few years. With that amount of money in play and operating independent of market forces, there are Gore-like fortunes beyond the imagining to be made, both legally and illegally. And indeed, the political class and academics are uniquely positioned to take advantage of those economic rent-seeking opportunities. Thus, there is an overwhelming economic motivation for many of those now in power, as well as their cronies, to impose climate change mitigation, a motivation wholly independent of actually believing in the science of anthropogenic, carbon-centric, catastrophic climate change.
Science and Climate Change
Matt Ridley has written an article about the fatal problems the modern “catastrophic climate change” moment has with validity and scientific integrity. Green Peace founder Dr. Patrick Moore delivered a recent speech discussing carbon dioxide in the chemical and historical context here. Dr. Marsha Wyatt has created a presentation that gets into the weeds a bit about all the uncertainties not only in climate science generally, but in the methods used to calculate and project temperatures. Lastly, climatista David Roberts, a strong proponent of global warming, nonetheless discusses the seemingly unsolvable uncertainties in our climate models and their projections not merely as to climate, but also as to related economic harm. All four are exceptional documents that should be read together for an understanding of the issues. I will write here only to highlight that what is happening with the “catastrophic climate change” movement is far removed from science. It is at this point at least as corrupted as Soviet science during the era of Lysenko.
To put this into perspective, our atmosphere is made up mostly of nitrogen and oxygen. So called greenhouse gasses, which work to trap heat on our planet (and there are five – water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone), are trace gasses making up only roughly 2% of our atmosphere. Of those five trace greenhouse gasses, water vapor is by far the largest and most potent, comprising 95% of the greenhouse gasses. Carbon dioxide constitutes only 3.62% of those gasses, and the vast majority of carbon dioxide produced in out atmosphere is naturally occurring – over 96%. Even with all of the carbon dioxide man has released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, we are still only a tiny contributor to the total amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
Historically, neither our climate nor the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has ever been static. Our world has already seen five ice ages and five periods when the entire world has been, for all intents and purposes, free of ice. Indeed, that is what defines the end of an ice age. We are geologically speaking “in an interglacial period — the Holocene — of the ice age that began 2.6 million years ago,” thus one would expect temperatures to warm naturally. And indeed, they have doing just that since the last “Little Ice Age” in the 19th century. There are numerous theories as to what caused each of those prior ice ages and what then caused the recovery, but we can at least say some things with assurance: (1) At various times, the earth has been much warmer than it is now; (2) naturally occurring events of some sort have acted to change our climate continuously without any anthropogenic contribution; (3) the degree of temperature change we are experiencing now is well within the normal range of such changes historically; (4) the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has fluctuated wildly over time, at times being exponentially greater than our current concentration of 400 ppm; and (5) carbon dioxide concentrations do not show a strong correlation with climate warming. In other words, earth’s historic record does not provide substantive support for the catastrophic scenarios being spun by our political class today.
Further, it’s insane to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is necessary for life. At a concentration below 150 ppm, no plant – and thus no life – can survive. Dr. Patrick Moore, in his recent speech in London, makes the case that it is only man’s release of additional carbon dioxide into our atmosphere that has kept us above the 150 ppm line of true catastrophe. He also notes that 2000 ppm is optimal for plant growth.
Having said that, few people other than the Progressive’s favorite straw men contest that carbon dioxide, at least in the lab, creates a greenhouse effect and that at least some anthropogenic (i.e., man-made) effects are real. Given the larger mosaic of all other natural occurring things that affect global temperatures, such as solar radiation or the effect of water vapor as either a multiplier or divider of the effect of carbon dioxide, it’s another matter entirely to determine how much our tiny contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide actually changes the earth’s baseline temperature.
As it stands today, according to data from the UK’s MET Office, “the global mean temperature for the first nine months of 2015 was 1.02 Celsius above pre-industrial levels — meaning the world has warmed [on average] . . . 0.006 degrees per year for the last 165 years.” There’s nothing catastrophic about that. To the extent the warmists still claim that we are on the verge of a catastrophe, that claim is predicated upon climate modeling projections on computers – and these programs have uniformly failed to predict the current 18 year and 9 month pause in global warming.
The Theory of Carbon-Centric, Anthropogenic, Catastrophic Climate Change
The theory of carbon-centric, man-made (anthropogenic), catastrophic climate change stands or falls on one simple hypothesis – that carbon dioxide is our climate’s primary driver and that, as the amount of carbon dioxide produced by man increases in our atmosphere, so will global temperatures (at least if the effect of carbon dioxide is multiplied by interaction with water vapor.) Matt Ridley explains, summarizing science writer Jo Nova:
[T]he entire trillion-dollar industry of climate change policy rests on a single hypothetical assumption, first advanced in 1896, for which to this day there is no evidence. The assumption is that modest warming from carbon dioxide must be trebly amplified by extra water vapour — that as the air warms there will be an increase in absolute humidity providing “a positive feedback”. That assumption led to specific predictions that could be tested. And the tests come back negative again and again. The large positive feedback that can turn a mild warming into a dangerous one just is not there. There is no tropical troposphere hot-spot. Ice cores unambiguously show that temperature can fall while carbon dioxide stays high. Estimates of climate sensitivity, which should be high if positive feedbacks are strong, are instead getting lower and lower. Above all, the temperature has failed to rise as predicted by the models.
Actually, in addition to the fact that all the models predicting global catastrophe have failed, for the last 18 years and 9 months, the single best method we have for tracking that temperature – satellite data – shows no warming. The same was true of most land based temperature records – even as modified multiple times by NASA and NOAA – at least until this most recent change to those records by Tom Karl of NOAA.
Further, during the last 18 years and 9 months of no warming, “one-third of all anthropogenic forcings since 1750 have occurred . . .” In other words, of all the carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the atmosphere since the advent of the industrial revolution in 1750, one-third of it has been pumped into the atmosphere during the last 18 years and 9 months. If the hypothesis that carbon dioxide is our climate’s primary driver were true, we should have seen a very steep rise in temperatures during this period. Not only has there been no steep rise, there has been no rise at all – well, except for the small one recently and fraudulently written into our temperature records by the keystrokes from Tom Karl of NOAA.
In a world free of corruption, given the facts above, every scientist and politician in this country would be calling for a halt to spending any money on carbon-centric, anthropogenic climate change mitigation and instead be directing efforts to trying to determine why the hypothesis has failed. Obviously there are other forces at work, whether it be that water vapor is not a multiplier of the greenhouse effect of CO2, or that other forces mitigate the effects of CO2, or even that there are factors more important to our climate than CO2 (see for example, Svensmark’s theory regarding solar radiation and cloud formation).
But no such efforts are underway, at least as sanctioned by any government, here or internationally. It is not happening because the push for carbon-centric climate change mitigation, at this point, is not based on science. With trillions of dollars potentially in play, there is and never will be again so great an opportunity for rent-seeking politicians and academics to strike the mother lode. And beyond the massive economic incentives for this bit of corruption, there are also some who quite admittedly are motivated by a desire for power and control, and the desire to do away with democracy, republicanism, and free market capitalism.
Ironically enough, Obama promised to restore scientific integrity to our government when he took office in 2008. Instead he has taken a scimitar to it. There is nothing less trustworthy today than science as practiced under and relied upon by the Obama administration.
Science, born in the Age of Enlightenment, is defined ONLY by its process – hypothesis, testing, observations, conclusions, and reproduction. It is that last step that is crucial. Reproduction is the only means to provide objective verification and it is only that which sets science apart from religion or ideology. If a proposition cannot be validated or falsified, it is not science. If a study purporting to be science is not published with all the raw data and information to allow it to be validated or falsified, it is not science. It is at best wholly unreliable, at worst an outright fraud – just as Mann’s hockey stick proved to be after he was finally forced to publish all raw and supporting data.
Here is what science is supposed to look like. In 2011, CERN conducted an experiment during which physicists observed something seemingly impossible – neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. This observation, if true, would have invalidated Einstein’s theory of relativity. CERN checked and rechecked their experiment parameters and their data, then put all this information out in public, asking physicists to prove or disprove their finding. This whole process was lauded in the extreme by physicist Dr. Micho Kaku who wrote of the event in the WSJ:
. . . [I]n the end, this is a victory for science. No theory [not even Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the foundation of modern physics] is carved in stone. Science is merciless when it comes to testing all theories over and over, at any time, in any place. Unlike religion or politics, science is ultimately decided by experiments, done repeatedly in every form. There are no sacred cows. In science, 100 authorities count for nothing. Experiment counts for everything.
Now compare that to Obama standing up and announcing that the “science is settled” as to climate change. What he is really saying is that the politics are settled and that he will brook no scientific challenges to his political conclusions. As Dr. Krauthammer pointed out last year, such a political statement is pure “anti-science.”
A second equally bright red flag that screams that we are not dealing with science should pop up when, in response to questions about gaping holes in climate science, the global warming proponent ignores the questions and says repeatedly that 97% of all scientists believe that man-made global warming is real and catastrophic. That “97% consensus,” in addition to being a gross distortion, is another extreme example of “anti-science.” Dr. Richard Tol has gone to the trouble of taking a hard look at the numbers and methods behind the 97% consensus claim. This from the abstract of one of his articles on the topic:
A claim has been that 97% of the scientific literature endorses anthropogenic climate change (Cook et al., 2013. Environ. Res. Lett. 8, 024024). This claim, frequently repeated in debates about climate policy, does not stand. A trend in composition is mistaken for a trend in endorsement. Reported results are inconsistent and biased. The sample is not representative and contains many irrelevant papers. Overall, data quality is low. Cook׳s validation test shows that the data are invalid. Data disclosure is incomplete so that key results cannot be reproduced or tested. [emphasis added]
As to that last line, to reiterate, anything that cannot be reproduced or tested because of a failure to make available all information is, by definition, not science. And that has been one of the great problems with so many of the studies purporting to support the hypothesis of man-made, carbon centric, catastrophic climate change. Starting at least with Michael Mann in the late 90’s, climate scientists began publishing results of their studies without providing all of the raw data and other information necessary to allow their studies to be validated or fully reproduced. That is not a scientific study, it is an encyclical to the faithful and a snake oil ad aimed at the gullible.
Instead, it has been customary since the days of Mann’s infamous hockey stick for many in the climate science community to claim that their work is valid simply because it has been subject to peer review. Peer review is virtually meaningless. It is not a measure of reliability or accuracy, it does not validate the study, nor does it in any way substitute for the scientific method.
Nor is corrupt science the only problem. Even when scientists publish both their studies and all applicable raw data, etc., in good faith and in accordance with the scientific method, recent efforts by researchers in a variety of disciplines trying to reproduce their results have failed in a significant majority of cases:
. . . Over the past few years various researchers have made systematic attempts to replicate some of the more widely cited priming experiments. Many of these replications have failed. In April, for instance, a paper in PLoS ONE, a journal, reported that nine separate experiments had not managed to reproduce the results of a famous study from 1998 purporting to show that thinking about a professor before taking an intelligence test leads to a higher score than imagining a football hooligan.
The idea that the same experiments always get the same results, no matter who performs them, is one of the cornerstones of science’s claim to objective truth. If a systematic campaign of replication does not lead to the same results, then either the original research is flawed (as the replicators claim) or the replications are (as many of the original researchers on priming contend). Either way, something is awry. . . .
It is tempting to see the priming fracas as an isolated case in an area of science—psychology—easily marginalised as soft and wayward. But irreproducibility is much more widespread. A few years ago scientists at Amgen, an American drug company, tried to replicate 53 studies that they considered landmarks in the basic science of cancer, often co-operating closely with the original researchers to ensure that their experimental technique matched the one used first time round. According to a piece they wrote last year in , a leading scientific journal, they were able to reproduce the original results in just six. . . .
The takeaway is that, even when science is done right in such areas as quantum physics or medicine, study results are still quite often subject to invalidation when another scientist attempts to reproduce the study. The problem is exponentially worse in climate science where little to no attempt is being made to practice the scientific method.
The absolute nadir to this travesty has come with Obama’s EPA. For the past five years, Obama’s EPA has been significantly altering regulations associated with the Clean Air Act, moves that will potentially cost hundreds of billions of dollars, on the theory that reducing a particular emission will save X number of lives. All well and good if true, but the studies upon which the EPA relies to justify its edicts have not been published with sufficient information to allow for reproduction or validation:
The two studies that represent the scientific foundation for 1997 ozone and PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards are highly questionable and the data concealed, even though the studies were paid for by federal taxpayers and thus should be public property. Because the data is unavailable to the public, the two studies used to justify the federal government’s regulatory ambush have never been reproduced, independently verified or validated in any way.
This is not science. It is outrageous and as far from science as the Torah and the New Testament – both of which are exemplary books, but neither of which anyone (including the faithful) asserts are science treatises. And it should be noted that Democrats and Obama are opposing a bill that would require the EPA in particular to rely only on studies that are subject to reproduction and validation – i.e., actual science. Here ThinkProgress discusses the objections that Obama and other hard left progressives have raised to challenge the proposed bill:
The White House [said] in a memo released Monday that [requiring science to be public and subject to validation and reproduction] would cost the agency thousands of dollars for each scientific study it uses, thereby making it harder and more time-consuming to meet the requirements for each study it wants to use. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports that the EPA relies on approximately 50,000 scientific studies per year, and that meeting the goals of the House “Secret Science” bill would cost between $10,000 and $30,000 per study. [whereas the regulations being imposed based on those secret science studies cost our economy in the tens of billions or more]
The result, the CBO noted, would be that the number of studies relied upon by the EPA would be cut in half. That would mean EPA regulations based on less sound science [emphasis added] and less EPA regulations overall.
“In short, the bill would undermine EPA’s ability to protect the health of Americans, would impose expensive new mandates on EPA, and could impose substantial litigation costs on the Federal government,” the White House memo reads. “It also could impede EPA’s reliance on thebest available science [emphasis added].”
To say that subjecting scientific studies to validation and reproduction would result in “less sound science” or that studies that have not been validated are the “best available science” is quite literally Orwellian. It stands reality on its head. If a study is not validated or subject to reproduction IT IS NOT SCIENCE to begin with. It is merely a document that, in this case, supports an ideological position a politician favors and the reliability of which the politician wants us to accept on faith alone.
Compare this desire to rely on studies that have not been validated with Dr. Micho Kaku’s celebration of how physicists and CERN dealt with the testing that ultimately tagged as false the finding that neutrinos could move faster than the speed of light. What would the state of physics be today if Obama told the world that the science was settled, CERN hid its data from public knowledge, and the EPA proposed regulations costing our nation hundreds of billions of dollars for neutrino mitigation? While I am being tongue in cheek, this does highlight precisely the difference between politics coupled with the corruption of science and actual science of the only kind in which we should place any reliance.
Trofim Lysenko became the Director of the . . . Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences in the 1930s under Josef Stalin. He was an advocate of the [now falsified] theory that characteristics acquired by plants during their lives could be inherited by later generations stemming from the changed plants, which sharply contradicted Mendelian genetics. As a result, Lysenko became a fierce critic of theories of the then rising modern genetics.
Lysenkoism was “politically correct” (a term invented by Lenin) because it was consistent with certain broader Marxist doctrines. . . .
Lysenko was consequently embraced and lionized by the Soviet media propaganda machine. Scientists who promoted Lysenkoism with faked data and destroyed counterevidence were favored with government funding and official recognition and award. Lysenko and his followers and media acolytes responded to critics by impugning their motives, and denouncing them as bourgeois fascists resisting the advance of the new modern Marxism.
The V.I. Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences announced on August 7, 1948 that thenceforth Lysenkoism would be taught as the only correct theory. All Soviet scientists were required to denounce any work that contradicted Lysenkoism. Ultimately, Soviet geneticists resisting Lysenkoism were imprisoned and even executed. Lysenkoism was abandoned for the correct modern science of Mendelian genetics only as late as 1964.
By 1964, Lysenkoism’s ascendency contributed to tens of millions of people starving to death because of Marxist created famines. That sad chapter in history – one which should be a dire warning, not a script — is obviously parallel to what has gone on, and is still going on, in regards to climate science in the west, even down to the calls that dissenters be imprisoned or banished from “public discourse.” Most recently:
Warmist scientists including UN IPCC Lead Author Kevin Trenberth [sent in a letter] to Obama: ‘We appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool – recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change. We strongly endorse Senator Whitehouse’s call for a RICO investigation.’
At least one of these calls for using our laws to punish “evil” corporations over climate change is already underway in New York, thanks to its Attorney General, who is investigating Exxon on the charge of fraudulently misleading the public about the reality of climate change:
Scurry on board the Exxon prosecution express. Lest they be left behind and called “deniers,” Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley,the attorney general of New York, and Al Gore this week all demanded criminal investigation of Exxon Mobil as a result of recent media “exposés.” . . .
Not one of these worthies likely examined the evidence, which tells a story quite different from the claim that Exxon somehow concealed its understanding of the climate debate. . . .
Acknowledging and even studying man’s impact on the climate, as Exxon has done and continues to do, is not tantamount to endorsing a green policy agenda of highly questionable value.
And that’s the real problem. Read closely and the accusation isn’t really that Exxon misled the public by emphasizing the uncertainties of climate science, which are real. It’s that Exxon refused to sign up for a vision of climate doom that would justify large and immediate costs to reduce fossil fuel use. . . .
Within a remarkably short time, we have gone from practicing science in this county – the objective search for truth – all the way onto the margins of Lysenkoism. Any deviation from dogma can lead to all sorts of negative consequences, now including the real threat of criminal prosecution. This is out of control. Lyesenkoism contributed to the death of tens of millions of Soviets in the famines of the 30’s. I can easily foresee our own brand of Lysenkoism contributing to as many deaths worldwide as a huge portion of the world’s economy is redirected to climate change mitigation, costing jobs, raising prices for transportation, energy, and all goods, and thus driving countless millions into poverty. There is reason for deep and sincere concern.
The Ridley, Moore and Roberts articles, as well as the Wyatt presentation, discuss in detail the problems with the carbon-centric, anthropogenic catastrophic climate change theory. What is supporting that theory now is not science, it is politics and economics. The marrying of politics and economics with the climate change theory has led us to corrupt science and relive Lysenkoism in the West.
There are a few things that could easily be done to help restore integrity to science:
One, Congress needs to pass the secret science bill requiring that government agencies may rely only on studies that have been validated or reproduced, based upon the studies’ underlying data. This utterly corrupt practice of relying on studies that have not been validated or reproduced because key data is withheld must end.
Two, when taxpayer dollars are used to fund scientific studies, those studies must adhere to the scientific method – a requirement that must be ruthlessly enforced. Any scientist whose name appears on a study that does not contain all of the raw data, etc., necessary to allow for the validation and reproduction of the study should thereafter be ineligible to receive any government grants.
Three, everything about the way we manage our historic temperature records needs to be changed. It is difficult to know where to begin. At a minimum, we must get rid of the current employees handling those records who are, almost to a person, vocal proponents of global warming. Further, any proposed changes to any aspect of our temperature records must be subject to the scientific method. Finally, we must require that proposed changes to the temperature record be published in advance, as well as all of the underlying work and algorithms, so that they can be subject to comment and validation.
Four, blatant academic fraud needs to be criminally punished. We no longer live in a time when scientists police themselves and deal with academic fraud at the institutional level. When Michael Mann can be rewarded with a full professorship and experience no adverse action for fraud, the rot in our system must be addressed or the message will be that it is okay to promote academic fraud as a means to secure not merely employment, but the government taxpayer-funded grants that are part and parcel of professional success in many areas of academia.
Five, though this essay merely alludes to the role of publications, peer review, and gatekeepers, their importance in the world of “publish or perish” academia is very significant. The government should take comprehensive steps to lessen their role in all fields of science. I foresee some sort of publicly available, searchable government database that collects and collates the results and information necessary to validate or reproduce all government-funded studies as well as any and all private studies that scientists might submit for inclusion. I can see no other way to lessen the corrupt practices and biases that, as Climategate revealed, have irrevocably tainted the peer review and publication process, and that have played such a huge role in limiting voices that dissent from the approved “science.”
Legal Issues Raised By The Clean Power Act & The UN’s Paris Conference
In 2009, the Democrat-controlled House passed a bill that would have declared greenhouse gasses pollutants, that would have imposed a cap and trade bill on our nation, and that would have enacted a whole host of other laws relating to climate change mitigation. The bill died in the Democrat-controlled Senate. It could not be passed on a vote of our elected representatives.
Article I, Section I of our Constitution provides that our Congress has the sole power to pass legislation. With the failure of the left’s green energy bill, the whole issue should have ended there. But it has not. Instead, in 2009, the EPA unilaterally declared greenhouse gasses to be pollutants under the Clean Air Act and has since been issuing numerous regulations relating to climate change mitigation, all with the force and effect of law and all with far ranging consequences for our economy.
The EPA is not unique among our regulatory agencies. All have become little fiefdoms under Obama, issuing regulations with the force of law that could never pass by a vote of our elected representatives, whether it be the DOJ reinterpreting Title IX to cover sexual orientation and transsexualism; the DOE threatening colleges with withholding federal funds unless they adopt policies that create an inquisition for males accused of any sort of sex related offense; the FCC opting to regulate the internet; or HHS requiring all Obamacare plans to cover abortifacients, essentially regardless of religious objection. We are not today living under the Constitution as it was passed over two centuries ago, though Art. 1, Sec. 1 has never been amended.
Today, Congress is very far from even being the most important source of our legislation. Our nation now most clearly resembles the socialist regulatory bureaucracy of the EU, where mountains of regulations with the full force and effect of law are passed by unelected bureaucrats. In our nation today, individuals, businesses, and private and public organizations can be fined, sanctioned, forced to close, and jailed for violating federal regulations that have never been subject to a vote by our elected representatives, nor signed into law by the President. The genius of our Constitutional system of checks and balances is wholly obliterated in the tyranny of our modern the regulatory bureaucracy.
How we got here goes back to the days of FDR threatening the Supreme Court with his court-packing scheme unless the justices began supporting his constitutionally deficient New Deal plans, one of which was the strengthening of regulatory bureaucracies that had the potential, today realized, to bypass the Constitution and democracy.
At the most fundamental level, it is this systemic toxin in our body politic that must be excised if we are ever to return to a Constitutional balance. But the Supreme Court, once the defender of our Constitution, is now utterly complicit in its nullification. The justices have not only supported the regulatory bureaucracy as it stands over the past century, they have decided to get in on the game of making Constitutional amendments themselves with such decisions as Roe v. Wade and Obergefell. None of this will end until the progressive left loses both its control over the Court and its ability to block any legislation that would return sole legislative authority to Congress. Simply put, the progressive left sees in the regulatory bureaucracy, as they see in our Courts, a way of dispensing with the Constitution and democracy to impose their will in a way that they could never achieve through the ballot box.
The Clean Power Plan and The Clean Air Act
Even in the context of our modern, out-of-control regulatory bureaucracy, the EPA vastly overreached itself (even more so than before) when it recently announced its Clean Power Plan, which essentially acts as a precedent for all regulatory agencies to legislate outside of their Congressionally established boundaries. Twenty-four states have already filed a lawsuit asking the Court to find the Clean Power Act unconstitutional. An article in The Atlantic gets a little into the legal weeds, but still gives a good feel for the degree to which the EPA is creating powers for itself that simply have no basis in the law:
The plan requires states to reorganize their electrical power mix and electricity usage, matters that EPA has no statutory power to regulate directly, in order to eliminate the coal-fired power generation that it can regulate directly. There is debate about the plan’s constitutionality, but none whatsoever about its lack of benefits. The EPA itself admits that the plan’s utility against the threat of climate change will be so small (reducing warming by 0.016 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century) that it will be impossible to measure.
Even a trivial risk to the Constitution might seem to outweigh a trivial benefit. And the risks here are anything but trivial, worse than even the plan’s opponents have fully grasped. Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, an Obama mentor, has attacked the plan, as David Graham recently explained:
Tribe argues that the rule violates the Fifth Amendment because it constitutes a regulatory “taking” by the federal government, limiting a corporation’s use of its coal plants without due compensation, and that it violates the Tenth Amendment by coercing states into creating their own CO2 reduction plans or else risking the federal government imposing its own plan.
The whole scheme of cooperative federal-state regulations also raises major constitutional questions. When the EPA says to the states, in effect, “develop a plan to implement our new regulation, or we will impose a federal plan, and you won’t like it,” it is inherently coercive. But that’s the way the Clean Air Act is structured, along with a host of other federal programs. The Supreme Court, though, has thus far taken a permissive view of this de facto federal takeover of the functions of state government.
But the problems with the Clean Power Plan go deeper. Normally, when the EPA threatens to impose a federal plan, it actually has the statutory authority to do what it’s asking the states to do. The coercion (or “encouragement” as the Supreme Court prefers to call it) occurs within a field of concurrent federal-state jurisdiction. But the Clean Power Plan is missing that essential ingredient. Even the EPA admits that it has no statutory authority to impose directly the measures it’s asking states to take. . . .
Do read the entire article as it discusses further Constitutional infirmities with the EPA’s plan. If the courts uphold this plan, then we will see yet a further, significant expansion of the power of every branch of regulatory bureaucracy.
Refusal By NOAA To Comply With A Congressional Subpoena
Since the earliest days of our nation, Congress has exercised oversight over federal agencies. This implied authority stems directly from Congress’s ability to compel testimony and demand document production, as well as the fact that it authorizes taxpayer money to flow to these agencies. But as so often happens with the Obama administration, Congress’s attempts at oversight have been ignored to a degree that would have Richard Nixon spinning in his grave. From Fast and Furious, to Lois Lerner and the IRS, to the State Department and Benghazi, the Obama administration has successfully stonewalled each Congressional investigation, whether by refusing to produce documents or agree to testimony, and a seemingly emasculated Congress has done nothing of consequence to force the issue.
Now we come to NOAA and Tom Karl’s revision of our historical temperature records, revisions that appear on their face to be politically driven and fraudulent. According to The Hill:
Citing confidentiality concerns and the integrity of the scientific process, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it won’t give Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) the research documents he subpoenaed. . . .
Late Tuesday, NOAA provided Smith with some more information about its methods and data but refused to give Smith everything he wanted. NOAA spokeswoman Ciaran Clayton said the internal communications are confidential and not related to what Smith is trying to find out.
“We stand behind our scientists who conduct their work in an objective manner. It is the end product of exchanges between scientists — the detailed publication of scientific work and the data that underpins the authors’ findings — that are key to understanding the conclusions reached. . . .
Smith also said NOAA’s assertion of confidentiality is incorrect. . . .
This is shameless. There is no privilege at federal or state law for communications between scientists. Furthermore, to the extent those communications are memorialized in documents, emails, and recordings by and between government officials, they are public records. Lastly, the integrity of the scientific process lies in the transparency surrounding the study, not in hiding any aspect of it.
The problem for NOAA scientists is going to be that their internal discussions likely centered around such things as how inappropriate it is to adjust ARGO temperature readings to match the temperature readings of water sucked in through a ships engine. A smoking gun like that would show the scientists’ fraudulent intent. Unless the Obama administration is willing to go to bat for NOAA and once again emasculate a Congressional investigation, then NOAA has problems. Allowing NOAA to successfully ignore the subpoena, would be just one more precedent in Congress’s road to emasculation. At this point, as important as that legal precedent is, it feels almost minor with all of the other crises we face.
The Paris Agreement
In 1997, uber-warmie Al Gore led a delegation to the UN’s climate change talks at Kyoto. He negotiated a deal that the Clinton administration treated as a treaty, meaning that it could go into effect only if Congress ratified it. Knowing that the treaty’s failure was assured, President Clinton never submitted it to Congress.
When Obama attends the UN’s climate change talks at the Paris Conference on 30 November this month, a potentially binding agreement, discussed earlier in this paper, will be up for consideration. It is a deal that clearly must be submitted to Congress for ratification as a treaty if it is enacted in its current form, as it would work a change to our Constitutional system if enacted. This is so because, first, only the House has the right to appropriate funds, and paying the better part of a hundred billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the UN would certainly qualify as an appropriation. Second, if the U.S. agrees to the formation of a court of climate justice and to respect such a body’s decisions, it would recognize a body of law supreme to legislation enacted by Congress, thus violating the Constitution’s mandate of Art. 1, Sec. 1 that only Congress has the power to legislate.
Under any reasonable reading of the Constitution, a Paris Agreement along the lines now proposed would have to pass Congress – and there is zero chance of that. And yet there was zero chance of the Iran Agreement passing Congress. Nonetheless, Obama signed the deal and has treated it as binding, even though the terms of the agreement violate at least one duly enacted law.
In truth, I can’t see how Obama could negotiate a Paris agreement, fail to submit it to Congress, yet treat it as binding. But then again, I have been continuously amazed by the Constitutional overreach of the Obama administration, whether it be from making unilateral changes to the law, as Obama did with welfare reform and Obamacare; Presidential usurpation of Congress’s legislative authority, as he has tried to do with DAPA; ignoring Congress’s Constitutional mandate to sole approving authority for treaties, as well as the Obama administrations utter disdain for Congress’s oversight authority. And of course, it continues to amaze that, in the face of these direct Constitutional assaults, Congress is supine.
Obama’s aggressive use of the regulatory bureaucracy to pass into effective law that which could not be passed through Congress – indeed, which was, in the case of the EPA, disapproved of by Congress in 2009 – has placed us in a Constitutional crisis. We are no longer operating as a Republic and will not be until we reign in the systemic toxin of the regulatory bureaucracy as mini legislative agencies. Our system of government based on checks and balances no longer operates subject to those imperative Constitutional safeguards. Moreover, if the courts uphold it, the Clean Power Plan will set a precedent by extending regulatory power into the realm of legislation, thus making our Constitutional problems significantly worse.
If NOAA can ignore a Congressional subpoena with no legal basis for such act, than Congress, at least as far as oversight is concerned, has been effectively neutered. Things will be even worse if Obama somehow inks a Paris agreement along the lines currently proposed, then attempts to enforce it as a binding obligation without Congressional approval as a treaty. If that were to succeed, then Congress would be truly emasculated. Obama would be able to effectively govern this nation without substantive recourse to Congress.
Progressives intend to use Obama’s last months in office to advance an aggressive war on all fronts against the supposed horrors of anthropogenic catastrophic climate change. The real catastrophe will happen if they are successful in doing so.
If the Progressives’ climate change push advances, America’s economy will be devastated in the service of an ideology that has given up any pretense of relying upon the scientific method to justify its demands. Politicians and complicit greenie scientists, as well as arch-polluter China, have been and will continue to be financially enriched thanks to the climate change hysteria, but America as a whole will suffer greatly.
In the pursuit of these climate change riches, the Obama administration has repeatedly flouted Congress’s refusal to “get with” the Obama agenda (even though Congress’s refusal reflects the will of the people as embodied in their elected representatives). The Obama administration has repeatedly usurped Congress’s constitutional authority when its agencies have ignored Congress’s refusal to pass certain laws and, instead, created rules based upon those same rejected legislative initiatives. Congress has responded by . . . doing nothing.
Unless ordinary citizens vociferously demand that Congress re-claim its constitutional powers by pushing back against Obama’s legislative takeover, those powers, once gone, may never return. Without the bulwark of its representative body, America will continue to follow fraudulent scientific methods and outcomes down an economically ruinous and constitutionally bankrupt path.