RealClimate received a copy of a letter from the General Manager of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA, an energy cooperative in Colorado), Stanley R. Lewandowski (Jr), to other utilities (G&T’s in the jargon) in the US discussing fundraising and tactics for a new disinformation campaign on climate change (see Seth Borenstein’s piece yesterday).
This is enlightening on a number of levels. Firstly, though we knew that this stuff goes on, it’s rare that we get such a close look at how it happens. Secondly, who is to be the lead on this new campaign? None other than our old friend Patrick Michaels. Additionally, it is useful to see the reasons why some utilties are fighting against the idea of climate change set out more clearly than in their more carefully manicured press briefings. It might actually help people engage on the substance of their concerns rather than simply arguing about the science – which, as we are by now well aware, – is simply a path to gridlock.
We’ll highlight some of the best bits, and discuss what this all might imply below.
After introducing the looming problem of global warming and potential emission caps, the letter states:
We here at IREA believe that it is necessary to support the scientific community that is willing to stand up against the alarmists and bring a balance to the discussion. Many scientists have an opinion, but only a few have any involvment in climatology.
Indeed. It goes on:
We decided to support Dr. Patrick Michaels. … In February of this year, IREA alone contributed $100,000 to Dr. Michaels. In addition, we have contacted all the G&T’s in the United States … and obtained additional contributions and pledges for Dr. Michaels’ group. We will be following up the remaining G&T’s over the next several weeks.
Nice work if you can get it! Interestingly, the letter drops some hints on the funding for the CEI ads last month:
[CEI] has been running two ads in ten states that were financed by General Motors and the Ford Motor Company. …. We have met with Koch [Industries], CEI and Dr. Michaels and they meet among themselves periodically to discuss their activities.
Hmm…. Later on the letter concedes that the ‘issue is not going to go away’, but apparently without a hint of irony, blames that on the ‘special interests’ (you know, that powerful lobby of climate scientists that control the administration).
The ‘science’, such as it is, appears to be sourced from a Mike Rosen column in Rocky Mountain News (or from an extremely similarly phrased common source) and an egregious Canada Free Press article by Tom Harris. There is an odd preponderance of quotes from Russian academicians which gives it away. Most of it has been dealt with here before, for instance Shaidurov’s opinion about water vapour. We will do a more detailed rebuttal in a couple of days.
While interesting, the letter is also a little disappointing. Many utilities, companies, and even politicians, have actually started to think about how to deal with the climate change challenge in a serious manner. This kind of retrograde ostrich-like behaviour seems so… 90’s. However, in among the distortions there are statements that reflect the real (and valid) concerns of the utilities – that their reliance on coal-powered generation renders them vulnerable to any carbon emission tax or cap and trade system. Bringing these groups around will require support for diversification of energy sources, forward thinking on future possibilities for carbon sequestration, and assurances that they won’t be uniquely burdened. They will probably never like this, but it may be possible make them accept it.
It is also worth stating that the existence of this kind of campaign does not in and of itself imply that the arguments used by Michaels and co. are bunk (they mostly are, but that can be shown with reference to the literature). But it does imply that one needs to be sure of ones sources. To paraphrase John Betjeman, any quote from Michaels should probably be followed with ‘So spake the industry’s P.R.O, A man who really ought to know, For he is paid for saying so’.
Update: Ford has denied directly funding the CEI ads (see comments below). Maybe IREA got this information from the same place they got their science?…
128 Responses to "Disinformation? You want it, IREA’s got it"
Who said that environmentalism wasn’t a big business too..
“Although environmental organizations have accomplished many stirring and important victories over the years, today groups prosper while the land does not. Competition for money and members is keen. Litigation is a blood sport. Crisis, real or not, is a commodity. And slogans and sound bites masquerade as scientific fact.”
“National environmental organizations, I fear, have grown away from the grass roots to mirror the foxes they had been chasing,” said environmental author Michael Frome, at a wilderness conference in Seattle last year. “They seem to me to have turned tame, corporate and compromising.”
Mark A. York says
Gavin, the false argument they use is they do so because of contributions. Any fool could see that the comparision between the Sierra Club and an major utility is an excercise in imbalance. It works on a large number of people.
Robin Johnson says
The folks working and managing most industries reflexively don’t like being told what to do. Worse, since most “safety/health” technology exists long before its mandated, the failure of an industry to voluntarily adopt a health or safety measure without a government mandate implies they are “bad” people. Most folks don’t want to be bad people – so they deny it (internally and externally). So they argue that the costs of a measure is excessive compared to the benefit and hence bad for the economy or somehow restricts liberty. Its just human nature. And yelling at them doesn’t help. It just reinforces the “I’m bad so I’ve got to deny it” syndrome.
So, we had auto unions, auto companies and those “tree hugging” Democrats from the midwest opposing seat belts, pollution controls [the only reason the lead was taken out of the gasoline was because it fouled the catalytic convertors not for safety concerns about the lead]. Diesel exhaust was unregulated until THIS year. Lead in paint. Indiscriminate use of pesticides. Asbestos in brakes and fireproofing. The examples are virtually endless and highly predictable.
For years, various politicians and commentators screamed for “Cost Benefit Analysis” for health and safety rules. You never hear that anymore. You know why? Everytime the NIH, OSHA or EPA did a cost benefit analysis for a proposed rule – the benefits so dwarfed the costs it was simply embarrassing.
The trouble is the benefits are to society as a whole while the costs are borne by a specific industry. Of course, in most cases, the costs are just passed onto the consumer – who doesn’t recognize the “benefit” either and this generates a level of denial and resentment. Amusingly, most industries benefit from mandated costs. All their competitors have to do it. The companies can point to the gov’t for the reason they had to raise prices. For utilities, the PSCs “rig” the rates so that the utilities make 15% profit. So if costs go up – rates have to go up – so if the margin remains the same – they actually make more money.
In some cases, rival industries will push a particular health and safety rule to “harm” their competitors. For example, if you own low sulfur coal mines or natural gas reserves – you’ll push rules to limit sulfur emissions causing your “energy rivals” who own high sulfur coal and oil shales to suffer and increasing demand for your product. Same goes for ethanol and MTBE.
So what’s my point?
Some folks say “its all about the money”. But its not always – even for profit driven corporations. Seemingly irrational behavior abounds the human experience. This needs to be kept in mind when dealing with intractable opponents. Humans only change behavior in response to force or reason. Force is usually a lot more work than reason but it just seems simpler. When companies act irrationally, we need to try reason and meanwhile rally others to apply pressure (force) as necessary.
Glen Fergus says
Please can we stop suggesting a Carbon Tax? New taxes have been political death since the Domesday Book. We’re talking about private consumption of a public resource, namely the 100-year buffering capacity of the world’s oceans. We mostly regulate such things by licensing, not taxation – things like fishing, shooting, grazing on public lands. Licenses usually involve license fees, time limits and take caps. And they are often tradeable.
So it should be a Carbon Emission License, and yes, cap and trade.
In principle, you are right, but try and explain about peer reviews to people who know nothing about sciences or have no access to bibliography but still have the right to vote or otherwise affect the business world. They may be illiterate or educated but with a theoretical background and no interest in sciences whatsoever… Should we exclude them from information? Or voting?
I think it would be better if more of the “correct” science found its way to the mass media. One way to do this, is to reply to the “false” one that already occupies much of their pages and air time. My grandma and grandpa don’t even know who Chrichton is – Well, I don’t, either, but I can google it, I suppose :)
What I’m trying to say is that it should be made clear to everyone without a special scientific education that it has nothing to do with political opposition to their favourite candidate.
re: 50. Who is getting carried away? From illconsidered.blogspot.com:
The list of scientific institutions that have all concluded there is a real danger:
NASA GISS http://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/gwdebate/
UK RS http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=3135
Every major scientific institute dealing with climate, ocean, atmosphere agrees that the evidence says the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human CO2.
See also this joint statement endorsing the conclusions of the IPCC issued by the Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Royal Society (UK).
pat neuman says
Not every major scientific institute dealing with climate, ocean, and atmosphere agrees there is that the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human emissions of CO2. A major exception not on your list is the National Weather Service (NWS). NWS has a staff of 5,500 with contacts to media, local governments and other federal agencies, and it has resources to do outreach, training and forecasting of weather and climate within all the states. Your list included NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), but NCDC has no day to day contact with the public and media staff. NOAA’s NWS is the agency the public goes to on weather and climate. From my experience, when I worked for NWS until July 2005, NWS managers officially told people that global warming was too political and controversial for their office to deal with, but unofficially NWS managers and senior meteorologists were telling the public there was no global warming problem. Similar statements were made by many of the State Climatologists.
Originally the state climatologist in each state in the United States
was a federal employing working for NOAA, as described in the article called: History of the State Climatologist in New Mexico posted at:
Francis Massen says
Re #8: “However, environmental groups do not have a vested interest in the existence of global warming (Gavin)” and #16:
In my opinion, quite the contrary is true: here in Luxembourg, GW is one of the pillars supporting Greenpeace and many of it’s more spectacular actions (it is not acid rain and Waldsterben any more…). Environmental groups do need (real or putative) local and global dangers for their surviving!
BTW, I note that discussions starting with a very precise point (as the funding of Dr. Michaels here) tend to drift rapidly to the overall and much broader discussions of energy use, decarbonization, taxes, etc. Could a bit more severe editing by RC staff keep the discussions on the track laid out at the starting block ?
Thanks Thomas Lee Elifritz and Mark Shapiro, I shall pursue in due course and I really dont mind going nuts.
Bruce Marshall says
“unofficially NWS managers and senior meteorologists were telling the public there was no global warming problem. Similar statements were made by many of the State Climatologists.”–
Pat, why do you suppose this is so? That is, why this systematic “bias” (if that’s what it is)?
(My limited experience with such individuals is consistent with your generalization.)
re: 57. Pat, I understand what you are saying but I disagree that the NWS is “major scientific institute”. Thus they would not be on the list anyway. NWS, while a part of NOAA, does not do much basic research as compared to other the various branches of NOAA, eg. ARL, etc. My point is that a skeptic can not cite any major scientific research institute (here or abroad) that does not agree that the climate is warming and the primary cause is anthropogenic emissions of CO2. Certainly/unfortunately the NWS is not saying anything officially one way or the other; but at least it is also not agreeing with skeptics. That said, I have heard a NWS employee express their personal opinion in a public presentation in a way that would please skeptics. Perhaps then it is good that the NWS does not express itself officially. ;-)
As for NCDC, at least they do have good scientific information on the provided link.
Thanks again to Coby for the list and links that I copied from his blog.
John L. McCormick says
WHO determines the Geoengineering forum is now closed.
That is an arbitrary decision and does not respect the fact contributors were still in active discussion even if it was not of the highest quality.
At least the issue is more relevant than the now-sufficient horse whipping of IREA.
pat neuman says
re 61, 60
Research and development for weather, climate and hydrologic modeling and prediction are important NWS responsibilities and tasks which should include climate change influences. The field offices are led by research scientists in headquarters offices. NWS Headquarters offices have research and development responsibilities in climate, hurricanes, severe weather, hydrology, and day to day weather forecast modeling. The NWS field offices in weather prediction and hydrology also have research and development components for when not much is happening operationally.
Bruce, the systematic bias might be explained by recognizing that meteorology in the US has been led by a group of senior men at Universities and government agencies which includes UW Madison’s Reid Bryson, Colorado State’s Roger Pielke Sr and William Gray, Virginia State’s Patrick Michaels, John Christy, Taylor at Oregon State, and others, many of them having served as State Climatologists and senior members of the American Meteorologic Society (AMS). Being a member of AMS has been a positive element on a resume, and for having a listened to voice on climate, including the downplaying of climate change and anthropogenic global warming. The way to get career advances has not included work related to climate change. The way to get the boot has.
Mike Neuman says
The “systematic bias” against telling the truth about the global warming threat is well imbedded in the U.S.’s economic and political economy in Washington and in corporate America. It starts with big industry. The primary greenhouse gas feeding industries are big oil, coal and natural gas; the secondary GHG feeding industries are the automobile, trucking, airline and utility industries, who burn the fuel; and the third level of industries dependent on continued emissions of GHGs are the road building, advertising and mass media industries. All of them have a stake in maintaining the status quo on fossil fuel burning. They also contribute campaign money to our politicians in Washington to see that things don’t change significantly from what’s in their best interest. Global warming and reduced fossil fuel burning is obviously not in their best interest, so they put pressure on the politicians to keep quiet about it, or speak out against it. The Bush administration (who directs the activities of the U.S. Department of Commerce which controls the National Weather Service) and most other politicians are heavily depended on campaign contributions from these industries, so they listen to them and honor their requests. No doubt that is why there is a system level avoidance by NWS officials to report global warming as a problem, we less suggesting that anything meaningful need be done about it.
Another example – we (the public) have still not found out what Vice-president Dick Cheney and the heads of the major energy-related corporations discussed during a meeting held at the beginning of Cheney’s first term in office. Bush announced his objection to the Kyoto Treaty shortly thereafter. Any bets on what was discussed at the meeting?
Karl Sanchez says
Re #58, if there were no environmental crises, would there be environmental activist groups? At the end of the 19th century it was noted that the prodigious consumption of resources must result in a movement to conserve them along with a few of the more scenic landscapes in the US. This movement was started politically by Teddy Roosevelt, which is why he’s on Mt Rushmore. Another of TR’s policies was to try to rationalize US Big Business’s drive toward devouring itself and radicalizing the working class–The Square Deal. If there hadn’t been industrialisation, there would have been no need of a conservation movement. The current environmental movement resulted in response to the depredations of industry and its control of government. If industry had been environmentally responsible from its outset, would there be an environmental movement today? Would we have AGW? Acid rain? Thinning ozone layer? Innumerable types of cancer?
And despite its attempt to disassociate Ford and GM from its (CEI) propaganda, I stand by the logic of my earlier statement: Ford and GM monies finance CEI operations; thus, Ford and GM help finance all CEI proaganda (donations go into a general budget, payments for propaganda come from the same budget). If I donate to GreenPeace, the money goes toward financing all operations; same when Ford, GM, or anything else donates to CEI.
re: 63. Yes but the point was that the NWS does not conduct global warming/climate change research, which was the original intent of the listing of scientific agencies who either do or at least have policies on it which support the scientific consensus. Certainly NWS does research on weather forecasting and hydrological issues. For example, my local NWS office has done work on freezing rain forecast issues.
pat neuman says
Please look at it this way. The point that NWS does not conduct climate change research does not make it right for them to ignore climate change in the development of their procedures to help save life and property. NWS models and predictions involve weather, hurricanes, flooding and water supplies. For example, it was obvious to me that the timing of spring snowmelt was changing from 1980-2000. Thus I wanted to do research as part of my senior hydrologist responsibility in putting together NWS Upper Midwest Spring Flood Outlooks. I was not allowed to do that by supervisors at the NWS North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC) and NWS directors. Do you agree with NWS supervisors and directors that climate change in the Upper Midwest is too political and controversial for NWS NCRFC hydrologists to research?
Pat, I can’t answer that simply because I nor anyone else reading here do not have enough information to do so. You may think it is obvious because of your personal involvement but that is your opinion from one perspective. I certainly won’t attack the NWS for not conducting climate change research per se. I would though if they had a policy that specifically flies in the face of the scientific consensus. I do not see that. If there is one, please post a reference to it.
This has steered off course from the original content which was that skeptics do not have any climate, oceanic, or atmospheric scientific institutions here or abroad behind them. And that includes the NWS.
Post-script to 68. I meant to add that NWS models and model output statistics (for example, the ETA MOS) are regularly updated for various reasons, some technical and some scientific. While not specifically designed to reflect climate change, it does become incorporated in a de facto manner. I beleive the ETA MOS was designed using model data from April 2000 through September 2003.
pat neuman says
Dan, you wrote in 56 that: … Every major scientific institute dealing with climate, ocean, atmosphere agrees that the evidence says the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human CO2. …
In 57 I disagreed with that statement because I view NWS as a major institute dealing with climate, ocean, atmosphere but NWS does not agree that the evidence says the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human CO2.
In 68 you said that you can’t answer the question (below) simply because you nor anyone else reading here does not have enough information to do so.
The question was/is:
Do you agree … that climate change in the Upper Midwest is too political and controversial for NWS NCRFC hydrologists to research?
However, you are correct that our discussion has steered off course from the original content. I was simply trying to point out that I believe your statement in 56. was incorrect.
re: 70. Yes, I answered your question. I stand firmly by the scientific consensus as evident by the national and world-wide agencies,including NOAA, listed in post #56. To repeat what I wrote in #66, the NWS does not conduct global warming/climate change research nor do they have any written policy on it that I am aware of. If you are aware of one, please post it. That is the issue. My statement in #56 stands. The NWS is not listed as it does not conduct global warming research. Just because they do not conduct climate change research does not mean it is due to political or controversial reasons. Especially when other branches of NOAA do conduct such research.
54. Carbon Emission License. Brilliant. I’m going to use that term from now on.
Me: Excuse me sir, do you have a license to drive that Hummer?
Hummer, owner: Sure, of course I do. I have a driver’s license.
Me. Ahem. No, I’m talking about a Carbon Emission License. Sorry, but I’m going to have to call the Department of Carbon Emissions (DCE) and have your vehicle confiscated.
Hank Roberts says
“National Weather Service Mission: “The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts …”
I have the solution to the global warming problem.
Make the CEO and board members of Exxon, Western Fuels, etc. all stand in line at the DCE to get their carbon-emission licenses. Be sure to staff the DCE with former DMV workers. That way, they’ll *never* get their licenses.
pat neuman says
The research by Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center challenges two studies published last year by other respected
One of the studies, by Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, was considered the first major research to challenge the
belief that global warming’s affect on hurricanes was too slight to
accurately measure and that climate change likely won’t substantially
change tropical storms for decades. — End of excerpt —
New report disputes global warming’s effect on hurricane strength
In 71 you wrote: … the NWS does not conduct global warming/climate change research …
If that is true than how does Chris Landsea of the NWS National Hurricane Center do research on hurricanes without conducting global warming/climate change evaluation when the consensus is that global warming is happening and that the oceans are warming?
Question regarding “Nuclear Power Plants”.
Is Nuclear Power contributing to greenhouse gas emissions?
Is there a solution to these kind of issues – power plant constructer figuring out lately?
(see “Heatwave shuts down nuclear power plants” http://www.guardian.co.uk/Observer/world/story/0,,1833620,00.html )
If my first question is positive could someone please point out how much?
Cause news such this item appear:”Nuclear power is problematic in many ways, but it doesnâ��t contribute to the greenhouse effect, so its supporters now make greenhouse arguments.”
source – http://www.annistonstar.com/opinion/2006/as-insight-0730-0-6g28p5555.htm
John Hunter says
I know that this is now rather old news, but the subject of this thread reminds me very much of the Annual Reports put out by Western Fuels Association Inc. a few years ago. The 1998 and 2000 Annual reports are available, with a commentary at:
(note that some of the organisations involved in the network surrounding Western Fuels have moved on and therefore some of the links no longer work).
One thing that amazed me at the time was the overtness with which the company was prepared to indulge in “advocacy”.
re 75. Pat, I saw that news article yesterday too. Thank you, I stand corrected with regards to the NHC. Perhaps the NHC has different research rules compared to NWS field offices. There still is no apparent policy statement on climate change from the NWS, one way or the other.
George Landis says
I am curious whether or not this blog was as outraged, or even noticed, the $250,000 given to Dr. Hansen by John Kerry and his wife prior to the 2004 election, where Dr. Hansen endorsed Kerry publicly several time during some of his scientific speeches.
Hank Roberts says
A few more NWS links, lest anyone think they aren’t available:
National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center
Thomas Lee Elifritz says
pat neuman says
From what I can tell by your comments yesterday you have experience in a NWS Weather Forecast Office (WFO). I am unsure of your knowledge pertaining to NWS River Forecast Centers (RFCs). There are 13 NWS RFC offices in the US, which are considered field offices along with the 120 or so WFOs. RFC staff have been required to do research, develop and calibrate their own river forecast procedures along with their higher priority operational forecast responsibilities. In recent years, most RFCs have adapted a new suite of river forecast procedures developed at the NWS Office of Hydrology. RFC staff are encouraged to add procedures to the suite of models which staff at other RFCs could also use. Each RFC is responsible for the calibration of snow, soil moisture/runoff and routing models for their area of responsibility. The NWS North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC), located in Chanhassen MN, has river basin area in parts or all of 13 states in the Midwest, northern Great Plains, southern Manitoba and the upper Great Lakes drainage. Based on what I have experienced while a senior hydrologist specializing in snowmelt runoff, from 1980-2000, I felt it was important to study climate change in the Upper Midwest in order to evaluate model parameters (melt factors and evapotranspiration demand coefficients) as the seasons changed with climate in progress. In addition, the output used for the NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction System (AHPS) shows probabilities of exceedance and other statistics, which are based on using historical time series of precipitation and temperatures for each year (six hour mean areal time series from 1950-1999 are considered equally likely for the future run period). I think it is important that users understand the assumptions in the model for flood and low water predictions. The assumption that the time series for each year from 1950-1999 is equally likely is flawed when considering that climate change has been happening, with increasing climate and hydrologic change ahead of us. The users don’t understand that the assumptions are invalid. Furthermore, in calibration of the model parameters for snowmelt and runoff, a best fit is impossible with one set of parameters when we know that hydrologic climate change has been happening along with atmospheric climate change. For additional information the references shown at the bottom of the report below may be helpful. Thank you for your interest.
Earlier in the Year Snowmelt Runoff and Increasing Dewpoints for Rivers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, September 11, 2003
Barton Paul Levenson says
Re #28 and “This letter points our biggest challenge namely the capitalist mindset.”
The old Soviet Union was not capitalist, and it was an environmental disaster. China is technically Communist, and they’re burning coal like crazy. Don’t confuse an environmental problem with the “class struggle.”
Hank Roberts says
Chuckle. And it’s capitalists helping fund and supply the equipment for China’s next hundred coal plants.
For example, just at random from Google (this stuff bears watching for the climate scientists — if they want to model future CO2 one of the inputs for the model should be old style coal plants already committed, already funded, and already invested in. That’s generally available info but I wonder if it’s going into the models as fine-grained as it’s available.
If so, the model change info could be provided to the potential investors before they make their commitment to the old designs, on a plant by plant basis.
It might even be required due diligence for investors to consider model climate change information if it were readily available specifically per plant/investment.
That’d be amusing.
Coal Fired Electricity Generation in Asia
Vijay Sethu Executive Director
Project & Structured Finance, Asia
ANZ Investment Bank, Singapore
23 April 2004
CONFERENCE ON COAL INDUSTRY INVESTMENT
Ron Taylor says
Your comment about “required due diligence of investors” took me back to a December 12, 2005 Business Week article: “The Race Against Climate Change.” It is an illuminating overview of steps already underway in the business world to adapt to climate change. The following excerpts address only the due diligence issue:
“One new twist in the whole discussion of global warming is the arrival of a corps of sharp-penciled financiers. Bankers, insurers, and institutional investors have begun to tally the trillions of dollars in financial risks that climate change poses. They are now demanding that companies in which they hold stakes (or insure) add up risks related to climate change and alter their business plans accordingly. For utilities like Cinergy that could mean switching billions in planned investments from the usual coal-fired power plants to new, cleaner facilities…
“…Corporate directors and officers are protected from personal liability for mismanagement by so-called D&O policies. If executives at companies that hold the policies don’t take stock of their environmental risk exposure, they could be on the firing line for mismanagement — with insurers picking up the tab…
“That’s why climate change is causing insurance companies to ally with institutional investors, banks, and rating agencies. Together they are pushing companies to start thinking about greenhouse emissions as a material risk, just like other forms of financial risk that can impair future earnings. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM ), for instance, is helping analysts and bankers model the impact of carbon on the banks’ clients. “Global warming is on the radar screen of a lot of financial institutions,” said Denise Furey, senior director of Fitch Ratings Ltd., at a recent climate conference.””
Incredibly, the government continues to live in its self-imposed bubble of denial. The business world cannot afford the luxury of ignoring reality, so it is moving ahead. I urge everyone interesting in the solution to the AGW problem to read this article for some encouraging news.
Hank Roberts says
Here it is:
Yep. From my notes on the 2nd day of House Energy hearings last week (not guaranteed verbatim, typed while listening):
Stupak: You and the NAS panel, are you telling us forget the Hockey Stick and Medieval Warm period, that is a diversion, are you telling us …..?
Cicerone: … all the other evidence shows us that the climate’s changing, the human hand is there, …everything we know … it’s going to continue as long as we continue to load up the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.
Stupak: do you think it’s useful for us to hold hearings on just one study…..?
Cicerone: I hope it’s being useful. I’ve never seen this kind of interest before. …. This could be the beginning of even more serious interest. I’ll wait and see what happens …..
Hank Roberts says
> 80, nice illustration of trusting PR sources for your disinformation, but you can look these things up.
Where did you get your quotes? The only places I see these mistakes is at some of the PR “advocacy” sites, not on the sites of record.
Why do you trust your sources instead of the primary references from which you can get accurate information?
“prior to the 2004” — in March 2001
“by John Kerry and his wife ” — by the Heinz Foundation
You can look this stuff up:
“Senator Heinz … wanted to hear all sides of the global warming story and to find a balanced approach. He was a strong environmentalist, but he also worked to improve the economy of Pennsylvania and the nation. He realized that these goals need not conflict. He was thoughtful, or, as a scientist, I like the word objective.
“In the current [early 2001, remember!] issue of Audubon Magazine, I suggest that the President appoint a commission of scientists, businessmen, consumers, and environmentalists to recommend actions to slow global warming. We can take common sense steps to do that. Our industry and our technology hold the key. We should reduce air pollution including low level ozone and soot, improve energy efficiency, and develop renewable energy. Collateral benefits improve public health and reduce dependence on foreign energy sources justify the cost. This practical approach could gain bipartisan and international consensus for addressing climate change. It’s the kind of approach that John Heinz would have advocated.”
Good idea. Should’ve been listened to.
Dan Hughes says
The discussions about a Carbon Emission License (CEL) for big industries that produce hydrocarbon-based fuels continues to have the focus backwards.
This table, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/mecs/mecs2002/data02/excel/table1.1_02.xls, indicates that for the US in the year 2002 the energy consumed by the suppliers of hydrocarbon-based fuels was as follows:
Petroleum and Coal Products 6,799 trillion BTU (6.799 E12 BTU)
Which is made up of
Petroleum Refineries 6,391 trillion BTU (6.391 E12 BTU
Coal Products 408 trillion BTU (0.408 E12 BTU)
This last quality is not actually given in the table because the error bounds are too large. These numerical values can be converted to SI (Joules), but the original tables uses BTU.
Apparently, coal production requires very little energy; maybe this lets Western Fuels off the hook. And this makes sense in these days of mine-mouth power plants and unit-train shipments from mine mouth to power plant (WY to GA, WY to NH, WY to everywhere). Coal is basically mined, transported, minimally processed (crushed and then ground to a fine powder) and then used for energy production in a boiler. Petroleum products, on the other hand, require very significant amounts of processing to convert them into forms that are useful by user-consumers (the demanders).
The table, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/stb0201a.xls, indicates that for the US in the year 2002 the total energy consumed was
Total Energy Consumption 97,966,872 billion BTU (97.966872 E15 BTU)
Where the total energy consumption (the demand) includes the sectors of residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and electric power generation.
Let’s take energy consumption as a very good indicator for carbon-based emissions.
With the information given above it is readily seen that CO2 emissions by big hydrocarbon-based fuels suppliers is small in comparison to the CO2 emissions produced by the demanders for its products. Some simple calculations follow to support this statement.
The total consumption figure above includes the first above for Petroleum and Coal Products consumption. If this latter value is subtracted from the total this leaves, 91,167,872 billion BTU. Thus the energy consumption, and carbon emissions, by the users (demand) of hydrocarbon fuels exceeds that used to produce the products (supply) by about 13.4 times. The Petroleum and Coal Products industry uses about 7% of total energy consumption, and thus produces about 7% of the emissions. The coal-industry part is tiny indeed.
How can we illustrate the outcome of big hydrocarbon fuels producers failing to be issued a CEL. Hmmm, how can we do this in a simple manner. Oh, go turn off the electric and gas mains to your place of residence, don’t use any hydrocarbon-fuel-based transportation, don’t buy any food for which hydrocarbon fuels are used to produce, don’t drink any water for which hydrocarbon fuels are used to pump the supply to your house, turn off your computer, iPod, cell phone, video systems, audio systems, home entertainment systems, game systems, etc, etc, etc. Or, simply call your energy-supply utilities and tell them to drop you as a customer; come out and cut the wires to your house, unplug your meters and take them away. If enough of us do this, carbon-based emissions will be reduced. Go ahead, give it a shot. For an additional learning experience, make a list of all the things in your life that do not use in any way, directly on indirectly, energy and all other products and services based on hydrocarbons. It shouldn’t take long as the list will be amazingly short. Here’s a hint. Every single product and service that you use has required energy for its development, production, transportation, retailing, and operation and maintenance. I know for absolute certain that no one reading this will ever take this suggestion.
A CEL, or Carbon Tax, will represent very regressive taxation. Many people can barely afford their energy bill for even the necessities for a reasonable life. They do not have the ‘toys’ that probably everyone reading this have.
Carbon Emission License should be issued to the users (demanders) of the products and services of the big hydrocarbon industry. Not the industry (suppliers). Licenses are issued to the end user, not producers. And in the case of hydrocarbon-based fuels, the producers are responsible for only a small amount of the substance that you are proposing to license.
If you do not agree with the numbers used in this post, please supply others that correct my approach and conclusions.
As an attempt to avoid additional censorship by RC I have included numbers that relate directly to the thread that this post addresses. How RC can claim to be peer-reviewed-paper focused and at the same time discuss fiction novels, newspaper stories, editorial columns, press releases, and post comments that do not make sense at even the simple-arithmetic level is a mystery to me. It’s usually a good idea to remember, “Those you refuse to do arithmetic are doomed to failure.”
Simon Donner says
It’s worth noting to people that the “Canada Free Press” mentioned in the letter is a right-wing website, and is not to be confused with the Canadian Press, Canada’s legitimate wire service.
Mikel Marinelarena says
Re 23, 35 and others:
Am I the only one to think that mid-latitude heat waves (or mild winters for that matter) are pretty much unrelated to Global Warming? Whenever you hear of such a heat wave just check the isobar charts and you’ll see that 1) A persistent high pressure system has been on that region in summer or 2) Winds have been steadily bringing tropical or continental air to the region in question. A real indication of an accelerated GW would be heat waves not caused by any of those phenomena but I haven’t read of any really.
Of course if anyone could point me to a reliable study linking GHGs-enhanced global warming to a change in wind patterns so as to make those two situations more frequent I’d be obliged.
Thomas Lee Elifritz says
The hypothesis has only recently been tabled that global warming is changing the global dynamical characteristics of weather, resulting in broader cloud free high pressure systems, and stronger narrower low pressure troughs, producing a weather related climate feedback effects, which promote rapid warming from simple solar irradiance related heating within those high pressure systems, and more widespread rain training and flooding events within the cold fronts. Yet another feedback effect is increased water vapor and aerosol content of the atmosphere, creating more widespread spontaneous cumulonimbus generation and associated tornadic activity.
We simply do not have the computational and space based observational resources in place to quantify these kinds of global weather changes.
NOAA and NASA … where are you?
Ron Taylor says
Mike, have a look at this
Leonard Evens says
If I understand correctly, global warming doesn’t act through esoteric mechanisms. Heat waves still involve the same weather phenomena they always did. What changing the radiative behavior of the atmosphere does is to change the odds. So in a world with increased geenhouse gas concentrations, we might expect more heat waves or heat waves involving higher temperatures, but the primary mechanisms bring those about would be the same. Could one of the RC experts comment?
wayne davidson says
#90 I think Lindzen amongst others brought it up, using this argument against Global Warming, but in fact it is rather a good point for it. As the world warms up, temperature/pressure differences would diminish between one warmer region from another colder one, then there would be less winds. This in turn triggers sluggish and slow more persistent High/Low pressures, Highs during the summer time are hot zones, where you will find a heat wave or two.
Brian Gordon says
Re: 28 (Eachren):
“Fixing the problem is quite expensive, but I prefer to look at it in this way : society is about doing things together….
“Does anyone know of anyone collecting ideas to fix things please?”
It is a myth that conservation costs money; it *saves* money (and many other things, including us). This has been proved repeatedly all over the world. However, our current economy and most industries are geared toward plunder, not sustainability, so changing the economy disadvantages the wastrels (auto, oil, coal, etc).
Amory Lovins et al: “Natural Capitalism”: chock full not only of ideas, but actual working examples showing how sustainability is less costly.
Barkley Rosser says
For those of you hyperventilating about the reputed wickedness of Patrick Michaels, I have not noticed anyone commenting on the fact that he now accepts that global warming is occurring, and that it is at least partly due to anthropogenic causes. His current line is that average global temperature is rising linearly. This puts him on the low side compared to most other observers, but he is no longer the pure skeptic that he once was and that most seem to still think he is.
[Response: That’s a very good point that often gets overlooked. It’s worth pointing out as well that his estimate of the linear change to be expected has risen over the years as well (it was ~0.1 deg/decade ten or so years ago, now it’s 0.17 deg/decade). – gavin]
Ike Solem says
RE #93 – I certainly don’t claim to be an expert, but we can recognize that the natural variability of climate and weather is pretty high. The well known extreme weather event called ‘The Perfect Storm’ is what I think of as an example of how natural variability can produce severe events.
From the forecaster, Bob Case:
“When a low pressure system along the front moved into the Maritimes southeast of Nova Scotia,” Case reflected, “it began to intensify due to the cold dry air introduced from the north.” Case added: “These circumstances alone, could have created a strong storm, but then, like throwing gasoline on a fire, a dying hurricane Grace delivered immeasurable tropical energy to create the perfect storm.”
As AGW causes an increase in the intensities of these underlying features, such as stronger high pressure systems and more frequent and intense hurricanes, you’ll get an increase in the chance that such events will happen to co-occur, and the resulting interaction can form very severe events. The perfect storm had a 50-ft swell, but it also generated 100-ft ‘rogue waves’ at the same time – a ship could survive many hours of 50-ft waves, but not one 100-ft wave. Similarly, 2-ft seas might occassionally generate a 4-foot wave. These ‘rogue waves’ within the system are a result of wave crests lining up on top of each other; it’s all systems within systems.
We are storing up more energy in the climate system; we should expect a lot more nasty surprises, and plan accordingly.
Hank Roberts says
And there’s always something — has your local public water system switched from chlorine to chloramine yet, for disinfection? If so you’ve gotten the warning not to use tap water for your fishbowl.
Have you also gotten the warning that water from the fire hydrants now — when it runs down the storm drains into the local watershed — is going to kill all the fish there, too?
We just got that in our area after the last big heatwave — the Fire Department is now on notice that what they’re pumping out of the fire hydrants is a toxic chemical and they should keep it out of the storm drains.
And there are people opening hydrants all over the country during this heatwave.
“Collateral Damage” adds up fast when there are many, many factors and nobody has a grasp of all of them. And that’s the nature of civic life nowadays.
Max Jorgensen says
What are the literature sources “that the arguments used by Michaels and co. are mostly bunk”?
Eli Rabett says
I think Pat could be in more trouble than he knows. The letter implies a direct conflict of interest with his state position.