Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009

Today is Blog Action Day '09, an annual even that this year has at least 7,262 sites participating. (You can see this blog listed on page 119 of some 303 pages categorized as "Who's Participating?" -- just after the German blog Der Tobe and just before Bobolhando of Brazil and HonestGreen of the United States.)

The topic for Blog Action Day in 2008 was "Poverty." In 2007, the topic was "the Environment."

This year the topic is "climate change," a subject I have addressed in the past. (Also here and here.) As the Blog Action Day web site explains,

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be the largest-ever social change event on the web. One day. One issue. Thousands of voices.
As one of those "thousands of voices," let me first see what's in the news about "climate change."

Here's BBC News, asking "What happened to global warming?":
This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.

But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

....last month Mojib Latif, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years.
Strangely enough, yesterday Steve Shannon, a candidate for Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Virginia, circulated a video accusing his opponent, state Senator Ken Cuccinelli, of being "anti-science" because Cuccinelli said in an interview with WTOP Radio in Washington, D.C. (at marker 0:33 on the video):
"The last ten years, the globe hasn't warmed."
Is it anti-science to state a scientific fact?

It's not just the BBC that has taken note of the plateau in global temperatures. Christopher Booker wrote in the Daily Telegraph last December 27:
Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century....

Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.
Next Sunday will see the simultaneous premiere, at dozens of locations around the country, of a new documentary film called Not Evil Just Wrong. (The film will be shown in Charlottesville at 8:00 p.m. in room 402 of Wilson Hall on the grounds of the University of Virginia; the screening is cosponsored by the Network of Enlightened Women and the College Republicans.)

A front-page article in the Washington Times on Tuesday described the entrepreneurial efforts of the filmmakers as they try to distribute their final product without the support of major studios or a big-name distributor. Movie critic Sonny Bunch reports:
Unable to get Hollywood studio backing for their new documentary, "Not Evil Just Wrong" - an answer to Al Gore's climate-change lecture "An Inconvenient Truth" - husband-and-wife filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney have taken matters into their own hands.

Hoping to tap the surge of populist anger and activism on the right, they are bypassing traditional distribution avenues and bringing their film directly to motivated audiences through "cinematic tea parties," their term for the patchwork of grass-roots screenings in living rooms, campus auditoriums and rented theaters across the country that they have scheduled for Oct. 18.

Mr. McAleer and Ms. McElhinney are part of a new breed of guerrilla documentarians across the political spectrum. Taking advantage of cheaper, more accessible video-production technology and innovative, Internet-based direct marketing and distribution techniques, they are assembling new audiences for their films from the ground up - without the studio middlemen.
McAleer and McElhinney are also the producers of Mine Your Own Business: The Dark Side of Environmentalism.

As an indication of some of the hurdles faced by McAleer and McElhinney, John Fund reported in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week of a public appearance by former Vice President Al Gore at a gathering in Madison, Wisconsin, of the Society of Environmental Journalists, where the Nobel laureate agreed to answer questions from the audience:
Irish documentary filmmaker Phelim McAleer was in the line. A former Financial Times journalist, his new film, "Not Evil, Just Wrong," is a direct refutation of Mr. Gore's thesis and warns that rushing to judgment in combating climate change would threaten the world's poor. When his turn came, Mr. McAleer asked Mr. Gore about a court case in Britain in which a parent had objected to "An Inconvenient Truth" being shown to British schoolchildren because it was largely propaganda, not science.

Mr. Gore swatted away the question by claiming the judge had found in favor of his film. He also briefly addressed one of the objections to his film by scoffing at claims that polar bears weren't an endangered species. Mr. McAleer tried to follow up by pointing out that polar bear populations were increasing, but his microphone was quickly cut off. Organizers insisted that several other people were waiting with questions and they had to move on.

In fact, Mr. Gore didn't answer Mr. McAleer's question and was wrong on the facts. The British court found that An Inconvenient Truth "is a political film" riddled with scientific errors.
ReasonTV has produced a short (less than 5 minutes long) interview with environmental scientist Bjorn Lomborg, author of Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming and Global Crises, Global Solutions. The interview is conducted by Charlottesville's Ronald Bailey, who is science correspondent for Reason magazine. Both Lomborg and Bailey accept the validity of anthropogenic global warming. Lomborg posits that, based on an analysis by a panel that included three Nobel-prize-winning economists, government-mandated action (such as cap-and-trade legislation or other forms of carbon taxes) is likely to be the least successful approach to ameliorating the effects of global warming. As the infobox that accompanies this video on YouTube says:
What's the best way for humanity to reduce suffering from man-made global warming? No individual has been a stronger voice for rational cost-benefit analysis on this issue than Bjorn Lomborg, the head of Copenhagen Consensus Center, and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It! On Thursday, September 3, 2009, Lomborg stopped by Reason's DC HQ to discuss the latest iteration of his ongoing project with Reason magazine science correspondent Ronald Bailey.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center's expert panel of five top economists, including three Nobel laureates, has concluded that greater resources should be spent on research into climate engineering and green energy. They also concluded that the least cost-effective way to deal with climate change is carbon taxes. Such carbon taxes are the economic equivalent of cap-and-trade carbon rationing schemes like the Waxman-Markey bill being considered by Congress and which are being negotiated by the U.N.

The expert panel consisted of Nobel laureate economists Thomas Schelling, Vernon Smith, and Finn Kydland. They were joined by University of Chicago economist Nancy Stokey and Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati. The panel considered and ranked 21 ground-breaking research proposals by top climate economists on the basis their benefits and costs in dealing with global warming.
You can watch the video for yourself:

People around the world are starting to catch on to what the costs of various government-mandated "solutions" to climate change will be. In Australia, for instance, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on October 12:
The Lowy Institute of International Policy is releasing its 2009 survey on attitudes to global affairs, which finds climate change has slipped in importance on a list of Australia's Top 10 foreign policy goals.

The survey, taken in July, showed protecting jobs was the foreign policy priority for the community.

Climate change had slipped to seven on a list of 10 goals in 2009, down from equal first in 2007.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt wants the government to heed the results.

"I think the government would be slightly shocked by these results," he told ABC Radio.

"They spend all their days talking about international negotiations and yet the message that comes through from people is we want a stable economic environment, we want to have a stable future, we want the opportunity of employment and hope and aspiration for our children and our grandchildren."
A commentary on that poll in the Wall Street Journal expands on the reasons Australians might have let climate-change concerns slip in their list of priorities:
Less than half of all Australians consider global warming a "serious and pressing problem," according to a poll released yesterday by the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank. That's 12 percentage points lower than in last year's survey. "Climate change" ranked 7th in a list of 10 "most important" foreign-policy goals—down from first only two years ago.

The poll, which surveyed 1,003 Australians by telephone in July, goes to show that fighting global warming is an expensive fad, not a moral imperative. Down under, citizens and businesses have grown more alarmed about Canberra's efforts to limit carbon emissions as the costs of doing so have become clearer. A July report by Melbourne-based research firm RepuTex estimated the cost of the bill for Australia's top 200 companies could reach as much as 2.8 billion Australian dollars ($2.5 billion) annually, costing thousands of jobs. Industry opposition was a big factor in the Senate's rejection of the government's first shot at passing the emissions-trading scheme in August.
Australians aren't the only citizens of Western industrialized democracies to have their doubts about carbon taxes and cap-and-trade schemes.

A Rasmussen Reports survey in early May had some surprising findings, given the large amount of coverage the legislation was getting in the news media at the time:
Given a choice of three options, just 24% of voters can correctly identify the cap-and-trade proposal as something that deals with environmental issues. A slightly higher number (29%) believe the proposal has something to do with regulating Wall Street while 17% think the term applies to health care reform. A plurality (30%) have no idea.
Another Rasmussen Reports poll, conducted in June, showed that 42 percent of Americans believe that the House-passed bill will hurt the economy. A majority of Republicans – 56 percent -- and independents – 52 percent -- said the bill would hurt the economy, while 23 percent of Democrats said the same thing. Thirty percent of Democrats said it would help.

Meanwhile, a Washington Post/ABC News poll published on June 25 showed that only 52 percent of Americans support a cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions similar to Waxman-Markey (see below). That was slightly less support than cap and trade enjoyed in a late July 2008 poll. Forty-two percent of those surveyed in June 2009 opposed such a program. That 42 percent and the 42 percent that Rasmussen found saying cap-and-trade policies would be harmful to the economy neatly match up, don't they?

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), also known as “Waxman-Markey” after its two principal sponsors in the House of Representatives (Democrats Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts), passed the House on June 26, 2009, by a close vote of 219-212. In its printed form, H.R. 2454 runs to 1,428 pages. (That number is not a typo.)

The companion bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 1733), was introduced on September 30 and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. The principal sponsors are Senators John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) and Barbara Boxer (D-California). In its printed form, S. 1733 only has 821 pages. S. 1733 is sort of The Fountainhead to H.R. 2454's Atlas Shrugged.

The spirit of Blog Action Day suggests that I should urge my readers to take action on the topic of climate change. So I shall.

Readers, I encourage you to call your Senators and ask them to vote "no" on S. 1733, the so-called "Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act" (also known as "Kerry-Boxer"). The number for the Capitol Hill switchboard is (202) 224-3121. If you don't know the names of your Senators, you can look them up on the U.S. Senate web site or at, where you can plug in your ZIP Code and learn the names of all your elected representatives, along with their contact information.

Remember the message: Vote NO on cap-and-trade. Vote NO on Kerry-Boxer. Vote NO on S. 1733.

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1 comment:

edwin sanchez said...

Once the deep mystery of “climate change” has been solved
And “What’s green and causes CC?” is no longer a popular riddle,
The legacy of the era most likely will be:
“Never in recorded history have so many made so much over so little”.
(With apologies to the late, great Winston Churchill).