February 27, 2009
Carbon Regulation: One Scientist's Unscientific Dream?By Marc Sheppard
There's an understandably growing unease about the likely prospect that the Obama administration will soon choose to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. But that disquiet would likely turn quickly to rage if more people knew the truth about the scientific conclusions on which this unprecedented incursion on both industry and individual freedom was based. You see, it appears that those conclusions weren't based on accepted scientific procedure at all, but were instead predetermined -- and perhaps by a single man.
Our story unfolds just weeks after Barbara Boxer's pet cap-and-trade bill -- the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 -- crashed and burned on the Senate floor last June. The wounded California Democrat called Dr. Roy Spencer before her Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (SEPWC) [video], hoping to punish predominantly Republican dissenters by publicly ridiculing Spencer's positions on climate change.
But much to the scornful Inquisitor's visible chagrin, the climatologist testified quite persuasively that "two modes of natural climate variability -- the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon (Southern Oscillation), and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation" can explain as much as 70% of all measured warming since 1970. Then the former NASA senior scientist lashed out against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which he accused "has remained almost entirely silent" about the "possible role of internal climate variations in the warming of the last century." They were, after all, commissioned to deal exclusively with human influence on the climate and thereby weren't motivated in the least to find any natural explanations.
Unflustered by Boxer's unrelenting rudeness, Spencer recalled a rather remarkable -- and remarkably overlooked -- experience, exposing the bias of the United Nation's sainted climate panel: [emphasis added]
Indeed, shortly after leaving OSTP, Watson chaired the panel, where he also acted as both working group leader and editor of its 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR). That was the report that reignited Al Gore's warming obsession, predicting average surface temperature would increase by 1.4 to 5.8 Celsius degrees over the period of 1990 to 2100. Needless to say, it blamed "human activities," for the "unusual warming" of the twentieth century, relying heavily on immediately challenged computer models and a later debunked millenial-scale record based on climate proxies (the MBH98 reconstruction aka the "hockey stick graph") that diminished the extent of the "Little Ice Age" (1500-1850) and virtually omitted the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300).
Coincidentally, a colleague of Dr. Spencer's, atmospheric scientist John Christy, served as one of the report's lead authors. Dr. Christy, Alabama's State Climatologist, also recalls an interesting conversation -- this one between three fellow TAR contributors at an IPCC lead authors' meeting in New Zealand:
Not surprisingly, Christy soon found that such unempirical predisposition originated right at the top when he testified along with Watson before John McCain's Senate Commerce, Science, and Justice Committee in May of 2000. The subject was the "Science Behind Global Warming," but the topic-contrary Kyoto-centric statements of the man leading an organization supposedly charged with unbiased research prompted Christy to later write:
As Dr. Christy added in a recent email, "Thus he was overtly advocating a policy position while heading up the IPCC." Several attempts to contact Dr. Watson for comment produced no response.
Of course, TAR's bias transcended its chairman and a few compromised lead authors. As discussed in two previous pieces, this was the same report the irregularities of which prompted another of its "authors," Dr. Richard Lindzen, to himself testify before the SEPWC. The MIT Professor of Meteorology told the committee that the vast majority of scientists contributing to the full report played virtually no role in preparing the unscientific yet principally cited Summary for Policymakers -- often written to further political agendas and the primary basis of media hype and public understanding -- nor were they given the opportunity to review and approve its contents. And that all scientists were pressured into towing the IPCC's AGW line and defending its questionable climate models:
Reports of such impropriety plague the panel's history. In fact, many of the 650-plus international scientists disputing IPCC methods and conclusions are former or current contributors.
Keep in mind that not only did the propaganda of the 2001 Assessment provide alarming imagery for Al Gore's inconvenient nonsense sci-fi flick, but its inverted scientific method of results preceding data collection and analysis blazed the trail for its 2007 successor's most widely disseminated fabrication -- that the probability that humans burning fossil fuels causes climate change is 90%.
The continuous quoting of which has spawned a planet of irrationally self-conscious carbo-phobes and empowered the pernicious policymaking it now faces.
He Had A Green Dream ...
The ability to "regulate Ozone depleting substances" Watson referred to in his meeting with Spencer was bestowed upon the E.P.A in 1990 under Title VI of the Clean Air Act. The amendment empowered a government bureau to dictate legal volumes of particular gas emissions -- primarily chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) -- and levy heavy fines (currently $37,500 per violation per day) for non-compliance.
But those gases are manmade, and alternates have been developed to fulfill their duties. Can you imagine CO2 -- the most rampant byproduct of industrial civilization -- being so regulated, as Watson admitted to be his goal years before taking the helm at IPCC? After all, were the atmospheric nutrient in short supply, so would be tree-huggers' cuddling partners. Nonetheless, modern green power brokers not only imagine it, they dream of it. And now -- thanks to the 2008 elections, and the resultant executive science advisory, they can practically taste it. And while Obama repeated his request for Congress to send him "legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution" during Tuesday night's speech, the green ace-in-the-hole remains bureaucracy.
Just last week, Obama's new E.P.A director agreed to overrule her predecessor's decision to take CO2 regulation off the table. And even before "climate czar" Carol Browner all but confirmed it on Sunday, Washington odds-makers interpreted Lisa Jackson's capitulation to petitions from both unruly alarmists and the unduly alarmed as a solid tell that the ubiquitous and vital trace gas would soon land on the Clean Air Act's pollutant list. An outcome clearly unthinkable short the madness incited by the future 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-recipients.
Instead, immediately following the wrongly decided 2007 Supreme Court declaration of CO2 as an air pollutant -- states, cities and, of course, environmentalists, wasted no time flooding the courts with lawsuits compelling the E.P.A to take immediate regulatory action. Which forced then Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, savvy to their game, to waste no time issuing a defensive memorandum stating that short an official declaration of CO2 as dangerous to public health, its emissions were not subject to regulation when approving new power plants. That, in turn, sparked petitions from both the Sierra Club, which hopes to thwart the commission of 100 new plants, and 18 states [PDF], coercing Jackson's reversal of the Johnson memo [PDF] and her call for a new "endangerment finding" from her staff.
And the likely outcome of that decision will be regulation calamitous, futile and, more to the point -- of fabricated necessity.
Proponents downplay E.P.A's reach, claiming that regulation will affect emanations exclusively from tail-pipes and "larger" stationary sources -- mostly industrial manufacturers and energy producers. Don't believe it. True -- the statutory tolerance threshold of 100 tons emitted per year (or the vaguely determined potential 250 tons per year) for currently listed "pollutants" such as lead, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide targets only industrial-sized structures. But CO2 is another matter entirely -- such levels might easily be reached by office and apartment buildings, hotels, hospitals, restaurants, schools, malls, bakeries and a host of other smaller buildings, including many homes.
Accordingly, all such structures would require Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits, dispensed solely at the pleasure of bureaucrats and their puppeteers, for both new construction and upgrades as decreed by Section 165 of the CAA. And that's just for starters. Anyone who's ever attempted to procure an E.P.A wetlands waiver to effect even minor home improvements on land that happens to abut even a large puddle is quite familiar with the prohibitive red-tape such permit systems create. But frustrating though that may be, imposing even harsher government control in the name of something as abstract as mitigating climate changes through what amounts to behavior modification tests the borders of both oppression and lunacy.
... And His Dream Could Be Our Nightmare
Some believe the threat of regulation to be just that -- and that the very thought of E.P.A control over such a large chunk of GDP might actually convince otherwise dubious members of Congress to accept Obama's preferred carbon taxation legislation, which they might, at the very least, enjoy the political benefit of. They may be right -- but one doesn't necessarily preclude the other.
Imagine unbridled government control of all tailpipe emissions under CAA section 202(a) and myriad building permits under section 165 on top of a utility hobbling carbon cap-and-trade system. Do huge Title VI-like individual fines imposed for tossing a steak on the backyard barbecue seem that far-fetched? Remember, there exists no greater oxymoron than "satisfied environmentalist." When was the last time any E.P.A regulation amounted to more than a "good start" among the green group-mindset?
And then there's this to consider -- the polar bear is now listed as threatened by "global warming" under the Endangered Species Act. So if CO2 were listed as an airborne pollutant contributing to such warming, how long do you suppose it might be before that family barbequer found himself subject to hefty fines not only for polluting, but also for thereby endangering the polar bear?
What might await us at the foot of this slippery slope, perhaps "permission to exhale" requisition forms?
And all predicated not on evidence that CO2 influences climate (none such exists) but rather the viral progression of one man's insistence that it does.
With green believers ruling both the Executive and Legislative branches, and a Judicial majority voting sympathetically alongside them in April of 2007, these words from Lindzen just one month prior have never rung more foreboding:
Needless to say -- our language offers countless pejoratives for governments that control lives through big lies, extortion and intimidation.
Not to mention the scientists who formulate or sustain those lies.
Marc Sheppard is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your comments.