They're Launching America's First Carbon Cap-And-Trade Program Today?

Did you know that a 10 state coalition is holding our nation's first ever carbon allowance auction at 9:00 AM EDT today?  Or that the same states will be imposing a mandatory cap-and-trade program on their electric plants beginning next month?  This may surprise those who assumed that June's tabling of the national Lieberman-Warner bill coupled with already runaway energy prices and growing overall economic anxiety signaled a reprieve from this stealth tax and power grab scheme -- at least for the remainder of the year.

Nonetheless, the New York-based Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative launches today, striving to freeze CO2 emissions through 2014 and then gradually reduce them to 10 percent below current levels by 2018. How?  By setting steadily declining annual caps on the tonnage of carbon a utility may legally exhaust into the atmosphere and forcing those that cannot comply to "purchase" allowances at auction from those that can.  Auction proceeds will then, at least in theory, be invested in low-carbon energy solutions such as solar and wind, which would gradually replace fossil-based generators.

Violators may also opt to pay off a portion of their carbon "debt" by purchasing approved offsets to mitigate their pollution, such as sequestration of carbon through afforestation or landfill methane capture and destruction.  These offsets are perhaps the most comical component of carbon mitigation, as calculating each value implies an understanding of the same chaotic climate feedback mechanisms that even the world's leading climate modelers have thus far found elusive.

As is typical of such plans, many environmental groups complain it's "not enough" as it fails to regulate tailpipe emissions and fails to meet their draconian goals where it does regulate.  Nonetheless, others see RGGI as a model for future national -- or perhaps international -- systems.  And, with both presidential hopefuls, a near majority of Congress and much of the electorate apparently accepting the hysteria-driven drivel that drastic and immediate sacrifices are our only hope of avoiding calamity of biblical proportions, it'll make one awful role model.  Keep in mind -- both Obama and McCain support a national cap-and-trade market, which neither seems to understand any better than he does financial markets.

Having already covered the many pitfalls of the cap and trade swindle (zap and raid would make a more descriptive slogan), including here and here, I won't dwell on those particulars. But even setting aside the flagrant futility and sheer socialism of such mechanisms for the moment, any sane person must ask themselves the obvious:  "Now?  You can't be serious!" 

Needless to say, the timing stinks

Back in 2005, an alliance of business leaders from nine northeastern states and the Business Council of New York State warned that the plan posed a "significant risk of increasing electric power prices in the region," already 52% and 31% above the national average in New England and the mid-Atlantic, respectively.  Not only would additional costs to the utility and consumer alike threaten each abiding unit's competitiveness, but in some cases, its very financial viability.  The ensuing failures "would affect power supply and the reliability of the power grid." 

And that was when you could still fill your tank for thirty bucks.  And heat, cool and light your home without the need to withdraw chunks of cash from savings.  And not fret the security of whatever funds you didn't withdraw.

Punctuating the mistiming is the region chosen for this pilot project -- the Northeast, which will likely be entering its first-ever 4 dollar plus a gallon home-heating-oil season in a matter of months.  The RGGI claims that its research projects a mere 78 cents per month increase to the average New York residential customer.  What a crock.  Look no further than to our allies across the pond for a glimpse of the true horrors in store for energy consumers in a green taxed future.  Truth be told, similar plans enacted a decade ago now threaten the very foundation of the British economy while having no lasting impact on emissions (let alone climate). 

A recently published report by the National Housing Federation predicts that English households spending 10% or more of their annual income on energy bills (the threshold for energy poverty) will have doubled from 2005 figures to 5.7 million by 2009.  Experts truly fear that many will be forced to decide between heat and food this winter.  

And even for those more fortunate, blackouts are becoming more prevalent as EU anti-pollution directives demanding one third of all electricity be generated from wind turbines and other renewables by 2020, corrupt carbon exchanges, and austere green taxes are destroying the country's ability to meet energy demands. Eight of nine nuclear plants - which supply 20 percent of the country's electricity - are soon to be taken off line.  And nine coal and oil-fired plants - contributing an additional 20 percent - are being decommissioned in favor of untried renewable sources such as wind and tide power. 

Add to this mess the fact that an uncertain green tax future is causing companies to flee the island in droves -- according to a September 4th IHT piece, "in the past week alone, three British companies have announced plans to move their head office abroad before the end of the year" -- and reaction to the non-crisis threatens the country's very existence.

And all for naught -- while England met its Kyoto goals by 1998, emissions levels began to rise the very next year.  And 2005's were the highest since the country signed the treaty in 1997.  This reality has many environmental groups, including Greenpeace, fighting hard to force further hardships upon the already suffering country.

We revolted against misdirected British tax policies back in 1773.  Are we really about to follow them into the green abyss?

But there's a greater "why now?" to ponder

Evidence continues to mount that natural variations in climate dynamics -- particularly solar activity and sea surface temperatures -- are primarily if not wholly responsible for global temperature anomalies.  In fact, the absence of warming since 1998 and the current atypically sustained period of dormant solar activity have many researchers predicting another minor ice age may be looming - or already upon us.

Additionally, in April, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that an impending phase shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation would likely bring colder temperatures for as many as the next 20-30 years.  And a report in the journal Nature [PDF] released just 10 days later surmised that the "conveyor belt" of southern warm water known as the Meridional Overturning Circulation was entering a weak cycle, which might also "delay" global warming for a while.

As we observed at the time, rather than consider this latest information to reassess the IPCC's counterfeit prediction that "2014 is likely to be 0.3 deg C warmer than 2004," and perhaps consider non-anthropogenic forces, alarmists chose to emphasize claims that while these phenomena might postpone cataclysmic greenhouse predictions, they in no way disproved them. As explained by one the Nature paper's authors, "Just to make things clear, we are not stating that anthropogenic climate change won't be as bad as previously thought." 

Former New Scientist editor Nigel Calder put the shuffling splendidly into perspective earlier this month:

"In the 1990s the sun ended its spurt of increasing activity, and as result there has been no rise in temperature since 1997, despite the continuing increase in carbon dioxide in the air. The global warmers explain away the ‘pause' by changes in the oceans. Isn't it quaint that any mid-term cooling effect can be just a quirk of nature, while any mid-term warming is obviously our fault?"

Meanwhile, the hysteria to blame and control manmade Carbon emissions is essentially born of 2 parents: 

  • Theoretical mathematical computer simulations, which attempt to predict the complex interactions of unlimited climate feedback factors (cloud formation, oceans, trees, polar ice cap reflection, convection, etc) which might magnify or dampen the greenhouse gas effect on Earth's temperatures. Even were all of the physics understood, anticipating all possible interactions is currently beyond our scope, which is why General Circulation Model predictions (sea level variance, temperature anomalies, sea ice extent, etc.) have consistently failed to match physical observations.
  • A disproven millennial-scale record based on improper calculations and often erroneous climate proxies (the MBH98 reconstruction aka the "hockey stick graph") which diminished the extent of the "Little Ice Age" (1500-1850) and totally omitted the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300). Heavily relied upon by both the IPCC and opportunists the likes of Al Gore, it continues to be cited as proof of AGW. This despite intentionally misrepresenting late 20th century warming as unprecedented and obscuring the undeniable correlation between the Maunder (Sunspot) Minimum and the Little Ice Age.
Yet other modern instrumental and historic proxy (from sources including recent Greenland ice core sample isotopes) millennial-scale constructions confirm variations in Earth's climate to be far more correlative to natural fluctuations in Sol's radiation than to any anthropogenic forces.  And some uncover something quite fascinating - a latency of centuries between rising temperatures and the onset of increased atmospheric CO2.  This suggests that in the past, warming has caused CO2 to rise to a much greater extent than the other way around [PDF], as cooler oceans naturally absorb CO2 while warming oceans emit the stored CO2 back into the atmosphere. 

All of this certainly puts the impact of the minuscule atmospheric concentration of the gas on the planet's greenhouse effect to serious question.  And, further considering the pernicious impacts carbon trading is likely to have on our already ailing economy along with the unlikelihood such actions would ultimately reduce CO2 levels anyway, doesn't prudence dictate postponing such drastic measures?

So why did our old friend James Hansen return to Washington on June 23rd and complain to the National Press Club that the heads of major fossil-fuel companies should be "tried for high crimes against humanity and nature" for "actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer?" Why, on that 20th anniversary of his testimony that sparked the sensational NY Times headline Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate did he tell an informal briefing on Capitol Hill that Earth's atmosphere can only sustain current levels of man-made carbon dioxide for a "couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises?"  And then add "We're toast if we don't get on a very different path?"

And why would he fly to England earlier this month to help acquit 6 Greenpeace activists by testifying they had a "lawful excuse" to damage a power station because it would have been responsible for the extinction of no less than "400 species"?

Or tell this week's Kansas Wind and Renewable Energy Conference  that "if we don't get this thing under control we are going to destroy the creation?"  Indeed, why is the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies suddenly in hysteria overdrive?

And why did England's Met Office Hadley Center publish a rather panicked warning that Global warming goes on Tuesday, claiming that "Anyone who thinks global warming has stopped has their head in the sand?"  Certainly the fact that the Center hires itself out as global warming readiness consultants to British businesses wouldn't influence their objectivity.

And why was the Goracle himself screaming only yesterday that "the world has lost ground to the climate crisis" and, apparently taking a cue from fellow greenhouse gasbag Hansen, that "it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants?"  Surely despite his personal financial interest in carbon trading (he's chairman of Generation Investment Management, which holds a large stake in carbon credit company Camco International) the former Veep is only looking to selflessly expose the truth.

And now we can.  After all, with temperatures dropping along with solar irradiation levels and the economy being where it is, why not just wait a few years?  That way, should CO2 levels continue to rise while the Sun remains dormant and temperatures continue to drop, we'll know for sure that ....