Jun 232014
 

The conversation with a good friend — brilliant man but a head full of confidence in the planning state — was going well. We’ve agreed on so much, such as war, civil liberties, the dangers of religious intolerance and so on. We’ve always argued about points concerning economics and property rights but it has always been polite.

Then the other day that changed. For the first time ever, the topic of climate change and policy response came up. I casually dismissed the idea that mandatory steps away from industrialization plus global regulatory controls could accomplish anything. Plus, how can we really know the relation between cause and effect, cost and benefit, problem and solution?

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Jan 072011
 

In a recent editorial, “The EPA’s Utility Men: Anticarbon regulations and the corporate rent-seekers who love them,” the Wall Street Journal notes that eight leading utility CEOs are cheering on the EPA’s new draconian, climate regulations and other policies because they stand to make huge profits by redistributing wealth to themselves. As the Journal notes:

[T]here are the utility CEOs cheering on the Obama Administration’s plans to wipe out large portions of U.S. electric power capacity.

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing an unprecedented torrent of air and other regulations that will force as much as a third of U.S. coal-fired power to retire in the coming years. This gambit is meant as an anticarbon backstop now that cap and trade is in the political morgue and it will cause huge reliability problems, but some electric executives claim all this merely follows the law and is nothing to worry about.

Eight leading utility CEOs responded recently to one of our editorials with a letter defending the EPA, claiming that the coal retirements are “long overdue” and that the regulations will “yield important economic benefits.” What they didn’t mention is that those benefits will mostly accrue to the businesses they happen to head.

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Mar 112010
 

There is most certainly a pattern to climate change… …but it’s not what you may think:

For at least 114 years, climate “scientists” have been claiming that the climate was going to kill us…but they have kept switching whether it was a coming ice age, or global warming.

  • 1895 – Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again – New York Times, February 1895
  • 1902 – “Disappearing Glaciers…deteriorating slowly, with a persistency that means their final annihilation…scientific fact…surely disappearing.” – Los Angeles Times
  • 1912 – Prof. Schmidt Warns Us of an Encroaching Ice Age – New York Times, October 1912
  • 1923 – “Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada” – Professor Gregory of Yale University, American representative to the Pan-Pacific Science Congress, – Chicago Tribune
  • 1923 – “The discoveries of changes in the sun’s heat and the southward advance of glaciers in recent years have given rise to conjectures of the possible advent of a new ice age” – Washington Post
  • 1924 – MacMillan Reports Signs of New Ice Age – New York Times, Sept 28, 1924
  • 1929 – “Most geologists think the world is growing warmer, and that it will continue to get warmer” – Los Angeles Times, in Is another ice age coming?
  • 1932 – “If these things be true, it is evident, therefore that we must be just teetering on an ice age” – The Atlantic magazine, This Cold, Cold World
  • 1933 – America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776; Temperature Line Records a 25-Year Rise – New York Times, March 27th, 1933
  • 1933 – “…wide-spread and persistent tendency toward warmer weather…Is our climate changing?” – Federal Weather Bureau “Monthly Weather Review.”
  • 1938 – Global warming, caused by man heating the planet with carbon dioxide, “is likely to prove beneficial to mankind in several ways, besides the provision of heat and power.”– Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
  • 1938 – “Experts puzzle over 20 year mercury rise…Chicago is in the front rank of thousands of cities thuout the world which have been affected by a mysterious trend toward warmer climate in the last two decades” – Chicago Tribune
  • 1939 – “Gaffers who claim that winters were harder when they were boys are quite right… weather men have no doubt that the world at least for the time being is growing warmer” – Washington Post
  • 1952 – “…we have learned that the world has been getting warmer in the last half century” – New York Times, August 10th, 1952
  • 1954 – “…winters are getting milder, summers drier. Glaciers are receding, deserts growing” – U.S. News and World Report
  • 1954 – Climate – the Heat May Be Off – Fortune Magazine
  • 1959 – “Arctic Findings in Particular Support Theory of Rising Global Temperatures” – New York Times
  • 1969 – “…the Arctic pack ice is thinning and that the ocean at the North Pole may become an open sea within a decade or two” – New York Times, February 20th, 1969
  • 1969 – “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000″ — Paul Ehrlich (while he now predicts doom from global warming, this quote only gets honorable mention, as he was talking about his crazy fear of overpopulation)
  • 1970 – “…get a good grip on your long johns, cold weather haters – the worst may be yet to come…there’s no relief in sight” – Washington Post
  • 1974 – Global cooling for the past forty years – Time Magazine
  • 1974 – “Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age” – Washington Post
  • 1974 – “As for the present cooling trend a number of leading climatologists have concluded that it is very bad news indeed” – Fortune magazine, who won a Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics for its analysis of the danger
  • 1974 – “…the facts of the present climate change are such that the most optimistic experts would assign near certainty to major crop failure…mass deaths by starvation, and probably anarchy and violence” – New York Times
  • 1975 – Scientists Ponder Why World’s Climate is Changing; A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable – New York Times, May 21st, 1975
  • 1975 – “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind” Nigel Calder, editor, New Scientist magazine, in an article in International Wildlife Magazine
  • 1976 – “Even U.S. farms may be hit by cooling trend” – U.S. News and World Report
  • 1981 – Global Warming – “of an almost unprecedented magnitude” – New York Times
  • 1988 – I would like to draw three main conclusions. Number one, the earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements. Number two, the global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect. And number three, our computer climate simulations indicate that the greenhouse effect is already large enough to begin to effect the probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves. – Jim Hansen, June 1988 testimony before Congress, see His later quote and His superior’s objection for context
  • 1989 -”On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.” – Stephen Schneider, lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Discover magazine, October 1989
  • 1990 – “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing – in terms of economic policy and environmental policy” – Senator Timothy Wirth
  • 1993 – “Global climate change may alter temperature and rainfall patterns, many scientists fear, with uncertain consequences for agriculture.” – U.S. News and World Report
  • 1998 – No matter if the science [of global warming] is all phony . . . climate change [provides] the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” —Christine Stewart, Canadian Minister of the Environment, Calgary Herald, 1998
  • 2001 – “Scientists no longer doubt that global warming is happening, and almost nobody questions the fact that humans are at least partly responsible.” – Time Magazine, Monday, Apr. 09, 2001
  • 2003 – Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue, and energy sources such as “synfuels,” shale oil and tar sands were receiving strong consideration” – Jim Hansen, NASA Global Warming activist, Can we defuse The Global Warming Time Bomb?, 2003
  • 2006 – “I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.” — Al Gore, Grist magazine, May 2006
  • Now: The global mean temperature has fallen for four years in a row, which is why you stopped hearing details about the actual global temperature, even while they carry on about taxing you to deal with it…how long before they start predicting an ice age?


The actual Global Warming Advocates’ chart, overlayed on the “climate change” hysterics of the past 120 years. Not only is it clear that they take any change and claim it’s going to go on forever and kill everyone, but notice that they even sometimes get the short-term trend wrong…

Worse still, notice that in 1933 they claim global warming has been going on for 25 years…the entire 25 years they were saying we were entering an ice age. And in 1974, they say there has been global cooling for 40 years…the entire time of which they’d been claiming the earth was getting hotter! Of course NOW they are talking about the earth “warming for the past century”, again ignoring that they spent much of that century claiming we were entering an ice age.

The fact is that the mean temperature of the planet is, and should be, always wavering up or down, a bit, because this is a natural world, not a climate-controlled office. So there will always be some silly bureaucrat, in his air-conditioned ivory tower, who looks at which way it’s going right now, draws up a chart as if this is permanant, realizes how much fear can increase his funding, and proclaims doom for all of humanity.

  • 2006 – “It is not a debate over whether the earth has been warming over the past century. The earth is always warming or cooling, at least a few tenths of a degree…” — Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at MIT
  • 2006 – “What we have fundamentally forgotten is simple primary school science. Climate always changes. It is always…warming or cooling, it’s never stable. And if it were stable, it would actually be interesting scientifically because it would be the first time for four and a half billion years.” —Philip Stott, emeritus professor of bio-geography at the University of London
  • 2006 – “Since 1895, the media has alternated between global cooling and warming scares during four separate and sometimes overlapping time periods. From 1895 until the 1930’s the media peddled a coming ice age. From the late 1920’s until the 1960’s they warned of global warming. From the 1950’s until the 1970’s they warned us again of a coming ice age. This makes modern global warming the fourth estate’s fourth attempt to promote opposing climate change fears during the last 100 years.” – Senator James Inhofe, Monday, September 25, 2006
  • 2007- “I gave a talk recently (on fallacies of global warming) and three members of the Canadian government, the environmental cabinet, came up afterwards and said, ‘We agree with you, but it’s not worth our jobs to say anything.’ So what’s being created is a huge industry with billions of dollars of government money and people’s jobs dependent on it.” – Dr. Tim Ball, Coast-to-Coast, Feb 6, 2007
  • 2008 – “Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress” – Dr. John S. Theon, retired Chief of the Climate Processes Research Program at NASA, see above for Hansen quotes


Next time you see the usual "global warming" chart, look carefully: it is in tiny fractions of one degree. The ENTIRE global warming is less than six tenths of one degree. Here is the Global Warming Advocates' own chart, rendered in actual degrees like sane people use. I was going to use 0-100 like a thermometer, but you end up with almost a flat line, so I HELPED the Climate Change side by making the temperature range much narrower, and the chart needlessly tall to stretch the up-down differences in the line.

Kaz — But Now You Know

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Jan 192010
 

A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.

Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world’s glaciers were melting so fast that those in the , could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC’s 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was “speculation” and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.

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Jan 102010
 

Here is renowned meteorologist John Coleman, Founder of the Weather Channel, on the actual science of climate change and why the claims of global warming alarmists are junk science.

David Theroux — The Beacon

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Dec 232009
 

For some lobbyists, 2009 was a year for huge wins.

K Street was supposed to be flat on its back. A deep recession meant corporate belt-tightening, and lobbyists were shamed month after month by an administration determined to limit their access. The White House stiff-armed lobbyists on the $787 billion stimulus package, then sought to block K Street from serving on influential federal advisory panels.

But if some doors shut, others opened as Democrats pursued a sweeping legislative agenda. Healthcare, energy and financial regulation kept lobbyists working the halls.

The efforts promised new challenges, but some companies and trade groups emerged as clear winners.

PhRMA

As a member of Congress, Billy Tauzin (R-La.) was a master dealmaker. As president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Tauzin has successfully steered a group often at odds with Democrats through the healthcare debate.

The insurance industry has played the bogeyman in the debate, not drug-makers. That was largely due to an early deal PhRMA and drug companies struck with the White House. Details are still vague, but drug companies limited their financial exposure under healthcare reform to $80 billion over 10 years. Details could still change, but the industry’s apparent willingness to come to the table seems to have borne fruit. An amendment pushed by some Democrats to allow for the importation of cheaper drugs, something the industry has long opposed, was defeated this week in the Senate. Even some former supporters voted no.

Independent Community Bankers of America

There may be no industry more despised at the moment than banks. But as the Obama administration and congressional Democrats plowed forward on major new regulations of the financial industry, community banks were able to distinguish themselves apart from the taint of Wall Street.

In doing so, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) racked up a series of major wins. ICBA helped secure a carve-out from examinations under the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) and an exemption from paying into a new industry fund to cover costs if the government takes over a failing financial firm.

“This year is probably the most successful year ICBA has had on the Hill in many, many, many years,” said Cam Fine, the group’s president. That has won him few friends in the big-bank lobby. “I would say they probably think I’m the son of Satan.”

Credit unions

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) both scored a slew of wins this year on financial reform. With thousands of grassroots members, the credit unions mobilized throughout the year to press lawmakers against new restrictions on the industry.

They also played a central role, alongside financial firms large and small, in stopping a proposal to give bankruptcy judges greater power to rewrite the terms of primary home mortgages. The House in March had passed the proposal, derided in the industry as “cramdown,” but it failed in the Senate. Then it failed again in the House, with members citing small banks and credit unions as presenting persuasive arguments against the legislation.

Edison Electric Institute

With a reputation for leaning Republican, EEI took a big step toward mending fences with Democrats when it hired Brian Wolff to lead its lobbying efforts. Wolff served as a political adviser to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and was the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Change was afoot even before Wolff’s arrival. EEI had for years fought climate legislation, but recently the trade group was at work on a compromise among its members on the touchy topic. The formula they worked out for the distribution of emissions allowances under a cap-and-trade system has served as the basis for climate legislation thus far. EEI also convinced House Democrats to give away most of the allowances during an initial phase of the program, instead of auctioning them off, as the administration had proposed. Utilities said a full auction would have raised the costs of compliance too high.

Google

The long-running debate over who, if anyone, should be allowed to direct Internet traffic is clearly playing out in favor of one of the first net neutrality champions. Google and its public interest group partners have for three years lobbied Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to codify rules that would prohibit Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to any traffic.

New FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski sees eye to eye with Google. And that bodes well for companies like Skype, Amazon and Apple, which all sell products and services over the Internet.

General Electric/Rolls-Royce

The Obama administration put a target on a number of defense programs, including an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). That led to one of the fiercest fights in Washington, between Pratt & Whitney, maker of the main JSF engine that would stand to benefit from its competitor’s demise, and the GE-Rolls-Royce team that built the second engine.

The Senate left out funding for the GE-Rolls-Royce engine from both the defense authorization and appropriations bill. But with strong support in the House, the funding was restored, to the tune of $465 million.

AARP

Healthcare reform has split the AARP, with some seniors nervous about how the changes would affect coverage. But the powerful lobby has largely backed the effort and is on the verge of scoring a big win: getting the Medicare Part D doughnut-hole closed. The hole refers to a gap in coverage for prescription drugs that strains many seniors’ budgets.

AARP is also about to accomplish other priorities, such as limits to how much extra insurance companies can charge the elderly and the sick for insurance. (It had, however, sought tougher controls.) AARP recently urged quick passage of the Senate bill. It also supported the measure passed by the House.

Auto dealers

All parts of the auto industry took a drubbing over the past year. But automobile dealers have found ways to win in Congress. The “Cash for Clunkers” program was a boost for dealers, while the lobby also won an exemption from the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).

Just this month, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and Committee to Restore Dealers Rights successfully pushed Congress to pass a new arbitration system over how carmakers decide to close dealerships. The dealers had a yearlong battle with General Motors and Chrysler, which received tens of billions of dollars in bailout money and planned to close more than 2,000 dealerships across the country in their restructuring.

Clean-tech

Climate legislation splits Congress, but supporters and critics often meet in the middle on clean-tech, a broad category that includes solar and wind power and the so-called “smart grid” technologies designed to cut energy use.

The stimulus provided $80 billion in clean-tech support. According to the vice president’s office, that represents the “largest single investment in clean energy in American history.” Winners include the American Wind Energy Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association and high-tech companies that design the components and software for an improved power grid.

A $2.3 billion tax credit for clean energy manufacturing is so popular the administration wants another $5 billion.

Boeing

Boeing may not remember 2009 fondly, what with the delays to its Dreamliner commercial aircraft program. But the company had a good year on Capitol Hill. It succeeded in keeping production of the C-17 cargo aircraft going with a $2.5 billion appropriation. That’s enough for 10 more planes. Boeing also got more money for 18 F/A 18 E/F Super Hornets, nine more than the Pentagon requested.

The good news may eventually spill over to its commercial division. The Dreamliner finally took flight this week.

Jim Snyder and Silla Brush — The Hill

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Dec 222009
 

Around the world, China is investing in oil and gas resources to fuel its booming manufacturing industries and transportation sector to continue its sky-rocketing economic growth. China is not endowed with very much oil and gas resources of its own. Thus, it needs to partner with countries around the world to ensure availability of future supplies of oil and natural gas that it will need to keep up its current pace of economic growth.

The U.S., which does have oil and gas resources, is not following China’s lead in investing in these resources. Instead, the U.S. is looking toward wind and solar technologies to fuel its economy. However, wind and solar power are generating technologies and will not help where oil is needed in the transportation and industrial sectors.

Further, wind and solar power have capacity factors that cannot compete with those of fossil fuel generating technologies, and they can create instability issues with the electrical grid. They are also more expensive technologies and must have government support through tax credits to compete at all with fossil-fuel generating technologies.

China’s Investment in Oil and Gas

China has seized on the global recession to gain access to oil and gas resources and supplies. The atmosphere is ripe for Chinese firms to invest in these resources because:[i]

* Acquisitions are now more favorable than they were in early 2008, due to lower oil prices and, hence, lower asset prices.
* China is less constrained than many of its international counterparts in terms of where they can invest (e.g. Iran).
* Financing is not a problem, because Chinese banks are willing and able to provide needed funds.
* Competition for these assets in some areas has lessened.

Not only is China investing in places like Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Argentina, but it is in the U.S.’s backyard, looking towards usurping the U.S. supply of Canadian oil sands. China is a good customer for Canada, as Canada fears that the U.S. may introduce a low carbon fuel standard[ii] or other legislation that would restrict our purchases of oil sands from Canada[iii]. China is also looking at a possible purchase of leases in the Gulf of Mexico where Devon Energy is looking to sell its U.S. leases.[iv] The sale of these offshore leases requires the approval of the Mineral Management Service in the U.S. Department of Interior. China is willing and able to be at the forefront of any misstep other countries make to gain a foothold and secure oil and gas supplies, and the U.S. seems to be giving it elbow room.

China is also investing in oil and natural gas pipelines to ensure access to its investments and to divert some of its oil imports from the Middle East away from the Straits of Malacca. Oil pipelines are being built from Russia, Kazakhstan, and the coast of Myanmar. [v] A natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan should be operating in the near future, and several liquefied natural gas terminals are either operating or are expected to be operating shortly.[vi]

While the total amount of “investment” loans made by China to oil and gas producing countries for guaranteed future supplies of oil and gas are unknown, China has clearly invested billions of dollars in their ‘loans for energy’ program. [vii] The main provider of the loans is the China Development Bank, and thus they are essentially Government loans. Just on Tuesday, December 8th, for example, Nigeria’s presidential advisor for energy announced that Chinese companies have proposed investing $50 billion to buy 6 billion barrels of oil reserves in Nigeria.[viii]

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Dec 202009
 

In the early 1970s the UN spearheaded the progressive notion of a new world economic order, one that would try to level the playing field between the First World and the Third. The neoliberal onslaughts gathering strength from the mid-1970s on destroyed that project. Eventually the UN, desperate to reassert some semblance of moral leadership, regrouped behind the supposed crisis of climate change as concocted by the AGW lobby, behind which lurk huge corporate interests such as the nuclear power companies. Radicals from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, putting forward proposals for upping the Third World’s income from its primary commodities, were displaced by climate shills in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the IPCC. The end consequence, as represented by Copenhagen’s money-grubbing power plays over “carbon mitigation” funding, has been a hideous travesty of that earlier vision of a global redistribution of resources.

Such is the downward swoop of our neoliberal era. In Oslo Obama went one better than Carter who, you may recall , proclaimed in 1977 that his crusade for energy conservation was “the moral equivalent of war.” Obama trumped this with his claim that war is the moral equivalent of peace. As he was proffering this absurdity, Copenhagen was hosting its global warming jamboree, surely the most outlandish foray into intellectual fantasizing since the fourth-century Christian bishops assembled for the Council of Nicaea in 325AD to debate whether God the father was supreme or had to share equal status in the pecking order of eternity with his Son and with the Holy Ghost.

Shortly before the Copenhagen summit the proponents of anthropogenic – human-caused – global warming (AGW) were embarrassed by a whistleblower who put on the web over a thousand emails either sent from or received at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia headed by Dr Phil Jones, who has since stepped down from his post – whether temporarily or permanently remains to be seen. The CRU was founded in 1971 with funding from sources including Shell and British Petroleum. At that time the supposed menace to the planet and to mankind was global cooling, a source of interest to oil companies for obvious reasons.

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Dec 192009
 

A tale of how far modern “constitutional law” has taken us toward the executive state.

As climate talks conclude in Copenhagen today, all eyes will be on President Obama — the “miracle worker” many hope will “save the planet.” Regrettably, the underlying assumption here — that the president is all-powerful — is not that far-fetched.

Back in Washington last week, the executive branch’s Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its long-awaited “final findings” — that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide “endanger public health and welfare” — laying a foundation for massive EPA emissions regulations across the entire economy. Less noticed a day later was the release of a report by the Climate Law Institute’s Center for Biological Diversity claiming that the president needn’t worry about congressional inaction when he goes to Copenhagen. Despite Washington’s cap-and-trade impasse, the report said, he has all the power he needs under current law to make a legally binding international commitment. The CLI report is right, and therein is a tale of how far modern “constitutional law” has taken us toward the executive state.

Titled “Yes He Can: President Obama’s Power to Make an International Climate Commitment Without Waiting for Congress,” the report makes two main claims. First, the president doesn’t need a treaty (which would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate) or a statute (which would require majorities in both houses of Congress) to commit the nation to reduced emissions; he can instead use various types of “executive agreement,” some 15,000 of which are already in force in areas like trade and foreign relations. Drawing on authority already granted under the Global Climate Protection Act, for example, the president can negotiate a “congressional-executive” agreement consistent with domestic environmental laws. And he can even negotiate a “sole executive” agreement, which would bind us under international, if not domestic, law.

The core of the matter, however, is the report’s second claim, that the president “has clear authority under existing domestic law to regulate greenhouse gas emissions” and so doesn’t need to create additional domestic law through an international agreement. He needs simply to “take care” that domestic laws be faithfully executed. The Clean Air Act is the foundation for this claim, but the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Environmental Policy Act all supplement it.

Enacted in 1963 and amended several times since, the Clean Air Act today authorizes the executive branch to implement a variety of measures to reduce pollution from all sectors of the U.S. economy, but the scope of its authority hasn’t always been clear. Thus, in 1999 some 19 groups, including CLI’s Center for Biological Diversity, petitioned the EPA to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from new motor vehicles. After reviewing extensive public comment, the EPA concluded in 2003 that it lacked the authority to do so. The groups then sued, joined by twelve state and local governments. In 2007, in Massachusetts v. EPA, a sharply divided Supreme Court, with Justice Kennedy joining the Court’s four liberals, ruled that greenhouse gases like CO2 are air pollutants covered by the Act, and that the EPA must determine whether they endanger human health. Last week’s findings were the result.

The EPA must now establish air-quality “criteria” for pollutants emitted by everything from cars, airplanes, and ships to factories, buildings, lawnmowers — the list is endless — plus set a national pollution cap. Since the Clean Water Act authorizes the EPA to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,” and CO2 is said to produce ocean acidity, look for new water regulations as well. The CLI report tells us the administration has thus far “disavowed” any intent to use the Endangered Species Act to address the causes of climate change, but look for petitions to get that process going too. And finally, the National Environmental Policy Act requires detailed Environmental Impact Statements for proposed legislation and major federal actions significantly affecting the environment. Think of it as meta-regulation, meant to ensure that the regulation of other public and private entities serves the environmentalists’ agenda.

“President Obama is not arriving in Copenhagen with his hands tied by a recalcitrant Congress,” the report concludes. He has all the power he needs “to bind the United States to a formal, meaningful agreement to reduce emissions.”

The single-minded arrogance we’ve come to expect from environmental zealots runs through the CLI report. Nowhere, for example, do we find any concern for the world’s poor, who will suffer most from the proposed policies. Indeed, one imagines that, deep down, they and their appetites are seen as the ultimate environmental problem. Nor do we see any concern for the niceties of democratic legitimacy. The people be damned: If Congress balks, Obama can veto anything they might do, and let the chips fall where they may.

What we have here is the modern executive state. And the tale of how so powerful an executive arose is not really complicated: Congress and the Supreme Court conspired to create it. A century ago, progressives began viewing the Constitution’s checks and balances not as protections against overweening power but as impediments to enlightened government — the kind of government that would one day be used to “save the planet.” Since the New Deal, Congress has delegated ever more powers to the executive branch without much guidance as to how they are to be used. And a supine Court, cowed originally by Franklin Roosevelt’s threat to add six new members, has gone along, in the name of “democracy” and judicial modesty, even as the expanding government has looked less and less democratic.

Still, some democratic controls are still in place. Were the president to be so foolish in Copenhagen as to promise what is politically unacceptable back home, Congress could certainly take back some of the powers it earlier delegated to him. Ultimately, of course, Congress has the power of the purse: It can simply refuse to fund the EPA’s more extravagant regulatory schemes. And if Congress fails to do so, the American people can elect a Congress that will.

The courts also have powers they can use to keep the other branches in line — power to hold Congress to its enumerated and thus limited ends, and power to prohibit Congress from delegating its legislative powers to the executive branch. In the immediate case, however, the Court was the source of expanded executive power. In the 2007 EPA decision, it granted standing to plaintiffs who had none. And it read the Clean Air Act as giving the EPA power that neither text nor history would warrant. Earlier judicial “restraint” allowed the executive state to emerge. Later judicial “activism” allowed it to expand.

If the president does exercise his full powers in Copenhagen, however, there will be suits — by restricted industries and others on one side, and by environmental zealots urging even more regulation on the other. In deciding those cases, one hopes that the Court will start discerning the errors of modern “constitutional law” that have given us the executive state and begin restoring constitutional government.

Roger Pilon — National Review

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Dec 172009
 

There is a long and sordid tradition of trying to socialise children by scaring them. The aim of such socialisation-through-fear is twofold: firstly, to get children to conform to the scaremongers’ values; secondly, to use children to influence, or at least to contain, their parents’ behaviour.

When I was a schoolchild in Stalinist Hungary, we were frequently warned about the numerous threats facing our glorious regime. I also recall that we were encouraged to lecture our errant parents about the new wonderful values being promoted by our brave, wise leaders. The Big Brothers of the 1940s saw children as tools of moral blackmail and social control. Today, in the twenty-first century, scaremongers see children in much the same way, exploiting their natural concern with the wonders of life to promote a message of shrill climate alarmism.

If you want to know how it works, watch the official opening video of the Copenhagen summit on climate change (see below). Titled ‘Please Help The World’, the four-minute film opens with happy children laughing and playing on swings. A sudden outburst of rain forces them all to rush for cover. The message is clear: the climate threatens our way of life. It then cuts to a young girl who is anxiously watching one TV news broadcaster after another reporting on impending environmental catastrophes. Then we see the young girl tucked into bed, sweetly asleep as she embraces her toy polar bear… but suddenly we’re drawn into her nightmare. She’s on a parched and eerie landscape; she looks frightened and desolate; suddenly the dry earth cracks and she runs in terror towards the shelter of a distant solitary tree. She drops her toy polar bear in a newly formed chasm and yells and screams as she holds on to the tree for dear life. The video ends with groups of children pleading with us: ‘Please help the world.’ You get the picture.

Although this video is a product of the gathering at Copenhagen, it is typical of the kind of propaganda that is constantly directed at children these days. In a world where moral education seems to be exhausted, where teachers are reluctant to judge or to explain the difference between right and wrong, environmentalism has become one of the few values that educators feel comfortable with. Which is why environmentalism and its values now saturate the school curriculum in Britain and some other countries, too.

In medieval times, religion was central to the teaching of virtually every subject. Students were left in no doubt where the church stood on the smallest details of every topic they were learning about. Today, environmental concerns have been integrated into the curriculum, to the point where they often dominate subjects like geography, science and Personal Health and Social Education and intrude into history and literature, too. The growing significance of environmental issues in the school curriculum is directly proportionate to society’s broader moral illiteracy and loss of purpose. Today, even religious studies often appears as a sub-branch of the dogma of environmental alarmism.

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