The Relief Report ®


A newsletter covering regulatory reform efforts in Washington and across America, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research

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Issue #103 * January 31, 2002 * David A. Ridenour, Editor

Contents:

After a Decade of Global Warming Warnings, Are We Now Facing Global Cooling?

Enron and Global Warming: Climate Politics Makes for Strange Bedfellows

 

After a Decade of Global Warming Warnings, Are We Now Facing Global Cooling?

After a decade of warnings that the Earth's rapidly warming temperature may result in catastrophic flooding and lethal storms, it now appears that we may be in for global cooling instead.

The mammoth west Antarctic ice sheet, which contains enough water to lift the world's sea levels by 20 feet, isn't melting. Instead, it's thickening and Antarctica is getting cooler.

A new study by researchers from the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of California at Santa Cruz, published in the respected journal Science, found that the ice sheets of Antarctica are expanding by some 26.8 billion tons of ice a year.

The scientists, Ian Joughlin, a geologist at CIT, and Slawek Tulaczyk, a professor of earth sciences at Santa Cruz, speculate the thickening ice streams are repeating a pattern that occurred from 1650-1850 when the Earth went through the Little Ice Age.

Another study, published in the current edition of the journal Nature, found that air temperatures measured in Antarctica's polar desert valleys actually declined by 0.7 degrees from 1986 to 1999.

The study's lead author, limnologist Peter Doran, an expert on the study of fresh water at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is worried about the cooling's impact on the environment.

Doran says cooling temperature is reducing the amount of fresh water feeding into Antarctica's lakes and making the surface ice thicker so plankton that use sunlight for energy are getting less sunlight. And that, he says, is bad news for the life forms that depend on plankton for food.

"The ecosystem would continue to diminish, and eventually it would essentially go into a deep sleep ­ like a freeze-dried ecosystem," Doran said in a January 21 interview with National Public Radio.

Doran noted that only a few years ago the National Science Foundation was seriously considering moving its campsites away from lakeshores to escape higher lake levels caused by the melting water.

"We went into this project with the idea that global warming was going to hit us any time now, and we kept waiting for the warm summers to come and they never came," Doran said. "It just kept getting colder and colder, and that's the story."

The new Antarctica studies show just how prescient the Bush Administration was last year when it announced it was would not send the 1997 Kyoto Treaty to the Senate for ratification, but would increase funding for scientific research into climate change.

Supporters of Kyoto ­ including most environmental groups and former presidential candidate Al Gore ­ have argued that the Earth's temperature will increase by up to eight degrees over the next century and that this warming will unleash a chain reaction of environmental disasters.

A global warming fact sheet circulated by the National Resources Defense Council indulges in some particularly heated rhetoric, direly predicting that:

"Sea levels will rise, flooding coastal areas. Glaciers and polar ice packs will melt. Heat waves will be more frequent and more intense. Droughts and wildfires will occur more often. And as habitat changes or is destroyed, species will be pushed to extinction."

Gore, ignoring the advice of several key Clinton Administration officials, took a last-minute flight to Japan in November 1998 to sign the Kyoto Protocol even though the Energy Information Administration, the official forecasting arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, found that meeting the treaty's requirements would increase U.S. energy prices dramatically and throw as many as three million Americans out of work.

The Clinton Administration, however, never sent the treaty to Capitol Hill for ratification, in large part because the Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging the Administration not to seek approval of any global warming treaty that "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States."

The Bush Administration, now struggling to move the country out of a recession, pretty much delivered the coup de grace to the Kyoto treaty last year. The new Antarctica studies ought to pound the final nails into Kyoto's coffin.

Many environmental groups championing the global warming theory were zealous proponents of a global freezing theory in the 1970s. These groups then warned that a barren, ice-bound Earth might be imminent, and urged the government to tackle the crisis of "global cooling."

Mark Twain once noted, "I'm from Missouri if I don't like the weather, I just wait a few minutes."

We might say the same about predictions from environmentalists.

 

Enron and Global Warming: Climate Politics Makes for Strange Bedfellows

With a payoff worth billions at stake, Enron Corporation laid out millions apparently in support of the Kyoto global warming treaty.

Enron hoped to cash in on Kyoto by masterminding a worldwide trading network in which major industries could buy and sell credits to emit carbon dioxide ­ which some scientists and most environmentalists believe contributes to global warming.

The firm appeared to be on the verge of success when Vice President Al Gore signed the Kyoto treaty in November 1998. The treaty required the U.S. to reduce CO2 emissions by 7 percent from 1990 levels.

The Clinton Administration's interest in fighting global warming meshed with Enron's dream of huge profits from related investments. Kyoto ratification would have forced the U.S. to switch from coal-fired power plants to ones fueled by cleaner-burning natural gas. The trading surge in emission credits would have funneled cash to Enron.

When the Senate examined the potential economic impact of a global warming treaty, it voted 95-0 to urge the White House not to send it any treaty that would harm the economy.

Studies by impartial third parties show why: The Energy Information Administration, the official forecasting arm of the Energy Department, found that meeting the Kyoto limits would increase gasoline prices by over 50 percent and electricity prices by 86 percent, and decrease GDP by 4.2 percent.

A study by Dr. Stephen Brown, Senior Economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Texas, found that under a best case scenario, reducing CO2 emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels would represent a loss of between 3 to 4.3 percent of U.S. GDP. That's $921 to $1,320 per person and $3,684 to $5,280 for a family of four. Under a worst-case scenario Kyoto would cost the average family of four $6,400 a year.

When it became apparent that Kyoto had little chance of Senate approval, Enron began seeking ways to implement its provisions through backdoor means.

CEO Kenneth Lay signed Enron onto the Business Environmental Leadership Council of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, a left-leaning think-tank. The Pew Center has waged an expensive propaganda campaign to convince journalists that global warming is a dire threat.

Enron also joined two far-left environmental groups ­ the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council ­ in calling for new curbs on emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

President Bush's political rivals have expended a fair amount of energy trying to tie the White House to Enron, but it was they and their allies who were, politically-speaking, in bed with Enron on this crucial policy question.




Editorial correspondence to The Relief Report should be directed to: The National Center for Public Policy Research * 501 Capitol Court, N.E. * Washington, D.C. 20002 * (202) 543-4110 * Fax (202) 543-5975 * E-mail [email protected] * Web http://www.nationalcenter.org. Copyright 2002, The National Center for Public Policy Research. Coverage of meetings, activities or statements in the Relief Report does not imply endorsement by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints of material in the Relief Report permitted provided source is credited. To receive National Center newsletters free by e-mail, visit http://www.nationalcenter.org/Subscriptions.html.


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The National Center for Public Policy Research
501 Capitol Court, N.E.
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(202) 543-4110
Fax (202) 543-5975
E-Mail: [email protected]

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