By Kennedy Maize
As a democrat (that’s with a small “d” and a large “D”), I have a great deal of faith in the wisdom of the American people. That’s why I’m not surprised that the hysteria over alleged man-made global warming is in rapid decline in public opinion polls. It’s no longer in the top 10, or event the top 15, of issues that Americans care about.
Folks are much more concerned about their jobs, their investments, their retirement, and the prospects for the America economy. Well they should. Concerns about global warming, despite the intellectually-dishonest hypes of former vice president Al Gore, just aren’t cutting it with the public, according to a series of recent, reputable polls. Folks don’t care.
But this view among the general public, which has as much scientific backbone as the alarums of the climate catastrophists, doesn’t seem to have made much of a dent in the coverage of the issue by the conventional print and broadcast media, or the views of the policy elite, also known as opinion leaders, particularly those in Congress.
There are exceptions. John Tierney, the excellent and experienced science reporter for the New York Times, has not swallowed the man-made cooling Kool Aide, and gives skeptics an opportunity to make a contrary case on his blog. He’s not an advocate in any scenario, as befits his role as a journalist.
Generally, the media, policymakers in Washington (including electric industry trade groups who are trying to arbitrage damage), and the staff of members of Congress in both parties, seem to have accepted the conventional wisdom, and abandoned any idea of serious probing. At the Electric Power conference in Chicago this May, I heard a couple of smart industry analysts sign onto the entirely unproven hypothesis that there is some sort of physical inertia built into the climate system, and we are now seeing the effects of that in terms of California droughts and wildfires.
That’s entirely bogus, regardless of who is pushing the notion (Obama science advisor John Holdren?). How does the inertia show up in measurable terms? The global climate, by all credible measures, including those of the federal government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has declined over the last decade, and has not risen significantly since the 1950s. Nor is there any evidence – only assertions — of an inertial temperature increase.
A word about John Holdren. He’s on record going back to the 1960s as an environmental catastrophist. He and Stanford’s Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb, circa 1969) together ardently argued that economic growth and advancement of technology would lead to greater worldwide poverty and starvation. They are both neo-Malthusians, and have been proven consistently wrong at every turn. Yet some environmentalists, including those in the Obama administration, apparently revere their work.
Now Holdren is advising the White House on issues he has never gotten right. I confess I don’t get it. I can’t imagine a worse choice for the president’s science advisor (well, maybe Paul Ehrlich would be worse).
Similarly, I heard folks who should know better at the EP meeting in Chicago cite Al Gore’s entirely discredited, hysterical projections of drastic sea level increases caused by warming. Even if the models that Gore relies upon are close to accurate, the results are sea level rises in inches, not the multiple feet that Gore claims and too many folks in the industry have apparently decided not to challenge. Scientists have thoroughly debunked Gore’s sea level claims, yet he continues to advance them, without challenge.
Gore also continues to claim that global warming today is influencing hurricane frequency and strength. That’s also bogus. None of the major hurricane researchers in the U.S. buy that analysis, including at least one major researcher who has recanted on his original support for the hypothesis that warming is boosting hurricane activity. Nonetheless, Gore continues to push that case.
There is a political correctness aspect to warming politics in Washington, where one dare not suggest that the conventional, politically-approved, view of climate science is flawed. As a result, advocates of renewable energy and opponents of fossil fuels are driving the policy debate in ways that I believe will be disastrous: enormous increases in the costs of electricity with no benefits to the environment. Based on what I saw in Chicago — the reluctance of power generators to push back — I fear that the outcome I suggested is being teed-up in Congress.
Fortunately, the naked politics of special interests will make it nearly impossible for the Obama administration to implement any kind of serious CO2 reduction policy anytime soon. That’s a good thing. Congress is unlikely to go very far to limit existing coal-fired electric generation. Half the states in the U.S. have significant coal deposits. That equals 50 senators, plus a few on ideological grounds.
On top of that, other industries that are carbon emitters, including steel, cement, and cars, will also make their views known to Congress, as American Electric Power CEO Mike Morris made clear at the Electric Power meeting in Chicago. The likely outcome, for at least the next year or so, and I’m guessing four years or so, is gridlock.
I also suspect that as congressional staffers dig deeply into the problems of the unpredictability and remote locale of wind and solar, and the need to built lots of visible, expensive, high-voltage transmission over thousands of miles, a lot of the sizzle will depart from the argument. It will begin to concentrate more on the steak and the potatoes.