In a recent letter to ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and John Rockefeller (D-WV) urge Tillerson to end his company’s support of “climate change denial front groups.” The only group they identify by name is the one for which I work — the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). I guess the Senators haven’t been keeping up with the news, because ExxonMobil stopped funding CEI months ago.
The Senators get several other easily checked facts wrong as well. They fault ExxonMobil for not “investing in the development of technologies that might see us through this [global warming] crisis.” Maybe they didn’t get the memo, but back in 2002, ExxonMobil pledged “to invest $100 million in a groundbreaking Stanford University project dedicated to researching new options for commercially viable, technological systems for energy supply and use which have the capability to substantially reduce greenhouse emissions.”
More importantly, CEI is not a global warming “denier” — a highly pejorative term, meant to imply a resemblance to “Holocaust deniers.” CEI does not deny that global warming is happening, nor that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to the warming. Rather, we question climate alarmism — the claim, in Vice President Al Gore’s words, that global warming is a “planetary emergency.”
For example, in An Inconvenient Truth, Gore warns that half of the Greenland Ice Sheet could melt or “slip into the sea,” raising sea levels by 10 feet. He doesn’t say how long this might take, but gives the impression it could happen within our lifetimes, or those of our children. The annual net loss of ice in Greenland is about 92 cubic kilometers per year. That may sound like a lot — but it translates into less than one inch of sea level rise in a century. Apocalypse Not!
We also challenge the economic rationality and moral bona fides of the Kyoto Protocol and other fossil-energy-suppression schemes. Conservatively estimated, implementing Kyoto would cost the United States $100 billion a year — yet it would have no discernible effect on global temperatures, averting a hypothetical and undetectable 0.07 degrees C. of global warming by 2050. All cost, no benefit.
The standard rejoinder by Kyoto supporters is that the treaty is just a first step in a series of agreements, each more stringent and inclusive than its predecessor. What this really means is that Kyoto cannot “stabilize” atmospheric carbon dioxide levels without curbing fossil-fuel energy use not only in North America, Europe, and Japan, but also in high-growth developing countries like China and India. However, those countries must dramatically increase their use of fossil energy if they are ever to grow out of poverty. Kyoto cannot “work” unless large portions of humanity remain trapped in poverty, backwardness, and misery.p> Climate Royalists br> The Snowe-Rockefeller letter is a follow-up to a letter sent to ExxonMobil’s British subsidiary by the Royal Society of London urging the company to stop funding organizations that “misinform the public” about climate change. Since the Royal Society gets most of its funding from the British Government, Snowe and Rockefeller should at least have wondered what raison d’etat the Royal Society might be serving. /p>
Kyoto would impose disproportionately higher burdens on the U.S. economy than on the British economy. That is because Kyoto’s emission reduction targets are measured against a 1990 baseline, and in the 1990s, the UK power sector, for economic rather than environmental reasons, switched from high-carbon coal to lower-carbon natural gas, reducing Britain’s emissions. U.S. ratification of Kyoto would give British firms a competitive advantage vis-a-vis their American counterparts. Unsurprisingly, lobbying U.S. policymakers to ratify Kyoto or adopt similar constraints is a staple of British foreign policy.
Snowe and Rockefeller should have written a letter to the Royal Society reminding that body that (a) the USA is no longer a British colony, and (b) the U.S. Senate does not appreciate foreign meddling in our internal affairs. Instead, the Senators put the weight of their offices behind a foreign entity’s criticism of a U.S. firm’s participation in a debate on U.S. public policy.
It gets even stranger. Snowe and Rockefeller are particularly upset that ExxonMobil has funded groups that publish views about climate science on “non-peer-reviewed websites such as Tech Central Station.” Snowe and Rockefeller have also published viewpoints on climate change on their own websites. Are their websites “peer reviewed”?
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