The Obama Watch

Cap and Trade Dementia

The Obama-backed, House-passed bill is economically suicidal and scientifically grossly irresponsible. Its only justification is as a Democrat, left-liberal power grab.

By 7.1.09

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Barack Obama called for House passage of the cap and trade tax bill last Friday by calling it a jobs bill. The bill is designed to raise the price of energy in the U.S. so much that it will reduce the use of fossil fuels by 17% by 2020 and by 83% by 2050. Sentencing the U.S. economy to high cost energy is not a particularly good strategy for creating jobs. The Charles River Associates, a Harvard based economics consulting firm, estimates a net loss of jobs from the bill of about 2.5 million each year.

This is surely a gross underestimate of the net job losses from a bill designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels to the level in 1907. All those soccer moms better get used to riding their horses to the grocery store and back. And their husbands better get used to working the farms again, by hand, as high cost energy will chase remaining American manufacturing out of the country to India and China, which do not suffer from Al Gore's delusions about supposed global warming.

Yet Barack Obama calls it a jobs bill. This reflects a by now well-established pattern of deceptive, misdirection rhetoric, raising broadly appealing ideals in promotion of policies that would do just the opposite. For example, Obama is also trying to sell us a new health care entitlement, larger than any of our already grossly overgrown entitlements we can't finance, with the argument that it will actually reduce costs, even while CBO estimates that it will increase Federal spending by $1.6 trillion (woefully underestimated).

Earlier this year, Obama released his budget with great fanfare about how it would supposedly reduce the federal deficit in half in five years. Hidden in the fine print was the awful truth that his budget, now passed by the overwhelmingly Democrat Congress, explodes this year's deficit to a record busting $1.8 trillion, four times bigger than Bush's largest deficit, and seven times bigger than Reagan's largest, which caused so much caterwauling among liberals. The deficit in the last budget passed by a Republican controlled Congress was $162 billion, less than 10% as much.

Last year, Obama campaigned on proposals to raise the top two income tax rates by over 10%, the capital gains tax rate by 33%, and the tax rate on dividends by 33%, while restoring a permanent death tax rate of 45%, and raising taxes on corporations that already pay virtually the highest tax rates in the industrialized world, all the while focusing on his promise to cut taxes for 95% of Americans. That tax cut turned out to be a puny $400 per worker tax credit that is phased out after next year, when his tax increases will become effective to sink the still sputtering economy.

During the campaign, Obama also pledged that he would never raise taxes in any form on Americans making less than $250,000 per year. But his cap and trade tax is estimated to cost American families almost $2,000 a year when it becomes effective, growing to almost $7,000 a year for a family of four by 2035. That will be paid through higher prices for electricity, oil, gasoline, natural gas, home heating oil, coal, food, and every product that is produced or transported using energy. Remember: when the first President Bush violated his oft-repeated campaign pledge not to raise taxes, voters booted him out in the next election.

Democrats have suggested that the legislation would cost American families only $175 a year, or as little as $80. But fossil fuel use is not going to be reduced by 17%, growing to 83%, through added costs of $80 to $175 per year.

The rationale for this bill is to counter global warming by sharply reducing greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide. But even if the bill works exactly as envisioned, the most radical environmentalists admit that it will only slow temperature increases by 2050 by a ridiculous 9/100th of one degree Fahrenheit! Even after all the costs of reducing the use of fossil fuels by 83%, that is all that would result.

That is because all humans across the planet produce less than 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions. So slashing U.S. emissions won't have much effect in any event. Moreover, don't expect other nations to follow us in this foolhardy policy. Even the Europeans never really enforced their own cap and trade regulations, so their carbon dioxide emissions have actually increased more than ours over the last 10 years. Now nations from France to Poland, Japan, the Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand and others are turning away from cap and trade policies, and souring on the whole notion of global warming. China, now the world's number one carbon dioxide producer, India, Russia, Africa, and South America have shown no interest in the suicidal economics of global warming fantasy. But the left-wing extremists now running America are too close-minded and religiously dogmatic to even consider an alternative course.

As the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) recently asked:

Does it really make sense to eliminate between 2.3 million and 2.7 million jobs each year, and force families, farmers, and drivers to pay higher power bills, higher heating and cooling bills, higher food and goods prices, and higher gasoline and diesel prices, all for the promise of slowing temperature increases by merely hundredths of a single degree Fahrenheit by 2050?

The Global Warming Hoax

Worst of all, the science behind global warming is now collapsing. The most reliable satellite weather data shows that global atmospheric temperatures have declined over the last 11 years, with the trend downward accelerating. Even global warming advocates are now conceding that this trend may continue for decades.

Moreover, the latest and best science shows that the temperature patterns of the 20th century correlate with natural causes, not global warming theory. Temperatures did not increase steadily throughout the last century, even though carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases did. Temperatures in the U.S., which has the most thorough and consistent temperature record and historically the most CO2 emissions, were stable until 1920, increased some in the 1920s, and then soared to produce the hottest decade of the century during the 1930s (before the later, more rapid increases in greenhouse gas emissions). The climate then cooled during most of the period from 1940 until about 1977. Temperatures climbed upward from 1977 until 1998, except for a sharp downturn from about 1988 until about 1995. Temperatures are down again over the past decade.

This record is more consistent with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a long-term pattern of ocean currents that turns from cold to warm back to cold every 20 to 30 years, and with variations in solar activity, particularly sunspots. Indeed, our current accelerating temperature decline correlates with an extended trend of slowing sunspot activity, which may portend another Little Ice Age, as happened from the early 1400s to the late 1800s. Indeed, a full-blown ice age is now overdue based on historical patterns.

Democrat political rhetoric labels carbon dioxide as pollution, arguing that the bill sharply reduces such pollution, and targets "polluters." But carbon dioxide is a natural substance essential to all life on the planet, not pollution. All plants must take in carbon dioxide to survive, and emit oxygen. Humans and all other animal life need that oxygen to survive, and breathe out carbon dioxide. Moreover, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were several times higher in the past than today, for hundreds of millions of years, with only beneficial effects in the flowering of plant and animal life recorded.

Despite what you have heard from the Democrat party controlled media, the polar ice caps are not melting. The melting of glaciers still going on due to the end of the last ice age, and, therefore, not due to global warming, has caused sea levels to rise by roughly 400 feet over the last 18,000 years! That rise has been decelerating over the past 5,000 years, settling into a stable rate of increase over the last century of about 1.8 mm per year, regardless of global temperature fluctuations. That would result in a sea level rise over the next 100 years of less than 9 inches.

Finally, the latest science shows that the theory of significant man-made global warming has now been definitively proved false. The UN's own climate models, the top source of global warming hysteria, project that if man's emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases were causing global warming, there would be a particular pattern of temperature distribution in the atmosphere, which scientists call "the fingerprint." Temperatures in the troposphere portion of the atmosphere above the tropics would increase with altitude, producing a "hotspot" near the top of the troposphere, about 6 miles above the earth's surface. Above that, in the stratosphere, there would be cooling.

All scientists, both the alarmist warm-mongers and the pacifist cooler heads, agree that this temperature pattern would result if man were causing global warming, reflecting the pattern of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that would prevail in the atmosphere. Warming due to solar variations or other natural causes would not leave such a fingerprint pattern. Higher quality temperature data from weather balloons and satellites now enable us to settle the man-made global warming debate definitively.

The observed result is just the opposite of the modeled global warming fingerprint pattern. The data from weather balloons show no increasing warming with altitude, but rather a slight cooling, with no hotspot. The satellite data confirms this result: no increasing temperature with altitude, no hotspot, no fingerprint.

These arguments are now increasingly accepted by scientists all over the world. Those who argue there is a scientific consensus to the contrary are posturing fakers. As Kimberley Strassel wrote in the Wall Street Journal last Monday:

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming….Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion."

Even a suppressed study from inside the EPA concludes, "Given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until at least 2030), there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data." Investors Business Daily reports in a June 26 editorial regarding that study:

What the report says is that the EPA, by adopting the United Nations 2007 "Fourth Assessment" report, is relying on outdated research by its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The research, it says, is "at best three years out of date in a rapidly changing field" and ignores the latest scientific findings….

We have noted frequently the significance of solar activity on earth's climate and history. This EPA draft report not only confirms our reporting but the brazen incompetence of those "experts" that have been prophesying planetary apocalypse.

"A new 2009 paper by Scafetta and West," the report says, "suggests that the IPCC used faulty data in dismissing the direct effect of solar variability on global temperatures. Their report suggests that solar variability could account for up to 68% of the increase in the Earth's global temperatures."

One of the best sources for the true science of global warming is the operation of Dr. Fred Singer at SEPP. Singer is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia, and the founder and first Director of the National Weather Satellite Service. Another top source is the Heartland Institute. There is no collection of scientists in the world smarter and better than those who speak at and attend their regular international conferences on climate change. Heartland has just published the definitive rebuttal to the theory of significant man-made global warming, the 880-page Climate Change Reconsidered.

Probably the most articulate and informed single advocate countering global warming hysteria is Marc Morano. The Competitive Enterprise Institute also does top drawer work on the fallacies of global warming.

Global warming has nothing to do with science. It is about cover for massive increases in government power and taxes at all levels, including UN dreams of becoming a world government with global taxing powers. This is the only reason it is so heartily embraced by liberal/left interests. These people don't know anything about science.

The American People Get It

Recent polls show the truth about global warming has broken through to the American people. A recent Zogby poll found Americans oppose cap and trade 57% to 30%. The latest Rasmussen poll finds that 42% think the House passed cap and trade bill will hurt the economy, with only 19% agreeing with President Obama that it will help the economy. Another Rasmussen poll found that only 34% now believe humans cause global warming, the lowest polling yet and a reversal from a year ago. Gallup says a record high 41% of Americans now say global warming has been exaggerated, and "Gore has failed -- the public is just not that concerned" about global warming. Other surveys find Americans ranking global warming dead last among issues of concern.

In fact, this is the perfect issue to rally around with your own grassroots organizing. Anyone can get up to speed by checking the sources above. Get your friends and neighbors together and lead a discussion on the issue, aimed at taking political action. The 1,300-page bill also includes some shocking hidden provisions. The bill mandates that all houses must pass an energy conservation inspection by a government auditor before they can be sold. It also mandates use of new light bulbs containing poison mercury gas. It includes $300 billion in additional foreign aid spending from 2012 to 2019 for climate change adaptation, clean technology, and forest protection in countries such as Brazil. Maybe you can organize your neighborhood to ask your congressional representatives, "Why are you voting for a bill that will have hugely negative effects on the economy, jobs, and our standard of living, but will not have a measurable impact on the climate?"

Finally, some Democrats insist that the cap and trade bill does not really involve a tax at all. The best answer to them was given by Newt Gingrich at this year's CPAC,

Now I listened carefully to the President's speech the other night… the final educational lesson of the evening came when the President having promised he would not raise taxes on anyone below $250,000 mentioned…that he is for [the cap and trade tax]…. I said to myself, let me get this straight, we are not going to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 per year, unless you use electricity. And we are not going to raise taxes on anyone under $250,000 per year, unless you buy gasoline, …[or] unless you buy heating oil, …[or] unless you use natural gas…. And I thought to myself how dumb do they think we are that they can pretend that an energy tax is not an energy tax and … that every retired American who uses electricity is not going to pay it, and every person in New Hampshire who uses heating oil is not going to pay it, and every person who drives a car isn't going to pay it. I just want to report to Attorney General Holder and President Obama that this is a nation of people courageous enough…to insist that we not be governed by people who won't tell us the truth.

When considering potential future candidates for President, Republicans and conservatives should think, who do we want on the stage debating Obama in 2012?

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About the Author
Peter Ferrara is Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute, General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Senior Policy Advisor on Entitlements and Budget Policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.