Senate Greenhouse Gas Rationing Compromise Revealed

|

Just in time for President Barack Obama's visit to the Copenhagen climate change conference, three senators have unveiled their compromise cap-and-trade proposal for rationing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emssions. As the Associated Press reports:

Senators trying to craft bipartisan climate legislation offered a revised proposal Thursday that would add incentives for building nuclear power plants and open the way for expanded oil and gas drilling off the nation's coastlines in hopes of attracting wider support.

The new framework for a Senate climate bill would ease back requirements for early reductions of greenhouse gases. It calls for cuts of 17 percent by 2020, instead of 20 percent, similar to reductions already approved by the House and what Obama will call for at an international climate conference in Copenhagen.

The Gang of three—Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman—admits that they have not yet rounded up the 60 votes needed to pass a cap-and-trade bill. Not to fear, the senators are using the tried-and-true legislative technique of bribing their fellow solons to achieve that goal:

The senators said the bill would include tax credits and a substantial increase in government loan guarantees for building nuclear reactors as well as some streamlining of the reactor permitting process. Currently loan guarantees for new reactors — which can cost $9 billion or more each — are limited to a total of $18.5 billion, and even those have yet to be awarded by the Energy Department.

The legislation also would open the way for offshore oil and gas drilling with the proceeds shared between the federal government and nearby states. Where to drill and how much revenue will be shared with states will depend on negotiations on the bill, said Graham.

More details as they become available. See AP report here.

Advertisement

NEXT: Conservatives and "Personal Autonomy"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. … Congress is making progress ? although at a glacial pace ? on reducing heat-trapping greenhouse pollution.

    “A glacial pace”? Whatever might *that* mean to the AGWers?

  2. The senators said the bill would include tax credits and a substantial increase in government loan guarantees for building nuclear reactors as well as some streamlining of the reactor permitting process.

    That does not mean there is a guarantee that the reactors can actually be built, only that the bill will provide some streamlining… and some money.

    Currently loan guarantees for new reactors ? which can cost $9 billion or more each ? are limited to a total of $18.5 billion,

    Why would the FedGov need to guarantee loans for capital investments?

    The legislation also would open the way for offshore oil and gas drilling with the proceeds shared between the federal government and nearby states. Where to drill and how much revenue will be shared with states will depend on negotiations on the bill, said Graham.

    Meaning, the bill would guarantee the States and the FedGov a piece of the action.

    Wow. What-a-deal!

    1. Smaller nukes (with 25000 home capacity) can be built for $25 million. I stand by my previous statements that this is the way to go. It decentralizes (sp?) the grid, since the reactor itself has no moving parts it’s much safer, and you have all the benefits of clean energy. And with a cost that much easier to swallow, we don’t need Uncle Sugar funding the action.

      1. Agreed. Nuclear energy should be cheaper to harness. What makes it expensive is government, not the materials or the labor.

        The other big, BIG advantage is that you can make power plants that are much smaller than those that burn coal or natural gas, since you do not need to have boilers.

        Many of the new designs are intrinsically safe – they allow the material to expand, thus acting like it’s own “moderator” by increasing the distance between atoms while allowing the material to expand safely.

        1. since you do not need to have boilers.

          What design are you referring to? I can’t imagine there being any approved design other than the standard pressurized water reactors; it’s just a different heat source for boiling the water.

          1. That’s what I am refering to. The traditional boiler is done away. The water for power is boiled in a heat exchanger that has the superheated steam passing through it, but there is no fuel consumption nor the complicated fuel regulation needed to keep a traditional boiler running.

      2. I think companies like Hyperion are really going to change the game here. Small nuke, combined with the huge renewable energy push and advances in solar tech and biofuel developments, are going to make clean, cheap energy abundant world wide.

  3. If only the all-powerful marketplace were allowed to magically solve this problem on its own. Too bad those tyrannical, incompetent government bureaucrats have slammed down their iron fist of ineptitude and weakness on the strong, productive, sky-is-the-limit (eternally oppressed) libertarian ubermenschen.

    1. Tony,

      The marketplace is US, you and me. You really think that talented individuals cannot solve a problem that bumbling bureaucrats have exacerbated?

      1. Well, technically the government is US too.

        1. Re: MNG,

          Well, technically the government is US too.

          “Technically”, the government should have the size the Constitution allows…

          In reality, the government is just an organization made of tax-consumers that feed on us the tax producers.

          I posit the question to YOU, MNG: If the market place is US, you and me, what makes you think that talented individuals (and I assume you are a smart person) cannot solve a problem whereas a bumbling, DNV-esque bureaucrat can?

          1. DMV-esque.

          2. The government is us too. You can vote can’t you? It does whatever we tell it too, in theory…

            I myself would like for the market to have more of a crack at this before we invoke the coercive power of the government. I’ve said so. I oppose the current cap and trade bill, it seems like a nightmare.

            People and companies are voluntarily reducing their carbon footprint in innovative ways that impress me. We should let that play out more imo. I’m for marginalizing peoiple who deny the science for ideological reasons and education campaigns.

            1. Re: MNG,

              The government is us too. You can vote can’t you? It does whatever we tell it too, in theory…

              There’s a joke that goes:

              “Daddy, daddy, what does it mean “In Theory?”
              “Well, ask your mommy and your sister if they would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million bucks”
              The son does, and the sister says “Well, yeah, for a million, sure!”. The mom says “For a million? I would do it for free! But a million sounds better.”

              So the son goes back and tells his daddy, and he says “Ok, so, in theory, we have two million dollars. In reality, we have a couple of whores in the house.”

              So in theory, yes, the government works for us. Last time I checked, people were called “Tea Baggers” and “Hatefull” for saying things like that….

              1. And “in theory” the market solves all problems. I mean really, nobody is more famous for being made fun of for assuming all kinds of shit “in theory” than economists, Austrians included (and sometimes at the forefront).

                You know the old joke about the chemist, the physicist and the economist stranded on the island don’t you?

                “Assume a can opener.”

                1. Re: MNG,

                  And “in theory” the market solves all problems.

                  Well, there IS a difference: How do you define the problem?

                  The issue about government being subservient to the People is a pretty specific one – either it IS, or it ISN’T. Saying that this or that cannot solve ALL problems is too vague a complaint.

                  1. I’ll say this: I don’t think the goverment can do anything that a majority of the US population doesn’t want it to. I’ll withhold my opinion of the majority of the US population though 😉

          3. I imagine that that those who want the goverment involved do so because they think that some problems can only be solved with coercion and the government is the only institution that legitmately can use coercion. Libertarians believe this about some things (like with muggers).

            If AGW is true then some people are harming the person and property of others, so it would be legitimate to support government coercion to stop that, in the same way one might support it to stop muggers and vandals.

            1. Except that… muggers and vandals are real.

              1. So since global warming isn’t real (just a huge hoax we’ll all laugh about in a few years), there are no issues of international justice, responsibility to citizens, or law enforcement to deal with. How convenient for people who don’t believe government should ever do anything.

                1. Who said government should not do anything? I think it is very well defined in our constitution what government should do. But I am sticking to my opinion that AGW(if it exists at all) does not constitute a problem that warrants government intervention at this time. I do not have a problem with open and unbiased further study. But no massive tax payer funding for a hypothetical issue when we have known issues to deal with.

              2. You say it ain’t real, scientists say it is.

                No offense Hypie, but I’m going with the latter.

                1. You can go with whatever you want MNG, but your generalizing statement that ‘scientist’ believe it, implying that all scientist believe it, is just not true and you know it.

                  1. MNG would never tell an untruth, or use strawman as a knee jerk reaction, never! He’s a political science doctorate for fuck’s sake, ergo, a Nietzschean Superman; above all such earthly frailties.

                  2. Do you dispute that more scientists say AGW is for real than say it is not?

                    1. What do you mean by AGW?

                      Do you accept all predictions, including James Hansen’s prediction that the Earth’s oceans will boil away within the next thousand years?

                      “The Earth’s climate becomes more sensitive as it becomes very cold, when an
                      amplifying feedback, the surface albedo, can cause a runaway snowball Earth,
                      with ice and snow forming all the way to the equator.
                      If the planet gets too warm, the water vapor feedback can cause a runaway
                      greenhouse effect. *The ocean boils into the atmosphere and* *life is
                      extinguished*.
                      The Earth has fell off the wagon several times in the cold direction, ice
                      and snow reaching all the way to the equator. Earth can escape from snowball
                      conditions because weathering slows down, and CO2 accumulates in the air
                      until there is enough to melt the ice and snow rapidly, as the feedbacks
                      work in the opposite direction. The last snowball Earth occurred about 640
                      million years ago.
                      Now the danger that we face is the Venus syndrome. There is no escape from
                      the Venus Syndrome. Venus will never have oceans again.”

            2. If AGW is true then some people are harming the person and property of others, so it would be legitimate to support government coercion to stop that, in the same way one might support it to stop muggers and vandals.

              Who is being harmed by AGW?

              1. Who is being harmed by AGW?

                Anthropogenic Global Warming: The Ultimate Strawman Argument.

                You will lose your income, your lifestyle, even your freedom because you are One Of Those Types who is harming others. Like MNG said, “some people are harming the person and property of others, so it would be legitimate to support government coercion to stop that”.

                Coercion indeed.

              2. If it is true then, among other things, sea levels will rise and people will lose property, having it flooded out. There are other potential dangers, but the property one should be enough for libertarians.

                1. If it is true then, among other things, sea levels will rise and people will lose property, having it flooded out.

                  How much have sea levels risen in the past century?

                  How has sea level varied in the past five thousand years?

      2. Talented individuals ARE solving the problem. They’re called scientists. Bumbling bureaucrats can’t act on the productive work and recommendations of scientists because the marketplace is full of people buying the bumblers off.

        1. And confusing the population on an issue important to every individual’s self-interest. Some magical market.

        2. Stop contradicting yourself Tony. Isn’t it your position that you want the bumbling bureaucrats to solve the problem? The same bumbling bureaucrats that you now say cannot solve the problem? I think for the first time ever, I agree with you.

    2. It’s already solving this problem on it’s own. Solar panels are getting more efficient and cheaper, small nuke reactors are on the way (hyperion, see above), all because of innovative small businesses, motivated by PROFIT

  4. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/cl…..ement.html

    1700 from the UK alone.

    But on the other hand, you guys got Lindzen, Christie, Spencer and a couple dozen other real scientists, right? Oh and unvetted lists of “31000 climate scientists” that Mickey Mouse could have signed (and probably did).

    1. Wow – science by dick-comparison.

      “MY list is bigger than YOUR list”

      1. Let us please put this tiresome Logic 101 bullshit aside to death once and for all.

        An expert or a consensus in and of itself of course does not prove x or y. That’s where the “fallacy from authority” and “argument from popularity” fallacies come from.

        However, it is a well accepted part of informal logic to think that the views of a person with superior training, experience and education in a complicated field are more likely to be correct than one who lacks the same. Does anyone with a straight face dispute this?

        Now, on very few issues will find complete agreement by such experts. So what is the rational thing for the non-expert to do? To think the minority of experts is correct, or the majority?

        I mean really. Yes, I am no expert in science. But pretty much nobody on this site is. It’s just an empirical fact that more experts think AGW is for real than think it is not. Is anyone supposed to think that majority is wrong because some non-experts with very strongly stated ideological reasons to oppose their conclusions say they are? I mean WTF?

        1. Re: MNG,

          However, it is a well accepted part of informal logic to think that the views of a person with superior training, experience and education in a complicated field are more likely to be correct than one who lacks the same. Does anyone with a straight face dispute this?

          I do – the fact that a person has experience and training does not preclude the possibility that he or she may be DEAD WRONG.

          What experience and training sometimes gives the person is a total lack of restraint on his opinion of himself.

          Now, on very few issues will find complete agreement by such experts. So what is the rational thing for the non-expert to do? To think the minority of experts is correct, or the majority?

          MNG, this issue is not a soccer match or a dick-sizing contest. For one, I do not subscribe to Keynesianism over Austrian economics just because the former has the bigger camp.

          Yes, I am no expert in science. But pretty much nobody on this site is. It’s just an empirical fact that more experts think AGW is for real than think it is not.

          Let me say that even if I though that AGW (and I emphasize the “A” because I do believe GW is real), what creates in me the biggest skepticism is the assurance from these same scientists that “we must do something now!”. Only rain-makers and snake-oil salesmen speak like that.

          1. Of course the better trained and educated man CAN be wrong (hence the fallacy), but I asked which is MORE LIKELY to be wrong.

            On another point there are many people who think AGW is for real but don’t have a maniacal push to “do something now.” I’ve read more than a few of those. Fuck, Ron Bailey is one.

            1. Re: MNG,

              On another point there are many people who think AGW is for real but don’t have a maniacal push to “do something now.”

              I would be ine – I do not subscribe to AGW, but I would say – there are things taht can be done right now to solve the excess of emissions.

              I know you DO support the idea of allowing private energy companies to build and operate nuclear plants. What the government can do RIGHT NOW is allow this to happen with the scantest of regulation, and allow private enterprises to figure out the disposal of waste fuel. Nuclear energy has the highest energy to weight ratio and it has virtually zero emissions.

              However, I doubt THIS government will allow this. And I don’t think it has anything to do with NYMBY, but with special interests and big money.

              1. I do support this. I heard today that France gets 80% of its power from nuclear plants. If AGW is correct like all these scientists say then that’s a great model.

                1. I have no problem with nuclear either, as long as they do it on their own dime….which they can’t. Their costs are awful, and no one can or will insure them (except the government, but that’s a subsidy).

                  1. Re: Chad,

                    I have no problem with nuclear either, as long as they do it on their own dime….which they can’t. Their costs are awful, and no one can or will insure them (except the government, but that’s a subsidy).

                    You’re begging the question – the purported costs to build a nuclear plant come into being because of government intervention. In reality, the technology is quite simple, much simpler than for a standard coal-burning plant. The reason for the higher cost is because of the safety regulations imposed on nuclear plants, most of them being either obsolete or too imposing. The newer reactors are implicitly safe. The ONLY reactor that had a major explosion was a non-Western design, which was the one at Chernobyl.

                    Also, the track record of all nuclear plants in existence has been excellent. Again, government could be the ultimate culprit for the extra costs for insurance.

                    Why assume that private organizations cannot build nuclear plants?

                    1. This is a good point as well; nuclear is so expensive because it is heavily regulated. I imagine though that it is more targeted for regulation than, say, solar or wind power because when most people think of a big ass explosion they don’t think of a wind turbine as the cause… The word nuclear is associated with the word “bomb” and mushroom clouds in many folks heads, rightly or wrongly.

                  2. Chad: Same thing for solar?

                    1. That is a good point.

                      I guess one possible reply is that there have been massive government supports and subsidies for carbon based energy industries and a that a period of support and subsidy may be necessary to make industries with lower footprints viable, and that if the goal is to have the footprint lowererd the price may be worth it.

                      However, that would apply to nuclear as much as to solar I should think…

                    2. Not until renewables have received the same level of subsidy that nuclear and coal have already received. It’s not fair giving two technologies huge head starts (ok, REALLY huge in the case of coal), then declaring a level playing field.

                      Merely eliminating the subsidies for coal and nuclear (including internalizing all externalities) should get renewables close to their goal. Wind is already cheaper than coal if you add in reasonable estimates for the externalities (which typically range from $.04-.08 per kwh, but I have seen up to $.20, and find the lowest estimates to be incomplete). Solar prices have fallen more than 20% this year at the cell level, putting it well on the path to being competetive for peak power in certain places. This will happen a lot sooner (and with more certainty) if its subsidized competitors lose their subsidy.

                    3. Re: Chad,

                      I have no problem with nuclear either, as long as they do it on their own dime….which they can’t. Their costs are awful, and no one can or will insure them (except the government, but that’s a subsidy).

                      Chad, there cannot be ANY reasonable estimate for the so-called “externalities”. Anytime you read or learn that someone has estimated such a thing, you can be sure that person is either just guessing or a charlatan.

                      The cost of something is a function of a person’s opportunity cost. This cannot be measured – it is an entirely subjective valuation.

                      Wind has a BIG problem – the system is economically VERY INEFFICIENT, since you are talking about dispersing the energy conversion elements over great distances. These require much more transmission cables, transformers and control systems to coordinate the flow of electrical energy than for a single power plant. A Power Plant is much more efficient because the energy conversion element is already contained in a single PLACE.

                    4. So the best course of action is to assume they are zero, despite the obvious fact that they are clearly not? Of course not. Your best option is to take the best estimate that research can provide. Being right within a factor of two or so is better than throwing your hands up and being completely wrong. Or how about we just assume the externalities are infinity, since we can’t calculate them. Then MY technology choice wins without a fight in the market!

                      The grid is 90% efficient at transmitting energy. That is hardly the largest problem, and to the extent that it IS a problem, it is completely solvable.

                    5. “Solar prices have fallen more than 20% this year at the cell level, putting it well on the path to being competetive for peak power in certain places. This will happen a lot sooner (and with more certainty) if its subsidized competitors lose their subsidy. “

                      A growing part of my work is in the solar photovoltaic industry, and a big big reason for the prices coming down are the chinese modules. The chinese modules are so cheap because the chinese government is heavily subsidizing chinese module producers so they can dominate the market early on. Those subsidies are not just direct monetary ones; the chinese govt has turned to look aside the environmental effect of their more toxic manufacturing process for photovoltaic modules (already a very dirty process in any country, but especially china). Those chinese modules would be a lot more expensive–and not nearly the market player–if they had to stand up on their own merits (which are few other than price).

                    6. “A growing part of my work is in the solar photovoltaic industry”

                      Cleaning the bathrooms at the solar photovoltaic plant doesn’t count as being “part of the industry.”

                    7. I agree…the Chinese are a big part of the price push. However, all the big guns have their money in it now, and than means scaling and related price drops. This drop is only the beginning.

                      Isn’t it nice to see how economic conservatives’ foot-dragging is letting the Chinese steal an industry that we pioneered?

                    8. I agree…the Chinese are a big part of the price push. However, all the big guns have their money in it now, and than means scaling and related price drops. This drop is only the beginning.

                      Isn’t it nice to see how economic conservatives’ foot-dragging is letting the Chinese steal an industry that we pioneered?

                  3. See my post above.

                    If we could harness the power of troll stupidity we’d be all set. Hit and Run alone could solve the “energy crisis” and “global warming” at the same time.

                    1. Troll stupidity is a negative energy, sage, like Pokemon Darkness energy.

                  4. have no problem with nuclear either, as long as they do it on their own dime….which they can’t. Their costs are awful

                    Their costs are high because anti-nuke nutjobs on your side MADE THEM HIGH.
                    They lobbied for, and then deliberately and premeditatedly abused, a site permitting process that enabled them ot endlessly stall construction of any nuclear plant. Thus driving up construction costs by an order of magnitude.

                    Het the anti-nuke fuckheads out of the way, and nuclear plant construction costs will fall dramatically.

                    But you won’t do that. And you know why? Because you’re a disingenuous lying asshat who really doesn’t want nuclear and will bullshit your way around the fact that it is YOUR OWN SIDE that is making it expensive.

                    1. They lobbied for, and then deliberately and premeditatedly abused, a site permitting process that enabled them ot endlessly stall construction of any nuclear plant. Thus driving up construction costs by an order of magnitude.

                      Indeed.

                      It was not oil companies that did this, it was environmentalist parasites.

                      Truly, environmentalists have the same value to society as the Anopheles mosquito.

                    2. I have never opposed nuclear. Go ahead and build one right in my backyard.

                      You are fighting ghosts of the 60’s anyway. Most environmentalists moved on long ago.

                    3. Hear, hear, Hazel. And not to threadjack, but it’s the same thing with the death penalty: opponents do everything they can to slow and stop it, and then claim it’s not worthwhile because it’s so slow and expensive.

                    4. That’s not the same thing at all.

                2. Re: MNG,

                  Well, nuclear energy would at least stop the rate of increase of emission generation, and in the future, reduce it.

                  The fact of the matter is that the alternative systems are either too inefficient (Solar and Wind disperse the investment too much), or too locally focused, like geothermal (which is great – free energy!)

                  The way to go is nuclear. I for one do not think the government will do what’s needed, especially with too many people thinking like Chad, who believes private investment is gross and yucky…

                  1. I can’t speak for wind power as I don’t have much knowledge of it, but as for the solar (specifically photovoltaic) industry, the efficiency is improving but still awful. Aside from the toxic manufacturing process [ever stood in an ultrapure ingot fab and realized the tremendous amount of petro-economy that goes into it?] the power efficiency really isn’t that good. Further, a lot of manufacturers have modules that are in widespread use but starting to show signs of premature breakdown at test facilities (notably several chinese models). This is going to cost a fair chunk of money to rectify, and be unhelpful to the industry reputation in the medium term. Some problems might benefit higher quality manufacturers as the lesser ones are winnowed out, but this assumes a market process is allowed to occur, and from this early stage it appears that won’t be the case. Anyway, the reason I think it’s a problem is: Those installations are supposed to be for 30 years or more. As those who write the solar portion of the NEC Code put it “remember, inspectors, you are inspecting systems to be in use for 50 years or more!” but this is, from what I’ve seen recently of module breakdown, going to be a problem.

                    1. Actually, you are getting close to my area of expertise. Let’s just say I have a chunk of elemental silicon sitting on my desk at work for a reason.

                      It takes about two years to pay back the energy used in the manufacturing of a silicon-based solar cell, so that is not a major concern. And I am surprised that a libertarian is claiming that markets cannot sort out crappy products from good ones. Next thing you know, you guys will be praising the French health care system.

            2. On another point there are many people who think AGW is for real but don’t have a maniacal push to “do something now.” I’ve read more than a few of those. Fuck, Ron Bailey is one.

              Anyone who claims that we need to “do something now” is obviously wrong because there are no problems today , and the TTAPS study showed that we could deal with the problem at our leisure with minimal effort.

              1. You really are dumbass with your TTAPS stuff…

                1. You really are dumbass with your TTAPS stuff…

                  TTAPS is proven science.

                  Carl Sagan is an expert in his field. How could he be wrong about his report?

    2. I Pledge Allegiance to Global Warming :

      The Met Office, Britain’s national weather service, “has embarked on an urgent exercise to bolster the reputation of climate-change science” in the wake of a whistle-blower’s revelation of widespread misconduct by climate scientists, London’s Times reports:

      More than 1,700 scientists have agreed to sign a statement defending the “professional integrity” of global warming research. They were responding to a round-robin request from the Met Office, which has spent four days collecting signatures. . . .

      One scientist told The Times he felt under pressure to sign. “The Met Office is a major employer of scientists and has long had a policy of only appointing and working with those who subscribe to their views on man-made global warming,” he said.

      The concept of scientists–or journalists, or artists–signing a petition is ludicrous. The idea is that they are lending their authority to whatever cause the petition represents–but in fact they are undermining that authority, which is based on the presumption that they think for themselves.

      The problem with the petition as a form is also a problem with the Met Office petition’s substance. The purpose of the petition is to shore up scientists’ authority by vouching for their integrity. But signing a loyalty oath under pressure from the government is itself a corrupt act. Anyone who signs this petition thereby raises doubts about his own integrity. And once again, the question arises: Why should any layman regard global warmism as credible when the “consensus” rests on political machinations, statistical tricks and efforts to suppress alternative hypotheses?

      To be sure, Joseph McCarthy was right about communism even though the ways he combated it were wrong and counterproductive. But that’s all the more reason that honest scientists who view global warmism as credible–if such creatures exist–should rise up against these McCarthyite tactics.

      1. You gotta love this: people like the Gobbler are such perfect skeptics when it comes to the major scientific associations conclusions re AGW, but they read and cite shit like this as uncritically as a teenager sites Hannah Montana…

        You go skeptic!

        1. I think he is replying to Chad, MNG.

      2. You can just go tell that one skeptic that they asked that Exxon and the likes lavishly fund any climate scientist that plays their tune. Not that it costs them much to fund a dozen people.

        1. Chad,

          You are flying off a tangent. You were the one that brought up the petition, not Gobbler.

          1. I am just smacking around his one (anonymous) counter-example, of course.

            1. No, you are just using your normal mode of conversational sleazery.

  5. Hopefully they will be able to work it all out. If the Democrats get everything they want they will be political toast for decades. Graham is toast already.

  6. So they throw a few sentences that make perfect sense into a garbage dump of non-sense. Fuck cap and trade. Drill, explore, develop nuclear and let private enterprise develop new technologies. Let the free market take care of this. I don’t mind if the government spends some of my tax dollars on research to help develop new technologies, but I sure as hell do not want them wasting that money to tax plant food and fund pork projects. We could be light years ahead of where we are now on energy and just about everything else if our government would not have spent the last half century wasting our money on bullshit.

  7. Megan McArdle had a commenter today that put up a very interesting letter regarding climategate. It read,

    Megan,

    With respect, you’re setting up a strawman. None of the scientists who have “come out” as climate skeptics allege a massive conspiracy by scientists, any more than there is a massive liberal conspiracy in Hollywood. What you have is a self-emergent, self-organizing bias. I hope I can illustrate it briefly.

    I work in academic science (check my IP address if you wish). Scientists are, in general, uncompromising idealists for objective, physical truth. But occasionally, politics encroaches. Most of my work is funded by DoE, DoD, ONR, and a few big companies. We get the grants, because we are simply the best in the field. But we don’t work in isolation. We work as part of a department, which has equipment, lab space, and maintenance staff, IT, et cetera. We have a system for the strict partition of unclassified/classified research through collaboration with government labs. The department had set a research policy and infrastructure goal to attract defense funding, and it worked.

    The same is true in climate science. Universities and departments have set policies to attract climate science funding. Climate science centers don’t spontaneously spring into existence ? they were created, in increasingly rapid numbers, to partake in the funding bonanza that is AGW. This by itself is not political ? currently, universities are scrambling to set up “clean energy” and “sustainable technology” centers. Before it was bio-tech and nanotechnology. But because AGW-funding is politically motivated, departments have adroitly set their research goals to match the political goals of their funding sources. Just look at the mission statements of these climate research institutes ? they don’t seek to investigate the scientific validity or soundness of AGW-theory, they assume that it is true, and seek to research the implications or consequences of it.

    This filters through every level. Having created such a department, they must fill it with faculty that will carry out their mission statement. The department will hire professors who already believe in AGW and conduct research based on that premise. Those professors will hire students that will conduct their research without much fuss about AGW. And honestly, if you know anything about my generation, we will do or say whatever it is we think we’re supposed to do or say. There is no conspiracy, just a slightly cozy, unthinking myopia. Don’t rock the boat.

    The former editor of the New Scientist, Nigel Calder, said it best ? if you want funding to study the feeding habits of squirrels, you won’t get it. If you wants to study the effects of climate change on the feeding habits of squirrels, you will. And so in these subtle ways, there is a gravitational pull towards the AGW monolith.

    I think it the most damning evidence for this soft tyranny is in the work of climate scientists whose scientific integrity has led them to publish results that clearly contradict basic assumptions in AGW modeling. Yet, in their papers, they are very careful to skirt around the issue, keeping their heads down, describing their results in a way obfuscates the contradiction. They will describe their results as an individual case, with no greater implications, and issue reassuring boilerplate statements about how AGW is true anyways.

    For the field as a whole, it’s not a conspiracy. It’s the unfortunate consequence of having a field totally dominated by politically-motivated, strings-attached money. In the case of the CRU email group, well, the emails speak for themselves. Call it whatever you want.

    That is probably the best description I have read of what has happened with cliamte science. If get a grant to start a lab to “study the human impacts on climate” and hire MNG to run it. He damn sure isn’t going to spend any time examining the issue of IF man has any impact on the climate. That will be a given.

    That is what has happened. The political people who see global warming as an excuse to get rich and live out their totalitarian fantasies have created the environment described above. It is not that there was some grand conspiracy. It was more of a soft tyranny that corrupted the process.

    When MNG screams “the science is settled”, he is begging the question. When the entire scientific process soup to nuts has been corrupted by a tyranny of expectations, screaming that the science is settled is pretty meaningless.

    I would also point to the descriptions of NASA risk analysis and how off kilter it got before the Challanger accident contained in this post, as another example.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/richar…..ocket-man/

    1. Of course politics encroaches. It’s a major issue. Thing is, one side is using politics to try to solve a real problem, while the other side is using politics to confuse people and pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

      1. “Trying to solve a real problem.” Of course, that’s what everyone says. And it’s even true! The Bolsheviks, the involuntary eugenics advocates, Prohibition, the enthusiastic child abuse investigators of the ’80s, zero tolerance policies: the list is endless. All were “trying to solve real problems.”

        The issue, though, is the solution going to work, or make some other problem worse, or actually worsen the original problem? Spending trillions of dollars and giving huge powers to national and international authorities is, in itself, a problem. I am not yet convinced that an increase in atmospheric CO2 from .038% to .048% or whatever is worse.

    2. This is not surprising at all for those who read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. And our “elites” were supposed to read both Kuhn and Popper. But they didn’t. Or if they did they chose not to apply that knowledge to the AGW hysteria.

    3. Great link, John. Thanks.

  8. “When MNG screams “the science is settled”, he is begging the question. When the entire scientific process soup to nuts has been corrupted by a tyranny of expectations, screaming that the science is settled is pretty meaningless.”

    Haha, this is pretty much word for word what the ID Discovery Institute said about evolution science that I linked to as Hoaxbuster. Remember when everyone was crying “waah, that’s not relevant!” It’s almost word for word for Pete’s sake!

  9. Whatever amount of funding that is “pro-AGW” (whatever that would mean) is out there Chad is right about this: if are a prominent scientists who denies global warming then you will get big checks from many places. It’s not like that view can’t get a hearing or subsidy. The difference is that when experts hear that side and the AGW side they tend to be convinced by the latter in far greater numbers.

    1. Not only do they get a “hearing”: skeptic scientists get a hundred times the media coverage that an equally qualified concensus scientist would get. They also get their pockets lined with fat-cash consulting fees from the fossil fuel industry and conservative groups, like this one.

      http://climateprogress.org/200…..more-15449

      I find it completely bizarre that libertarians can’t see how much stronger the bias is on the denalist side.

      1. Chad. You will die someday. The world will remain. Deal with it.

        1. This seems rather lame.

          Here, let me try it. The next time you whine about something like being taxed or regulated, or being mugged or something, “you will die someday, the world remain, deal with it.”

          1. Please providelinks where I have “whine(d) about something like being taxed or regulated, or being mugged or something”. Thanks.

            1. OK, fair enough. But WTF, you think no one can or should ever complain or raise alarm about an injustice or harm?

            2. Clarification: Taxation has its place, as does regulation. But I am not down with muggings.

            3. MNG and Chad will both die someday.

              Hopefully gagging on each others’ penis.

              1. They share a penis?

      2. “Not only do they get a “hearing”: skeptic scientists get a hundred times the media coverage that an equally qualified concensus scientist would get.”

        WTF? What planet is this? I thought I was still on earth. Damn those hyper-dimensional portals are everywhere!

        1. Ok, I exaggerated. It is more like thirty, not a hundred. Here is an example.

          http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/07/cnn/

          Note that this is from CNN, who is liberally-biased, right? Note how that they, like most media outfits, give one skeptic (Christie) and one from the consensus (Schmidt) equal time…even though skeptics are outnumbered 97:3 among professional climate scientists.

          Now if media attention, which side would you chose?

          1. I meant to say “if you wanted media attention”.

            Also, note how Christie lies in his first sentence….”several years” my @$$.

          2. Well, showing a circle jerk on TV would get the FCC involved and piss off their sponsors. They’re supposed to be showing a debate. That requires having people that don’t agree.

            Chad, how many more scientists do you guys have to get to support AGW before the universe takes note and gets with the program?

  10. “97:3 among professional climate scientists.”

    Where did this statistic come from? Who are these 97.3% of professional climate scientist and who is funding their research grants?

    1. If you can’t type “climate scientist survey 97” into google and find it yourself, I can’t help you. Their funding is similar to that of any other scientists, mostly government grants…that are NOT dependant on specific results.

  11. Your view that all scientist get funding in a similar way and that there is not a possibility that the continuation of that funding could depend on certain outcomes seems more than just a little naive to me.

    1. Future funding is dependant on *answering the questions* that were a part of your hypotheses definitively, one way or the other. Funding is not terribly dependant on what the answer was. Even to the extent it is, what this usually implies is that while this particular path is a dead end that leads to a mundane result, the same tool kit that you developed to answer this question can then be turned towards another problem. There is very little incentive to lie or fudge data, because you WILL get caught and it WILL end your career…and it really doesn’t get you anything anyway.

      A simple cost-benefit on the part of a scientist would lead any of us to tell the truth, no matter what…which is precisely what happens.

  12. Let me try to change it up a bit. What is this “science” that we all claim in settled. I see 5 postulates.

    1. The earth is warming and continues to warm

    2. CO2 is a proximate and dominant cause of the warming

    3. Warming will produce in aggregate catastrophic harm to the earth

    4. Reductions in CO2 can stem the rise in temperatures at an acceptable level.

    5. Reductions can be attained through a cost effective approach (e.g., positive ROI)

    In my view, 1 is largely settled in my mind. 2, 3, and 4 I’m not so sure about because there is substantial deviation in actual results from the predictions of the models. 5 I’m immensely skeptical about given I don’t have confidence in 2, 3, and 4.

    So for those of you who say the science is settled, which postulate are you referring to? If all, I profoundly disagree.

    1. 1 & 2 are pretty much settled.
      3 needs to be reworded to come close to any claim I have seen…switch out “earth” with the term “many people” and you are getting there.
      4 flows from 2, so it works in broad strokes.
      5 is tougher to make a call on, but seems likely.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.