Congressman Boehlert's Stunning Degree of Climate Change Policy Cluelessness

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Well, what about those green jobs using ornithopters?

In my earlier post this morning, I asserted that the Washington Post hit something of an op/ed trifecta this morning citing my colleague Nick Gillespie's blogpost on the Charles Krauthammer "Don't Touch My Junk" op/ed and software entrepreneur Morris Panner's "Strangling innovation with redtape" op/ed.

The third op/ed is by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) dealing with climate change science and policy, headlined, "Science the GOP can't wish away." So why do I think Boehlert's op/ed belongs in this morning's trifecta? I agree that the balance of the evidence indicates that human activities are warming the planet and that it might become a serious problem. But what, if anything, should be done about it?

In contrast to Panner, Boehlert exhibits a stunning degree of policy cluelessness. Boehlert naively writes:

While many in politics—and not just of my party—refuse to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change, leaders of some of our nation's most prominent businesses have taken a different approach. They formed the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. This was no collection of mom-and-pop shops operated by "tree huggers" sympathetic to any environmental cause but, rather, a step by hard-nosed, profit-driven capitalists. General Electric, Alcoa, Duke Energy, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler signed on. USCAP, persuaded by scientific facts, called on the president and Congress to act, saying "in our view, the climate change challenge will create more economic opportunities than risks for the U.S. economy."

There is a natural aversion to more government regulation.

Natural aversion? He's kidding, right? Alas, apparently not. It would be hard to assemble a bigger bunch of rent-seekers hoping to cash in on complicated new climate change regulations. For example, USCAP favored the incredibly recondite (but lucrative) Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill passed by the House of Representatives in 2009. In that bill, USCAP companies would be showered with free carbon emissions permits which they could turn into free cash.  Before he became Obama's budget director, former Congressional Budget Office director Peter Orszag testified before Congress that this form of cap-and-trade would

"…represent the largest corporate welfare program that has ever been enacted in the history of the United States. All of the evidence suggests that what would occur is that corporate profits would increase by approximately the value of the permits."

As I believe Panner would recognize, a system of emissions permits would create high barriers to entry for any new startups that might want to use energy (and that would be nearly all of them). Incumbent behemoths beholden to the government, e.g., USCAP members, would see the anti-competitive aspects of cap-and-trade as just an additional wonderful way for the government to guarantee their profits.

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  1. What should be done about it, if it’s really a problem? That other op-ed on technological innovation strikes me as the most realistic solution.

    That, and a giant, domed city.

    1. A cost-benefit analysis would be nice. Outline potential costs of doing nothing and costs of various solutions (both direct and indirect).

      My problem with AGW devotees is that they jump from “there is some warming and bad things will happen” to “we have to do WHATEVER it takes to stop it!”

      1. This.

        Plus the fact that they have no idea what the “whatever it takes to stop it” would be. (OK, there are a few ‘annihilate 99% of the human race types’, but they are as representative of climate activists as Fred Phelps is of American churchgoers.)

      2. You can look here for a basic cost benefit analysis, and direct links to numerous studies so you can judge for yourself.

        http://www.skepticalscience.co…..ediate.htm

  2. leaders of some of our nation’s most prominent businesses have taken a different approach. They formed the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.

    And I’m absolutely certain there’s a No Rent-Seekers Allowed sign nailed above the clubhouse door.

  3. “human activities are warming the planet”

    Come on, Ronald, baby, get with the program. We’re not claiming the planet is warming anymore. You better stick with ‘climate change’ instead of ‘global warming’ or you will mess up all our hard political work!

    1. I believe the vogue term these days is “Climate Disruption.” That way, any deviation from some statistical anticipation – hot or cold – is Big Carbon’s fault. Its almost Orwellian if you can drill it in to society that way. Every time Oz’s computer says something about tomorrow that doesn’t come true…its a fault in reality instead of the computer. Sweet.

    2. Um, better tell that to Frank Luntz, originator of the term “global warming” when he was an advisor to the Bush Admin. Or is your selective memory not working well today, Orize? Asshats like you give “conservatives” a bad name.

  4. We could try to cool the sun down too. That stupid thing should come with a dimmer switch.

    1. You can probably turn the sun down by flying to it at night when it is not so hot.

      1. We could kick Apollo in the balls.

        1. TSA could fondle handle that.

    2. And dial up the ocean pH while we’re at it. Where’s the dial on the ocean pH-o-meter anyway?

  5. See Tim Carney.

  6. For example, USCAP favored the incredibly recondite (but lucrative) Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill passed by the House of Representatives in 2009. In that bill, USCAP companies would be showered with free carbon emissions permits which they could turn into free cash.

    Who said regulations don’t pay?

  7. As I believe Panner would recognize, a system of emissions permits would create high barriers to entry for any new startups that might want to use energy (and that would be nearly all of them).

    ANY government-imposed limit on economic activity imposes a barrier of entry upon ANY startup. Even so-called tax credits end up in being received by the politically well-connected, like that windows manufacturer…

  8. If you agree that AGW is occurring due to carbon dioxide emissions (and I do), AND if you believe that government action is required (which is debatable even if you think there is AGW), then you penalize the emissions and give incentives for innovation.

    IOW, you put a carbon tax (without exemptions or special categories) in place and you decrease income tax.* KISS.

    *I doubt that they would decrease the income tax even if they put in a carbon tax: 1) They like having our money. 2) They would rather have a system where they can dispense favors.

    1. “AND if you believe that government action is required”

      Why would you believe that anything needs to be done by anyone? Why assume there is a problem if the planet warms up? No evidence exists that warming the planet would be a bad thing. (And don’t try to tell me that computer models are evidence.)

      1. I was emphasizing that it was a necessary conditional.

        My point was more that any program undertaken should be simple and straightforward, not an attempt to game it in some way that “promotes green alternatives” or protects some special interest.

      2. You still don’t get it, do you, Orize? There is a virtual mountain of evidence that a warmer planet is a bad thing. Multiple lines of evidence, confirmed over and over again, strengthen the argument that a warmer planet is bad for humans and all other organisms; haven’t you bothered to read *any* of the scientific literature? Not the economic literature, the *scientific* literature? Shame on you! Do the math, do your homework, man!

  9. I agree that the balance of the evidence indicates that human activities are warming the planet and that it might become a serious problem.

    I agree that people who thought the balance of evidence indicated that and who tried to take sweeping action to “correct” it almost became a serious problem. Luckily some emails got leaked and most people woke up.

    1. Please look at the following chart. What aspect of it do you believe to be inaccurate?

      http://jamespowell.org/Chart/chart.html

      1. You’re joking, right? The whole hockey-stick chart business was totally discredited long ago.

        1. I’m afraid that isn’t true. To the contrary, at least a dozen independent studies have confirmed it.

  10. I agree that the balance of the evidence indicates that human activities are warming the planet

    My theory is that The Jacket forces Ronald Bailey to make these announcements to better stave off the Koch accusations.

    Ronald Bailey is Reason.com’s official Koch-blocker.

  11. Wait, if these companies like regulation like you say, then why do they pay Boehlert so much for the privilege? Obviously, they’ve just woken up to the truth. They don’t beg the government for more regulation for their own gain, but out of the goodness of their hearts.

  12. The Republican Party – still as shitty as the Democrats.

  13. Boehlert is an ex-representative.

    These bastards don’t deserve to keep their title after they leave office.

  14. I agree that the balance of the evidence indicates that human activities are warming the planet and that it might become a serious problem.

    Humans do not control the sun’s output, Ronald. Now if you want to do something about all that pesky water vapor we are exhaling you might be on to something.

    1. Suki,

      The sun has been in it’s deepest minimum in a century. It ain’t the sun.

  15. “I agree that the balance of the evidence indicates that human activities are warming the planet and that it might become a serious problem. But what, if anything, should be done about it?”

    Then you are ignorant of the science and need to do some research before you comment on the subject. Even the warmers are no longer claiming that the planet is warming. They have now claimed that the 15 year period without statistically significant warming is actually consistent with the AGW theory and that some time in the future, most likely after 2030, we will have warming appear again. But that is BS because the original data, which has not been adjusted by adding an artificial warming signature, does not show any material warming since the 1930s. Even now, the most significant warming comes from areas that have no official temperature readings captured by the data keepers who interpolate temperatures using readings that are hundreds of kilometers away. I am sorry but I do not consider that scientifically valid.

    What we really need is an open debate on the actual data and methods used to come up with the IPCC conclusions. If we throw away all unsupported claims and all value added data sets that cannot be traced back to the original data there will be no warming to debate because none will remain. We live in a tough reality in very serious time. It is time to ignore the self-serving liars and move on to serious discussions about other issues that are actually real.

    1. What’s needed is for some wealthy, disillusioned donor to Al Gore to get really POed and sue AG for fraud. Then get a subpoena for every aspect of everything that AG has done for the last 20 years.

      1. I would like to see big private entity with lots of institutional experience in databases, distributed SMP, version control – Google is good candidate – re-boot (Hillary would say ‘reset’) atmospheric studies and simulations from ground up.

        The computer programs and system architecture for the glitzy shit-storm IPCC reports and ‘rock-stars’ of AGW are not necessarily wrong or right.

        They are so badly implemented at system management level that no one could tell if they were right or wrong, even in the process control of making the prediction much less the prediction itself. The technical problems are farcical: Nuke-bomb simulator code from the ’50’s for heat transport, re-written in FORTRAN compiled for Cray RISC that doesn’t even exist anymore in the 80’s, re-compiled to run on x86 SMP rigs in the 2000’s…where do you begin with the potential technical issues there? Holy shit it’s bad.

    2. Saying there has not been any statistical warming means that fifteen years of data is insufficient to establish a trend at the 95% confidence level. that’s why climatologists look at periods of 30 years or more.

      Temperatures could have gone up an average of five degrees over a fifteen year period, and scientists would still say there’s been no statistical warming.

      I strongly encourage you to study the basics of climate science so you can better understand these kinds of statements.

  16. Issue aside, Boehlert retired some time ago replaced my a raging hemorrhoid democrat by the name of Mike Arcuri. Arcuri served two terms and was just beaten by Richard Hanna. My expectations are low, but he is probably an improvement.

  17. If anyone knows Mr. Boehlert’s email address, please provide him the google-doc below, a “climate tutorial”. He shows great respect for the scientists who are alarmists, but fails to note that there are more credible scientists on the other side.
    He should really do some reading before he preaches, altho I understand that’s a bit much to expect from an ex-congressman of either party.

    http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddrj9jjs_0fsv8n9gw

    1. Who are these reputable scientists?

  18. we should protect the environment LJJLJLUIDS

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