State of the Union

Climate Change Does Not Ratify Obama Administration Energy Rationing Policies in State of the Union

President vows that he will press forward with hodgepodge of climate regulations

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In his State of the Union message, President Obama asserts

And no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. 

2014 was the planet's warmest year on record.  Now, one year doesn't make a trend, but this does – 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century. 

Just a data quibble. The president is citing the temperature trend data from NOAA released last week, but other research groups find that while 2014 is warmer than the 20th century average, it is not the warmest year.  For example, the Berkeley Earth group reported

The global'surface temperature average (land andsea) for 2014 was nominally the warmest since the global instrumental record began in 1850; however, within the margin of error, it is tied with 2005 and 2010 and so we can't be certain it set a new record.

It is also well that the president noted that a single year doesn't make trend. Tthe trend for global average temperatures for the past 18 years has been considerably slower than predicted by the vast majority of computer climate models.  As I noted earlier this week:

The IPCC's Synthesis Report just released in November notes:

For the period from 1998 to 2012, 111 of the 114 available climate-model simulations show a surface warming trend larger than the observations…. The difference between models and observations may also contain contributions from inadequacies in the solar, volcanic, and aerosol forcings used by the models and, in some models, from an overestimate of the response to increasing greenhouse gas and other anthropogenic forcing (the latter dominated by the effects of aerosols).

Shorter: The climate models could be wrong for all sorts of reasons.

The President continued:

I've heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they're not scientists; that we don't have enough information to act.  Well, I'm not a scientist, either.  But you know what – I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities.  The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we'll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe.  The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.  We should act like it.

But the fact that greenhouse gases emitted by humanity from the burning of fossil fuels contribute to future climate change does not implicate any specific policies; certainly not the expensive hodgepodge of CAFE standards, coal plant emissions cuts, vetoing the Keystone pipeline, and new rules on fracking being implemented by the Obama administration.

The president goes to cite his joint announcement (not agreement) with China in which the U.S. promises to cut its greenhouse emissions 26-28 percent by 2025 while China continues to increase its emissions until 2030. I noted the inconvenient truth about the announcement is that both countries have left themselves plenty of room to repudiate their pledges later. By 2030 China could end up emitting three times more greenhouse gases than the U.S. From my Time column:

Looking at the previously announced energy and climate policies of both the U.S. and China, the new pledges appear to add little to their existing plans to reduce their emissions. The new Obama pledges basically track the reductions that would result from the administration's plan to boost automobile fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 and the Environmental Protection Agency's new scheme to cut by 2030 the carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants by 30% below their 2005 level. Xi was no doubt aware that a week earlier an analysis of demographic, urbanization, and industrial trends by Chinese Academy of Social Science had predicted that China's emissions peak would occur between 2025 and 2040.

Supporters hope that the joint announcement is the prelude to a "great leap forward" to a broad and binding global climate change agreement at Paris in 2015. Perhaps, but the U.S. and China left themselves plenty of room to step back if their pledges become inconvenient.

And while the president may "hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we've got," there are good reasons to believe that the United Nations' Climate Change conference in Paris this coming December will most likely be a fiasco.

NEXT: Cato Institute King v. Burwell brief on Obama Administration lawlessness

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  1. “And while the president may “hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got,””

    As if he:
    1) Knew what that meant.
    2) Had any idea how to accomplish it.
    The man is not competent to manage his checkbook, let alone presume to direct the world’s largest economy in the hopes of doing what it can’t.

  2. I’d use managing a coffee shop as an example, but now that I think about you are probably. At least he has Michelle, my belle to take care of that check book thingy.

  3. For fuck’s sake, let’s just nuke Gaza and freeze climate change cold in its tracks!

  4. “But the fact that greenhouse gases emitted by humanity from the burning of fossil fuels contribute to future climate change does not implicate any specific policies; certainly not the expensive hodgepodge of CAFE standards, coal plant emissions cuts, vetoing the Keystone pipeline, and new rules on fracking being implemented by the Obama administration.”

    Sure it does. Maybe not SPECIFIC policies, but policies. He referenced what scientists are saying, and they are saying that action should be taken to reduce carbon, or a potential catastrophe looms. The amount of carbon humans are putting into the atmosphere needs to be reduced, at least according to scientists. And all those policies above are intended to do that.

    If Libertarians have better policies, more cost effective policies, or even actions, that will reduce human induced carbon, you should suggest them. But based on what I see here, you haven’t even been able to convince your readers a problem even exists, no less doing anything at all about it.

    1. I want the world warmer.

      We evolved when the world was warmer.

      Biodiversity exploded when the world was warmer.

      There was far more arable land when the world was warmer.

      Why would anyone same be trying to stop this?

      And understand, it will all happen slowly that we’d never really get past the ‘is this happening?’ stage we’re in now–even if it happens at breakneck climatological speed. My great grandchildren might notice some concrete warming. And their great great grandchildren might get to enjoy a world that’s actually warmer.

      But I don’t want it colder.

      Cold kills. Every glacial period has been an extinction event.

      1. You should, as an American, understand this. Warmth does not equal an hospitable climate. There are places on earth that are a lot “warmer” than America, and they have not been as hospitable to food production, diversity, and general living conditions as the land we were blessed enough to live in. There is a reason that we were considered the “bread basket to the world.”

        Now why would you want to roll the dice on that? If you lived in Siberia, yeah, more warmth would be better. You don’t.

        1. Re: Jackand Ace,

          Warmth does not equal an hospitable climate.

          How do you know this? How can you possibly know this?

          Proving AGW does not mean that a warmer climate is worse. It merely means it would be different, but why worse? Where’s the PROOF of that?

          Please don’t tell me that there’s a consensus. There’s a consensus that AGW is real, but THAT’S IT. That is as far as it goes. The rest is speculation, guessing games.

    2. Re: Jackand Ace,

      If Libertarians have better policies, more cost effective policies, or even actions, that will reduce human induced carbon, you should suggest them.

      Who told you that humans need to reduce their carbon emissions? All that science has done is tell us that humans are increasing their CO2 emissions and that these may contribute to Global Warming (the evidence of which has yet to manifest itself in a meaningful way).

      So, I ask you: WHO the hell told you that WE need to do anything? Your mom? Your neighbor? Who?

      1. Re: OM

        Nah, my Mom’s not a scientist. Scientists are telling me that. Try reading what the American Association for the Advancement of Science says on their website:

        “The sooner WE ACT (note they are saying we should take ACTION, OM!), the lower the risk and cost. And there is much we can do. Waiting to take action will inevitably increase costs, escalate risk, and foreclose options to address the risk. The CO2 we produce accumulates in Earth’s atmosphere for decades, centuries, and longer. It is not like pollution from smog or wastes in our lakes and rivers, where levels respond quickly to the effects of targeted policies. The effects of CO2 emissions cannot be reversed from one generation to the next until there is a large- scale, cost-effective way to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Moreover, as emissions continue and warming increases, the risk increases.

        By making informed choices now, we can reduce risks for future generations and ourselves, and help communities adapt to climate change.”

        http://whatweknow.aaas.org/get-the-facts/

        1. Re: Jackand Ace,

          Scientists are telling me that.

          You’re a FUCKING LIAR.

          American Association for the Advancement of Science

          Did you even read what you posted, Jackand? “Moreover, as emissions continue and warming increases, the risk increases.”

          That statement only talks about risks. Risk of what? What they talk about – rising sea levels and heat waves. Read the document YOU POSTED, again. They mention the possibility of those events happening, then they assure that they’re already happening at an accelerated rate. First, that is NOT true. Second, they – just as YOU – are conflating TWO DIFFERENT THINGS: AGW or the theory of man-made global warming, and the theory that global warming causes catastrophes. The current scientific “consensus” (accepting that for the sake of argument) states that what is causing the Earth’s atmosphere to gain temperature is man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse-causing gases. However, that does NOT translate to a consensus that there will be global catastrophes created by this global warming. That is why the paper you posted engages in bloviation, speculation and fear mongering.

        2. Well, then.

          We should nuke Gaza.

          And continue nuking Gaza until we run out of nuclear weapons.

          Science tells us that it will freeze climate change cold in its tracks. To say otherwise is like saying General Relativity is wrong.

          If we do not nuke Gaza now, it may become too late to nuke Gaza.

      2. By the way, they, along with 17 other major science organizations including American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Chemical Society, etc., encouraged Congress in a letter that the science behind AGW is sound and requires action.

        http://www.aaas.org/news/aaas-…..-consensus

        My Mom was not one of the signatories, though.

        1. Re: Jackand Ace,

          encouraged Congress in a letter that the science behind AGW is sound and requires action.

          You’re not understanding. It is one thing that the science behind AGW is sound, but that does not translate to the science of AGW = catastrophes even exist. It doesn’t. There is NO evidence that global warming will lead to these catastrophes, which is why those organizations only talk about risks. That’s not science, that’s guessing.

          1. You are jumbling up the points here. I’ll argue any of it, but sticking to your original question, who told me that we needed to something about human induced carbon, again…science is.

            Read what they said again…they encouraged action on carbon emissions. Hopefully you now understand that science is suggesting that, just like the other signatories to the letter.

            But now you seem to want to change the subject to the efficacy of what science says. You disagree that there are risks. Fine, have at it. You just disagree with AAAS, and those 17 other signatories to the letter. You think all of those scientists are engaging in “bloviating.”

            If they can’t convince you, I certainly can’t.

            1. Re: Jackand Ace,

              You are jumbling up the points here.

              No, I’m not. You’re conflating two different things: AGW, and climate-related catastrophe, as if BOTH things are proven by virtue of one being proven.

              science is.

              And again – YOU’RE A FUCKING LIAR.

              Science hasn’t said we must do something. All science has done is reach a consensus that AGW is real. That’s IT.

              Read what they said again…

              Who’s they? The people who run AAAS? Who are they? And read again the document: They argue that 97% of climate scientists agree AGW is real. That’s it. The rest is mere speculation and a call to “do something.” They talk about mitigating risk, but that’s not science – that’s guessing.

              I don’t know who “they” are. There are NO names attached to that website that would tell me who “they” are.

              they encouraged action on carbon emissions.

              “Encouraging” is one thing. Asserting that if we do A policy we get B result is NOT there. That was my question and so far I’ve only received from you the same tautology: we must do something because we must; or the same appeal to authority: we must do something because they say we must. There is NO PROOF that AGW will cause catastrophes.

          2. I’ll try another one…this quote is from the American Geophysical Union’s statement on climate change:

            “Actions that could diminish the threats posed by climate change to society and ecosystems include substantial emissions cuts to reduce the magnitude of climate change, as well as preparing for changes that are now unavoidable.”

            Actions=substantial emissions cuts.

            I encouraged Ronald to suggest ways a Libertarian might achieve that end. That would be great. But that is what science is suggesting should occur…substantial emission cuts.

            1. Re: Jackand Ace,

              Actions that could diminish [emphasis mine] the threats posed by climate change to society and ecosystems include substantial emissions cuts to reduce the magnitude of climate change,

              Again with “could”.

              “Could”, “may”, “possibly”, “risk”. Not “If we do A, we get B.”

              Actions=substantial emissions cuts.

              That’s NOT what your OWN quote says! It says “COULD”, not “WE GET”.

              There’s NO assurance, or proof. We have mere speculation, wishful thinking, hope.

              And I am NOT here saying AGW is not real. I am assuming it IS VERY REAL. However, science has NOT proven that we must do something about it. That is entirely and completely someone’s opinion.

            2. Nuke Gaza.

              It is the only way to save the world.

      3. You are just one of the many here that Ronald so far has been unable to convince that AGW is a problem.

        And here he is worried about the proposed solutions!

        1. Re: Jackand Ace,

          You are just one of the many here that Ronald so far has been unable to convince that AGW is a problem.

          That’s because there’s no PROOF that it is a problem. There are scientists who think it could be a problem, but opinion IS NOT SCIENCE.

          AGW is a theory that sets to explain an increase in global temperatures. That phenomenon is explained, assuming successfully, with that theory. However, the idea that warmer temperatures mean climate catastrophes has NOT been proven, because there is no way to directly link those catastrophes to warmer weather (in fact, some years we had milder climate activity which prompted some very serious climate scientists to call on journalists to stop linking weather phenomena with AGW.)

    3. “If Libertarians have better policies, more cost effective policies, or even actions, that will reduce human induced carbon, you should suggest them.”

      Nuclear fission, plus research on compact and cool fusion.

      1. Good, at least one suggestion, rather than simple criticism of what other folks want to do (“expensive hodgepodge of policies”) with nary a suggestion of alternatives. Even more important, at least not a denial of the science (see above comments).

        So thanks.

        1. Re: Jackand Ace,

          Good, at least one suggestion, rather than simple criticism of what other folks want to do (“expensive hodgepodge of policies”) with nary a suggestion of alternatives.

          You have no shame, J. You haven’t provided yet any reason to think that any policy save doing nothing will provide mitigation. Despite your efforts, you have NOT provided a direct link between AGW and climate catastrophes which warrants action. You’re merely assuming that AGW equals catastrophes, but where is the PROOF?

          So far you have given me “could”, “may”, “risk”, “possibly”, etc. Not “We found that doing A will have effect B.” There is NO PROOF, J. None.

        2. Nuking Gaza would trigger a nuclear winter, thus freezing climate change cold in its tracks.

        3. Nuking Gaza would trigger a nuclear winter, thus freezing climate change cold in its tracks.

      2. PS: Here’s a practical no-regrets set of measures, in a cheap (used) book, Prescription for the Planet.

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