By Roger Aronoff
One of the more important issues raised during the budget battle that nearly shut down the Federal government in April was over power given to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by President Barack Obama to regulate greenhouse gases that they claim can contribute to global warming. This has led to renewed discussion on the validity of concerns about global warming, and the related issue of America’s future energy sources.
We have addressed the issue of global warming many times over the years at Accuracy in Media (AIM). In the mid 1970s, the big concern among so-called environmentalists was that we were heading toward a new Ice Age. The essence of that point of view was carried in a Newsweek article in its April 28, 1975 edition headlined “The Cooling World.” Here was the money quote: “The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic.”
It wasn’t too long, 1988 to be specific, when that “almost unanimous” view shifted, and the problem had become catastrophic global warming. Larry Bell is a space architect and professor at the University of Houston, and author of the new book Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax. Bell has worked with NASA on all aspects of mission planning for lunar programs, Mars programs, and orbital programs, including the international space station. He says that “politics is responsible for the global warming hoax, and, in reality, of course the climate warms and cools all the time—Climate changes all the time.”
In an interview earlier this year with AIM, Bell said that “Change is what climate does. It’s measured, typically, in three-decade periods, although it didn’t take three decades from the time of the ’70s, when The New York Times and other organizations were reporting the next Ice Age coming, until Al Gore had his famous hearings in 1988, which declared not only that global warming was a crisis, but that we caused it.”
Bell argues that the ways the temperature is measured are hardly reliable, but that even if the earth is warming, that might not be so bad. “Do [I] believe in global warming? I say, ‘Yeah, sure I do. I think it’s great! I think it makes plants grow, and it’s good for the rainforest—lots of carbon dioxide they can breathe! The Earth isn’t frozen! We can grow plants! Trade flourishes! Pyramids get built!’ Sure, I believe in global warming.”
When asked if he accepts that there is a consensus among scientists that global warming exists and is caused by humans, he said that “everything affects everything, so to say that human activity doesn’t affect climate would be nonsensical. The question is, which activities, and how much? Can you even measure them? Can you separate them from other factors? I don’t think anybody can—I would maintain that nobody can.”
The media were complicit in pushing the global warming hoax, calling skeptics “deniers,” as in “Holocaust deniers.” Newsweek used some form of the term “denier” 20 times in one 2007 cover story on global warming about those who don’t buy into the theory. They argued that people who doubted the Al Gore apocalyptic view of a coming age of massive flooding, unbearable heat, the extinction of polar bears and the melting of ice caps and glaciers, all as a result of mankind’s overuse of carbon-based energy and the carbon dioxide it generates, were somehow the moral equivalents of people who believe that the Nazi genocide of millions of Jews in Europe was exaggerated or did not even occur.
A Scientific Consensus?
There was much more. The idea of the consensus of scientists was long since shattered. Thousands of advanced-degree scientists publicly refuted both the science and the fear mongering behind global warming, which has in recent years come to be known instead as climate change. It’s an easier concept to sell, and it doesn’t matter if the earth’s temperature is rising or cooling, it is still climate change, and who can disagree with that?
Marc Morano and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (cfact.org) have put together ClimateDepot.com, a repository for everything related to the global warming movement, including documentation of those who were one time believers, and had become skeptics, non-believers, and yes, in many cases, deniers. Patrick Moore, one of the founders of the environmental group GreenPeace, said earlier this year, as quoted in the Glenn Beck blog, The Blaze, that global warming is a “natural phenomenon,” that there’s no proof of man-made global warming, and that “alarmism” is leading to bad environmental policies. He told Stuart Varney on the The Fox Business Network that “We do not have any scientific proof that we are the cause of the global warming that has occurred in the last 200 years…The alarmism is driving us through scare tactics to adopt energy policies that are going to create a huge amount of energy poverty among the poor people. It’s not good for people and it’s not good for the environment…In a warmer world we can produce more food.”
When asked who is promoting man-made climate fears and what are their motives, he said that it is “a powerful convergent of interests. Scientists seeking grant money, media seeking headlines, universities seeking huge grants from major institutions, foundations, environmental groups, politicians wanting to make it look like they are saving future generations. And all of these people have converged on this issue.” He said: “There are many thousands of scientists’ who reject man-made global warming fears…It’s all based on computer models and predictions. We do not actually have a crystal ball, it is a mythical object.”
What about the accusations that the skeptics were being financed by oil and industrial companies? When we wrote about this in 2007, those skeptical of the man-made global warming theory were estimated to have received tens of millions of dollars in funding, including some $19 million from ExxonMobil, but the other side, the side promoting global warming as an apocalyptic nightmare, had received some $50 billion, much of it from American taxpayers and channeled through federal and global agencies. This figure, of course, doesn’t include the dollar value of all of the media coverage in support of the theory. NBC and some affiliated networks turned over nearly 75 hours of air time to Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts. How’s that for an endorsement?
There are some excellent websites to help sort through the politics, the propaganda and the science of global warming. I recommend ClimateDepot.com, sepp.org, JunkScience.com, and Larry Bell’s book, Climate of Corruption.
The Obama energy policy has been upended by a series of events, and missteps: The ClimateGate scandal exposed the dishonesty and manipulation of data by key scientists who are among the leading proponents of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW); the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill halted, or severely slowed down, offshore drilling; the Japanese earthquake and tsunami have caused us to re-visit the expansion of nuclear power; and the House changed hands, after the Pelosi-led 111th Congress passed Cap & Trade, a costly energy tax that died in the Senate.
As The New York Times put it in a March 31st special section on Energy, Obama’s energy plan was a “complex structure [that] depended on an expansion of offshore oil drilling and nuclear power generation, creation of a trillion-dollar market in carbon pollution credits, billions of dollars of new government spending on breakthrough technologies and a tolerance for higher energy prices by consumers and businesses, all in the service of a healthier atmosphere and a more stable climate in future decades.”
The Times noted that “one after another the pillars of the plan came crashing down. The financial crisis undercut public faith in markets. The Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill set back plans for offshore drilling by several years. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which led to a major release of radioactivity at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex, raised fears about nuclear power.”
The Times continued, “Huge Republican gains in the midterm elections also dashed hopes for big new spending programs for energy technology. The upheaval in the Middle East has led to higher fuel prices and opposition to costly new regulations for the oil industry. And continuing high unemployment and sluggish economic growth have made raising energy costs for any reason a political nonstarter. “
In fact, the day Obama took office in 2009, oil was at just over $38 a barrel, and on April 7 of this year, it was at $108.
Failing to get his Cap & Trade legislation through the Senate, Obama turned to the EPA to implement the policy through the back door. He had shown his hand early in his administration when he chose as his “Green Energy Czar,” Van Jones, a self-described communist, who hinted at his plans for America: “the green economy will start off as a small subset. And we are going to push it and push it and push it… until it becomes the engine for transforming the whole society.” Only when it was revealed that he had also signed a petition indicating his support for the so-called “9/11 Truth movement,” was he booted out of the administration.
And remember what Obama said while campaigning for president in 2008: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.” He added: “That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.”
Congress and the EPA
Last year, for the first time since the passage of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, Congress, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), failed to pass a budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year. As a result, the new Republican-led House had to take the lead in passing a budget for the remainder of 2011, after a series of Continuing Resolutions had kept the government operating. They attempted to add “riders” (amendments not specifically related to the primary bill) to the budget, including one that would have limited the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases to address climate change.
The rider didn’t survive the final negotiations, but a bill did pass the House by a vote of 255-172, including 19 Democrats, that would have taken that power from the EPA. It then failed in the Senate, going down 50-50 (60 votes were required—remember when Democrats wanted to change the filibuster rule?). According to Science and Environmental Policy Project (Sepp.org), the organization founded by Fred Singer, a former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service, “Many advocates of the orthodoxy, including legislative commentators in the press, stated opposition to the bill by falsely claiming it would severely limit the EPA to regulate harmful emissions under the Clean Air Act. Actually, the bill clearly addressed regulation of greenhouse gases (naming them) for climate change only. If the gases are poisonous, they can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. EPA has not established that carbon dioxide is poisonous.”
Four Democratic senators voted with the Republicans to strip the EPA of its power, fearing that such power exercised by the EPA would be harmful to the economy, and to their re-election chances.
“So what is left,” asked the Times, “of the Obama administration’s energy ambitions?”
“Cap and trade has morphed into a ‘clean energy standard,’ under which 80 percent of electricity in the United States would be generated from clean sources by 2035. Mr. Obama laid out the goal in this year’s State of the Union address and has promoted it at several events since.”
According to Mario Loyola, writing on The Weekly Standard blog, based on “EPA’s own estimates, the number of businesses subject to onerous new requirements would increase from 12,000 to 6.1 million, including millions of restaurants and apartment buildings, most of which would simply have to shut down. EPA estimated the cost to governments and business at more than $100 billion just in the first few years.”
Another setback to Obama occurred when his administration finally decided in early April that it was giving up on helping to build an international structure, or treaty, like Kyoto, Copenhagen, or Cancun, to combat global warming, and instead would work to just accomplish his goals in the U.S.
According to a Bloomberg News report, “The U.S. government’s lead envoy on climate change said the United Nations talks aimed at negotiating a binding treaty to curb global warming are based on ‘unrealistic’ expectations that are ‘not doable.’”
It said that “Todd Stern, the State Department official who heads the U.S. delegation at the 192-nation discussions, said that a meeting this week in Bangkok was ‘marked by struggles over the agenda’ similar to ‘bickering over the shape of the negotiating table.’”
“The comments were the strongest criticism yet from the U.S. of the process aimed at capping greenhouse gases.”
The other issue is drilling for oil and gas. One of Obama’s stated goals, as has been every president’s, is ending our dependency on Middle East oil. But at the same time, he has severely restricted new drilling in this country, using the BP oil spill in April 2010 as the justification. At the same time the Obama team started up the 2012 re-election campaign in April, they claimed to be offering up new licenses for the rights to drill for oil by certain companies. But what they were really getting for the most part was the right to apply for licenses, and in some cases to resume drilling at old projects.
In March, Obama said that “Oil production from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico reached an all-time high.” But the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that production in the Gulf is in decline, forecasting a decline of 250,000 barrels a day from Gulf production.
There was also confusion and outrage expressed when President Obama, during his trip to Brazil in March, announced that he wanted the U.S. to assist the Brazilian government “with technology and support” to help develop its oil reserves, and that “we want to be one of your best customers.” This at a time when we are limiting our own drilling and pledging to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
In the meantime, natural gas could become a big part of the solution. A recent report by the EIA says that “The development of shale gas has become a ‘game changer’ for the U.S. natural gas market.” It says that the U.S. has “technically recoverable” shale gas resources estimated at 862 trillion cubic feet. Already, many trucks and buses in this country operate on natural gas, but the infrastructure to use them in cars is not there. A shift to natural gas could end our dependence on Middle East oil, which would stop our funding of terrorists around the world. Plus, it burns clean, thus having the added advantage of comforting the global warming alarmists.
In addition, there is an estimated 800 billion barrels of oil locked up in shale in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. These shale reserves are triple the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia, showing Obama’s press-conference claim that the U.S. has only 2% of the world’s oil to be blatantly false.
Obama’s ideologically driven energy policy is in tatters, and the media can’t seem to help this time. It is time that he pursues a policy that will truly get America off of Middle Eastern oil, bolster the economy, and right the American ship of state.