Thomas Friedman’s Op-Ed today in the NY Times laments the drop in gas prices because it messes up his dreams of a “green economy”:
Because in the middle of this wrenching economic crisis, with unemployment rising and 401(k)’s shrinking, it would be a real source of relief for many Americans to get a break at the pump. Today’s declining gasoline prices act like a tax cut for consumers and can save $15 to $20 a tank-full for an S.U.V.-driving family, compared with when gasoline was $4.11 a gallon in July.
Yet, it is impossible for me to ignore the fact that when gasoline hit $4.11 a gallon we changed — a lot. Americans drove less, polluted less, exercised more, rode more public transportation and, most importantly, overwhelmed Detroit with demands for smaller, more fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric cars. The clean energy and efficiency industries saw record growth — one of our few remaining engines of real quality job creation.
Apparently he believes that if we don’t invest in ineffcient alternative power sources, our economy won’t recover:
It has to be the latter. We can’t afford a financial bailout that also isn’t a green buildup — a buildup of a new clean energy industry that strengthens America and helps the planet.
And if the market doesn’t allow his green fantasy to make sense, he has a plan to force it down our throats:
But how do we do that without any policy to affect the price signal for gasoline and carbon?
Here are some ideas: First, Washington could impose a national renewable energy standard that would require every utility in the country to produce 20 percent of its power from clean, non-CO2-emitting, energy sources — wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, biomass — by 2025. About half the states already have these in place, but they are all different. It would create a huge domestic pull for renewable energy if we had a uniform national mandate.
Second, Washington could impose a national requirement that every state move its utilities to a system of “decoupling-plus.” This is the technical term for changing the way utilities make money — shifting them from getting paid for how much electricity or gas they get you to consume to getting paid for how much electricity or gas they get you to save. Several states have already moved down this path.
Third, an idea offered by Andy Karsner, former assistant secretary of energy, would be to modify the tax code so that any company that invests in new domestic manufacturing capacity for clean energy technology — or procures any clean energy system or energy savings device that is made by an American manufacturer — can write down the entire cost of the investment via a tax credit and/or accelerated depreciation in the first year.
So, here’s a question. What if Anthropogenic Global Warming is just so much bullshit? Will our economy be better off if we invest a lot of our scarce capital into alternative energy projects to reduce CO2 emissions that have little to do with the climate? I don’t think so.
The debate over AGW, in case Friedman hasn’t been keeping up, has shifted pretty dramatically over the last year or so. First here’s some anecdotal evidence:
Last year’s summer melt had been so fierce that climate scientists warned that the warmed seas gave us a 50-50 chance of an ice-free Arctic this summer.
“It’s hard to see how the system may bounce back,” fretted Washington University’s Ignatius Rigor.
Countless headlines around the world blared this latest “proof ” of global warming (which, sshhh, actually halted in 1998). The ABC and Fairfax flew reporter Marian Wilkinson up to file scary reports from an ice-breaker, declaring: “Here you can see climate change happening before your eyes.”
Eco-explorer Lewis Gordon Pugh even announced he’d paddle a kayak all the way to the Pole to draw attention to this terrifying loss of ice.
But, oops. Pugh actually had to quit paddling when he found 1000km more ice in front of him than he’d expected.
Indeed, there was at least 9 per cent more Artic ice this summer than last, and the refreeze so far this autumn is so extraordinary there’s a third more ice than there was this time a year ago.
Okay, so maybe that can be dismissed since local conditions may not say anything about the global climate. But what about this?
On the same day (Sept. 5) that areas of southern Brazil were recording one of their latest winter snowfalls ever and entering what turned out to be their coldest September in a century, Brazilian meteorologist Eugenio Hackbart explained that extreme cold or snowfall events in his country have always been tied to “a negative PDO” or Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Positive PDOs — El Ninos — produce above-average temperatures in South America while negative ones — La Ninas — produce below average ones.
Dr. Hackbart also pointed out that periods of solar inactivity known as “solar minimums” magnify cold spells on his continent. So, given that August was the first month since 1913 in which no sunspot activity was recorded — none — and during which solar winds were at a 50-year low, he was not surprised that Brazilians were suffering (for them) a brutal cold snap. “This is no coincidence,” he said as he scoffed at the notion that manmade carbon emissions had more impact than the sun and oceans on global climate.
Also in September, American Craig Loehle, a scientist who conducts computer modelling on global climate change, confirmed his earlier findings that the so-called Medieval Warm Period (MWP) of about 1,000 years ago did in fact exist and was even warmer than 20th-century temperatures.
Prior to the past decade of climate hysteria and Kyoto hype, the MWP was a given in the scientific community. Several hundred studies of tree rings, lake and ocean floor sediment, ice cores and early written records of weather — even harvest totals and censuses –confirmed that the period from 800 AD to 1300 AD was unusually warm, particularly in Northern Europe.
Don Easterbrook, a geologist at Western Washington University, says, “It’s practically a slam dunk that we are in for about 30 years of global cooling,” as the sun enters a particularly inactive phase. His examination of warming and cooling trends over the past four centuries shows an “almost exact correlation” between climate fluctuations and solar energy received on Earth, while showing almost “no correlation at all with CO2.”
An analytical chemist who works in spectroscopy and atmospheric sensing, Michael J. Myers of Hilton Head, S. C., declared, “Man-made global warming is junk science,” explaining that worldwide manmade CO2 emission each year “equals about 0.0168% of the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration … This results in a 0.00064% increase in the absorption of the sun’s radiation. This is an insignificantly small number.”
For nearly 30 years, Professor Christy has been in charge of NASA’s eight weather satellites that take more than 300,000 temperature readings daily around the globe. In a paper co-written with Dr. Douglass, he concludes that while manmade emissions may be having a slight impact, “variations in global temperatures since 1978 … cannot be attributed to carbon dioxide.”
AGW was brought to you by the same folks who worried about global cooling in the 70s. They are the same people who predicted global famines in the 80s. They are the same people who have been worrying about peak oil for the last 40 years.
Thomas Friedman and the other members of the sky is falling club need to find something else to be alarmed about. We do not need to invest scarce resources in economically senseless alternative energy projects. With a shortage of capital being our main problem right now, maybe we should find something better to spend it on.