The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 17, 2014

In defense of carbon dioxide


The Mankato Free Press

---- — Way back in 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama promised policies that would bankrupt anyone who wanted to produce electricity from coal. The scheme continues — without Congress. On Nov. 1, 2013 President Obama issued an Executive Order: “Preparing the United States for the Impact of Climate Change.”

Certainly we need to continue to explore cost effective alternative sources of energy. But meanwhile let’s not overreact with a premature war on carbon dioxide emissions from coal. It has been suggested that 89 percent of coal-fired plants operating now will be forced off-line in less than one year by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. Coal fired plants produce about 40 percent of the country’s electricity. Coal is the main source of energy for 21 states.

On February 24 the United States Supreme Court will hear Chamber of Commerce v. EPA and consider whether the Environmental Protection Agency has gone too far in expanding existing regulations controlling CO2 emissions from motor vehicles, to include stationary sources. There are other associated cases pending. Decisions are expected in June.

Subsequent to President Obama’s executive order, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: “I really see no greater issue and no more urgent threat to public health than climate change. Climate change is not just a public health and safety issue...I consider it to be one of the greatest economic issues of our time...one of the concerns I have is resources continue to be challenged...”.

According to the Science and Environmental Policy Project the United States has spent over $165 billion on climate change. The Office of the Inspector General reported that “program data can not be consistently relied upon by decision makers”, and it can not be ensured “that federal funds were being spent in an appropriate manner.”

Moreover, when reporting on some of that spending John Hinderaker said: “...Nearly $2.5 billion went to fund the alarmist campaign; no wonder alarmist scientists don’t want the gravy train to end. The symbiosis is obvious; the government pays alarmists billions to spread myths about climate, and the point of the mythology is to persuade voters to confer more power on government...Lots of money to allies of big government; that’s what global warming alarmism is all about.”

Ms. McCarthy’s views seem a classic example of the overreaching administrative regulatory state. The ratio of executive agency regulations to laws passed by Congress in 2013 was about 100 to one. And for the last 40 years or so Congress seems willing to surrender more power to the administrative state, including it’s constitutional purpose to defend limited government.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been trying very hard since it was established in 1988 to demonstrate the threat of a dangerous human influence on climate due to the emission of CO2. Some developed countries never bought in to begin with. Within the past year Australia, Canada, and most recently Japan have pretty much washed their hands of the CO2 conjecture.

Alarmists and skeptics seem to agree climates change and humans create pollution. But there is no scientific “consensus” i.e. “settled science” about whether human generated CO2 “pollution” has a significant effect on climate change. Measures taken by the United States to control CO2, combined with some help from trees and plants, seem sufficient to allow nature to repair itself.

There has been no continuous/sustained increase in world average temperatures since the beginning of 1997. Climate model predictions of a steeply rising warming trend were wrong. Despite CO2 entering the atmosphere at near record levels Arctic and Antarctic ice is regenerating, increasing in area and thickness. A number of scientists say the suns current space-weather cycle is the most anemic in 100 years.

Historically climate has changed largely in lengthy multiple year cycles. It seems more than likely the changes are controlled by natural variations in solar magnetic activity, and periodic changes in ocean circulation. The way I see it anyone who thinks humans can control either to any significant extent is misguided.

Bob Jentges is a former teacher, coach and insurance claims superintendent. He lives in North Mankato.