The late great comedian Milton Berle, when introduced to an enthusiastically applauding audience, would hold up his left hand in a modest gesture as if to say thank you but that’s enough, and with his right hand held at waist level encouraged the audience to even wilder applause. President Obama has just accomplished a similar feat. With one hand he has delivered his Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce the use of our own resources of fossil fuels. With the other he has signed off on a deal with Iran that will set the Islamic Republic on the path to dumping between four and five million barrels of its crude oil on world markets every day, further lowering the price of oil and thereby encouraging its consumption. These deals, taken together, replace emissions from U.S. fossil fuel production and use with emissions from increased use of Iranian oil. In effect, Obama has transferred pollution permits from our producers to the Revolutionary Guard that controls Iran’s oil industry.
The Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants (CPP) and its accompanying regulations, all 2,691 pages, is the largest exercise in central planning, outside of Cuba and North Korea, since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It calls for a reduction of 32 percent from 2005 levels in power-plant carbon emissions by 2030. If you agree with the president that climate change is a huge threat to our future, a greater threat than ISIL or Islamic terrorism or Iran’s mullahs, and that American reductions will affect total global emissions, setting an emissions-reduction target makes sense. But the CPP goes further, and sets the specific means by which that is to be accomplished.
Natural gas use can increase by only 22 percent by 2022 from 2012 levels and thereafter increase at an annual rate of only 5 percent, and new natural gas plants that replace coal will not count as having reduced emissions. A rejiggering of EPA models resulted in a major increase in the role initially accorded renewables and in our future reliance on the sun and the wind, the one which sometimes shines, the other which sometimes blows, most usually in places far from the existing super-reliable electricity grid. Never mind that both continue to require massive subsidies, which the renewable industry heatedly denies while at the same time coolly lobbying for their continuation.
Sad to say, conservative opponents of such central planning have brought this state of affairs on themselves. Obama originally proposed a cap and trade plan, which relied on the sort of market forces that Republicans had introduced to make the application of the Clean Air Act more efficient. Once the courts ruled that that act gives the EPA authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, conservative opposition to market mechanisms has allowed Obama to rely on regulation to achieve emissions reductions. Rather like Bre’r Rabbit, who disingenuously pleaded with Bre’r Fox not to throw him into the briar patch, Obama pleaded with Congress not to force him to rely on regulation, shrugged when turned down, and fled into the regulatory thicket in which he and his progressive allies are more comfortable than in a marketplace.
Conservatives now are consoling themselves with the thought that when the president goes to Paris in December and presents his plan, he will label it a “commitment” because he dare not submit it to Congress for the approval that a treaty requires. That would allow the next president, assuming it is a Republican every bit as tough as the various primary candidates claim to be, to add to those day-one lists candidates like to recite a notice to the world that the “commitment” of the previous president counts for nothing. That would be neither easy nor wise, since that new president would probably also have pledged to make America’s commitments matter again—no more crossed red lines, no more abandonment of allies.
Pope, President, Prices and Paris. That covers just about everything you need to know about the next step in the battle to prevent what has come to be called climate change, the title now preferred to “global warming” by those who worry that CO2 emissions are causing, er, global warming.
Oklahoma senator James Inhofe did the world no favors earlier this year when he brought a snowball onto the Senate floor in order to “disprove” global warming. For one, a blizzard hitting Washington, D.C. tells us absolutely nothing about whether man-made climate change is indeed occurring.
It makes no more sense to be certain that the globe is definitely not warming than to be certain that it definitely is. It makes no more sense to be certain that if the globe is warming it is not due to carbon emissions than to be certain that it definitely is. It makes no more sense to be certain that there will not be dire consequences if the globe is warming than to be certain that there will be.
Ever since the environmental movement began it has had a religious fervor: Like God, Earth is always capitalized, and there is an annual celebration, Earth Day, rather like holidays celebrated by other religions. Of course, the dogmas of green religionists have changed over time: Prophecies of a new Ice Age gave way to forecasts of global warming, and those to a more all-purpose fear of climate change. Fair enough.
The ice is finally melting. Not the Arctic ice, although that might be melting too. I mean the frozen position critics of the global warming hysterics have been taking. They disagree with Obama’s contention that the science of climate change is settled, and prefer reading actual temperatures recorded on thermometers to print-outs of assumption-ridden models.
The president is taking Air Force One to Florida this week. He is going there, unsurprisingly, to make a speech. On Earth Day, about climate change. He could make the speech in Washington, of course, but he needs a prop—in this case, will be the Everglades, which he describes as “one of the most special places in our country.
On his blog this morning, Roger Pielke Jr. at the University of Colorado, a respected climate scientist, reveals that he was one of seven academics being being investigated by Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources. Grijalva wants to know all university financial disclosure policies that are applicable to Pielke, detailed information about any sources of external funding and grants he may have received, as well as any communications related to external funding.
The warmongers are at it again. In case you haven’t heard, the Pentagon has declared a global war on global warming. It’s our armed forces vs. the forces of nature, and we are the enemy. Those entrusted with protecting us from suicide bombers are now trying to protect the environment from us.