Chicken Littles on Cap and Trade

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Congress, environment

The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) passed narrowly in the House with the help of eight Republicans, who are being soundly demonized by the Right blogosphere today. This morning I saw a headline about “The Biggest Tax Increase in History.” This was from the Wall Street Journal, so naturally the rest of the Right picked it up and ran with it. Just so you know, the nation will be destroyed.

On the other hand, Joseph Romm writes,

The definitive analysis of ACES by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found the cost to the average American household in 2020 of ACES would be about a postage stamp a day — despite repeated claims of conservatives using dubious industry-funded research that this bill would devastate the economy.

Also, Romm says,

The GOP arguments against the bill, which included calling global warming a hoax, were so lame that one Democrat, Lloyd Doggett of Texas, who had announced his intention to vote against the bill because it was too weak, switched to supporting the bill after “listening to the flat earth society and the climate deniers, and some of the most inane arguments I have heard against refusing to act on this vital national security challenge.”

Word on the Right is that cap-and-trade was tried in Europe and was a bust. On the other hand, an MIT study says the European cap-and-trade system is working well with little or no effect on the economy.

On the Left, the reaction ranges from general relief that the Dems could get something passed to concern that ACES doesn’t go far enough. For an optimistic view, see Thomas Noyes, “The price of climate change.” He says the Right also is citing an MIT study, possibly the same one:

One source of these spurious numbers, the Heritage Foundation, claims that Waxman-Markey would reduce GDP by a total of $7.4tn and destroy 1.9 million jobs by the year 2035. A family’s electricity bill would climb 90% and natural gas prices would climb 55%, adding $1,500 to the family budget. An even scarier assertion that the bill would cost families $3,100 was purportedly based on an MIT study – a claim that one of the study’s authors, John Reilly, roundly disputed.

Opponents reached these conclusions by exaggerating the downside and ignoring the upside altogether. They have overstated the costs of renewable energy, underestimated the future costs of fossil fuels and left out the cost savings of improving energy efficiency. The Heritage Foundation report projects home energy prices will increase three to four times faster than the Congressional Budget Office or Environmental Protection Agency studies, and doesn’t include any benefits from improvements in energy efficiency or investing in new industries.

As a species, we have to stop relying on fossil fuel sooner or later, if only because the planet isn’t making more of it. This is not a point you can get across to a wingnut, however.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. ozonehole  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:08 pm

    One issue the righties never like to address in their “cost analysis” is the cost of doing nothing. Sure, fighting global warming may indeed be expensive. No one ever said that building a mass transit system (to replace the airline and car industries) would be cheap.

    But it’s a lot cheaper than moving Miami and New York City to higher ground.

  2. Dave S  •  Jun 28, 2009 @8:35 am

    Opponents reached these conclusions by exaggerating the downside and ignoring the upside altogether.

    They cherry-picked facts and presented them out of context? I’m shocked. Shocked! Next thing you know, they’ll be doing that with CIA threat assessments, Obama’s speeches, … Oh, wait.

  3. uncledad  •  Jun 28, 2009 @10:35 am

    Much of the wing-nuts arguments where used to rail against the clean air act as well. Remember the Acid Rain we all used to hear about. The right said the clean air act would bankrupt the country and send manufacturing jobs overseas. Well it turns out the country was bankrupted, only by a republican administration that choose tax cuts for the rich and unnecessary wars over fiscal responsibility. And it turns out jobs where sent overseas, only because of the right-wings love of free trade agreements that favored the chamber of commerce over the American worker. Gee what will the right exploit now that they have another progressive law to demonize?

    On the clean air act, I can personally attest to its effectiveness. I grew up in Gary, Indiana (unlike Michael Jackson I lived my entire childhood there and still live just outside) less than a mile from US Steel’s Gary works (the largest integrated steel mill in the world at the time). It was some of the worst air in the country. Every morning if there was a slight a north wind our doorstep would be covered in what looked like glitter (it was in fact iron ore dust – spewed into the air by the mills blast furnaces). Needless to say the air was horrible. The clean air act required many new air standards over the years, one of the latest being PM-10 (particulate matter under 10 microns-this got rid of the glitter for the most part). These standards have worked amazingly well, while not fresh country air the mills have cleaned up their act significantly and it was not done voluntarily I can assure you.

  4. biggerbox  •  Jun 28, 2009 @12:17 pm

    The GOP has learned that an argument sounds much more serious and weighty if it’s backed by facts and figures. Well, they learned that it’s really just figures that make an argument seem serious. (This is particularly useful for them, because the facts don’t usually align in their favor.)

    So, they make sure they use plenty of serious-sounding figures, even if they are pulled out of a monkey’s butt. (It also helps that, after decades of the undermining of public education, most of their audience is scientifically ignorant, and practically innumerate, so the way the figures are absurd on their face can be missed.)

  5. PurpleGirl  •  Jun 28, 2009 @12:44 pm

    As a species, we have to stop relying on fossil fuel sooner or later, if only because the planet isn’t making more of it. This is not a point you can get across to a wingnut, however.

    Word. I keep waiting for the announcement that dried-up wells in Pennsylvania (or Texas) have been found to contain new high-grade crude… I’m not holding my breath.

  6. Doug Hughes  •  Jun 28, 2009 @3:04 pm

    I was watching ‘This Week’ with some GOP mouthpiece whose position was that 1) China & India are worse polluters then the US so until something an be done about them, iCap & Trade can’t have an impact on the environment. 1) Cap & Trade will cause an exodus of jobs, George S. did not challenge him and he should have.

    1) The primary industry that will be affected by Cap & Trade is the Energy Industry. We have a filthy coal-burning power plant in Tampa, and no matter how much Cap& Trade costs TECO, the power company, they are not moving their operation to Taiwan.

    2) What the hell happened to the US being a global leader? Are we supposed to have no energy policy until China & India have one? IMO, we can begin to pressure both China & India AFTER we have cleaned up our act. If we are doing it, and they refuse, then economic disincenives can be put in place, trade barriers, not just from the US, but from Europe, who is attempting to implement an energy policy.

    The GOP had Congress and the White House for 8 years and they had NO energy policy, though in the eary years, Enron was drafting one with Tricky Dickie. All the GOP alternatives amount to ‘do-nothing’ which is the one thing we can’t accept.

  7. Pat Pattillo  •  Jun 28, 2009 @3:29 pm

    I was impressed by the fact that it imposes a regulatory structure. With that in place the the levels of pollutants can be adjusted to suit the horizons that experts concur upon. Let’s just hope they rely on real academicians and not the garden variety bought-and-paid-for corporate ones.

    At least there is something in place that can be adjusted at some point to make polluting so costly that not polluting is more economical. The mechanisms for controlling pollution will be present and integrated into the marketplace whether or not the will to make use of them is there.

    The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — an international team of climate scientists who share the 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore — warns that if global warming is not reduced by at least 80% by 2050, the temperature could increase by 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels, triggering a series of catastrophic environmental events.

    This legislation aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 81% of 2005 levels by 2050.

    It would only take the reelection of another Bush to destroy this progress. I only hope that progressive gains are solid enough that flat-earthers will not make the difference in future presidential elections.

    Your point on economic disincentives is spot on. The entire rest of the world is always larger than any other single country despite our matching the military budget of the entire rest of the world combined. Germany learned this, we are learning that our unilateralism is sending us on a race to third world status and China will learn this too if the rest of the world acts in concert.

  8. 45Reverse  •  Jun 28, 2009 @11:46 pm

    Why are my comments “awaiting moderation”?

    did I say something you don’t like?

  9. maha  •  Jun 29, 2009 @6:18 am

    45Reverse, if you have never commented here before, the spam filter automatically puts your comments into the moderation queue.

    However, since your comments were the standard pack of right-wing lies about how real scientists don’t believe global warming is manmade, I’ve decided to leave them there.

  10. 45Reverse  •  Jun 29, 2009 @9:09 am

    Prove they are “right wing lies” lies. It’s more likely you simply don’t want opposing ideas to reach your readers.

    And thank you for clarifying the delayed posts.

  11. anon  •  Jun 29, 2009 @10:37 am

    45Reverse, oh effin’ trust me, I can find plenty of opposing ideas and Maha can do nothing about that :-P

    Would be nice in some ways (more peaceful) but alas that kind of power doesn’t exist…

  12. 45Reverse  •  Jun 29, 2009 @9:12 pm

    Man-caused global warming has not been proven in the scientific community. For every scientist you present that says it’s true, another can be presented that says it’s not….In fact, a reasonable argument can be made that in scientific circles, it’s opponents far outweight it’s proponents. 31,000 (9,000 of them Phd’s) scientists can’t ALL be wrong…as much as the left would like them to be.

    Truth is the planet has been cooling (which of course is why environmentalists and lefties in general have switched their code-word to “climate change”) not ‘warming’

    …Really? the climate changes? …Imagine that.

    Earth’s climate has been in a constant state of change since the day the planet formed. There were many ice ages before man got here and there will be many after he’s gone.

    “Global warming” is a *theory* (at best)…NO *theory* justifies the largest tax increase in recorded history. In particular a tax increase that will touch evey single product and service you use in your daily lives.

    I’m sorry, there is no rational justification for this tax.

  13. Pat Pattillo  •  Jun 30, 2009 @1:01 am

    45Reverse, you only need to look at the makeup of the two sides. Corporate stooges and some meteorologists on the one side and an almost unanimous consensus of Nobel Prize winning and peer reviewed climatologists on the other. When it makes someone feel good to say it ain’t so nobody’s stopping them nor is there anything to prevent you from ingesting junk science or calling the brightest and the best biased.

    This kind of fliimsy rhetoric has been going on for some time and each and every time the result is the same — the agenda of profit vs. the agenda of scientific method but that’s hardly an agenda. Your assertion might get a little play among those who put their local weatherman higher than Nobel Prize willing climatologists.

    What’s next? Slamming the Nobel Prize as if it were meaningless? Peer review means nothing?

    On another note:

    I haven’t read the Taibbi article in the latest RS called the Great American Bubble Machine but Thom Hartmann shared some of the details this morning. The story is about a long history of Goldman-Sachs shenanigans of which, Taibbi asserts. “cap and trade” is the latest. A new issue must come out before previous issue content goes online… saving it for CA-FL redeye over the 4rth.

  14. 45Reverse  •  Jun 30, 2009 @9:18 am

    You gotta be kidding me…31,000 scientists are “corporate stooges ” huh?

    I’m sorry, if you’re going to suggest that a group of 50 scientists and administrators sponsored by the UN (IPCC) is somehow ‘more legitimate’ than the above mentioned group then it is YOU wearing the blinders and following a spoon fed line of group think…not me.

    I READ…Have read quite a lot this issue actually. I can find nothing that elevates the IPCC’s argument over any other.

    Global Warming is…and remains…a *theory*. Unlike the case for banning CFC’s which could be proven in a lab, Global Warming cannot.

    A theory is just not enough to base the largest tax increase in history on. This bill deserves to die in the senate.

    You want to talk about stooges? …Look at what’s happening in our government right now.

  15. Pat Pattillo  •  Jun 30, 2009 @2:50 pm

    Cite your references. Because-I-Say-So is hardly compelling. As I already pointed out to you, who those so-called scientists are really does make a difference. No doubt 31,000 people can be found. If you were serious about making your points you would have led with more than “because-I-say-so.

    Credibility, references and consensus are important to many so I can understand why you do not mention these things. Do you like your medicine from infomercials?

    When I read what you write it’s as if each assertion is ended with “because I say so”. That is how glaring the omissions are.

    “I can find nothing…”? As final arbiter you fail to convince, or even attempt to convince. Did you notice that no one is trying to convince you any more? I wonder why? But keep on going, for the entertainment value and have the last word, you seem to need it badly. Leaving no post unattended must keep you busy. There are thousands, you know?

  16. 45Reverse  •  Jun 30, 2009 @7:50 pm

    Pat…

    Not once did I suggest my position is such simply “because I say so”. In the interest of brevity I stated what I learned from reading about the issue on my own.

    I am not spoon fed my info…I google, I read, I talk to people, and then I read more. Much like what I’d hope you would do when you decide where you stand on any given issue.

    It’s odd that you dog me with “because I say so” kludge yet fail to similarly dog the supporters of Global Warming on this thread who likewise fail to post anything that substanciates they’re position short of the same regurgitated IPCC report referanced so many times on CNN, MSNBC, and the like.

    Where is YOUR proof Pat? Or should I also conclude that I should believe in Global Warming simply “because YOU say so”? You could have AT LEAST come back and refuted my post with some evidence…Yet you didn’t. Instead you mocked me…As is often the case when a hard core lefty is presented with information that does not support his political ambitions.

    Here’s a link to a primer on the 31,000 scientists (9000 of them Phd’s) from many different diciplines who’s research suggest man caused global warming is not supported by the facts:

    http://www.petitionproject.org/

    Please provide me with a similar level of supporting evidence that suggests the team of 50 UN appointees is somehow “more right” than these people are.

    In addition, if you for some reason need “proof” that CO2 is not a pollutant I suggest you go back and re-take 8th grade science. You should have learned in that class (assuming you remember the subject matter it taught) that CO2 is a VITAL part of our biosphere. Without it: you, me, all those we know and love would be DEAD.

    Is that clear enough evidence for you?

  17. uncledad  •  Jun 30, 2009 @9:02 pm

    45reverse

    Have you bothered to actually look at the site and read the qualifications “needed” to sign the petition? They read:

    “Thank you for your interest in signing this petition, which has now been signed by more than 30,000 American scientists. Signatories to the petition are required to have formal training in the analysis of information in physical science. This includes primarily those with BS, MS, or PhD degrees in science, engineering, or related disciplines.”

    Assuming that people actually have the required degrees to sign the petition who gives a crap. I am an electrical engineer, I have the qualifications to sign the petition and guess what, I don’t know a dam thing about climate science, I’m an electrical engineer. If a scientist other than one who studies the global climate (that don’t include weatherman) were to sign it would be because Rush or the rest of the right wing kooks that you robots listen to and read told you to sign.

    That website is a joke. Where are the websites credentials? I work for a large multi-national with approximately 70,000 employees (pre Bush recession that is) of which at least 40% or 28,000 could sign the petition. Wow 28,000 that’s almost 31,000! Do you have any idea how many people in this country have the degrees required to sign the petition?

    The 1993 SESTAT integrated database represents 11,615,200 individuals. This included 11,021,500 persons with S&E degrees, and 593,600 persons without such degrees but working in S&E occupations (table 2). Source

    I realize this is not some obfuscated random dot-org website, it comes from that evil socialist united states government dot-gov thing.

    So in summary assuming all the signatories to the petition have the required degree (which is doubtful because I don’t see where they require proof anywhere) the 31,000 represents exactly 0.2812 percent of “degreed” scientists just in the US alone. So put that in your pipe and smoke it. Using your logic you have 31,000 “scientists” on your side and I have 10,990,500 on my side. End of discussion I win good night Irene!

  18. 45Reverse  •  Jul 1, 2009 @1:23 am

    Hey man…I don’t know about putting anything in my pipe but clearly you need to get your pipes checked. I can see the veins in your neck swelling. I think they make a cream for that. Ask your doc for a prescription or something.

    You use a lot of great numbers which amount to essentially nothing that’s relative to the argument that website presents. I can draw all sorts of false conclusions just like you did using any range of numbers but that would get us no where, much like your post did nothing to advance your argument.

    Let’s get something straight. I assume you are an intelligent man. I KNOW I am. I am capable of reading and drawing informed conclusions. Just like I HOPE (there’s that word again) you are.

    I posted that link because another person called them all “corporate stooges” without a single basis in fact to do so. Exactly like you are using numbers pulled out of your bung to suggest none of them have any scientific standing to sign it….YET YOU OFFER NOTHING TO PROVE IT.

    Until you can refute the credentials of each and every one of the signators to that petition, your point amounts to nothing more than an unsubstansiated rant.

    I have much more material…Much, much more. When you are willing to open your mind you let me know and I’ll share it with you.

    And just correct a few “minor” errors you made. The current administartion owns this recession. Bush was an a$$hat and did not help any of us when he started all of this bail out BS…But Obama for sure will go down in history as having presided over the worst economic mess since the 30’s. Cry about that all you want…but it won’t change the facts on the ground.

    Also you suggest that nobody should “give a crap” about these scientists…Yet you say nothing about us not “giving a crap” about the UN appointees. Why should I apply any credibility at all to what you say when you dismiss one argument out of hand without placing the same scrutiny on it’s counter point?

    You make it difficult to take you seriously.

    Lastly, just so you know. My name is not Irene and you win nothing….n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

    You have a nice day now

    :-)

  19. 45Reverse  •  Jul 1, 2009 @2:22 am

    Forgot to add:

    If the 31,000 on that petition represent a mere 0.2812% of the degreed scientists in the US, what percentage of the degreed scientists do the 50 IPCC scientists represent?

    I have no idea what the “total” number of scientists you used was so I’m just going to make an educated guess that it’s around the 22 million that this “evil” dot.gov website says:

    http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf08305/

    I guess that means those IPCC scientists represent something like 0.000002% of the degreed scientists in the US.

    Interesting comparison don’t you think? 0.2812 vs. 0.000002. You’re an engineer. That means you understand math well. Which number represents the greater portion of scientists?

  20. 45Reverse  •  Jul 1, 2009 @2:23 am

    test

  21. maha  •  Jul 1, 2009 @6:07 am

    45R — The essential lie you keep telling yourself is that the IPCC represents the only part of the scientific world that is firmly committed to the reality of global warming. In fact, surveys of every scientific organization you can find that wasn’t organized by right-wing politicos has reached very broad consensus that global climate change is real. This includes 97 percent of American climatologists who not only think it’s real, but are certain it is man made.

    Your continual harping on the IPCC does make your comments a mildly interesting example of denial pathology, but we see a lot of that on the Right, and frankly you’re not interesting enough to keep around here even to make fun of. You’ve had your say and now are just repeating yourself, too dense to realize you lost the argument.

    So I’m going to ban you now, as you are tiresome.

    Goodbye.

  22. uncledad  •  Jul 1, 2009 @10:50 am

    “Interesting comparison don’t you think? 0.2812 vs. 0.000002. You’re an engineer. That means you understand math well. Which number represents the greater portion of scientists?”

    0.2812 is in percent moron, like .002812 X 100, did you get past 4th grade? So I assume your 0.000002 is a raw number that my .002812 still beats, so once again I win, chicken little right wing robot.

  23. uncledad  •  Jul 1, 2009 @10:57 am

    Maha,

    I think these Climate change deniers are starting to resemble the 911 truthers! All sorts of strange theories not supported in fact and requiring the total suspension of reality and some most overwhelming of conspiracies to be true. Once again, I can’t help but assume that they are so afraid that a progressive agenda may work; they are willing to repeat any lie or fabrication. If they were not such schmucks I would pity them!

  24. Pat Pattillo  •  Jul 3, 2009 @12:34 pm

    Good job…at least he got flushed out into the open a little bit with some of what he considered “proof” which was much better than “because-I-say-so.” It’s also nice that there is a loose coalition or team of sorts. I was going to look into his links but now I don’t have to so thanks. It seems that 45Reverse not only has a less-esteemed group with questionable credentials but there really arent so many. The things they do when desperate…

    Related somewhat to this topic and mentioned before is Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article on Goldman-Sach’s long history of engineering the bubbles that have beset our economy, from the Great Depression all the way through to today’s Cap and Trade plan which he says is ripe for manipulation. It just came online:

    The Great American Bubble Machine

    Another great article on our collective inability to deal with future threats and our misplaced focus on benign irritants or folk devil’s of our own creation comes from Nicholas Christoff in When Our Brains Short-Circuit. Much of that has been discussed here including the Jonathan Haidt reference. It is always nice to hear someone else touch upon those themse adding $0.02 of their own, including references to others.

  25. Pat Pattillo  •  Jul 3, 2009 @12:37 pm

    Oh…45Reverse, I think you’re pretty much nuts in the way you buy into misrepresentation then try to sell it (being paid? are you?) but we do have something in common. All my posts await moderation as well.



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