Saturday, October 17, 2009

EPW Kerry-Boxer Global Warming Cap and Trade Hearings Begin October 27

Senator Boxer announced this week that the Senate EPW Committee will begin hearings on the Kerry-Boxer global warming cap-and-trade bill on Oct. 27.  The hearings will kick off with a number of Obama administration officials testifying before the Committee, likely to include Energy Secretary Steven Chu, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff.

This week the Senate Energy Committee heard from CBO on the costs associated with the Waxman-Markey House passed climate bill and the news wasn't good for American jobs.

Included below are a few of the articles from the hearing this week.

The Washington Post reports, "Cap-and-Trade Would Slow Economy, CBO Chief Says."  "[H]is message nevertheless contrasted sharply with those of President Obama and congressional Democratic leaders, who have suggested that a cap on carbon emissions would help revive the U.S. economy."

The Hill reports, "CBO: Climate bill will impose ‘some cost' to the economy." 

Several senators are quoted with their skepticism on the bill:

- "Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) said climate legislation could hurt their states."

- "‘Limitations and caveats and constraints are routinely noted,' said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the panel's ranking member. ‘I do not mean to criticize these reports, but instead the underlying legislation.'"

- Senator McCain criticized the bill for doing too little for nuclear and bashed the idea of including climate tariffs. "McCain called the tariff protectionism."

- Senator Cantwell (D-WA) "said that the offset program could result in the transfer of $1.4 trillion to other countries."

Additional stories on the CBO testimony:

WSJ ("Congressional Budget Chief Says Climate Bill Would Cost Jobs"),

Hearst ("Economists: Climate bill will cost industry"),

Guardian ("Obama's climate change bill could hurt US economy, Senate told"),

AFP ("US climate bill will have modest economic impact: report"),

MarketWatch ("Climate-change legislation would come at cost, CBO says").

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WATCH: Crowds Pack Mining Hearings - Voices Ring out - Let us Work!

Thousands showed up to public hearings held by the Army Corps of Engineers across Appalachia this week to demonstrate their support for their jobs and energy security. The hearings focused on the proposed suspension of the Nationwide Permit 21 (NWP 21), which allows for environmentally responsible coal production while minimizing unnecessary bureaucratic delays.  Maintaining the NWP 21 is essential to keeping thousands of high-paying jobs in the Appalachian region.

The hearings took place in Pikeville, Kentucky; Charleston, West Virginia; Knoxville, Tennessee; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Cambridge, Ohio; and Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

Given the potential economic harm that could arise from suspending NWP-21, Senator Inhofe asked the Corps to extend the public comment period and conduct hearings throughout Appalachia so that federal officials could better understand how their decisions affect local communities and the jobs that support them. 

Here is what they said:

Watch: WSAZ - "Voices Ring Out Regarding Mountaintop Mining" and WYMT - "Pro Coal crowds pack mining hearing"

Below are a sampling of quotes from the hearings:

Kentucky Senator Ray Jones (D):  "My children will go to school in Pike County, I don't want them to have to learn to speak Chinese (referring to the loss of mining jobs to China).That is what will happen if you listen to these left-wing liberals."  Article

Elmer Pennington, Miner: "Every evening when I come home, the first thing they do when they come to the door is they look at me and they say, 'Dad, you still working or are you laid off?'" Article 

John Harden, Miner:  "If you all do away with this provision, you will not shut down mountaintop removal; you will totally shut down mining."   Article

Tom Michael, Engineer: "What it's doing is it's taking jobs away from West Virginians, and it's taking away a very valuable source of fuel for our nation. It's going to wreck the economy in West Virginia." Article

West Virginia Senator Truman Chafin (D):  "Who keeps these lights on for the country if you take away 40 percent of the coal that's mined in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky?" Article

Before the hearings began yesterday, Senator Inhofe issued the following statement:

"I am pleased the Army Corps of Engineers responded to my request for openness and transparency by holding additional hearings on the proposed suspension of an essential national coal mining permit," Senator Inhofe said. "These hearings will be held across Appalachia, a region of the country where coal jobs sustain the livelihoods of small communities.  It is critical that the Corps hear directly from those who will be impacted by federal policies. I hope the discussion leads to a result that appropriately balances environmental protection with the concern for maintaining and creating jobs and growing local economies throughout Appalachia."

Senator Inhofe's EPW Committee staff is attending two of the hearings this week. Rebeckah Adcock, Minority Counsel on the Senate EPW Minority staff, was in Kentucky last night to present public comments on behalf of Sen. Inhofe. Matt Hite, EPW minority Counsel, will attend the Pittsburg hearing on Thursday and will also deliver remarks.  

Inhofe EPW Press Office News Round Up

Williamson Daily News  Pike expo center holds 5,000 - Excerpt: PIKEVILLE, Ky. - Over 5,000 people filled the East Kentucky Expo in Pike County Tuesday evening to voice their opinion regarding proposed changes to the surface mine permitting process. Colonel Keith Landry with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) said this meeting was one in a series of hearings held to gather input from the public about Nation Wide Permit (NWP) 21.

Metro News: Let us Work! - Excerpt: Inside the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre, miners filled the seats past the facility's 738-person capacity for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hearing on changing the surface mine permitting process. In the mean time, miners employed by surface mining are worried about the effect this will have on their livelihoods. Elmer Pennington, a miner who spoke Tuesday, says his family has a nightly discussion about his job security. "Every evening when I come home, the first thing they do when they come to the door is they look at me and they say, 'Dad, you still working or are you laid off?'" Pennington told the Corps panel. "What do you tell them? Ya'll are the ones trying to put us out of business."

WV Public Broadcasting: U.S. Army Corps meeting turns into pro-coal rally  - Excerpt: The hearing on the Corps' nationwide permits comes amid fears that the Obama Administration is trying to do away with mountaintop removal altogether. The Civic Center's Little Theater doors opened at 5:00, and by 5:30 coal supporters filled almost half of the theater's more than 700 seats. By the time the meeting started at 7, the theater was packed, and a crowd of coal supporters stood outside with signs.

WV Metro News: Hearings Spill Out to the Streets - Excerpt: While heated comments were exchanged in a public hearing inside the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre Tuesday night, outside hundreds of miners were sending their own message to federal regulators. "Let us work! Let us work," the crowd shouted repeatedly.

WSAZ: Voices Ring Out Regarding Mountaintop Mining - Excerpt: PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- What may have been the biggest battle yet over mountaintop mining grew loud and strong throughout the coalfields and beyond Tuesday night. The issue is a federal proposal to change the permitting process for surface mining. The fight is the environment versus the economy, with many forecasting doom if any change is made. Pro surface mining folks say any change in what is now a streamlined process to get a permit will destroy coal mining in Appalachia. Those who support a tougher permitting process say our streams and our land will die without change.

AP: Raucous pro-coal crowds pack mining hearings - Excerpt:  PIKEVILLE, Ky. - Thousands of coal miners fearing the loss of jobs if mountaintop removal mining is curtailed or outlawed shouted down a handful of environmentalists at crowded public hearings Tuesday on the much-debated practice. Many in Kentucky and West Virginia wore hardhats and T-shirts and waved signs proclaiming the merits of coal. Environmentalists who have fought for decades to end the destructive form of mining that blasts away peaks to unearth coal showed up in small numbers.

Charleston Daily Mail: Corps gets earful from coal supporters on mine permitting - Excerpt: More than 700 people, mostly mine industry supporters, packed an auditorium in the Civic Center for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineering public hearing. They used 3-minute speeches before a four-member governmental panel to attack the Obama administration's crackdown on surface mining and offer dire forecasts of West Virginia without coal mining. Opponents of mountaintop removal also attended, but they were outnumbered... Grant Crandall, an attorney for the United Mine Workers of America, suggested the cumulative effect of federal regulations of the coal industry is that too few permits are being granted and that even the current system has led to a "paralysis" that is having a "devastating impact on our Appalachian coal field communities." "Delay costs jobs, our members' jobs," Crandall said.

Huntington News : Rahall Questions EPA Administrator on Coal Mining  -Excerpt: During a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, on which he serves as the Vice Chairman, Rahall asked, “Administrator Jackson, I would ask you, for the record, whether you believe that clarity and certainty is the goal in EPA’s reviews of coal mining permits? There are concerns that EPA is not providing clear cut direction – that coal operators are not being told what requirements they need to comply with and there is fear there are no clear rules of the game by which to seek mining permits.” Jackson confirmed that clarity and certainty are something the EPA owes the mining community and the American public. The Administrator said that she believes that “the end of the road should be clarity and certainty in the regulations that EPA is imposing through the Clean Water Act.”

Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Coal mining backers line up to oppose federal proposal   -Excerpt: More than 300 people, most pro-coal mining, turned out in Pittsburgh last night to strongly oppose a federal proposal that would end a decades-old streamlined permitting process that's been used to facilitate mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. About 40 people spoke at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public hearing at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, one of six hearings held throughout the Appalachian coal fields this week on National Permit 21, which since 1982 has allowed surface mining operations to dump dredge or fill materials into creeks and streams without undergoing individual review. Although the permit has been little used in Pennsylvania -- only 44 times since 2000 -- George Ellis, president of the Pennsylvania Coal Association, said he doesn't want to see it changed and is concerned it's the "initial assault on surface mining" by the Obama administration.

Bristol Herald Courier: Public Hearing On Mountaintop Mining Waste Draws Large Crowd  - Excerpt: BIG STONE GAP, Va. – A raucous crowd arrived Thursday for a public hearing on the future of permits allowing surface mine waste to be dumped into streams. Speakers on both sides competed with the cheers and boos of more than 400 people crammed into an auditorium at the Mountain Empire Community College, while hundreds more listened from outside. Many had parked their cars along the highway and walked up a big hill to the college to participate in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hearing on whether to stop issuing Nationwide 21 permits, which provide a more-streamlined process than individual permits for the waste sites, known as valley fills...“This is probably one of the most important public hearings that will be held in Southwest Virginia this year and maybe the next several years,” said Delegate Bud Phillips, one of many elected officials who spoke in favor of keeping the permits. “Coal has been the lifeblood of our community for over 100 years. It continues to be the lifeblood of our community,” Phillips said.

The Register Herald:  EPA assures Rahall it’s not out to destroy coal  -Excerpt: Angst is snowballing in the West Virginia coalfields over the Obama administration’s delay in ruling on surface mine permits, but Rep. Nick Rahall tried to assure miners Thursday there is no covert goal to shut the industry down. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson told Rahall at a hearing her agency supports mining in Appalachia, after he put such a question to her.“Unequivocally,” she told him, “neither EPA nor I personally have any desire to end coal mining, have any hidden agenda whatsoever, that has to do with coal mining as an industry.” Rahall, D-W.Va., had asked her point-blank if the EPA was attempting to erase mining through regulation, as Gov. Joe Manchin intimated two weeks ago. “As you may be aware, some of the more ardent and vocal opponents to what the EPA is doing claim that you want to end all coal mining,” Rahall said.“Again, for the record, is that the case?” Hoping to end the gridlock, Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, D-Logan, entered the fray Thursday by calling on Jackson to speed up the decision on 79 stalled permits, including 23 in West Virginia. And Tomblin said he wants swift action. “It is of the utmost importance that this situation be resolved not in a matter of weeks, but days,” he told the EPA.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph:  Coal supporters seek answers   -Excerpt: Dan Pochick, president of Rish Equipment in Bluefield was troubled by the images he saw Wednesday night when a crowd of 700 to 800 people — mostly coal miners and their families — waited in line to get into the Charleston Civic Center to get the opportunity to plead with their own government to save their jobs. “There was an American flag on the stage, and here were all these coal miners and their families, many of whom had probably worked all day on Wednesday and waited in line just to plead with their own government to protect their jobs and their way of life,” Pochick said. “We weren’t in Iran or in some other foreign country. We were here in our country. I just don’t think that’s right.”

Charleston Daily Mail: Decisions expected on mining permits  -Excerpt: EPA official says agency has no desire to end mining in W.Va.  Second-guessing decisions by experts and holding back critical permits appear to be a veiled attempt to block coal mining, Capito said during her opening statements. Rahall later asked Jackson during questioning her response to claims the EPA wants to end all mining. Clarity also was an issue both Capito and Rahall raised. "It's this 'Maybe Land' that we're living in that is extremely frustrating and that is threatening a lot of jobs in West Virginia," Capito said.   "There's a fear that there are no clear rules of the game," Rahall said.


Inhofe, Barrasso Urge EPA To Fill EPA IG Slot

Sen. Inhofe and Sen.  Barrasso (R-Wyo.) today sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging the appointment of a full time Inspector General to the EPA:

"The oversight function of the IG is critical to ensuring that EPA officials follow the law and implement environmental policies efficiently and cost-effectively," Inhofe said.  "Thus it's troubling that the Administration has not filled this key position. When it comes to oversight of the agency-whether on greenhouse gas regulation or other policies with significant economic impacts-this Administration has been uncooperative, in some cases ignoring Congress and its requests for information.  Having no appointed IG and obstructing congressional oversight demonstrates that this Administration is not serious about governing with transparency and openness."

"This Administration has found time to appoint an entire shadow cabinet of policy czars," Barrasso said.  "They should also have the time to nominate an Inspector General for Senate confirmation.  Transparency and accountability must be restored to the Administration's energy and climate change decisions."

Inhofe Welcomes NRC Picks

Senator Inhofe this week welcomed the announcement by President Obama to nominate George Apostolakis and William D. Magwood, IV, to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

"George Apostolakis and William D. Magwood are highly qualified individuals who, if confirmed, will be excellent commissioners on the NRC," Senator Inhofe said. "In my view, the Obama Administration needs to do more to advance nuclear power in the U.S. Until now, President Obama had failed to take any action that recognized the vital role nuclear energy plays in meeting our nation's energy needs. At the very least, the selection of these individuals indicates President Obama understands the importance of the NRC in rebuilding our nation's nuclear capabilities.

"The country is best served by a full Commission. I look forward to meeting the nominees, and will support Chairman Boxer's efforts to ensure their timely confirmation."

NRC Decision Could Mean More Nuclear Plant Delays

On Friday, Senator Inhofe issued the following statement in reaction to the announcement from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that Westinghouse has not demonstrated certain safety design issues for its revised AP1000 nuclear reactor.

“The announcement by the NRC may mean a delay in the construction of some new nuclear power plants,” Senator Inhofe said. “Certainly, I respect NRC’s effort, as a tough regulator, to resolve outstanding technical issues and appreciate the progress the agency has made toward licensing new plants.  Some have criticized industry and characterized applications as ‘incomplete’ and will leap on this announcement as their proof.  However, these applications are very long and complex.  As NRC staff diligently reviews thousands of pages of information, it’s only natural that staff will pose questions that applicants must address.  After all, neither the industry nor the NRC has licensed a new plant in over 20 years and they are using a new process for the first time.  Finger-pointing doesn’t accomplish anything other than tarnishing reputations.”

“However, this situation highlights my concern about the need for more schedule transparency in new reactor licensing.  Without an NRC projection of when this design will be certified, it’s difficult to ascertain the overall impact of delays on licensees choosing to build this design. I’m concerned about how this schedule uncertainty affects construction planning and the resulting financial impacts to the seven projects looking to build this design.”

EPW Policy Beat: The Tailors Empty Suit

Buried in the 416-page preamble of its greenhouse gas "tailoring" rule, EPA makes plain that the owner of the local Dunkin Donuts should be very concerned.  While EPA proposes to exempt such a facility from draconian greenhouse gas permitting obligations under the Clean Air Act, it also notes that this GHG exemption does not apply at the state level.  Furthermore, the exemption is only temporary; EPA says that after studying the issue for 5 years, it could very well devise a regulatory scheme that covers greenhouse gas emissions from pizza parlors, nursing homes, and apartment buildings. 

Of course NRDC says not to worry - EPA only wants to "focus on the big stuff."  That is true, for now.  In the tailoring preamble, EPA is clear that it will get your local pizza parlor eventually.  "In addition," EPA wrote, "EPA commits to propose and promulgate a rulemaking - informed by the study - within 6 years from the effective date of a final version of this rulemaking (i.e., 1 year from the completion of the study) that would establish the second phase, which would either reaffirm the GHG permitting thresholds, promulgate alternative thresholds, adopt other streamlining techniques, and/or take other action consistent with the goal of expeditiously meeting CAA requirements in light of the administrative burden that remains at that time."

As the for the next five years, EPA explains that requirements for sources that emit less than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually - farms and schools, for example - will not be "federally enforceable."   In other words, EPA will let facilities emit more than the 100 or 250 tons of per year of GHGs (limits that are clearly delineated in the Clean Air Act and which EPA is clearly traducing with the tailoring rule). 

That's fine, except for the fact that states have similar laws "on the books," and EPA has no power to overturn them.  As EPA says on page 279, "Even so, it should be noted that the lower thresholds remain on the books under state law, and sources therefore remain subject to them as a matter of state law."   EPA suggests that "states may wish to consider revising those state law provisions." 

That's nice, but in the meantime, as EPA wrote, "the fact that these provisions remain on the books under state law may create some confusion..."   EPA no doubt sows confusion by outlining how states can revise their permitting programs to include thresholds lower than 25,000 tons (Dunkin Donuts?).  Once the state demonstrates that its revision meets the strictures of the Clean Air Act, then "permitting for this state would then cover such smaller sources."

In addition, schools, farms, hospitals, and nearly everything else would not be immune from so-called "citizen suits" under the Clean Air Act.  NRDC thinks such suits are mere figments of industry's imagination.   "And who is going to take [Lisa Jackson] to court?  Damned if I know," wrote NRDC's Dave Doniger.   The Center for Biological Diversity just might. "The EPA," according to the CBD, "has no authority to weaken the requirements of the statute simply because its political appointees don't like the law's requirements."

NRDC is convinced that EPA only wants to cover power plants and big factories.  This is plainly wrong according to the rule itself.  And, as EPA made clear, exempting your local mom-and-pop store from the Clean Air Act isn't so easy. 


WSJ Editorial: Terms of 'Endangerment'

Free-Market Group Attacks Data Behind EPA 'Endangerment' Proposal


WATCH: Inhofe on Kudlow Speaks About Obama Backdoor Energy Tax


In The News... Debra Saunders: The Global Warming Consensus Cools

San Francisco Chronicle

The global warming consensus cools

Debra J. Saunders

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Link to Column

"What happened to global warming?" read the headline - on BBC News on Oct. 9, no less. Consider it a cataclysmic event: Mainstream news organizations have begun reporting on scientific research that suggests that global warming may not be caused by man and may not be as dire and imminent as alarmists suggest.

Indeed, as the BBC's climate correspondent Paul Hudson reported, the warmest year recorded globally "was not in 2008 or 2007, but 1998." It's true, he continued, "For the last 11 years, we have not observed any increase in global temperatures."

At a London conference later this month, Hudson reported, solar scientist Piers Corbyn will present evidence that solar-charged particles have a big impact on global temperatures.

Western Washington University geologist Don J. Easterbrook presented research last year that suggests that the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) caused warmer temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s. With Pacific sea surface temperatures cooling, Easterbrook expects 30 years of global cooling.

EPA analyst Alan Carlin - an MIT-trained economist with a degree in physics - referred to "solar variability" and Easterbrook's work in a document that warned that politics had prompted the Environmental Protection Agency and countries to pay "too little attention to the science of global warming" as partisans ignored the lack of global warming over the past 10 years. At first the EPA buried the paper, then it permitted Carlin to post it on his personal Web site.

In May, Fortune reported on the testimony of John Christy, University of Alabama-Huntsville Earth System Science Center director, before the House Ways and Means Committee. Christy is a 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report signatory who believes human effects have a warming influence, but rejects the disaster scenarios.

As Christy told the committee, climate models rely on land temperature data that are distorted and exaggerated by surface development - that is, asphalt and buildings. In a nice bit of research, Christy, who is also the Alabama state climatologist, debunked the temperature increase predictions made by NASA scientist James Hansen in 1988. "The real atmosphere," Christy testified, "has many ways to respond to the changes that the extra CO2 is forcing upon it."

Add Christy, Easterbrook and Corbyn to the long list of scientists who see climate as a complex issue rather than an opportunity to sermonize and lecture the general public.

Over the years, global warming alarmists have sought to stifle debate by arguing that there was no debate. They bullied dissenters and ex-communicated nonbelievers from their panels. In the name of science, disciples made it a virtue to not recognize the existence of scientists such as MIT's Richard Lindzen and Colorado State University's William Gray.

For a long time, that approach worked. But after 11 years without record temperatures that had the seas spilling over the Statue of Liberty's toes, they are going to have to change tactics.

They're going to have to rely on real data, not failed models and scare stories, and the Big Lie that everyone who counts agrees with them.

In The News...BBC: What Happened To Global Warming?


What happened to global warming?

By Paul Hudson
Climate correspondent, BBC News

Link to Article

This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.

But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.

So what on Earth is going on?

Climate change sceptics, who passionately and consistently argue that man's influence on our climate is overstated, say they saw it coming.

They argue that there are natural cycles, over which we have no control, that dictate how warm the planet is. But what is the evidence for this?

During the last few decades of the 20th Century, our planet did warm quickly.

Sceptics argue that the warming we observed was down to the energy from the Sun increasing. After all 98% of the Earth's warmth comes from the Sun.

But research conducted two years ago, and published by the Royal Society, seemed to rule out solar influences.

The scientists' main approach was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature.

And the results were clear. "Warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity," said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But one solar scientist Piers Corbyn from Weatheraction, a company specialising in long range weather forecasting, disagrees.

He claims that solar charged particles impact us far more than is currently accepted, so much so he says that they are almost entirely responsible for what happens to global temperatures.

He is so excited by what he has discovered that he plans to tell the international scientific community at a conference in London at the end of the month.

If proved correct, this could revolutionise the whole subject.

Ocean cycles

What is really interesting at the moment is what is happening to our oceans. They are the Earth's great heat stores.

" In the last few years [the Pacific Ocean] has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down "

According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.

The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.

But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.

These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.

So could global temperatures follow? The global cooling from 1945 to 1977 coincided with one of these cold Pacific cycles.

Professor Easterbrook says: "The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling."

So what does it all mean? Climate change sceptics argue that this is evidence that they have been right all along.

They say there are so many other natural causes for warming and cooling, that even if man is warming the planet, it is a small part compared with nature.

But those scientists who are equally passionate about man's influence on global warming argue that their science is solid.

The UK Met Office's Hadley Centre, responsible for future climate predictions, says it incorporates solar variation and ocean cycles into its climate models, and that they are nothing new.

In fact, the centre says they are just two of the whole host of known factors that influence global temperatures - all of which are accounted for by its models.

In addition, say Met Office scientists, temperatures have never increased in a straight line, and there will always be periods of slower warming, or even temporary cooling.

What is crucial, they say, is the long-term trend in global temperatures. And that, according to the Met office data, is clearly up.

To confuse the issue even further, last month Mojib Latif, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years.

Professor Latif is based at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany and is one of the world's top climate modellers.

But he makes it clear that he has not become a sceptic; he believes that this cooling will be temporary, before the overwhelming force of man-made global warming reasserts itself.

So what can we expect in the next few years?

Both sides have very different forecasts. The Met Office says that warming is set to resume quickly and strongly.

It predicts that from 2010 to 2015 at least half the years will be hotter than the current hottest year on record (1998).

Sceptics disagree. They insist it is unlikely that temperatures will reach the dizzy heights of 1998 until 2030 at the earliest. It is possible, they say, that because of ocean and solar cycles a period of global cooling is more likely.

One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over. Indeed some would say it is hotting up.

In The News...Wall Street Journal Editorial: Apple, Nike and the U.S. Chamber

The Wall Street Journal: Opinion

Apple, Nike and the U.S. Chamber

Putting Green Politics Above the Interests of Shareholders

October 14, 2009

Link to Editorial  

The recent corporate resignations from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have played in the media as a case of enlightened corporate stewardship vs. blinkered old businesses. But there's far more to this story-not least the way that Apple and Nike are putting green political correctness above the long-term interests of their own shareholders.

The Chamber needs "a more progressive stance on this issue" of climate change, declared Apple Vice President Catherine Novelli in a letter of resignation from the business lobby on October 5. Added Nike, announcing its resignation on September 30 from the Chamber board though retaining its membership: "US businesses must advocate for aggressive climate change." Both decisions were ostentatiously leaked to the media.

The first point to understand is the role of Al Gore, who is a member of the Apple board and perhaps the leading supporter of President Obama's cap-and-tax anticarbon legislation. Mr. Gore has also invested in renewable energy technologies that could make him even richer than he already is if new climate rules make renewables more competitive with carbon energy.

Meanwhile, Apple's Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook happens to sit on the board of . . . Nike. We're told that Nike CEO Mike Parker didn't discuss the Chamber move with his full board of directors before it was announced, and Nike didn't return our phone call asking for comment. In any case, we doubt it's an accident that Nike and Apple acted against the Chamber at the same time-and just when Democrats are trying to build new momentum for cap and trade in the Senate.

Both companies may figure they can afford a U.S. carbon tax because most of their manufacturing is done outside the U.S. Apple has an enormous "carbon footprint" of some 10 million annual tons of emissions to make and use its power-hungry gadgets. But nearly all of those products are made in China and other Asian countries where there are no carbon limits and aren't likely to be any time soon, if ever. According to calculations based on Apple's emissions figures, were the company to manufacture in the U.S., the Boxer-Kerry bill pending in the Senate would hit Apple with carbon taxes between $43 million and $108 million a year.

Nike, meanwhile, makes most of its shoes and apparel in 700 contract factories in countries such as South Korea and Vietnam-which also won't sign up for the Boxer-Kerry energy tax. The larger point is that neither Apple nor Nike would pay as much under a cap-and-trade bill as, say, the maker of Bobcat excavators in Bismarck, N.D., or your average Midwest natural gas utility. Green virtue is easier when someone else is paying for it.

Yet even this self-interested calculation is likely to be short-sighted for both companies. Since climate change is a global issue, green activists won't stop their carbon pursuit at the U.S. border. It wouldn't be long after cap and trade passed in the U.S. that Nike and Apple were pressured to move their manufacturing out of countries that haven't signed Kyoto II. That would threaten their production lines and cost structure, with potential damage to sales and competitiveness.

And if the companies fail to relocate, the next anticarbon lobbying policy step will be a carbon tariff against products made in China or Vietnam and sold in the U.S. A carbon tariff is already part of the House cap-and-trade bill and is gaining currency among Congressional protectionists, most recently Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). As companies that import nearly all of their products, Apple and Nike would be especially vulnerable. We wonder if Messrs. Cook and Parker thought through any of this before committing their employees and investors to this crusade.\

The Chamber's great sin, according to Nike and Apple, is that it questioned the Environmental Protection Agency's right to regulate all greenhouse gases without new legislation. The Chamber has said that while it supports Congressional efforts to regulate emissions, it opposes EPA's attempt to grab that power for itself on the basis of an elastic reading of the Clean Air Act. This is a major issue for many Chamber members.

If companies are going to dump the Chamber over a single dispute, then the overall influence of business in Washington is likely to decline. The Chamber's job isn't to favor one company's agenda over another but to stand broadly for free trade, low taxes and limited regulation-principles that help U.S. business as a whole.

Having abandoned their business allies on climate change, Apple and Nike might wake up one day to discover they need those friends on one of their crucial issues. It will serve them right if they find themselves alone in the Beltway square.