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Please click on the link above. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides – or you may download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer. Explanations of the slides are in the notes section.
Global warming could be addressed by a carbon tax if the tax revenue was divided and each taxpayer given an equal share as a dividend.
Dr. Theda Skocpol , a Harvard University scholar and a former president of the American Political Science Association, recently addressed an audience at Tulsa University about the futility of pursuing a cap and trade policy to reduce carbon emissions. Cap and trade was once considered to be the free market solution to pollution as it was used successfully by Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush to reduce the sulfur emissions causing acid rain. To address carbon emissions by cap and trade legislation seemed to have the support of both businesses and politicians when it came up in Congress in 2008. However, it failed by a wide margin, even though Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Dr. Skocpol was commissioned to study why. She quickly decided the question was not why the legislation failed, but why anyone thought it could pass. “Anybody who thought any issue having to do with environmental regulation or global warming was not a partisan issue … wasn’t looking at the data,” she said.
Research: Dr. Skocpol’s research was aimed at understanding why the legislation failed. The League of Conservation Voter’s scores on environmental issues showed that about 55 % of the Congressional Democrats and 30% of the Republicans had pro-environmental scores in 1970. However, those began diverging in the middle 1990’s and by 2008 the scores averaged about 85 % for the Democrats and about 20% the Republicans. Clearly Congress had become more polarized on the issue, with many Republicans changing their position and Democrats, particularly those from fossil fuel producing states, having little incentive to support regulating carbon emissions.
The reasons had to do with popular attitudes about the cost and the actual threat posed by climate change. Addressing climate change would raise energy prices in the near future, while the benefits would mostly be to future generations. A survey examining tolerance for costs found those in the lower income brackets would be willing to pay up to 20% more for electricity while those in the top brackets would be willing to pay 10% more. Beginning about 2005, there was a stepped up media campaign to spread misinformation about the cost to taxpayers and doubt about the scientific evidence for climate change. One false claim was that cap and trade would cost each U.S. household $3,100 a year. However, John Reilly, the MIT economist who authored the study, said that talking point was a serious distortion of his work. The EPA estimated more realistically that it would cost on average about $140 per household annually.
The opponents of regulating carbon emissions followed the successful path used by the tobacco industry. Rather than trying to address the evidence compiled in thousands of scientific research papers, the fossil fuel companies use their vast resources to spread doubt about the conclusions of the research and the effect it would have on the Earth’s ecosystems, climate, and weather. They used the same network of foundations, Libertarian think tanks, front groups, and hired grassroot organizations used by the tobacco industry to spread doubt. And, it worked. Many people were unwilling to support environmental regulations that might raise energy prices, particularly if there might be doubt about the scientific evidence. When it came right down to it, the public did not understand cap and trade well, and distrusted a system created by big business and politicians.
Dr. Skocpol’s graph below shows how the change in voter attitudes correlated with the propaganda campaign to spread doubt.
Clearly, the opinion of voters , particularly Republican voters , had changed. Dr. Skocpol commented that data shows the question really was “not why cap and trade didn’t pass, but why anyone thought it would”, given the polarization that existed in Congress and in the population. It was her opinion that any attempts to revive a cap and trade agreement would be futile. Dr. Skocpol pointed out that her assessment comes not from a climate-change denier, but from someone who believes irreparable damage might already have been done to the atmosphere. But as a political scientist, she said the data is quite clear: “Congress has no interest in or incentive to act. ” What then can be done?
The Energy Dividend: Certainly the problem needs to be addressed, and it was her opinion that progress could only be made if everyone was given a stake in the solution. Her proposal was that it could be addressed by a carbon tax if the tax revenue was divided and each taxpayer given an equal share as a dividend. The dividend would be $800 per year if the carbon tax was the same as Australia’s, $23 per ton of CO2 emitted. Alaska has used a similar system successfully by taxing oil produced on public land and dividing some of the revenue equally among all Alaskan citizens. Over the past 31 years, each man, woman, and child in Alaska has received on average $1100 per year from that tax revenue.
The energy dividend produced by a tax on carbon should also help the economy. In 2008, George W. Bush gave each taxpayer a one-time $300 (or greater) tax rebate to stimulate the economy. A several hundred dollar energy dividend each year would give each citizen a stake in reducing carbon emissions and make up for any increase in energy prices. The tax on carbon would also level the playing field for other energy sources, making investments in renewable energy more desirable.
Note added on 06/21/2014: Henry Jacoby, an economist at MIT’s business school, says there’s really just one thing you need to do to solve the climate change problem: Tax carbon emissions. “If you let the economists write the legislation,” Jacoby says, “it could be quite simple.” He says he could fit the whole bill on one page. Click here for his article.
(c) 2013 J.C. Moore
Sen. Inhofe has served as the mayor of Tulsa and is the senior Senator from Oklahoma. He has been a strong advocate for many of his constituents and he has been a strong critic of the lack of openness of some congressional procedures. He was instrumental in getting federal Superfund money to clean up the Pitcher lead mines in northeastern Oklahoma. A large area of northeastern Oklahoma was affected and millions of dollars have been spent to try to mitigate the environmental damage. No one knew at the time that lead was toxic, and Pitcher is a perfect example of how what you don’t know can hurt you and be costly.
Sen. Inhofe has often stated “Global warming is a hoax” but proving that may be difficult. Every major scientific organizations in the world has adopted a statement similar to that of the American Chemical Society: ”Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth’s climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosol particles. There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change.” A 2010 Stanford University poll of 1,372 climate scientists found that 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in climate science agree that global warming is occurring and man activities are the main factor. The Greatest Hoax tries convincing us otherwise by quoting media sources, politicians, lobbyist, and the 2-3% of the scientists who claim to be skeptics, though some receive substantial rewards for being skeptical. Legitimate science is based upon evidence and reason, but many of the ideas put forward in this book are not.
Politics: Sen. Inhofe says: “I am not a scientist. I do understand politics. “He says he went into politics because a Tulsa city engineer would not approve his request to move a fire escape on his building. Mr. Inhofe told him that he was going to run for mayor and fire him when he won. And he did. It is possible that the engineer was following the building code adopted by the city’s elected officials, and that there may have been a good reason to leave the fire escape where it was, such as it being easily assessable in case of a fire. That incident, however, explains Senator Inhofe’s attitudes toward regulations, regulators, and scientists whose research show the need for regulations. It also explains the Senators approach to regulations. He sees them as an impediment to business but he does not see that most regulations are developed to protect the public. One of his favorite targets is the EPA, which was created by Pres. Nixon to protect the environment. Sen. Inhofe chose to work on the Senate’s Environmental and Public Works (EPW) committee so he could protect businesses from what he considers needless environmental regulations.
The Hoax: Sen. Inhofe was apparently convinced “global warming is a hoax” by one of the worse hoaxes in recent Congressional history. It started when Dr. Willie Soon managed to get a paper through the peer review process at Climate Reviews with the help of an editor sympathetic to his views. The paper reviewed the literature on climate science, and concluded that the global warming in the 20th century was not unusual and that natural forces, rather than man’s activities was the cause. An important piece of his evidence was the Medieval Warm Period, which he claimed was warmer than the latter 20th century. But there was something wrong with the paper. There were no accurate temperature records in Medieval Times, the Americas had not yet been discovered, and much of the Southern hemisphere was unknown. Dr. Soon’s paper contradicted the evidence from hundreds of other peer-reviewed papers. It caused quite a furor at Climate Reviews which ended with 3 members the editorial board resigning in protest and the newly hired chief editor stating the paper had serious errors and should never have been published. The EPA was unwilling to include the paper in its assessment of climate science, so Sen. Inhofe scheduled a meeting of the EPW committee to examine the paper.
Shortly before the meeting, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) issued a press release from 13 of the scientists whose work was used in Dr. Soon’s paper, saying the paper distorted their research. At the hearing, Michael Mann represented the scientific viewpoint, presenting evidence from multiple sources showing that the Medieval Warm period was not worldwide and resulted only in a small hump in the temperature record. Soon stood behind his work and testified that he had not received any funds that might have biased his objectivity. However, the paper lists the American Petroleum Institute as a major source of funding and documents received since from the Smithsonian Institution in response to FOIA requests, revealed that since 2001 Dr. Soon has received over $1 million in funding from oil and coal interests. Sen. Inhofe was upset by the turn of events and tried to get him fired – Michael Mann that is. At Sen. Inhofe’s insistence, the University of Pennsylvania, a Quaker University, has conducted 2 investigations into Dr. Mann’s research and found no misconduct. A 2010 Science article reviewed the investigations, declaring “Michael Mann is cleared, again. “ Dissatisfied with the ruling, Sen. Inhofe has tried to get the attorney general to charge Michael Mann with fraud. Sadly, for the first time in history, scientists are collecting a legal defense fund to defend scientists against political attacks. And even worse, the scientific opinion of the senior member of our Environmental and Public Works committee is apparently based on a paper that would not pass freshman English.
Endorsement: The Greatest Hoax was endorsed by Dr. R.M. Carter, a paleontologist from Australia, who was the star witness at Sen. Inhofe’s 2006 Senate hearing on Climate Change and the Media. No credible members of the media testified, and one might wonder why Sen. Inhofe would be interested in the media bias in Australia. Dr. Carter was likely there because he could be counted on to testify that historically the rise in global temperatures had always preceded rising carbon dioxide concentration; thus some natural cause must be releasing the carbon dioxide that is causing the temperature to rise. He was right about the role of carbon dioxide in increasing the Earth’s temperature, but he rather ignored the possibility that the CO2 concentration was rising because the burning of fossil fuels was releasing 30 billion tons of CO2 annually.
After the hearing, Dr. Carter was challenged by climatologists to produce research showing the natural variability he claimed, but the paper he belatedly produced was soon refuted when significant errors were found in his reasoning. Though two of the four scientists who testified at the hearing were skeptics, all four agreed that the Earth had warmed about 1°C in the last century. Sen. Inhofe’s own hearing had clearly refuted his claim: “Global warming is a hoax.” That was of little concern to Sen. Inhofe, as the main purpose of the hearing was to intimidate members of the press – as if that were needed.
Science: There is little science in the book, though much of the book is dedicated to discrediting science and scientists by quoting friends of his from the Heartland Institute, media personalities, and other politicians. He even sets up Al Gore as a strawman for scientists. In the book’s introduction, he displays a rather tasteless picture of Al Gore naked, and considerable space is devoted to vilifying him. That is a shame as Al Gore has served as a respected Senator, Vice President, and as a Presidential candidate came within a few hundred votes of being elected. Al Gore received a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work and his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Oscar. The movie also had its day in court and won. Interestingly, the same Dr. Carter, who endorsed the book, was the star witness for the plaintiff in Dimmock v Secretary of State for Education, a suit which sought to prevent the educational use of An Inconvenient Truth in England. The court apparently did not agree with Dr. Carter and ruled that, though the film had some errors, it was substantially founded upon scientific research and fact and could be shown. Sen. Inhofe claims to be a free market capitalist, but he seems to take great umbrage that Al Gore has profited from his investments in green energy, apparently without realizing that most of those profits have been dedicated to promoting conservative causes, such as protecting the Earth.
Though he may be a skilled politician, in the partisan sense, Sen. Inhofe is correct when he says “I am not a scientist.” He does not understand how scientific knowledge from many fields fits together to form a consistent view of nature. For instance, the book tells that after a large snowfall in Washington D.C., his grandchildren built an igloo and put up a sign: “Al Gore’s New Home”. Sen. Inhofe used the picture to denounce global warming alarmism, though he should know that a single weather event proves nothing. And, if he were a scientist, he might understand how the warming oceans increase the probability of a record snowfall in Washington D.C. , making the igloo possible – and how carbon dioxide has made more probable the record heat waves in Texas and Oklahoma, making droughts and wildfires possible.
Sen. Inhofe shows he does not understand how science works when he brings up the “Coming Ice Age” story to discredit the scientific evidence. The argument goes, “How can you trust science, when in the 1970s the scientists were predicting the coming of a new Ice Age, but now scientists claim that the Earth is warming?” In the 70’s, scientists found that increased industrialization was causing not only an increase in particulates, which would cause global cooling, but also an increase in CO2, which would increase global warming. There was no consensus among scientists about which effect would predominate. A count of scientific papers in that decade showed that only 7 journal articles predicted that the global average temperature would continue to cool, while 44 papers indicated that the average temperature would rise. The research on global cooling was valuable as it showed a nuclear war was unwinnable as particulates from a nuclear exchange might create a nuclear winter, ending life on Earth as we know it.
Scientific controversies are usually settled by the evidence, but this one was settled by the intervention of man. Particulates are visible and have serious health consequences. By 1980, regulations were in place to limit particulate emissions and, as that happened, the temperature of the Earth began increasing again. The fossil fuel companies became alarmed, as it was becoming apparent that we should also limit carbon emissions to keep the Earth’s temperature at equilibrium, so they began a propaganda campaign to convince us that carbon dioxide was harmless. If you believe that, remember the lesson of Pitcher, Oklahoma. What you don’t know can hurt you and be very costly.
Cap and Trade: Sen. Inhofe claims that cap and trade is the “crown jewel” of a global conspiracy of scientists, Hollywood stars, and media personalities who want to take away your freedom and create a world government. However, cap and trade was devised by free-market conservatives for President Reagan, who used it successfully to stop the acid rain drifting into Canada from our Northeastern power plants. It was part the Clean Air Act signed into law by President Bush I and many prominent Republicans, including John McCain, have supported it. Cap and trade is considered to be the market solution to reducing carbon emissions. It is described by the EPA as “an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply. Successful cap and trade programs reward innovation, efficiency, and early action and provide strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth.” Does that sound like it “Threatens Your Future” , as the subtitle of the book claims? And, it cannot be making Al Gore rich – or be the cause of rising energy prices – as it has not yet been enacted for carbon emissions.
Costs: Sen. Inhofe main objection to environmental regulations is their tremendous cost; but an accurate analysis of costs and benefits are not in the book. He just claims that it would cost each U.S. household $3,100 a year, a cost that has great sticker shock, but is totally inaccurate. Dr. John Reilly, the MIT economist whose work was used to arrive at that number, has publicly criticized a Republican lobbyist for distorting his work to arrive at that inflated value. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the cap-and-trade program by 2020 would average about $175 annually per household, and that associated savings would reduce the federal deficit by about $19 billion over the next decade. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences details other high economic costs of inadequate environmental legislation, such as reduced streamflow, rainfall, and crop yields. Yet Congress has refused to act on the matter.
Also, Sen. Inhofe seems to have left some important items out of his balance sheet, such as the true cost of using fossil fuels. The true cost of a resource should include repairing damage caused by its use and disposing of the waste. We are in effect subsidizing the fossil fuel industry by allowing them to freely discharge their wastes into the environment. Some of the “true costs” of fossil fuel use, such as health and environmental costs can be estimated. Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank and one of the world’s top economists, has used the results from formal economic models to examine the potential cost of failure to limit our carbon emissions. He estimates that the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the cost of mitigation and damages could rise to 20% of GDP or more in the future – and we would run the additional risk of an environmental catastrophe.
Taking 5% of the US GDP for 2010, would give an environmental cost of $727 billion. As to health costs, the American Lung Association estimates that the EPA’s proposed guidelines for particulates could prevent 38,000 heart attacks and premature deaths, 1.5 million cases of acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma, and 2.7 million days of missed work or school. They estimate the economic benefits of reduced exposure to particulates alone could reach as much as $281 billion annually. Those two add up to about $1.08 trillion. The calculations do not include all the environmental and health costs, but they do show about how much we are subsidizing the fossil fuel industries by ignoring the damage to people’s health and the environment.
Sen. Inhofe, in his Rachel Maddow interview, stated that the cost of cap and trade would be $30-$40 billion annually. That is about 1/30 of what the environmental and health costs might eventually be. Then, it is rather hard to put a value on those premature deaths or the added risk of environmental catastrophes. The number of billion-dollar weather disasters has increased fivefold over the last 30 years, and insurance giants such as Suisse Re now consider man-made global warming real, and a risk factor in setting insurance rates. Increased insurance rates will be an additional out of pocket cost, which could easily offset the $175 the CBO estimated that cap and trade would cost.
Scientists: To get around the strong consensus of scientists, the book claims there is a global conspiracy of liberal scientists bent on creating a world government, that climate science is a religion, that climate scientists are in it for the money, and that Climategate proves climate scientists are dishonest. None of those claims are supported by verifiable evidence. Most scientists are good citizens, conservative in their statements and actions. Most are religious, with stewardship and concern for their fellow man being part of their religion. The Presbyterian church, where Senator Inhofe claims membership, stated in 1989 and reaffirmed in 2008, its “serious concern that the global atmospheric warming trend (the greenhouse effect) represents one of the most serious global environmental challenges to the health, security, and stability of human life and natural ecosystems.”
The book calls climate scientists “alarmists” in a derogatory sense, but many are becoming alarmed. Research shows that the Earth’s climate is changing because of our emissions of CO2, yet Congress has not acted to solve the problem. Scientists were criticized for considering the problem catastrophic, but they realize our carbon emissions will have an affect for 100 years or more into the future and inaction will threaten our food and water supply,increase the risk of severe weather events, and a possibly lead to an environmental catastrophe. Remember what happened at Pitcher, Oklahoma because lead mining was considered harmless.
Sen. Inhofe often calls those who disagree with him “liberals”, but the meaning of liberal and conservative seem to be flexible. During the American Revolution, it was the liberals who wanted to create a democracy and conservatives who thought that King George had a divine right to rule. Sen. Inhofe uses “liberals” to describe environmentalists and others who want to preserve the earth – and uses “conservatives” for those who want to conserve power and profits.
He describes Rachel Maddow as one of his favorite liberals, but that may change. In his book he said “Rachel’s segment was one of the last major efforts to go after me just days before I landed in Copenhagen and declared vindication.” However in his recent interview on Rachel’s show, she showed the clip. Nowhere in the clip does it mention Copenhagen or climate change. Rather than apologize, he said he couldn’t remember everything he said in the 350 pages of fine print in the book, raising questions about how much of the book he actually wrote. Apparently liberal can also mean “pesky”.
Big Oil: Sen. Inhofe tells some good stories of the old days in the Oklahoma oilfields, but back then Tulsa was the Oil Capital of the World and our domestic oil producers were a different breed from today’s multinational oil companies. They have little loyalty to the United States and little concern for our citizens or the environment. They have created some of the greatest man-made environmental disasters and resisted compensating their victims fairly. After the furor over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP’s CEO commented “I want my life back”, but he could not give back the 11 lives lost because of his decisions. Although he promised to compensate Americans damaged by the oil spill, BP appointed a lawyer to disperse the funds, who made many of the victims “take it or leave it” offers. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon Mobil went all the way to the Supreme Court to avoid paying the $5 billion in damages owed the native Alaskans. Koch oil was charged in Oklahoma of cheating Native Americans and the government out $5 billion in oil royalties. They settled the case out of court for a 10th of the $5 billion, with no admission of wrongdoing. Who says crime doesn’t pay?
Last year, the world’s 5 largest oil companies received $4 billion in tax break subsidies. Yet, they reported $171 billion in profits, while most US businesses and citizens struggled with financial losses, in part caused by the steep rise in fuel prices. Sen. Inhofe says his goal is “energy self-sufficiency” for the United States, yet last year the leading US export was fuels, so Big Oil companies are selling American oil abroad, creating a shortage in the United States that is driving up prices. Increasing their profits is their main goal, even though carbon emissions may cause a man-made environmental disaster much greater than oil spills. To defend their profits, these companies are now the major contributors to the science denial machine that Sen. Inhofe defends in his book.
Heartland Foundation: Sen. Inhofe was able to poke fun at himself when he said” Nature strikes back”, referring to a serious illness he contacted while swimming in a lake contaminated with toxic blue-green algae, whose growth was fueled by water pollution and the heat wave and Oklahoma. The illness caused him to miss the meeting of the Heartland Institute where he was to be a keynote speaker. His relation to the Heartland Institute is troubling. The Heartland Institute, once a major source of propaganda designed to prove there was no link between smoking, cancer, and lung disease, has now turned its considerable experience and resources into producing propaganda disputing the link between carbon emissions and global warming. Big Oil provides much of the funding for the Heartland Institute, and other similar “conservative” think tanks, who channel millions of dollars into the denial of science. The Heartland Institute is a gathering place for Big Oil’s lobbyists, loyal politicians, and paid skeptics. Many of those are the sources of information for Sen. Inhofe’s book. How accurate is that information likely to be?
Skeptics: Science values its skeptics as they make science strong by pointing out areas that need more investigation, and they sometimes making valuable contributions to science. When Richard Muller questioned NASA’s temperature records, he evaluated all 6 billion pieces of weather station data, and came to the conclusion that the temperature record was accurate. When O’Donnell doubted Steig’s work showing Antarctica was warming, he re-analyzed the data and found that indeed Antarctica, the coldest place on Earth, was getting warmer.
Skeptics are expected to follow the methodologies and the ethics of science, to subject their work to review by their peers, and to divulge conflicts of interest. Many of those Sen. Inhofe praises as “climate skeptics” do not meet those criteria. They profit from being skeptical and, when research shows them wrong, they continue to repeat their skeptical arguments anyway. An example is Anthony Watts, who started the Surface Station Project to examine the data from weather stations, which he claimed had errors. The AGU took his skepticism seriously and did a thorough study on the weather stations, finding the data was reliable. They had offered Watts a chance to participate in the research, but he missed his chance to be a scientist when he refused. And though the question has been answered, Mr. Watts is still repeating the same criticisms – and collecting substantial donations to continue his Surface Station Project. There are many skeptics like Mr. Watts, who receives generous grants from think tanks, not for fundamental research, but to come up with ideas to cast doubt on the IPCC, climate research, and the work of legitimate scientists. Many of the paid skeptics appear in Sen. Inhofe’s book as his sources for information, quotes, and references.
Vindication: In this chapter of the book, Sen. Inhofe claims vindication, but it is hard to imagine sufficient vindication for displaying a picture of Al Gore naked. Sen. Inhofe does claim he is vindicated by the Climategate e-mails. Hackers broke into the computers of England’s Hadley Climatic Research Unit (CRU), and stole 10 years of e-mails exchanged between the scientists. Quotes from the stolen e-mails were taken out of context, distorted, and released to media sources with claims the CRU scientists engaged in illegal and unethical acts. As of today, eight independent formal investigations have been completed and none have found any scientific misconduct by the scientists involved. The incident was dubbed “Climategate” , but it was in no way like Watergate. In Wategate, the thieves were caught and punished and those who masterminded the plot were publicly disgraced. In Climategate, the thieves have been hailed by some skeptics as heroes – and the victims of the theft have been vilified. It seems strange that Scotland Yard is searching for the hackers, while Sen. Inhofe is gleefully helping spread the misinformation. So, rather than being like Watergate, the e-mail scandal was actually more like Stargate, fictional fantasy. The accusations of wrongdoing by some of the skeptical scientists, made before the matter could be investigated, were particularly egregious as scientist’s ethical codes say that:” Public comments on scientific matters should be made with care and precision, without unsubstantiated, exaggerated, or premature statements.”
Winning: Sen. Inhofe claims he is winning, but he can’t be talking about the scientific debate. All the world’s major scientific organizations think he is losing, as do 97 – 98% of the climate scientists, and 83% of American voters. A 2011 Stanford poll found that 83% of Americans say that global warming is happening with 88% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans saying it is the result of human action. Attacking scientists may prove to be contrary to the Republican party’s best interest. While polls find scientist’s trustworthiness is highly rated , with 84% having a favorable view of scientists, Congress’ approval has now dropped to around 9%. This may be indicative of the public’s dissatisfaction with the partisanship and gridlock in Congress, occurring for reasons well on display in this book.
Although some members of Congress and some of the public may listen to Sen. Inhofe, nature doesn’t. No matter how much he claims “hoax”, research shows the climate is changing in response to man’s activities. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing, the temperature of the Earth is rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic, glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, the probability of severe weather events is increasing, and weather-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more costly. It’s time we examine more closely who is actually winning by ignoring science.
(c) 2012 J.C. Moore
This year the contest was carried out on three websites and the results were combined. Your votes have been tabulated to determine the person who has most affected the environment through word or deed.
The 2010 Environmental Hall of Fame winner is RealClimate.org. As Physicist Retired said in his nomination, “This consortium of climate scientists has developed a comprehensive collection of data and analysis open to the public, with materials and discussions at basic, intermediate, and advanced levels of understanding. It is one of the most effective tools we currently have to combat – with real facts – the ongoing claims made by deniers.” The site will receive the Most Noble Prize in Environmental Science, a heartfelt thank you, and a recommendation from the sites where this will be posted. Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Kerry were tied for second place, and should receive, as Dowser put it, “Thanks, for standing firm. May God bless you!”
The Environmental Hall of Shame recipients are the Koch Brothers. They could use the publicity as they have been secretly funding candidates who oppose environmental regulations through their Americans for Prosperity Organization. They also clandestinely fund a number of think tanks that produce white papers, written by scientists with compromised ethics, that dispute the scientific research on climate change. They will receive the “Ignoble Prize in Environmental Science” and in the spirit of Oz, we will petition the Wizard to give them a social conscience.
Second place goes to Jane Lubchenco. As one blogger put it, ” I nominate her as a key player in the cover up of the death and destruction of the Gulf of Mexico, and in the vilification of those Marine Scientists who have concluded that there is a huge amount of oil left in the Gulf.” Her nominators were certainly the most creative in proposing prizes, and their names have been omitted, just in case. The proposed awards included: “The golden Tar Ball award . Yes , a big trophy cup over flowing with tar balls.” “A picture of ten moon’s hanging over the side of an oil stained shrimp boat , with a For Sale sign on the shrimp boat.” “The old oil from every thing you will change the oil in this coming year. Cars, boats, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles whatever sits in your garage or drive way. Think of it as a new form of recycling. Mail it to her.” Finally, someone wished to combine Jane’s award with Tony Hayward’s: “An all expense paid yacht trip for the two across the Gulf at the height of the spill, with an eternal flame lighting the bow.”
Hall of Fame Nominations and Percentage of Votes :
RealClimate.org – For providing facts to counter the propaganda by climate change deniers. (45%)
Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger – For helping defeat Proposition 23, an effort to gut California’s environmental laws and heavily funded by Texas oilmen. (27%)
Senator John Kerry – For his efforts to usher a Cap-and -Trade bill through the .S. Senate. (27%)
China – For making real efforts to develop alternate energy sources. (0%)
Hall of Shame Nominations and Percentage of Votes :
The Koch Brothers, owners of Koch Oil – For slowing progress on a sound energy policy by funding climate change deniers. (46%)
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Head of NOAA – For her role in the Gulf oil spill, being too friendly toward the oil companies she was to regulate, and damage to the fishing industry. (38%)
Tony Hayward, ex-chairman of BP – For decisions leading up to the oil spill and for saying, “I want my life back.” (8%)
China – For surpassing the U.S as the number one country in pollution emissions. (8%)
Remember, check www.realclimate.org for the facts on climate science. And, keep in mind those who you wish to nominate for the 2011 Awards, which will be held next December.
Our current Congressional leaders, particularly those who would ignore science or derogatorily call Reagan’s system “cap-and -tax”, should look to Reagan as an example.
The U.S. has been unable to make much progress on environmental issues because of opposition by our Republican leaders. They have inflated the cost while ignoring the benefits, labeled environmental issues as “liberal” to discourage support by conservatives, spread false “science”, and biased voters against a cap-and-trade approach by labeling it cap-and-tax. My own Congressman, Frank Lucas, espouses the current Republican leaders’ views and calls it “cap-and-tax” in his town hall meetings and in his “Frankly Speaking” articles that he sends to small town newspapers in Oklahoma.
Many Republicans recently celebrated Ronald Reagan’s hundredth birthday as he is considered a unifying figure who skillfully blended principle, pragmatism, and service to the nation. He was a thoughtful, traditionalist conservative who was mindful of our stewardship obligation to future generations. He preserved many wilderness areas so they could not be damaged by economic development. The way he solved two pollution problems should set an example for Republican politicians today.
During the 1980s, scientific evidence mounted that the CFCs from spray cans and refrigerants were damaging the ozone layer. The layer filters out UV light which can cause skin cancers and environmental damage. Reagan ignored the political disputes, the ideological posturing, and the claims of economic disaster – and followed the advice of the scientists. He signed into effect the Montreal protocol, banning emissions of CFCs into the atmosphere. The economic catastrophes never came to pass and the ozone layer is recovering.
When Canada became alarmed that emissions from Northeastern power plants were drifting into Canada and acidifying their lakes, Reagan proposed a market solution to the problem. He devised a cap-and-trade system whereby polluters had to pay by buying credits while companies who reduced their pollution would receive credits. In spite of initial complaints, the system worked well and it cost far less than the power companies claimed it would – and none went out of business.
The scientific evidence has become clear and convincing that man’s release of CO2 is causing our climate to change, endangering the environment and the health of future generations. Yet, many of our Republican leaders are unwilling to accept the scientific evidence. The industries involved are saying it will be too costly, and some are claiming it will ruin our economy. The cap-and-trade system put forward to address the problem is stalled by misinformation and political controversies. Our current Congressional leaders, particularly those who would ignore science or derogatorily call Reagan’s system “cap-and -tax”, should look to Reagan as an example.
(C) 2011 J.C. Moore
The U.S. Republican leaders are blocking climate legislation, leaving the EPA in the position of having to regulate carbon emissions. Many Republicans in Congress are unhappy with the EPA and are now claiming the EPA regulation of CO2 is a “power grab”.
Progress has been limited at the climate meetings in Copenhagen and in Cancun because the U.S. has not acted to restrict its carbon emissions. The U.S. is second to China in emissions but emits six times as much CO2 on a per capita basis. If the U.S. is not willing to reduce its emissions, why should other countries? The U.S. came very close to passing cap-an-trade but it failed when John McCain (R Az) backed out of the deal because of a challenge from a far right candidate in the last election. Reducing CO2 emissions has been cast as a liberal issue and many conservatives oppose it for that reason. The wins by Republicans in the last election almost insure that action on a responsible policy will be delayed by at least two years. That is a shame as many Republicans in the past have been strong supporters of the environmental issues.
The Republican leadership adopted opposition to environmental regulations as a campaign strategy. They sent out propaganda based on slick reports produced by conservative think tanks, rather than science, and they inflated the cost of environmental legislation by a factor of twenty – while not mentioning any of the benefits. The propaganda has been passed along to voters in town hall meeting and press releases. The EPA has used science as a basis for its decisions and has moved to limit CO2 emissions as an air pollutant under existing regulations in the Clean Air Act. This has infuriated many Republicans anfd they have challenged the EPA’s right to do, calling it a “power grab”.
My Congressman, Frank Lucas (R-OK), has spoken disparagingly of environmental regulations in his town hall meetings and in opinion pieces he has sent to the states major newspapers. He also writes a column that goes to many small town newspapers called “Frankly Speaking”. In his column, he has labelled the EPA’s actions to limit carbon emissions as “the EPA power grab” . That is hardly the case. The Supreme Court, in Massachusetts v. EPA, found the Environmental Protection Agency could make a determination as to whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant. The EPA has found, based on the best scientific evidence, that CO2 is an endangerment to public health and has moved forward to regulate it.
If Congress had acted to develop a sound energy policy and to curb pollution, the EPA would not be forced to act in the matter. Regulations passed to limit carbon emissions would fall mainly on the coal industry and would favor a shift in the short term to petroleum and natural gas, both abundant in Oklahoma. Many from the petroleum and gas industries originally supported the cap-and -trade bill. However, all the OK Republican Congressmen sat out the process and let the Democrats from coal producing states load up the cap-and-trade bill with perks for coal producing states. Some of Oklahoma’s industrial leaders see that limiting carbon emissions could be favorable to the Oklahoma economy, but apparently, the elected representatives have not caught on yet.
And, it is not just about the CO2 or climate change. Along with the 30 billion tons of CO2 we put into the air annually are large amounts of mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and radioactive isotopes of radon. Those end up in the air, the water, and the food chain. We are now finding mercury in fish and some places, even in Oklahoma, have limits on consumption. The oceans are now 20% more acidic and economically important fisheries are threatened. Whether we cap pollution, tax it, or strictly regulate it – something must be done and soon. The EPA regulation is a stop gap meaure and the U.S. Congress needs to stop the politics and pass a sound energy policy and meaningful environmental regulations.
(C) 2010 J.C. Moore
The truth is that conservation and environmental stewardship are core conservative values.
It is hard to imagine how someone can be considered a Conservative if they don’t want to conserve the most important thing we have, the environment. They claim that they actually do, but not just now, not in that way, or not if it might cost a little. They also try to perpetuate the myth that conservation and environmental protection are liberal causes to justify their opposition. The truth is that conservation and environmental stewardship are core conservative values. (1)
It is even harder to imagine why the Republican Party would embrace the ideals and arguments of those non-conservationists. Our past Republican leaders have been strong advocates for environmental stewardship and they were responsible for enacting some of our most significant environmental legislation. (2)
Theodore Roosevelt believed that conservation was essential for keeping America strong and he was responsible for the permanent preservation of many of the unique natural resources of the United States. As he said,
“To waste, to destroy, our natural resources … will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity
Dwight Eisenhower was the first President to be so taken by the beauty of the arctic wilderness that he set aside 9 million acres as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to be protected for future generations. The Refuge remains as one of the most pristine wilderness areas in the United States.
Richard Nixon enacted many of the nation’s landmark environmental laws, which he saw as a means of unifying the nation. The EPA was created under Nixon’s leadership. According to Nixon:
“Clean air, clean water, open spaces — these should once again be the birthright of every American.” “…we must strike a balance so that the protection of our irreplaceable heritage becomes as important as its use. The price of economic growth need not and will not be deterioration in the quality of our lives and our surroundings.”
Barry Goldwater, dubbed “Mr. Conservative”, was a gifted photographer who produced beautiful pictures illustrating his beloved Arizona landscape. He put his finger on it when he said :
“While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.”
Ronald Reagan signed 43 bills preserving a total of 10.6 million acres of wilderness. He was instrumental in U.S. ratification of the Montreal Protocol — which dramatically reduced depletion of the upper atmosphere’s protective ozone layer. He developed a cap-and–trade system that prevented our acid rain form blowing into Canada that cost much less than even the government estimated. As he communicated:
“If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.” “I’m proud of having been one of the first to recognize that states and the federal government have a duty to protect our natural resources from the damaging effects of pollution that can accompany industrial development.”
John McCain during his 2008 presidential campaign, proposed a pragmatic national energy policy based upon good stewardship, good science, and reasonableness. He cosponsored cap-and-trade bills in the Senate in 2003, 2005, and 2007 and, as he said then,
“A cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy. And the highest rewards will go to those who make the smartest, safest, most responsible choices.” And he was right. Having to pay the true cost of fossil fuel use is fair and would create incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Cap-and-trade was once considered to be the market solution to reducing carbon emissions. When popular, a number of key Republicans, such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went on record as endorsing the policy. Even Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), only two years ago, while supporting a version of a cap-and-trade bill in the Massachusetts legislature said:
“Reducing carbon dioxide emission in Massachusetts has long been a priority of mine. Passing this legislation is an important step … towards improving our environment.” (3)
Costs: But somewhere amid lobbying, big donations from power companies, and criticisms from so called conservatives who don’t really want to conserve much, the Republicans have backed off the cap-and-trade concept. They are now claiming it would cost each U.S. household $3,100 a year, a cost that has great sticker shock but is totally inaccurate. Dr. John Reilly, the MIT economist whose work was used to get that number, has criticized Republicans for distorting his work. (4) The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would average about $175 per household (5) and estimates are that associated savings would reduce the federal deficit by about $19 billion over the next decade. (6). A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences details the high economic costs of inadequate environmental legislation, such as reduced streamflow, rainfall, and crop yields (7). Estimates by the World’s top economists such as Britain’s Nicholas Stern (8) are that right now it would cost about 2% of the worlds GDP to mitigate environmental damage – but if delayed, that amount could rise to 20% or more of the world’s GDP by 2050 and put us at risk of an environmental catastrophe.
The misinformation, the damage to the environment, and waste that would be caused by not acting should alarm traditional Republicans. However, according to the Republicans for Environmental Protection, the GOP establishment has lost sight of its
“core conservative values, largely due to the influence of corporate lobbies and political leaders beholden to them for campaign support, and in opposition of the willingness of populist Democrats to embrace environmental protection. The result has been a polarizing battle that is not at all about the advance of conservative principles, but rather the advance of special interest political agendas.” (1)
(1) http://www.rep.org/index.html Republicans concerned about the environment may wish to check out this Republicans for Environmental Protection website.
(2) The quotes below came from http://www.conservamerica.org/quotes.html
A Winning Flip: I can remember when Republicans liked Cap-and-trade. (1) For instance, John McCain cosponsored cap-and-trade bills in the Senate in 2003, 2005, and 2007 and, during his 2008 presidential campaign, proposed a pragmatic national energy policy based upon good stewardship, good science, and reasonableness. As he said then,
“A cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy. And the highest rewards will go to those who make the smartest, safest, most responsible choices.”
And he was right. Having to pay the true cost of fossil fuel use is fair and would create incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Cap-and-trade was once considered to be the market solution to reducing carbon emissions. While popular, a number of key Republicans, such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went on record as endorsing the policy. Even Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), only two years ago, while supporting a version of a cap-and-trade bill in the Massachusetts legislature said:
”Reducing carbon dioxide emission in Massachusetts has long been a priority of mine. Passing this legislation is an important step … towards improving our environment.”
But somewhere amid lobbying, big donations from power companies, and criticisms from so called conservatives who don’t really want to conserve much, the Republicans are now calling it cap-and-tax, essentially making fun of what was once their own idea.
The Sticker Shock Distortion Flop: In an effort to kill the bill, Republicans such as Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) are now claiming cap-and-trade would cost each U.S. households about $3,100 a year, a cost that has considerable sticker shock. However, that number was fabricated by doing some misleading additional math on a MIT study. Dr. John Reilly, the economist who authored the study, has criticized Republicans for distorting his work. In his words,
“It’s just wrong, It’s wrong in so many ways it’s hard to begin.” Not only is it wrong, but he said he told the House Republicans it was wrong when they asked him. “That’s just not how economists calculate the cost of a tax proposal”, Reilly said. “The tax might push the price of carbon-based fuels up a bit, but other results of a cap-and-trade program, such as increased conservation and more competition from other fuel sources, would put downward pressure on prices.” Moreover, he said, consumers would get some of the tax back from the government in some form. (2)
What Is the Uninflated Cost? The report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the entity responsible for providing Congress with nonpartisan analyses of economic and budget issues, estimates that the net annual economywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion—or an average of about $175 per household. That figure includes the cost of restructuring the production and use of energy but it does not include the economic benefits and other benefits of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the associated slowing of climate change. Households in the lowest income bracket would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020 while those in the highest bracket would see a net cost of $245. Overall, net costs would average 0.2 percent of households’ after-tax income. (3) That doesn’t seem so bad, particularly as the CBO experts also estimate the climate and energy bill now stalled in the Senate would reduce the federal deficit by about $19 billion over the next decade. (4)
The High Cost of Doing Nothing: The cost of doing nothing may be unacceptably high in the long run because of resource scarcity, environmental damage, and the risk of reachng catastrophic tipping points. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences details the high economic costs of reduced streamflow, rainfall, and crop yields (5). Estimates by the World’s top economists such as Britain’s Nicholas Stern (6) or the US’s Paul Krugman (7) are that right now it would cost about 2% of the worlds GDP to mitigate environmental damage – but if delayed, that amount could rise to 20% or more of the world’s GDP and put us at risk of an environmental catastrophe.
A Flip is Needed: What is it worth to have clean air, clean water, a more sustainable economy, and a less risky future? Can we risk doing nothing? We need a flip by our Republican leaders.
Sophists: Originally, a sophist was someone wise or clever. With the rise of Democracy in Athens, sophists found it profitable to serve aspiring politicians. For a fee, they would argue on behalf of their patron or provide constructed arguments, or talking points, if the politician wished to appear learned. Expert Sophists claimed that, by skilled argument, they could convince an unwary citizen that black was white.
The Congressional Hearing: Recently, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming met in Washington to decide what actions Congress should take to ensure our energy dependence and a sustainable environment.. (1) Some of the U.S.’s best scientists in atmospheric science, oceanography, environmental science, climatology, and ecology were called to testify before the committee. They testified that the Earth was indeed warming at an alarming rate, that the cause was primarily CO2 from man’s activity, and that undesirable changes were taking place in the Earth. Those observed changes were melting glaciers and ice caps, rising oceans, acidification of the oceans, invasions of undesirable species, and extinction of species. Their testimony was based on the best scientific evidence and was consistent with a statement on climate change adopted by every major scientific organization in the world. Things looked bad for the fossil fuel industry and those who received large donations from them. Clearly, some sophistry was needed.
Lord Monckton’s Credentials: The minority party in Congress called as their only witness Lord Monckton from England. His resume says he is a member of the House of Lords, that he was a science adviser to Margaret Thatcher, and that he has a peer reviewed paper on climate sensitivity in the well respected journal of the American Physical Society (APS). He is now the Chief Policy Adviser at the Science and Public Policy Institute. Lord Monckton is extremely qualified to deliver the message he brought. It was as misleading as his resume.
Oops: Strangely, Lord Monckton is not exactly a Lord. He claims to be but, to set the matter straight, the House of Lords has stated that
“Christopher Monckton is not and has never been a Member of the House of Lords.”
And, Lord Monckton is not a scientist. He was more of an economic advisor to Margaret Thatcher. One of his main projects was a policy that contributed to the UK’s version of the recent housing bubble called by some the “Right to Buy” scheme. Lord Monckton has written no “peer reviewed article”. In response to his claim, the APS reaffirmed its position that climate change was occurring and pointed out that Monckton’s article was in a newsletter of the APS Forum that carries the disclaimer that
“This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed.”
The APS further added a disclaimer to the top of Monckton’s article stating:
“Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article’s conclusions.”
Finally, Lord Monckton does actually advise the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI). It is an organization critical of government actions to prevent climate change that has recently morphed from the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, an Institute that had received over $1 million in funding from Exxon/Mobil. Some of the SPPI’s members are scientists with compromised objectivity and who are affiliated with other institutes funded by the American Petroleum Institute, Exxon/Mobil, and interests happy with the inaction in Washington.
The Testimony: Lord Monckton’s testimony was consistent with his credentials and a number of articles have been written debunking his claims. (3) A few inaccuracies are listed below to give the flavor of his testimony, which was clearly sophistry:
Levels of CO2 : For instance, he compares today’s CO2 levels with those from 750 million years ago when they were 300,000ppm and then argues
” Therefore, today’s CO2 concentration, though perhaps the highest in 20 million years, is by no means exceptional or damaging. ” … “It is also known that a doubling of today’s CO2 concentration, projected to occur later this century would increase the yield of some staple crops by up to 40% (lecture by Dr. Leighton Steward).”
The problem is that 750 million years ago was about 745 million years before man and modern plants appeared on the scene. The increase in CO2 concentration from 280 ppm to 380 ppm in the last century will have an unknown effect as the Earth’s plants and animals are adapted to levels less than 300 ppm. The higher CO2 levels and warming climate seem to favor invasive species, such as Kudzu. The Dr. Leighton Steward he refers to has never done any plant research. Dr. Leighton Steward is a director at EOG Resources, an oil and gas company (formerly known as Enron), and he is an honorary director of the American Petroleum Institute.
Ocean Acidification: According to Lord Monckton:
” It has been suggested that the oceans have “acidified” – or, more correctly, become less alkaline – by 0.1 acid-base units in recent decades. However, the fact of a movement towards neutrality in ocean chemistry, if such a movement has occurred, tells us nothing of the cause, which cannot be attributed to increases in CO2 concentration.”
However, the “0.1 acid-base units” he refers to is a pH scale, which is logarithmic. A decrease of 0.1 unit means the oceans are now over 20% more acidic than a century ago and the cause is most certainly CO2. Adding CO2 to soda makes it acidic and CO2 is certainly doing the same to the oceans. If the oceans get much more acidic, the coral, the fisheries, the shellfish, and the oxygen-producing plankton that give life to the oceans are threatened.
Temperature Consensus: Again, according to Lord Monckton
“There is no consensus on how much warming a given increase in CO2 will cause.”
Not exactly. Over 50 years ago, G.N. Plass calculated that doubling the CO2 concentration would bring a 3 to 4°C rise in the Earth’s temperature. (4) There have been a number of more accurate calculations since then but they all are in agreement with the range Plass calculated. Also, those calculations are in general agreement with the rising temperatures we are now observing.
“Just Adapt”: Lord Monckton finally gets to the point he was invited to make
” First, it would be orders of magnitude more cost-effective to adapt to any ‘global warming’ that might occur than to try to prevent it from occurring by trying to tax or regulate emissions of carbon dioxide in any way.”
There we have it. Rather than reasonably addressing climate change, Lord Monckton, and some politicians, wish for us to just “adapt to it”. Not really understanding science, Lord Monckton missed one small thing that might become important to England. As the Earth’s temperature increases, the large amounts of fresh water from the melting ice sheets may cause the Gulf Stream to shut down. Without the heat being brought across the Atlantic by the Gulf Stream, England would plunge to glacial temperatures with average winter temperatures of -25°C. I hope Lord Monckton is still around so he can tell his countrymen to “just adapt”.
(2) Much of Lord Monckton’s background can be found on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Monckton,_3rd_Viscount_Monckton_of_Brenchley
(3) See, for instance: http://solveclimate.com/blog/20090327/congressional-hearings-amateurs-invited-confuse-climate-science or http://www.skepticalscience.com/Abraham-shows-Monckton-wrong-on-Arctic-sea-ice.html
(4) Plass, G.N. , “Carbon Dioxide and the Climate.” American Scientist 44: 302-16 (1956), or see the review article at: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm#M_25_
Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), in Frankly Speaking (3/10/2010), wants to rein in what he calls “the EPA power grab” to limit carbon emissions. That is hardly the case. The Supreme Court, in Massachusetts v. EPA, ordered the environmental protection agency to make a determination as to whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant. The EPA has found, based on the best scientific evidence, that CO2 is an endangerment to public health and has moved forward as instructed.
If Congress had acted to develop a sound energy policy and to curb pollution, the EPA would not be forced to act in the matter. Regulation of carbon emissions would fall mainly on the coal industry and would favor a shift to petroleum and natural gas, both abundant in Oklahoma. However, all our Republican Congressmen sat out the process and let the Democrats from coal producing states load up the cap-and-trade bill with perks for coal producing states. Some of leaders see that limiting carbon emissions could be favorable to the Oklahoma economy, but apparently, our elected representatives have not caught on yet.
It is not just about the CO2 or climate change. Along with the 30 billion tons of CO2 we put into the air annually are large amounts of mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and radioactive isotopes of radon. Those end up in the air, the water, and the food chain. We are now finding mercury in fish and some places have limits on consumption. The oceans are now 20% more acidic and economically important fisheries are threatened. Whether we cap pollution, tax it, or strictly regulate it, something must be done and soon.