What has gotten Eli hopping mad? This remarkable “you-are-a-pigeon question”:
Nearly 200 organizations and companies urge Senate to adopt key energy-efficiency provision in climate bill
A diverse coalition of nearly 200 business, labor, civil rights, and environmental groups have sent a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) urging her to support an important energy-efficiency provision that would:
- Generate $100 billion in electric efficiency investments;
- Create more than 900,000 new construction, energy service, and building maintenance and operations jobs by 2020, and many more additional jobs at plants that supply these sectors (based on analysis by Green Economy, 2009), and;
- Reduce consumers’ energy bills by $300 billion.
What is this magical provision? As the letter explains:
‘Academic Malpractice’: Fellow U Of C Professor Calls Steve Levitt Out For ‘Laziness And Sloppiness’
University of Chicago professor Pierre Rayhumbert
Adding his voice to a chorus of criticism, a University of Chicago climate scientist finds his colleague, economist Steven Levitt, guilty of “academic malpractice” in SuperFreakonomics. Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, the Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences, responded to one of the many scientifically illiterate assertions into the book, that “the problem with solar cells is that they’re black” — so that the heat reradiated from the cells “contributes to global warming.” As Pierrehumbert explains in detail in the RealClimate science blog, the albedo debt of solar cells is minimal compared to the amount of warming from burning fossil fuels to produce a comparable amount of electricity:
The point here is that really simple arithmetic, which you could not be bothered to do, would have been enough to tell you that the claim that the blackness of solar cells makes solar energy pointless is complete and utter nonsense. I don’t think you would have accepted such laziness and sloppiness in a term paper from one of your students, so why do you accept it from yourself? What does the failure to do such basic thinking with numbers say about the extent to which anything you write can be trusted? How do you think it reflects on the profession of economics when a member of that profession — somebody who that profession seems to esteem highly — publicly and noisily shows that he cannot be bothered to do simple arithmetic and elementary background reading? Not even for a subject of such paramount importance as global warming.
“And it’s not as if the ‘black solar cell’ gaffe was the only bit of academic malpractice in your book,” Pierrehumbert continues, citing Levitt’s false portrayal of geoengineered stratospheric cooling as a “a harmless and cheap quick fix for global warming.” Pierrehumbert recommends Levitt walk five blocks for some “friendly help next time”:
May I suggest that if you should happen to need some friendly help next time you take on the topic of climate change, or would like to have a chat about why aerosol geoengineering might not be a cure-all, or just need a critical but informed opponent to bounce ideas off of, you don’t have to go very far. For example…
But given the way Superfreakonomics mangled Ken Caldeira’s rather nuanced views on geoengineering, let’s keep it off the record, eh?
Levitt responded at Chris Mooney’s Intersection blog and on RealClimate, accusing Pierrehumbert of an “intentional misreading of my chapter
on global warming,” claiming that he “totally misses the point” because “Myhrvold’s main argument was about the energy required to *make* the solar panels, not the radiated heat.”
However, Pierrehumbert rightfully had dismissed that fallacy as well: “A more substantive (though in the end almost equally trivial) issue is the carbon emitted in the course of manufacturing solar cells.” The exact same kind of basic arithmetic Pierrehumbert used to demonstrate that albedo issues are practically irrelevant applies to the construction issue, as shown previously at the Wonk Room.
Energy and Global Warming News for November 2: Concentrated solar power from Sahara a step closer; Gore says Obama likely to attend Copenhagen
A $400bn (£240bn) plan to provide Europe with solar power from the Sahara moved a step closer to reality today with the formation of a consortium of 12 companies to carry out the work.
The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) aims to provide 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050 or earlier via power lines stretching across the desert and Mediterranean sea.
The German-led consortium was brought together by Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer, and consists of some of country’s biggest engineering and power companies, including Siemens, E.ON, ABB and Deutsche Bank.
It now believes the DII can deliver solar power to Europe as early as 2015.
“We have now passed a real milestone as the company has been founded and there is definitely a profitable business there,” said Professor Peter H¶ppe, Munich Re’s head of climate change.
“We see this as a big step towards solving the two main problems facing the world in the coming years – climate change and energy security,” said H¶ppe.
The solar technology involved is known as concentrated solar power (CSP) which uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays on a fluid container. The super-heated liquid then drives turbines to generate electricity. The advantage over solar photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight directly to electricity, is that if sufficient hot fluid is stored in containers, the generators can run all night.
For more on CSP, see “Concentrated solar thermal power Solar Baseload “” a core climate solution” and “World’s largest solar plant with thermal storage to be built in Arizona “” total of 8500 MW of this core climate solution planned for 2014 in U.S. alone” and “The secret to low-water-use, high-efficiency concentrating solar power”
For more on Desertec, read the study, “Desert Power: The Economics of Solar Thermal Electricity for Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.” More from the story:
Our guest blogger is Josh Nelson, publisher of EnviroKnow.com.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the most prominent climate change denier in the United States Senate, has concocted a new and innovative strategy to thwart the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, sponsored by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). To wit, he and his Republican colleagues on the Environment and Public Works Committee have worked up a plan to simply not show up for this week’s markup:
But Boxer cannot hold the markup unless at least two Republicans show up, and EPW ranking member James Inhofe (R-OK) signaled that he has unanimous support among the panel’s minority members to boycott the session until they get more data on the legislation from U.S. EPA and the Congressional Budget Office.
Late Friday, Inhofe spokesman Matt Dempsey announced “Republicans will be forced not to show up” at the markup hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Sadly, this is a continuation of the GOP’s longstanding strategy of delaying clean energy legislation:
– As Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) shepherded his American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) through the House Energy and Commerce Committee this June, committee ranking member Joe Barton (R-TX) employed multiple parliamentary tricks to “nitpick the bill into legislative oblivion.” Democrats responded to these “nefarious stall tactics” by calling Barton’s bluff, even hiring a speed reader.
– House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) filibustered the final vote on the ACES Act for hours by reading the text of the bill on the House floor.
– Last year during the debate over the Climate Security Act, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) demanded that the entire 491 page bill be read on the floor of the United States Senate. A strategy memo was leaked at the time detailing the Republican strategy for delaying the bill as much as humanly possible.
While this Republican obstructionism is not necessarily surprising, it is especially egregious this time. Here are a few things about this episode that struck me: Read more
CEI abandons James “the last flat-earther” Inhofe. In 31-page testimony, CEI never challenges the science while warning inadequate policies threaten “those who will suffer the consequences of global warming.”
Et tu, Competitive Enterprise Institute?
When we last left Senator James Inhofe (R-OIL), the Washington Post was mocking him as “the last flat-earther” for his denial of the increasingly painful reality of human-caused climate change, noting that even his fellow Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee had abandoned his far-out-of-the-mainstream denial:
“Eleven academies in industrialized countries say that climate change is real; humans have caused most of the recent warming,” admitted Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
That was just Day 1 of the hearings. On Day 3, came another stunner, the denial-free testimony of Iain Murray, Vice-President for Strategy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute — a group long funded by ExxonMobil to attack the science, which recently went ape for the Scopes climate trial that the Chamber of Commerce proposed.
I can’t actually recommend you read the 31 pages of mostly nonsense he submitted. He spends a lot of his time pushing the myth that the European Trading System (ETS) has somehow failed even though it is increasingly clear that the Europeans are going to meet their targets under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol (see “Europe poised to meet Kyoto target: Does this mean the much-maligned European Trading System is a success?” and “The European trading system has worked “” and a new report details lessons for U.S. climate bill“).
The news is that the CEI dog didn’t bark on climate science. Not once. Apparently they got the memo that denying climate science in the public forum of the Senate simply makes conservative opponents seem like the flat earthers they are.
Indeed, the entire thrust of the CEI testimony is that the climate action being considered domestically and internationally isn’t enough to preserve a livable climate. Well, duh! Of course, the CEI’s conclusion is that therefore we should give up this approach. For climate science realists, the conclusion is that, like the Montr©al protocol (which would not have stopped chlorofluorocarbon concentrations from rising forever and thus would have not stopped the destruction of the ozone layer), you push for the strongest action that can be taken now — and then you take stronger action the future as the observations and scientific analysis makes the danger more self-evident.
CEI runs so far from their recent positions that, if you didn’t know they were deniers, you’d think they were actually serious about solving the problem. After they diss the ETS, they write:
WashPost gets climate bill politics story backwards, buries the big news: Graham and Kerry are in talks with White House “to discuss a possible compromise.”
The big climate bill story of the last few weeks is the breakthrough Senate climate partnership between Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kerry (D-MA). The result — E&E News‘s latest analysis shows, “At least 67 senators are in play” on climate bill.
This isn’t to say Senate passage will be easy, but I think it is now likely, and, it is certainly far more likely than it was two months ago. That’s what makes the lead story in today’s Washington Post so flawed. It opens:
With Democrats deeply divided on the issue, unless some Republican lawmakers risk the backlash for signing on to the legislation, there is almost no hope for passage.
Uhh, yeah, well, it now looks like quite a few GOP lawmakers are willing to risk that backlash. Equally lame, the article’s subhead is “Democrats Deeply Split,” and the print edition continuation headline is
With Senate Democrats still divided, climate bill’s prospects cool
Now what’s particularly amazing about that headline — other than it gets the direction of recent political movement exactly backwards — is that the WashPost quotes precisely one Democrat dissing the bill’s prospects, Ben Nelson (D-NB). Yet no serious vote counter had ever considered Nelson a serious prospect. For E&E, Nelson was always a “probable no.” For Nate Silver, Nelson is a whopping 10.29% “probability of yes” — the lowest of any Democrat (see “Epic Battle 3: Who are the swing Senators?”
The real news, and it’s pretty big, is actually buried at the end:
Our guest blogger is Tom Kenworthy, a CAP Senior Fellow who lives in Colorado. In the TV grab, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Glenn Beck deny global warming.
In his book “Crossing the Next Meridian,” University of Colorado law professor Charles F. Wilkinson called the timber, mining, grazing and water development interests who for too long dictated how our western public lands should be managed the “lords of yesterday.”
Western lawmakers with their politics still stuck in a 19th-century time warp continue to do the bidding of the lords of yesterday, who now include big energy interests. Witness the letter 16 House and Senate Republicans sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar protesting his secretarial order creating a Climate Change Response Council that is designed to coordinate efforts among Interior agencies like the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to cope with the impacts of climate change. The new council, the lawmakers said, represents an end-run around Congress and could be used to stifle oil and gas development and other activities on western lands on behalf of “special interest groups with narrow agendas”:
Businesses in the West are worried about potential court challenges and administrative action. These new rules will allow special interest groups with narrow agendas to block all existing and future activities on federal lands in the name of climate change.
Of course, the “special interest groups” these politicians attack are the Western people, with the “narrow agendas” of preserving their land and way of life against the ravages of uncontrolled development and runaway global warming.
Leading the charge in this effort to ignore the new realities of a changing climate is Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), one of the Senate’s leading opponents of legislation to regulate carbon pollution. Barrasso represents Wyoming, the nation’s top coal producer, and is the chair of the recently formed Senate Western Caucus, a latter-day reincarnation of the 1970s “Sage Brush Rebellion” that fought federal oversight of Western lands, according to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Barrasso has previously temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s choice to head the air office at the EPA, fought the establishment of a CIA climate change center, and accused the EPA of “silencing” a dissenting voice to its finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to human health.
Salazar, whose department oversees public lands comprising about one-fifth of the U.S., most of it in the West, issued his order on climate change planning in mid-September. It sets up a council made up of senior officials to coordinate the department’s response to climate change, and establishes eight regional climate change response centers and a network of conservation cooperatives to work with states, localities and the public in developing strategies to cope with global warming impacts.
Barrasso and his co-signers see this as a conspiracy to get through administrative fiat what the Obama administration may not be able to get through climate legislation. “These regulations will hit the Western United States the hardest,” they charge in their letter. “Westerners will suffer from higher energy and fuel costs or simply be put out of work.”
If Barrasso et al. are genuinely worried about the western U.S. being hard hit, they should take a closer look at what climate change is already doing to the region. In the state of Wyoming alone, a mountain pine beetle epidemic spurred by climate change had claimed 1.2 million acres of forest by the end of 2008, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Elsewhere in the West, declining snowpack and earlier spring runoff will mean the Colorado River, the lifeblood for some 25 million Westerners, will be unable to meet demand as much as 90 percent of the time by mid-century, according to a recent study.
This was a Wonk Room repost.