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Obama tells Business Roundtable: “If you’re giving away carbon permits for free … it doesn’t work” and “the science is overwhelming”

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"Obama tells Business Roundtable: “If you’re giving away carbon permits for free … it doesn’t work” and “the science is overwhelming”"

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Obama spoke to the CEO’s from the world’s biggest companies yesterday and, “offered his most extensive remarks on global warming policy since taking office yesterday,” as E&E Daily (subs req’d) reports.

At the Business Roundtable meeting, Obama reaffirmed that, “I said during the campaign we were looking at a hundred percent auction,” and warned inaction was not an option because we face a return to $150 a barrel oil and serious climate impacts:

The science is overwhelming. This is a real problem. It will have severe economic consequences, as well as political and national security and environmental consequences.

I was especially please to see that he focused on the threat of ever-worsening droughts across this country and the world (see full remarks below).

Weyerhaeuser President Daniel Fulton, said companies are worried about the costs of a cap & trade bill during tough economic times. But Obama had already made the key point:

I understand that this will be a difficult transition for many businesses to make, and that’s why this budget does not account for such a cap until 2012 — a time when this economy should be on the road to recovery.

Realistically, a climate bill is not going to be law before 2010, and I doubt the cap is going to be put in place before 2013 — and it won’t bite for a few years after that. I’d be amazed if the price for CO2 was much higher than, say, $15 a ton in 2015, which means a total “cost” of maybe $90 billion (assuming consumers and businesses do no energy efficiency whatsoever) — not a bloody big impact on a $15 trillion U.S. economy.

Obama understands that repetition is the key to good messaging and that his Administration and progressives needs to repeat this key message over and over again:

Under the cap proposal that we have it wouldn’t even start until 2012, where we’re going to be out of this recession — or you’ll have somebody else speaking to you in 2013.

(Laughter.)

But if we don’t start now, if we wait until — to have the debate in 2012, and then suddenly it turns out that oil is at $150 a barrel again, and we say, oh, why is it that we didn’t start
thinking about this and making some steps now to figure this out. Well, that’s what Washington does. You guys could not run your business that way. And so the notion that we are doing some long-term planning now and trying to get this town to think long term, that somehow that’s a distraction just defies every sound management practice that I’ve ever heard of.

Duh!

Fulton challenged Obama about his campaign pledge on cap-and-trade to require companies that emit CO2 to get 100 percent of their emission allowances through an auction:

I just wanted to comment that a number of us in the business community are concerned that a hundred percent auction will effectively be a tax that would impose significant costs on energy-intensive industries such as some that we operate, and may impact existing industries’ ability to fund needed investments in new low-carbon technologies.

I just wondered if you could explain how the hundred percent auction approach would work in our highly challenged economy — because we’re all feeling a lot of pressure today on costs — and yet still preserve jobs for existing industries, and strengthen our existing manufacturing sector.

Obama’s entire answer is worth reading if for no other reason to revel in the delight of having a president who truly understands every aspect of the issue of the century:

Well, let me start by saying this. I said during the campaign we
were looking at a hundred percent auction. We are not going to be able to move this in an effective way without partnership with the business community. But we just — we can’t get it done. And for businesses like yours that are committed to the concept and the idea, we’re going to work to make sure that it works for you.

Now, the experience of a cap and trade system thus far is that if you’re giving away carbon permits for free, then basically you’re not really pricing the thing and it doesn’t work, or people can game the system in so many ways that it’s not creating the incentive structures that we’re looking for. The flip side is, you’re right, if it’s so onerous that people can’t meet it, then it defeats the purpose — and politically we can’t get it done anyway.

So we’re going to have to find a structure that arrives at that right balance. We want to create a price structure. Keep in mind that the reason that I’m interested in a cap and trade approach is precisely because I think the market makes decisions about these technologies better than we do. You know, for those who are concerned about some heavy-handed command and control regulations coming down the pike, cap and trade is designed to say, you know what, here’s a target, here’s a price, you guys go figure it out and if you can make money on it, all the better.

So that’s the — that’s our goal. That’s what we want. And how that pricing mechanism works most effectively to actually influence incentives, but also be sufficiently realistic that industries are thriving as opposed to groaning under the weight of it, I think is going to be the trick. I’m confident that we can do it. We’ve done it before.

I mean, keep in mind that when — I’m trying to remember, this was back in the ’70s or early ’80s — I’m getting old enough now where I can’t remember — but, you know, the issue of acid rain was around. Everybody thought all your trees were going to be dying; you couldn’t make any paper. And we put in an auction system and a trading mechanism and, lo and behold, American ingenuity and American entrepreneurship and inventiveness created options that ended up being much cheaper than anybody had imagined — much cheaper than anybody had imagined.

Please pause for a moment of appreciation for this fully articulated argument….

Now, in the meantime, I just — I was talking to some members of Congress just yesterday, you know, who were concerned about this, because I’m sure they’re hearing from industries and, you know, what does this mean economically, et cetera. I just want to point out, you know, anybody who has been to Las Vegas recently and looked at Lake Mead; or who is familiar with what’s happening in agriculture in California right now; or go down to Atlanta, which may not have any water soon, because of what’s happening in terms of changing weather patterns; or talk to Kevin Rudd in Australia — that’s going to cost us money too. It’s just not — it’s not priced.

Are you listening U.S. media? Doing nothing has a huge cost (see Must-read study: How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics — “The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress”).

And how about that focus on droughts? Does this guy listen to his energy Secretary or what? (Steven Chu’s full global warming interview: “This is a real economic disaster in the making for our children, for your children.” and Steven Chu on climate change: “Wake up,” America, “we’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California”).

And I’m not somebody who — I’ve never bought into these Malthusian — woe — Chicken Little, the earth is falling — I tend to be pretty optimistic. I wouldn’t be here if I weren’t pretty optimistic. But I think this is — the science is overwhelming. This is a real problem. It will have severe economic consequences, as well as political and national security and environmental consequences.

And I’m confident that if we do it smart, if we’re talking to you guys, if we’re talking to industries, if our projections don’t end up being wildly unrealistic, then I think we can handle this problem.

Yes, we can.

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43 Responses to Obama tells Business Roundtable: “If you’re giving away carbon permits for free … it doesn’t work” and “the science is overwhelming”

  1. NFJM says:

    CERTIFICATES IN THE HAND OF THE NATION, NOT COMPANIES

    Auctionning by providing the control over the certificates to the state allows a real redistribution of the value from the sold certificates. The European experience has proven that granting free allowances provides tangible and sellable monetary assets to the power producers which are not redistributed to the consumers (why would they even try in market without any properly working competition?). Without a properly working free market (not really observed yet on the electricity sector), the state should be the one holding the power of putting (or not) emission allowances on the market. This budget should perhaps be adapted to the market size as the recent economic downturn points out. Indeed, a lot of emission targets will be achieved by various countries thanks to their poor economic performance

    THE NEED FOR A MINIMUM CARBON PRICE

    As we know the cost of future climate impact, we should NOT miss any mitigation opportunity cheaper than any given level. This would sinmply be bad economics (cf you recent posts). For this reason, a carbon floor price should be applied.

    THE NEED FOR A STATE RUN HEDGING AGAINST GAS PRICES?

    The best solution against high gas prices is…. high gas prices! Yes you heard me there are plenty of opportunities for energy efficiency and fuel switching, meaning that the cost of the energy service (heating per sqf of housing, mile driven, etc…) is NOT proportional to gas prices. This however holds only if you prepare your economy to higher energy prices. Europe and Japan with their high taxation levels on fuel have achieved a double goal: minimizing oil imports (good for your trade balance) and maximizing your energy efficiency (increase of business certainty, lower geostrategic risk, shift of the added value to national industries, etc…).
    Environmental NGO have repeatedly proposed a minimum and escalating future price on gas in order to phase out fossil fuels and prepare for the post-oil peak ecomomy. The taxation on gas (difference of cost and target price) could be reinvested in energy efficiency measures.

  2. Gloster says:

    Hmm, we really wouldn’t stand a chance had McCain/Palin been elected, would we?
    This way, there is still a tiny glimmer of hope.

  3. Ben Lieberman says:

    The key to a perfect climate policy is to create a policy that can be perfected. Simply calling for energy improvements will never impose high costs on heavy carbon emitters. Cap and trade can do this.

  4. Harrier says:

    With Obama in charge, I think we can address the issue of climate change. I really do.

  5. Will Greene says:

    Man, so glad I voted for this guy. I can get over the fact that he thinks clean coal exists, if he gets an effective cap and trade bill through congress I’m putting up a portrait of him in my kitchen.

  6. Steve L. says:

    I am delighted to hear Obama’s articulation of the argument in a way that enrolls business leaders. He’s very plain speaking, and very persuasive.

  7. Michael says:

    “warned inaction was not an option because we face a return to $150 a barrel oil”

    Don’t worry about high oil prices; look forward to them. Why? Because you can buy USO or any other ETF that tracks the price of oil, and you’ll see your wealth triple.

  8. Harrier says:

    Steve, that’s something I’ve been rather intrigued by: for all grief Obama got during the campaign for being a ‘fancy orator,’ his style of speaking isn’t all that flowery. It’s not the words he uses so much as the way he uses them, the way he relies on more complex syntax and generally longer sentences. It enables him to explain things to people of every level of comprehension, which I’m certain is part of what keeps his approval ratings so high. Nobody feels like they’re being talked down to, and everyone is able to understand the problems that this country is currently facing.

  9. David says:

    “or go down to Atlanta, which may not have any water soon”

    As usual, President Idiot has no idea what he’s talking about:

    http://www.atlantawatershortage.com/20090301/lake-lanier-still-filling-up

  10. Rick C says:

    David Says:

    March 13th, 2009 at 11:49 am
    “or go down to Atlanta, which may not have any water soon”

    As usual, President Idiot has no idea what he’s talking about:

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    As opposed to our previous President who has done a hechuva job.

  11. jon eden says:

    It’s more kick the can down the road. A C tax with dividends (C add on & refund) could be implemented in 3 months and cause no great hard ship. We are not serious. GM gets our level of seriousness–an eco car, the Volt, at only $40,000 per copy. Also the people building the multi million dollar green homes get it. Obama may be optimistic but I am afraid I am not.

  12. NFJM says:

    NOBODY LIKES PAYING TAXES. This is well known. In turn, the effect of people trying to avoid a cost can be turned into something positive. This is the famous “double dividend”. We expect people to act rationally and go away from carbon intensive products.

    At the same time, tax cuts could be expanded on the personal income.

    This all would be good if conservative Republicans would not all the time block any reforms in the taxation scheme. (by the way, even if there are only few progressive Rep, they should be mentionned and spared the collective blame). Conservative republicans only goal is a “business as usual” world with lower taxes… how do you even start negociating with such people?

    And what good does a low taxation level if your taxation does not achieve the desired effect?

  13. David — you’re dead wrong.

    Atlanta’s Lake Lanier is still 12 feet below its normal level – at the peak of the drought, it was 18 feet down, which means it’s still most of the way to dangerously low. Here’s what the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported *today*:

    “Today, the popular lake —- which doubles as metro Atlanta’s main source of drinking water —- is about 12 feet below full as the drought grinds into its fourth year.”

    As the South East continues to dry and warm (it’s right in the path of the expanding subtropics) and Atlanta continues to add population, and the governor of the state continues to do little more than (literally) pray for rain I can just about guarantee that the situation is only going to get worse: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21680340/

    If you had read more than one post on the Atlanta Water Shortage blog, you would know that it’s highly biased, and an apologist for denialists everywhere:

    http://www.atlantawatershortage.com/20090129/is-global-warming-something-we-can-prevent/

  14. “Yes we can” meets “no we won’t.”

  15. Cyril R. says:

    If this peak oil decline thing is true, then there’s a geological “cap and trade” system underway already. With 100% auctioning, a strong regressive cap, and no easy political way out.

    Better go for a carbon tax I say. Putting a volatile carbon market on top of volatile energy market is just too big a risk for me. Besides, the abatement cost reduction in the carbon trading system is rather small a benefit compared to a straight carbon tax.

  16. Jeff Hale says:

    Excellent blog, Joe. I recently read most of your posts on the political, economic, and scientific feasibility of stabilizing CO2 emissions at 450 ppm. If any of you haven’t read the series, I strongly recommend you do so.

    Acting to stabilize at 450ppm — let alone stabilizing at the 350ppm that Bill McKibbon and other commentators are increasingly stating is necessary — is extremely daunting. With that in mind, is the cap and trade system Obama is pushing adequate? I appreciate what he is trying to accomplish, but as you mentioned in a previous post, Europe is still building coal power plants with a cap and trade system that prices carbon reasonably. It seems we’re resigned to: “Politically, cap and trade with less than 100% of permits auctioned off is the best we can do.”

    I think you’re right that a moratorium on new coal power plants needs to be priority number one. Waxman introduced legislation to accomplish that goal on 3/11/08. Does anyone know if similar legislation has been introduced this year and whether it would have a chance of becoming law?

    In other climate change news: I was disappointed to see Schumer and Thune introduced legislation to exclude most cattle from green house gas emission regulations. The “cow tax” as opponents have smartly framed it, might increase the price of meat, but that’s because meat production entails emissions and businesses and consumers need incentives to reduce emissions. Read about the proposed legislation at Solve Climate: http://solveclimate.com/blog/20090313/senators-pre-emptive-strike-cow-tax-shortsighted

    Thank you for all your hard work, Joe,
    Jeff Hale

    P.S. Great focus on rhetoric.

  17. CTF says:

    I thrilled to have a President who is serious about a solution to the climate change crisis. Having said that, given the political realities, I hope that he consideres a carbon tax shift approach. It stands the best chance of passage and ultimately helps the environment and the economy.

  18. David B. Benson says:

    I favor an Excesss Carbon Removal Fee.

  19. john says:

    David:

    The lake is still well below normal, and this is the time of year it’s typically at it’s highest.

    So, sorry Einstein, but your snarky little attack on Obama is fatuous in the extreme, and factless to boot.

    Give up, dude. You haven’t got a clue.

  20. ecostew says:

    A lot of AGW mitigation can begin before cap and trade and/or a carbon tax. The Obama Administration federal agencies should focus their policies and actions on mitigating AGW now. The National Environmental Policy Act is the perfect vehicle in some cases to select climate-sensitive alternatives and pursue mitigation measures for mitigating AGW GHGs, etc. For example, DOI and USDA land management strategies can be used to mitigate AGW using NEPA. Also, DOE should use NEPA to pursue a sustainable energy security (grounded in transparent life cycle analysis that includes return on investment, energy returned on energy invested, and carbon footprint), which mitigates AGW. In addition, federal agencies should also ensure food and water security while protecting the environment. Taking such an approach, we most likely would not be pursuing many biofuels, coal, and oil shale. We would be focused on wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tide, and hydro. NEPA can also be used to enhance conservation and efficiency. Yes we can!

  21. Chris Holly says:

    Seems to me that a careful reading of Obama’s remarks reveals he is signaling to industry and to restive Democrats concerned about costs that he is willing to negotiate, i.e., allow some free allocations to industry. How many, and for how long, we’ll have to wait and see. He also clearly acknowledges that without the support of business and industry, his plan has little chance of congressional approval.

  22. Harrier says:

    But he’s also said that he really would prefer to auction off 100% of the credits. I’m willing to take him at his word, and I believe that he’s serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the United States.

    It may be that he plans to use whatever cap-and-trade system that comes out of Congress in conjunction with a regulation of CO2 emissions by the EPA under the Clean Air Act. It would be, if you will, like wielding two swords, or a sword and a dagger, rather than just a single sword. Properly and skillfully employed, the measures work together to seriously constrain the emission of greenhouse gasses.

  23. lgcarey says:

    I am so holding my breath that Obama has as good a handle on this issue as his remarks would seem to indicate. We have to start taking serious action to indicate that the U.S. intends to finally lead on this issue, or we’re seriously hosed.

    The Copenhagen Conference has gotten very little press in the U.S. as far as I can tell, so anyone interested has had to follow the news in U.K. papers such as The Guardian and The Independent, but the sum of the presentations is well and truly scary stuff, formerly the realm of science-fiction. The normally staid British correspondent for BusinessGreen.com has a rather alarmed post-conference blog summary here: http://blog.businessgreen.com/2009/03/the-climate-is.html

  24. David B. Benson says:

    lgcarey — Thanks for the link.

    Well worth reading.

  25. Harrier says:

    That BusinessGreen entry says that we have to resist the urge to ‘succumb to despair,’ but that’s only after it presents us with so many plausible reasons to do precisely that. It tells us that we can still address the perils of ‘climate breakdown,’ but only after it describes the terrible changes that are already going to come about regardless of the actions we can take right now.

    I don’t want to despair. I want to believe we can still prevent the worst from happening. But damnit, it’s hard in the face of so much bad news. If we’re not supposed to despair then I’d rather like to see some concrete reasons why not. I have a deep capacity for faith, but having faith in human beings, who are flawed and sinful, requires some demonstrable proof.

  26. ids says:

    “Center for American Progress” Isnt’ that an oxymoron?

    Acid Rain C&T has MADE CO2 EMISSIONS HIGHER for the last 20 years. Duh! When JFK shot for the moon, it wasn’t about politically possible, it was science. And he was not fearing what would happen if the goal fell short. O is no JFK or FDR by any measure. His great claim to fame will be being next to the worst president ever.

    He should put a tax on soot and help clean the air around US. Teach the Chinese a lesson what is really important before he starts dropping bombs.

  27. cmd says:

    I want lower taxes. High tax means inefficient government (otherwise they would need the money)

    What has a coal power plant to do with high oil price??

  28. Ed Reid says:

    AGW, if it is an issue, is a GLOBAL issue. It is amenable only to a GLOBAL solution. Anything less is doomed to failure. That is reality. Deal with it!

    Regardless of the method and magnitude of the government “take”, whether through “cap & trade” allowance auctions or a “carbon tax”, it is merely the “tip of the iceberg”. The investments required to achieve an 80% reduction in US carbon emissions by 2050 are ~$700 billion per year over the period. That is the iceberg!

    IEA estimated an investment of $45 trillion globally to reduce global carbon emissions by 50% by 2050. (That would be the “easy and cheap” 50%.) Therefore, reducing global annual carbon emissions to the level at which the atmospheric CO2 concentration began to increase (1/2000th of current levels) would be somewhere north of $100 trillion.

    The Administration’s decision to “go to war” against AGW, based on “questionable intelligence” and without a “broad coalition” is mindbogglingly shortsighted.

  29. “The Administration’s decision to “go to war” against AGW, based on “questionable intelligence” and without a “broad coalition” is mindbogglingly shortsighted.”

    The only thing questionable is the lying propaganda campaign of the deniers. You are the one who is shortsighted.

    As for high taxes and big government, I suggest reading the new book “The Case for Big Government” by Jeff Madrick.
    It turns out that the era when Milton Freedman penned his economic philosophy, namely the 50s and 60s are the very thing that proves he was wrong. He was alarmed by the three recessions of the late 40s and the 50s. The economy rebounded in each case and went on to have perhaps the best growth in productivity, real wages and standard of living in our history, all while government got bigger as a result of the New Deal and Great Society programs. Taxes as percent of GDP went up while the economy thrived. The same thing happened in Europe as those countries grew taxes and social programs while enjoying unprecedented economic growth and economic mobility, productivity, real wages and standards of living.
    In fact, while they have larger welfare states than us, they have mostly higher real wages even while getting much more for free from the govt and paying higher taxes than in the U.S. Germans are paid 127% more than Americans in real buying power, while getting free health care and education and paying higher taxes than in the U.S.
    Not only that, but freedoms increased in America and Europe while the govt grew bigger. Civil rights etc.
    In the U.S. senior citizens went from 6 out of 10 being in poverty to 1 in 10. That’s freedom also.
    So much for the fear of totalitarianism that right wingers warn us will result from bigger social programs and govt. These are all healthy democracies. None are totalitarian or have usurped the public’s freedoms.
    Sweden is the only country where it could be argued that the welfare state became big enough to slow down productivity. They have 88% of the American productivity. England is 92% and the rest have productivity higher or equal to ours.

  30. Correction: Germans are paid 127% of American real wages.
    Not 127% more as I mistated.

  31. Ed Reid says:

    The projected future global average temperature increase is “questionable”.
    The projected future rise in sea level is “questionable”.
    The impact of clouds and precipitation on climate change is “questionable”.
    The failure of increasing CO2 over the past 10 years to increase temperatures in line with climate model projections is “questionable”.
    The “disappearance” of the Little Ice Age is “questionable”.
    The “disappearance” of the Medieval Climate Optimum is “questionable”.
    The “massaging” of surface temperature data through “black boxes” is “questionable”.
    “Adjustments” to historical “massaged” numbers based on more recent “massaged” numbers is “questionable”.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/11/14/the-evolution-of-the-giss-temperature-product/

    Even AGW “religionists” referring to sceptics as “deniers” is “questionable”.

  32. ecostew says:

    Ed, you really are in denial of the peer-reviewed science and empirical AGW-related data that continues to be documented. Referencing rubbish to support your case will not lead to a debate.

  33. Harrier says:

    Ed, I wish you were right. I really do.

  34. MarkB says:

    Ed,

    The quality, objectivity, reliability, and integrity of the Watts blog is “questionable”, to put it nicely. If you look closely at the various comments on those kinds of blogs, along with the comments from the blog owners, you’ll find something closely resembling a religion or cult. While each member is generally open-minded towards any global warming hypothesis that doesn’t involve human activity, the mere mention of the strongest theory (that the increase in greenhouse gases has been warming the Earth) will get them foaming at the mouth. It’s a little scary. I don’t think most of this crowd has the patience, knowledge, or anything resembling objectivity to get something published in a peer-reviewed journal, which is where true science is conducted and debated. It’s much easier to blog these days – more attention and less work.

  35. Jim Eager says:

    Ed Reid’s grip on reality is what’s questionable.

  36. Ed Reid says:

    Mark B.,

    Take a look at http://www.surfacestations.org, the other “Watts blog”. I believe you will discover that the “quality, objectivity, reliability, and integrity” of the GISS data collection system “is “questionable”, to put it nicely.”

    The information on global average temperatures published by GISS is no longer “data”. I would contend that any decimal place which has been affected by “massaging” is no longer significant. It certainly is no longer “data”. I would have been fired for referring to such “massaged” numbers as “data”. Historical “data” certainly does not change as new “data” is added, as shown in the “blink comparator” from the wattsupwiththat.com site.

    The portion of my first comment above which seems to have “roused the troops” was the suggestion in the last paragraph that one nation representing less than 20% of global annual CO2 emissions could not solve the AGW issue on its own. Is there any serious concern that this assertion is inaccurate?

    In the immortal words of my favorite American philosopher, Yogi Berra: “You’ve got to be careful, if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might end up someplace else.”

  37. David B. Benson says:

    Ed Reid — GISTEMP, HadCRUTv3 and NCDC are global surface temperature products, not raw data.

  38. MarkB says:

    Ed,

    Watts makes plenty of allegations and charges of conspiracy, yet after years of this pseudo-analysis (posting photos of weather stations doesn’t cut it), he hasn’t been able to demonstrate any problems with the resulting temperature set – else you’d see a critique published in a peer-reviewed journal. He definitely gets his troops “roused up” though. You might want to read why and how the data is “massaged”, as you call it.

    “The goal of the homogeneization effort is to avoid any impact (warming
    or cooling) of the changing environment that some stations experienced
    by changing the long term trend of any non-rural station to match the
    long term trend of their rural neighbors, while retaining the short term
    monthly and annual variations. If no such neighbors exist, the station is
    completely dropped, if the rural records are shorter, part of the
    non-rural record is dropped.”

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/sources/gistemp.html

    In other words, if the data wasn’t adjusted, Watts would probably have more reason to complain. Additionally, there are 2 other surface records (NCDC, HADCRUT) that largely correlate with GISTEMP. HADCRUT diverges a bit over the recent decade due to how they handle lack of spatial coverage in the arctic. My hunch is that Watts focuses on GISTEMP because he has an obsessive hatred for Dr. Hansen which he helps instill in his followers.

    Watts’ knowledge of this subject is woeful. From my observations, he doesn’t appear to know the difference between raw temperature values and anomalies. He got confused when comparing temperature anomalies last year because each dataset uses a different base period. Instead of promptly acknowledging his error, he got angry and blamed NASA for using a base period different from HADCRUT and the satellite records (although same as NCDC). I can dig up a link if you’re interested. That’s not the attribute of an objective scientist or one that is qualified to analyze temperature data.

    “that one nation representing less than 20% of global annual CO2 emissions could not solve the AGW issue on its own. Is there any serious concern that this assertion is inaccurate? ”

    No, but look at it this way: if we don’t take action, few others will (beyond a few European nations). If we do take action, others (but perhaps not all initially) will follow. Putting a cap or price on carbon directs private capital/resources towards the development of low carbon technologies, speeding up development. Such technologies can then be adopted around the world. So even if we can’t get all nations to sign on to the same emissions reduction schedule, there will be a spillover effect. Obama’s comment on addressing problems with acid rain relates to this and there are numerous other examples (i.e. CFCs/refrigerator efficiency).

  39. Ed Reid says:

    First, I will not attempt to defend Anthony Watts. I don’t believe he needs to be defended; and, if he does, he is perfectly capable of doing so himself.

    Second, I will say that I believe it is tragic that NASA, one of the pre-eminent scientific organizations in the US, appears to be incapable of following its own guidelines and operating a temperature data collection system consisting of properly located, properly maintained and consistently monitored data collection sites.

    Third, I believe that we have substantial leverage to move the entire globe towards CO2 controls, which we yield unnecessarily by unilaterally committing ourselves to a CO2 reduction program without obtaining commitments from the other nations of the globe. I don’t believe we can “lead by example” and achieve the desired result. I am a commitment plus “trust, but verify” kind of guy.

    Finally, low carbon technologies won’t get the job done, so developing them is a waste of time, money and effort. Stabilizing atmospheric carbon concentrations would require zero carbon technologies, exclusively and globally. Our RDD&D dollars should be focused there to achieve the maximum bang for the buck.

  40. David B. Benson says:

    Here is a comparison of the three major global surface temperature products:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/giss-ncdc-hadcru/

    Also, it is certainly possible to remove some of the excess carbon from the active carbon cycle. For example, in situ peridotite weathering.

    So some CO2 creation can certainly be properly offset.

  41. ecostew says:

    Ed, if you get grounded in LCA (includes being informed by peer-reviewed science), you would not expose such rubbish.

  42. MarkB says:

    Ed Reid,

    “First, I will not attempt to defend Anthony Watts. I don’t believe he needs to be defended; and, if he does, he is perfectly capable of doing so himself.”

    Actually, he isn’t very good at defending himself. More importantly, he seems to have a terrible time admitting he’s wrong. I’ll provide another example, with a link:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/07/17/aps-reverses-position-on-global-warming-cites-considerable-presence-of-skeptics/

    So in this example, he uncritically reports on a ridiculous DailyTech article. Watts’ blog headline originally read “APS Reverses Position on Global Warming”. Note that the above link now points to “aps-editor-reverses…”. The story was bogus and it wasn’t difficult to figure it out. It was the work of one member and editor of one of APS’ dozens of newsletters to post an un-peer-reviewed paper by the notorious Lord Monckton. The story got parroted around the blogosphere, prompting APS to issue a correction. Watts was part of the disinformation and he confused his readers for awhile. The comments indicate that many people tried to correct Watts but he kept sticking to his guns. Finally, after enough people showed him the error, Watts modified the headline to be “APS Editor reverses position…” although the headline is still misleading since it’s still not clear if the APS member was changing his mind on anything (what was his previous position, if any?). Instead of apologizing and slamming DailyTech, he snipes at the “higher ups” at the APS (as if somehow they are responsible for the blatant distortions) and at some of the commenters who corrected him.

    “Second, I will say that I believe it is tragic that NASA, one of the pre-eminent scientific organizations in the US, appears to be incapable of following its own guidelines and operating a temperature data collection system consisting of properly located, properly maintained and consistently monitored data collection sites.”

    NASA doesn’t operate the temperature stations. The link above should be an indication of this. And again, taking photos of stations isn’t particularly useful. It has to be demonstrated that the temperature data from the stations is bad AND the final global temperature product is measurably distorted by the data. Watts has not done this, but he’s effectively got his followers believing the data is unreliable and/or NASA is orchestrating a conspiracy.

    “Third, I believe that we have substantial leverage to move the entire globe towards CO2 controls, which we yield unnecessarily by unilaterally committing ourselves to a CO2 reduction program without obtaining commitments from the other nations of the globe. I don’t believe we can “lead by example” and achieve the desired result. I am a commitment plus “trust, but verify” kind of guy.”

    This is a reasonable argument, and I think a global agreement is important. I just don’t think we can effectively get China to commit to the same emission reduction schedule as we are prepared to commit to. So we compromise.

    “Finally, low carbon technologies won’t get the job done, so developing them is a waste of time, money and effort. Stabilizing atmospheric carbon concentrations would require zero carbon technologies, exclusively and globally. Our RDD&D dollars should be focused there to achieve the maximum bang for the buck.”

    Zero carbon is not necessary (see David Benson’s comment above), but technology will need to be very low carbon. Corn ethanol, for instance, won’t come close. Wind, solar, and nuclear are very low carbon, in the sense that they require some carbon emissions today for production & transport.

  43. Coal Power Magazine (March 31, 2009) has some interesting comments about the Obama cap and trade plan. http://www.coalpowermag.com/commentary/A-U-S-Cap-and-Trade-Sytem-Could-Be-Mostly-Dead-on-Arrival_197.html