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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.

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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:

It’s less good news for those who will suffer the consequences of global warming.

[Cue violin strings.]

Yes, now CEI is it worrying about those who will suffer the consequences of global warming, after spending years and years trying to stop all action.

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In his oral statement, Murray even admits (minute 321), “unchecked global warming could do significant damage to developing countries”

And here’s an excerpt from the penultimate paragraph in his written testimony, about Copenhagen:

There will surely be some agreement reached, that will of course be hailed as an historic agreement, probably noting that it was reached despite America’s stance, but in the cold light of day it will fall some way short of binding parties to make the sort of hard choices that are needed if we are to stabilize CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere at anything like the level of 450 ppm, never mind the new demands for 350 ppm.

Yes, CEI is really, really worried about the fact that Copenhagen won’t result in 450 ppm or 350 ppm.

Again, the news isn’t the hypocritical gibberish in the testimony. The news is that even a group as conservative as CEI feels the need to completely drop their attacks on climate science in lengthy Senate testimony, and give lip-service to the threat posed by global warming, presumably so they won’t be lumped in with the dwindling number of flat-earthers like Inhofe.

That meant the discussion in the Senate hearing was precisely where it deserves to be — on how best to solve the climate problem. I do urge you to watch the video of the third panel from Thursday (starting at Minute 300) if you have the time. It was the best discussion of the sea change in China I’ve heard (see also “Increasing competitiveness through clean energy: Taking on China’s broad-based effort to be the world’s clean energy leader” for CAP CEO Podesta’s testimony).

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Finally, given the state of the scientific understanding and the diminishing Senate debate over it, I don’t think that progressive witnesses need to spend a lot of their valuable testimony focusing on it. But it still is worth repeating, as Podesta does:

In 2007, the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a series of groundbreaking reports on the consequences of global warming. The reports led to the conclusion that the increase in temperature due to greenhouse gas pollution should be no greater than 2 degrees centigrade by 2050. This translates to an atmospheric greenhouse gas emission level of no more than 450 parts per million, up from 395 parts per million today. To achieve these goals developed countries must reduce their emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050, and developing countries must also make significant reductions.

Since the IPCC report a flood of scientific evidence suggests that the predicted impacts of global warming””including temperature rise, ice caps melting, and drought””are occurring ahead of the projected schedule. Nations around the world, including those long resistant to global warming pollution reductions, have reversed course and now support steps to cut pollution. The G-8 nations agreed at their July 2009 meeting that “the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees C.”