Behind the Orange Curtain, Facts about Climate Change Can be Hard to Find

Wed, 2009-04-29 12:14Leslie Berliant
Leslie Berliant's picture

Behind the Orange Curtain, Facts about Climate Change Can be Hard to Find

The Orange County Register managed to take their complaints about the California Air Resources Board (ARB) doing their job and twist it into a piece denying the realities of climate change and spouting one of the most absurd denier claims; that global warming is benign, even good for us.

The piece starts with an accusation against the ARB of “dictating to private enterprise” by adopting regulations that will force fuel producers to reduce their carbon footprint. The role of the ARB is “to promote and protect public health, welfare and ecological resources through the effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering the effects on the economy of the state”. Hey OC Register editorial board, protecting the public health and environment from harmful air pollutants is the board’s job description.

It’s sometimes called a mandate.

This is government by administrative decree from unelected ARB board members, administrators and staff, who concocted a fanciful “solution” to so-called global warming, an increasingly disputed phenomenon that hasn’t occurred for at least a decade.

You have to love the global warming denial just two paragraphs into this piece. I’m not sure where they are getting their data, but 2008 was tied with 2001 as the eighth warmest year on record using National Climatic Data Center records dating back to 1880.

Perhaps the OC Register is confused.

Global climate change is a global phenomenon, thus the use of the word global to describe it. So while in the U.S., the temperatures in March 2008 were near average, the global land temperatures during that month were the warmest on record. So while we were nice and comfortable in Southern California, much of Asia was experiencing temperatures a good 8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Perhaps the editorial board wasn’t reading the news that month.

Nevertheless, by a 9-1 vote the ARB deemed it urgent enough to demand a 10-percent reduction in carbon dioxide that fuel producers release into the atmosphere on the theory – also unproven – that CO2 increases temperatures. Reality inconveniently contradicts the theory. CO2 has risen over the past decade, but global temperatures have declined, precisely the opposite of what the theory contends.

In fact, according to the National Climatic Data Center, “Human activity has been increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mostly carbon dioxide from combustion of coal, oil, and gas; plus a few other trace gases). There is no scientific debate on this point.”

There’s no evidence man-made CO2, even if it increases temperatures, is harmful. Indeed, some argue that warmer climes would benefit mankind by increasing crop productivity and reducing deaths from severe cold. None of that matters when government is intent on forcing change.

And reality doesn’t matter when business interests are intent on maintaining the status quo. As a matter of fact, the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council under George Bush, Thomas Fingar would disagree that it isn’t harmful:

“Most studies suggest the United States as a whole will enjoy modest economic benefits over the next few decades, largely due to the increased crop yields,” he said. “Costs begin to mount thereafter, however, and some parts of the United States – particularly built-up coastal areas – will be at greater risk of extreme weather events and potentially high costs related to losses in complex infrastructure.” - CNN

The Register takes exception to ARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols comment that the ruling will allow other types of transportation to compete with the combustion engine. But the Register had no problem when in March 2003 the auto manufacturers successfully testified before CARB that the board should kill any electric vehicle mandates in the state and support fuel cell technology instead, effectively killing any hope for electric cars in California, despite that fuel cell technology was (and is still today) in the development stage and would require large investments in infrastructure whereas electric vehicles were ready to go and required no investment from the state.

Not content to limit its meddling to regulating vehicle emissions, the ARB will measure carbon footprints by applying a calculation of “indirect” effects of CO2 on green space, such as how ethanol production can reduce farm land, prompting cultivation of previously raw land that might otherwise capture carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere.

The OC Register would prefer we not look at the effects of ethanol production.

Ethanol came into favor due to huge lobbying efforts on the part of big agriculture - primarily Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the largest single producer of ethanol in the country - and large government subsidies. So apparently the Register would have government interference when it benefits business, but not when it benefits public health, security and the environment. The argument that former government support of ethanol is proof that government is “terrible at picking winners by failing to identify all the factors in play” ignores that we have seen a massive change in government since the last election.

A government that ignored science has been replaced with one that bases decisions upon it. The California Air Resources Board is merely following suit. Too bad we can’t say the same about the editorial board at the Orange County Register.

Comments

When I was studying in the school it was very hard to find information about climate changing. Our teacher of geography  assigned us to make projects on this subject.  I knew a lot of facts earlier but have found some new for me here.   


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