Why 2 + 2= 4; Not 5. Reply to Tea party opposition to Carbon Taxes

Reply by 4CP: Chester County Citizens 4 Climate Protection & Bluer of West Chester
To: The 6 Think tanks & 8 Tea Party Groups letter: “Reasons they Oppose Carbon Taxes” 12/26/12

Dear Pennsylvania Elected Officials:

We read with interest the recent letter sent to all US members of the House and Senate by 6 Conservative Groups & 8 Tea party groups (14CG- see below for names)-  Urging Congress to Oppose Carbon Taxes.

As constituents in your Districts representing grassroots organizations focused on Greenhouse gas emissions; We feel compelled to present a response to the speculative, misleading, and in some cases, false claims made.

We welcome a dialogue on these issues and would be happy to meet with any of their representatives. We believe that we share similar concerns for America’s future.

Rather than follow the order in the 14CG letter; let’s start with the most important issue: The science and risk assessments. Everything else flows from this. And let us remember that science and technology have been the major drivers behind America’s economic engine for 100 yrs.

First the Consensus on Science: Is the “fear from global warming overstated”? The 14CG provide neither references nor links to peer reviewed articles to support their misleading statements.
If you’re going to make risk statements that have huge consequences then you need to back them up. We have listed on the last page the credible Scientific sources we believe: (See the links at the end of this paper).
We also note there have been 13,925 peer reviewed articles on climate change in the last 25 yrs vs. 24 articles that made mention of other causes of climate change. The scientific consensus is Real.

Here are a few of the science statements, we urge you to go to their links below for better understanding.
National Academies of Sciences: “Man Made” & “Serious” & “Risk of crossing Thresholds that Result in Abrupt Changes”
The National Academy of (UK Royal Society & China & Germany, France; Korea; Japan; Sweden, etc) : “Seize all opportunities” to address global climate change that “is happening even faster than previously estimated.”
World Meterological Organization: “Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities”
Ducks Unlimited:  “After examining the best available science on the issue, DU’s conservation staff has determined that climate change poses a significant threat to North America’s waterfowl that could undermine achievements gained through more than 70 years of conservation work.”

World Bank: “We are on track for a 7 F hotter world marked by Extreme Heat waves, declining global Food stocks; loss of Ecosystems & biodiversity; & life threatening sea level Rise & Risk of triggering Non linear tipping points”

• Pricewaterhouse Coopers: “7 F is “incompatible with organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’; is devastating to the majority of Ecosystems & is not stable but lead to higher Temps.” & “ World Needs RADICAL transformation… Rapid uptake of Renewable Energy, Sharp falls in fossil fuels or Massive deployment of CCS……….” Etc.

Second: Risk Assessments: The risk from global warming is greater than that posed by Al-Qaeda. The free market – which we support, is not capable of reacting to those forces that would destroy our way of life and threaten our children. A hot planet presents a huge threat to America and our way of life.
A hotter planet is very likely to cause lot of bad things: (prolonged droughts and massive crop failures; more extreme storm events; an acidic ocean in which fish and shell fish populations will decline dramatically; storm surges and a rising sea level will force large areas of the coast to be abandoned; and salt water contamination of water intakes for cities will be extremely costly; warmer winters are now allowing beetles to live and reproduce longer thus killing many millions of forests in the west leading to huge forest fires) and few good things. These impacts will be very disruptive and may destabilize our economy.

Water shortages caused by prolonged heat will lead to wars. Let’s remember that global warming is irreversible for many thousand years and we must avoid feedback loops like warming permafrost or huge loss of Greenland ice.

What the “14CG” must provide is an independent risk assessment of the scientific data and the potential for harm. Let the chips fall where they may. Until they support this, then their comments are merely speculative adding confusion to a serious issue.

Third: “Reducing US emissions vs. China and India will not stop climate change” We agree, a global effort is needed. First some perspective: America has 5% of the population but emits 25% of the greenhouse gases. And has been doing so for 100 yrs. Thus most of the C02 “out there” is from us. We now have outsourced a lot of manufacturing and now buy back many products from developing nations including China. Thus those CO2 emissions are being generated due to our demand.
In fact China is spending large amounts of money on lower carbon energy generation and now dominates the world in sales of solar PV & wind turbines and carbon capture & sequestration technologies and investment in new battery storage technologies. These are technologies and jobs that should be in America.

Fourth: Their comment that reducing carbon dioxide concentrations in the air will lead to lower crop yields is not valid. Please name one respected agricultural scientist who would sign their name to that statement.

Fifth: Their comment that carbon taxes will force substitution of wind and solar for fossil fuels- thus killing birds and bats is extremely misleading. The reality is that high rise buildings are responsible for many more bird deaths than wind turbines. Current site selection procedures avoid bird & bat migration pathways. The impact of white nose fungus on bats is million time more deadly than wind turbines. Please use real data.

Sixth: A statement that we agree in principle with – is that “promises of revenue neutrality will be broken”. This is a concern. We must insist that all politicians focus the revenues on reducing greenhouse gases and not for pet projects.

Seventh: Now for the final comment from the “14 CG” regarding “carbon tax killing jobs”.

Actually, the opposite is true. Economic assessments of proposed policy to put a price on carbon are in widespread agreement that the net economic impact will be small. Moreover the benefits outweigh the costs several times over.

Moreover, if we examine this from the perspective of leadership in innovation: once there is a significant cost on energy generation then virtually every corporation in America will work on techniques and products to reduce energy and move to lower carbon footprint generation sources. Every home and building owner will take steps to become more energy efficient. Every vehicle owner will assess their energy costs in purchasing decisions.

The defense of “Free Markets” should encourage innovators, not suppress them. America has lead the way in innovative uses of fossil fuel, however continued CO2 emissions pose a high risk to our economy and way of life. We agree that fossil fuels will remain the backbone of our economy for many decades, but the time has come to put in systems managing the huge risks while still generating and deploying clean power, energy and resource productivity and conservation.

There are millions of jobs in America waiting for money to be unleashed to develop extremely high efficiency appliances; vehicles; air planes; military weapons; heating and cooling equipment; advances in solar and wind and offshore installations and revival of nuclear.

Every product & service in every company will be closely examined with a new metric – the cost of energy and carbon footprint. We note that already wind power has more people involved than all of coal mining.

Finally, America is lucky to have abundant resources of gas natural gas. This will fuel a boom in very competitive chemicals and plastic production in the USA and low cost energy. However, in order to not heat the planet to death – the CO2 from its combustion must be captured and sequestered safely long term underground (or ocean). This technology will create many jobs and can be sold across the globe.

Thus Carbon tax – far from “killing jobs”- will position America for the next hundred years as the job creator king. And America won’t get so hot that our very civilization would be threatened.

However – a word of caution. The cost of energy will rise during the transition from burning fossil fuels to low carbon footprint energy generation. Off shore wind and utility scale solar are significantly more expensive than natural gas or coal (lots of reason and externalities not charged- but let’s ignore them for now). And CCS will be very expensive.

Thus there needs to be a energy strategy of phasing in low carbon sources and using cheap nat gas as the cost buffer. Utilities should be required to reduce their emissions of CO2 annually and the oil & gas industry should either pay for CCS or move to low carbon generation. Our children’s lives are at stake.   Thank You.

Bryan Hutchinson, President: 4CP http://www.chescocooler.org; Chester County Citizens 4 Climate Protection
David Mazzocco, LEED AP for West Chester BLUER (www.wcbluer.org)
Contact: Billhaaf@verizon.net

Who do we believe? – US National Academies of Science, NOAA, NASA, World Meteorological Organization, World Resource Council, World Bank; Price Waterhouse Coopers; Re Munich; & the equivalent of our National Academy of Science in Every developed country including UK, Germany, China Japan, France and the Vatican, & 98 % of climate scientists working in the field

Links and References:
NCAR: Weather and climate basics
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: Global Warming basics
NASA: Global Warming update
National Academy of Science: America’s Climate Choices (2011)

The UK Govt. has a good site on The Science of Climate Change (added Sep 2010).
The portal for climate and climate change of the ZAMG (Zentralaanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, Vienna, Austria). (In German) (Jan 2011)

• New Scientist: Climate Change: A guide for the perplexed
• RealClimate: Response to common contrarian arguments
• NERC (UK): Climate change debate summary
• UK Met Office: Climate Change FAQ

Names of the 6 Conservative  think tanks and 8 Tea party Groups: The Heartland Institute; The American Conservative Union; Americans for Limited Government; Cascade Policy Institute; Barrett Kidner; Nashville Tea Party; Maryland Taxpayers Association; Freedom Action- Competitive Enterprise institute; the John Laska Foundation; The Tea party patriots; The Cherokee tea party patriots; the Tennessee Tax Revolt; American Tradition Partnership; The Liberty 21 institute.

Leave a comment

Filed under BarnacleBill, Environment, Energy, Science

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.