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Published: Saturday, 7/4/2009

Green nonsense

AN UNUSUALLY cold winter (it snowed in Saudi Arabia and Iraq; temperatures fell to minus 80 degrees in Siberia) has been followed by an unusually cool spring (it snowed in North Dakota in June for the first time in 60 years).

This may be why only 42 percent of respondents in a June Rasmussen poll published think human activity is causing global warming, and many who do don't see it as a serious problem. In a Gallup poll in March, warming ranked last among eight environmental concerns.

"Global temperatures have declined - extending the current downtrend to 11 years with a particularly rapid decline in 2007-2008," said a draft written in March by an expert at the Environmental Protection Agency.

You haven't heard much about this report because the Obama Administration is blocking its disclosure. The Competitive Enterprise Institute put a copy on its Web site June 25.

Believers in anthroprogenic (man-made) global warming are relying on outdated research and are ignoring major new developments, the report said. Natural factors - chiefly ocean and sun cycles - are the principal causes of global temperature fluctuations.

To combat a problem which probably doesn't exist, the House narrowly passed last week a bill to restrict emissions of carbon dioxide (to 83 percent of 2005 levels by 2020 and to 17 percent by 2050).

If the Waxman-Markey bill, named after its Democratic sponsors, Rep. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, were to work exactly as its sponsors claim, global temperatures 100 years from now are projected to be one tenth of a degree Celsius cooler than they otherwise would have been.

We'd pay a lot for that tenth of a degree, though how much is in dispute. Cost estimates range from about $100 per family when the bill would go into effect in 2012 to $3,900 per family.

Waxman-Markey is, ostensibly, a "cap-and-trade" bill, which would impose substantial costs. One is the direct cost to business to purchase from the government "credits" to emit carbon dioxide, a cost that, presumably, would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Consumers would have to pay much more for electric power, in particular, since it's much cheaper to generate electricity from carbon-emitting fossil fuels than from wind and solar, the sources favored by the Obama Administration.

The whole point of cap and trade - which President Obama is careful not to make explicit - is to make fossil fuels so expensive we will use less of them.

The President won't call this a tax. But his most prominent supporter in the business community, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, thinks it's one that will devastate an economy already in "shambles." "It's a huge tax and there is no sense calling it anything else," Mr. Buffett said in a CNBC interview June 24.

We rely on fossil fuels for 85 percent of the energy we use to run our automobiles; to heat, light, and cool our homes and offices, and to power our factories.

The problem with wind and solar is not just that they are much more expensive than coal, oil, or natural gas, but that they can't begin to replace the amount of energy we get from fossil fuels.

Mr. Obama calls Waxman-Markey a jobs bill, on the specious assumption it will create more jobs building windmills and solar panels than it will destroy in the coal, oil, and natural gas industries and in the industries dependent upon them. But Charles River Associates, a Harvard-based economic consulting firm, estimates the net loss of jobs at about 2.5 million a year.

Despite Mr. Obama's honeyed assurances, Americans are suspicious. In a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday, 42 percent of respondents said Waxman-Markey would hurt the economy, compared to just 19 percent who thought it would help (15 percent said it would make no difference; 24 percent were undecided).

Waxman-Markey contains unpleasant surprises for Americans, including a provision which could prevent homeowners from selling their homes if they aren't retrofitted to meet federal "green" guidelines. But the House passed the 1,400-page bill before its members had an opportunity to read it, much less ponder its implications. Let's pray the Senate is more responsible.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Contact him at: jkelly@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1476.



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