Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #165

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

A New Byrd-Hagel Resolution? As discussed in an article by Fred Singer, in 1997 the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous vote the Byrd-Hagel resolution against a climate protocol being considered by UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and by the Clinton-Gore Administration. The protocol in doubt became the unsuccessful Kyoto Protocol which extended the life of the UNFCCC and committed the parties to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). Although technically signed by the US government, the Clinton-Gore administration did not submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification, as required by the Constitution to be binding on the US, in light of the opposition expressed in the Byrd-Hagel resolution.

In order to advance a vote for the Keystone XL pipeline in the Senate, the new Senate leadership considered amendments to the pipeline bill. [The prior leadership, under Harry Reid, generally refused to consider amendments to legislation.] On January 21, the Senate voted 98-1 that “climate change is real and is not a hoax” in an amendment offered by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) and strongly promoted by Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont). To the surprise of many, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla), and new chairman of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, supported the measure, even though many classify him as the Senate’s leading skeptic of human-caused global warming/climate change.

James Taranto who writes “Best of the Web” for the Wall Street Journal was one of the few who understood what was happening. Taranto wrote:

But don’t worry. Inhofe, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, hasn’t suddenly gone warmist. We noted last week that Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders was planning on introducing an amendment calling on his colleagues to express loyalty to “the entire worldwide scientific community,” which purportedly adheres to the doctrine known as climate change.

“‘There is archeological evidence of that, there’s Biblical evidence of’ the climate changing,” Politico quotes Inhofe as saying. He might have added that there’s paleontological evidence—after all, the climate was changing long before Homo sapiens came along.

Actually, he might have gone further still. Climate change in this sense has no need of evidence. The proposition “Climates change,” like the proposition “2 plus 2 equal 4,” is not an empirical hypothesis but a tautology. It is true by definition. Climate is change. There is no climate change on the moon, but only because there is no atmosphere and hence no climate. Climate change is like chemicals: Without it, life itself would be impossible.

The Senate adjourned without a final vote on the pipeline itself (Senate bill S.1), and it is scheduled to resume on Monday afternoon, January 26, which is forecasted to be a rainy and snowy day in Washington.

Fred Singer sees an opening in this game playing. A bi-partisan Resolution might be sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt, (R-MO) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), similar to the 1997 Byrd-Hagel Resolution, and it may garner sufficient support to pass. Such a resolution will blunt President Obama’s ambition for an agreement at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Paris in December 2015, probably the President’s last opportunity to make global warming/climate change his signature issue, even though public support is fading. Senator Manchin’s state is suffering from reduced coal production caused by the Administration’s campaign against coal-fired power plants. See Articles # 1 and # 2 and links under The Political Games Continue.

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Quote of the Week: Choosing to make selective choices among competing evidence, so as to emphasize those results that support a given position, while ignoring or dismissing any findings that do not support it, is a practice known as “cherry picking” and is a hallmark of poor science or pseudo-science. Richard Somerville Testimony before the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, March 8, 2011.

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Number of the Week: $100 Billion USD

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Cherry Picking Temperatures: The quote-of-the-week comes from Richard Somerville, a climate scientist and professor emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. As such, he signed a petition opposing the Keystone XL pipeline. According to his web site, Somerville was a Coordinating Lead Author in Working Group I, Physical Science, for the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR-4) of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate

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