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McCain's "climate change" tour bypasses cooler heads

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 12, 2008 10:43 AM

John McCain kicks off his “climate change tour” in Portland today. The Associated Press regurgitates the McCain emphasis on how he will push “free-market principles” to reduce global warming, which he is convinced is real and primarily man-made. (Update: Allahpundit’s got the new accompanying campaign ad.)

Take this with a gi-normous grain of salt, my friends:

In remarks prepared for delivery Monday at a Portland, Ore., wind turbine manufacturer, the presidential contender says expanded nuclear power must be considered to reduce carbon-fuel emissions. He also sets a goal that by 2050, the country will reduce carbon emissions to a level 60 percent below that emitted in 1990.

“For all of the last century, the profit motive basically led in one direction – toward machines, methods and industries that used oil and gas,” said McCain. “Enormous good came from that industrial growth, and we are all the beneficiaries of the national prosperity it built. But there were costs we weren’t counting, and often hardly noticed. And these terrible costs have added up now, in the atmosphere, in the oceans and all across the natural world.”

The Arizona senator promised to challenge China and India, two economic rivals who are fueling their challenge to U.S. market supremacy with heavily polluting fuels such as coal, gas and oil.
“For all of its historical disregard of environmental standards, it cannot have escaped the attention of the Chinese regime that China’s skies are dangerously polluted, its beautiful rivers are dying, its grasslands vanishing, its coastlines receding and its own glaciers melting,” said McCain.

He also took a swipe at President Bush, who balked at the beginning of its term at signing the Kyoto global warming protocols. McCain said he would return to the negotiating table.

“I will not shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears. I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges. I will not accept the same dead-end of failed diplomacy that claimed Kyoto. The United States will lead and will lead with a different approach – an approach that speaks to the interests and obligations of every nation,” he said.

A rational, free-market-based approach to environmentalism requires a commitment to scientific truth, accuracy, and honest cost-benefit analyses.

For the last several years, McCain has been committed to none of those.

Climatologist Patrick Michaels had McCain pegged four years ago, when The Maaaveerrick convened ridiculously, eco-Chicken Little-stacked hearings:

Recent U.S. Senate hearings into alleged global warming, chaired by Arizona Republican John McCain, were among the “most biased” that a noted climatologist has ever seen – “much less balanced than anything I saw in the Clinton administration,” he said.

Patrick J. Michaels is the author of a new book “Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.” He is an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia who believes that claims of human-caused “global warming” are scientifically unfounded.

Michaels spoke with CNSNews.com Thursday following a panel discussion sponsored by the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., where Michaels also serves as a senior fellow in environmental studies.

“John McCain, a Republican, has probably held the most biased hearing of all,” Michaels said. McCain is a big proponent of limiting greenhouse gas emissions, which he believes are causing “global warming.” The Arizona senator also “is trying to define himself as an environmental Republican, which he is going to use to differentiate himself from his rivals for the (presidential) nomination in 2008,” according to Michaels.

You can bet McCain won’t be visiting with Michaels on his climate change tour anytime soon. The truth would get in the way of his crusade:

Citing a visit he had to the Arctic with several U.S. senators last summer, McCain made it clear that he believed human-caused “global warming” was a certainty.

“It was remarkable going up on a small ship next to this glacier and seeing where it had been just 10 short years ago and how quickly it’s receded,” McCain told the New York Times…

…McCain also warned about what he saw as the rapid pace of Arctic warming, evidenced by the arrival of wildlife that had never previously been seen in the region. “The Inuit language for 10,000 years never had a word for robin and now there are robins all over their villages,” he told the Times.

Michaels refuted McCain’s assertions about the North Pole, noting that the Arctic has actually been warmer in the past than it is now.

“It was warmer 4 to 7,000 years ago [in the Arctic.] Every climatologist knows that. I saw no mention of that in the Arctic report that was paraded in front of McCain,” Michaels said. He added that the past warming of the Arctic couldn’t possibly be blamed on greenhouse gas emissions since it occurred long before the industrial era.

In 2003, Iain Murray debunked McCain’s anecdote about how he got interested in global warming:

He is on record as saying that the reason he became interested in global warming in the first place is because he recognized how much hotter it was getting at his home in Sedona, Ariz. Unfortunately, the data don’t back him up on this. If we look at the temperature records from the nearby Childs weather station, we can actually see a downward trend in temperature of slightly over 1° F. since 1986, when McCain was elected to the Senate. Another nearby station, Fort Valley, shows a very slight upwards trend. You can see these trends for yourself by looking at the official records available at the CO2science.org website. Certainly there are upward trends elsewhere in Arizona, but these are balanced by downward trends — Tucson has cooled while Tombstone has warmed. Arizona makes a poor poster boy for global-warming theory.

Like Barack Obama, McCain touts a “cap-and-trade” system as the free-market answer to reducing carbon emissions. Analysts who haven’t been bitten by the global warming alarmist bug beg to differ–and evidence from cap-and-trade systems already in operation back them up:

….the world has already witnessed many unpleasant surprises with Europe’s ongoing efforts to impose a cap and trade program under the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, European efforts have racked up significant costs while failing to reduce emissions. Nearly every European country participating has higher emissions today than when the treaty was first signed in 1997. Further, despite ongoing criticism of the United States from Kyoto parties for failing to ratify the treaty, emissions in many of these nations are actually rising faster than in the United States.

The European experience also shows the problem of cap and trade fraud.[6] None other than Enron’s Ken Lay was a strong supporter of carbon cap and trade when the idea was first floated in the 1990s, saying that it could “do more to promote Enron’s business than almost any other regulatory initiative.” These carbon allowances that will be bought and sold have a value estimated at $50 billion to $300 billion annually, and the trade in them would be a huge new business. Enron may be gone, but others ready to take advantage of cap and trade–often at public expense–are not.

Is the solution to go back to 1910 and live like Haiti and Somalia? The Appeal-Democrat says no:

Here’s good news that may have escaped attention. The environment worldwide is getting better and better, largely because of economic growth, efficiency and innovation. So says the 2008 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, an annual report on worldwide air and water quality and climate change by the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco free-market think tank.

While government regulation plays a “central role” in improving the environment, PRI says, it would be ineffective if it were not for affluence and technological advances. That may be why PRI also warns that imposing drastic measures to curb manmade greenhouse gas emissions could roll back the very economic and technological gains essential to improving the environment.

For example, to reach the global warming alarmists’ goal — an 80-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 — the United States would have to revert to a per-capita emission rate last seen in 1910. Considering the nation’s population will increase to 420 million by 2050, the per-capita rate would have to roll back even more, to a level “not seen in the nation since 1875.”

For perspective, “unless there is a genuine breakthrough in carbon-free electricity,” PRI concludes, “households will not be able to use enough electricity to run a hot-water heater without exceeding” the per-capita emission limit.

The only countries with greenhouse gas emissions that low “are desperately poor nations, such as Haiti and Somalia,” wrote PRI’s senior fellow of environmental studies Steven F. Hayward. “Automobile fuel consumption will have to fall by more than 80 percent.”

…”The 80 percent reduction target is unrealistic at any price,” PRI concludes. Given the option of continued innovation and technological advances inherent in economic growth versus the economy-retarding Draconian limits on greenhouse gas emissions, it seems clear to us which one is preferable. Swedish environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg has made the same case for years.

In arriving at the “Copenhagen Consensus” in 2006, Lomborg asked 24 U.N. ambassadors from nations including China, India and the U.S. to set priorities for solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. “They looked at what spending money to combat climate change and other major problems could achieve,” Mr. Lomborg wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “They found that the world should prioritize the need for better health, nutrition, water, sanitation and education, long before we turn our attention to the costly mitigation of global warning.”

Whether one believes greenhouse gases pose an environmental threat, the greater point is that the United States is capable of such a reduction because of its economic, technological and innovative advances. But blindly imposing government mandates without regard to their effect on the economy, technology and innovation will do little except inhibit prosperity and move the nation closer to the model of Haiti and Somalia.

As Lomborg has written: “We all want a better world. But we must not let ourselves be swept up in making a bad investment, simply because we have been scared by sensationalist headlines.”

A true “free-market” approach to environmentalism means protecting the free market, not destroying it in the name of supposedly “cost-free solutions” to a supposed crisis that rests on skewed science.

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