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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: Obama wasting time on climate issues

January 27, 2013

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— Happy days are not here again, but they are coming for conservatives. Barack Obama — with the lowest approval rating (according to Gallup, 50 percent, four points lower than that of the National Rifle Association) of any re-elected president when inaugurated since the Second World War — has a contradictory agenda certain to stimulate a conservative revival.

Consider his vow to expend political capital on climate change. The absurdity of the Kyoto approach — global climate treaties agreed to by 190 nations — is now obvious even to most former enthusiasts. Obama can propose cutting U.S. fossil fuel emissions (just 16 percent of the global total) with a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme, but Congress will pass neither. So he will be reduced to administrative gestures costly to job growth, and government spending — often crony capitalism — for green energy incommensurate with his rhetoric.

He says “the threat of climate change” is apparent in “raging fires,” “crippling drought” and “more powerful storms.” Are fires raging now more than ever? (There were a third fewer U.S. wildfires in 2012 than in 2006.) Are the number and severity of fires determined by climate change rather than forestry and land use practices? Is today’s drought worse than, say, that of the Dust Bowl, and was it caused by 1930s global warming? As for “more powerful storms”:

Because Sandy struck New York City, where the nation’s media now congregate and participate in the city’s provincialism, this storm was declared more cosmically momentous than the 74 other hurricanes that have hit or come near the city since 1800. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina was called a consequence of global warming and hence a harbinger of increasing numbers of Category 3 or higher hurricanes. Since then, major hurricane activity has plummeted. No Category 3 has hit the U.S. since 2005. Sandy was just a Category 1.

Obama’s vow to adjust Earth’s thermostat followed the report that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous 48 states. But The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins, who has concisely posed the actual climate policy choice (“How much should we spend on climate change in order to have no effect on climate change?”), has noted that although 2012 was 2.13 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than 2011, “2008, in the contiguous U.S., was two degrees cooler than 2006.” And “2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were all cooler than 1998 by a larger margin than 2012 was hotter than 1998.” Such is the rigor of many who preen as devotees of science, they declared the 2012 temperatures in the contiguous states (1.58 percent of the Earth’s surface) proof of catastrophic global warming.

A flourishing American economic sector is fossil fuels — especially oil and natural gas — which the Obama administration seems to regret and often impedes (see: fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline). Yet the natural gas boom is one of the main reasons why in 2012, U.S. fossil fuel emissions were the lowest since 1992. Obama’s wariness about the pipeline suggests that he subscribes to some environmentalists’ stupendously weird theory: If the pipeline is not built to carry oil from the (supposedly dangerous) development of Canadian tar sands, Canada will leave those sands undeveloped rather than sell the oil to China.  

Small businesses create most new jobs, but many businesses are avoiding hiring a 50th employee, or are replacing full-time employees with those working fewer than 30 hours a week, to avoid Obamacare’s costly requirements regarding provision of health insurance. Some colleges and universities are reducing to 29 the number of hours adjunct professors can teach, which is condign punishment for those professors — most of them, surely — who favored Obamacare.

It and other regulatory burdens, combined with the subsidization of not working (47.5 million receiving food stamps, 8.6 million receiving disability payments, unemployment benefits extended from 26 weeks to 73 weeks — so far), partially explain this fact provided by Richard Vedder of the American Enterprise Institute: “If today the country had the same proportion of persons of working age employed as it did in 2000, the U.S. would have almost 14 million more people contributing to the economy.” Fourteen million is more than the combined work forces of 18 states.

In the rhetorical cotton candy of his inaugural address — sugary, and mostly air — Obama spoke of “investing in” rising generations, and said: “America’s possibilities are limitless.” He ignores the encroaching limits imposed on the nation by his policies that are funded by debt that will burden those generations.

— George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

Obama gets lambasted by conservatives for his lack of leadership, but here's Will bashing him for attempting to assert just a little bit of leadership in tackling what is by far the biggest single issue of our time. Instead, George focuses on the abstraction of debt, rather than the real disasters that climate change will bring. No level of austerity (for the working and middle class, anyway) is too great when it comes to addressing the deficit, but any suggestion that we may need to adjust our lifestyles to reduce global warming can be considered.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

Thankfully, there are folks out there who don't have their heads buried in the sand like Will does. And many of them live right here.

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boltzmann 1 year, 8 months ago

The numbers a probably accurate, but irrelevant given his analysis. He just cherry picks a buch of years and then gives a superficial comparison. No statistical analysis, no analysis of trends, nothing of any scientific value, whatsoever. He also makes the implication that that fact that 2012 was the warmest year is the only evidence of climate change. It is not, there is mountains of data that support the theory, not just the temperature of one year in one region of the earth - that is why it is global climate change, not US climate change.

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gr 1 year, 8 months ago

boltzmann, do you think others may cherrypick their numbers, too? Such as only using 30 years worth of data because that's all that's "convenient" as one so said? How many years worth of data should be used to determine a trend given your world view of history whether 6,000 years or 6 billion years?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

There weren't 7 billion people furiously burning up fossil fuels in industrialized societies 6 thousand or 6 billion years ago.

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gr 1 year, 8 months ago

So, that would be all the more reason to use that data to show we are heating up the earth, now wouldn't it?

Now, as you say, 7 billion people were not furiously burning up fossil fuels in industrialized societies 6 thousand or 6 billion years ago, so could you please tell us how fossilized tropical plants and animals got to be at the poles? And if you say, they were transported there, what was at the poles and did they have tropical plants and animals on them at that time? What was the temperature of the earth then? And what, by the way, is the current temperature of the earth?

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boltzmann 1 year, 8 months ago

The question is not that the earth was not hotter in the distant past, the climate has always been changing. That is not in dispute. However, the changes in the past took place over geological time scales (except maybe when driven by rare events, such as giant meteors). The issue with current climate change is that the changes are being driven over a span of decades and not millenia. It is the rapidity of climate change that is the primary issue now.

As far as tropical plants at the poles, the general explanation has to do with plate tectonics, not temperature changes.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

We live right now, all 7 billion of us. Our continued existence relies on the various climate patterns around the world remaining within very, very narrow bounds. Global warming can and almost certainly will push us outside those bounds, creating disastrous conditions of drought, famine, heat waves (and even cold waves,) floods, intense thunderstorms and hurricanes all across the planet, not to mention equally dramatic changes in ocean conditions that will affect not only ocean ecosystems, but the hundreds of millions of humans who depend on them.

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avarom 1 year, 8 months ago

Actually,.....If you reallly take a good look at it.....So many people in the US are pi**ed off from all the Bull-Doo-Doo handed to All of US.....they are blowing off so much Carbon Dioxide and Bad Air.....the Carbon Footprint is Escalating and Creating this Global Warming.....and if it becomes any worse........ it going to be Global Screaming!!!!!!!!!!!!

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boltzmann 1 year, 8 months ago

Yes, other people may cherry pick their numbers, but so far the studies of temperature increases have held up pretty well. Even the Berkeley group (funded by the Koch brothers) who had serious skepticism about the statistical approach of Mann and others, did their own analysis and came to the same conclusion as the previous researchers on the so-called "hockey stick" graph. Also, the evidence for climate change does not just come from the ptemperature studies. There is a large amount of physics and other data behind it.

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Shelley Bock 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm shocked! The earth is really 6 billion years old? That's not what I was taught in church school.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

I'd have to agree, Boze. And George Will has a history of climate denialism longer and stronger than most, so it's no big surprise that he comes out with his pseudo-scientific cherry picking of numbers that make it appear that he knows what he's talking about. Hmm...should I believe that there's some merit to his point over, say the unequivocal statement of the American Meteorological Society that came out last year: http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2012climatechange.html

Or, alternatively, what do the ongoing statistical trends say about the climate? Let's look at 26 indicators that show that human-induced climate change is real after all: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/indicators/

And as far as changing extremes, the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (gee, should I believe George or them??) has an excellent description of the shifting norms that are occurring, with increasing frequencies of both ends of the spectrum (droughts, catastrophic flooding): http://www.pnas.org/content/109/37/E2415

Thanks, George, for the opportunity to present the real situation to folks. Ground hog day isn't until Feb. 2, tho, so you can go back into your little hole in the ground.

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gr 1 year, 8 months ago

As far as some "statement" maybe it's irrelevant given their analysis while someone else using the same data may come to a different "statement".

p>pnas.org: "warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period."

Why did they choose 1951-1980 as their "base period"? Because their cherrypicked period supported their goal? Why can't Will choose his base period of 2005 or 1998? What would be a fair and accurate "base period"?

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avarom 1 year, 8 months ago

Finally somone that has some real sense and data!! Bravo DC, you are a real breath of fresh air.....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_W...

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 8 months ago

I recall in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, there was much discussion about how we could allow that to happen. I'm not talking about the response, but actually having levees that were long known to be susceptible to failure should that type of storm hit. We knew for a long time, but the costs were too high, or so we thought, to make necessary changes. So we paid when Katrina hit. That's not the only example. Outside Sacramento, Ca., is a levee system that will fail. We've known that for decades. California is broke now, so they can't/won't make the necessary changes. When it fails, we'll look to whomever is in office at that time and scream, "How could you let this happen". It will happen. We will pay, just as we're now paying for Sandy. The only choice we have is will we pay now, or will we wait until after the disaster hits, until after there is death and destruction, until after lives have been ruined. But we will pay.

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Armstrong 1 year, 8 months ago

Mr. Will, the next 4 years are going to be a waste and will not be limited to climate change

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 8 months ago

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/01/27/1499991/washington-post-once-again-publishes-george-wills-shameless-flaming-anti-scientific-nonsense/

And once again, the local paper editor regurgitates the tripe George is spewing.

You can choose to believe that George knows more about the physics of the earth climate system than every scientific body of significance on the planet, and more about economics than bodies like The World Bank, and The World Economic Forum, or you can choose to believe, as per the title of this article, that he is just another guy with an opinion.

http://climatechange.worldbank.org/ http://www.weforum.org/issues/climate-change

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Trumbull 1 year, 8 months ago

" Is today’s drought worse than, say, that of the Dust Bowl, and was it caused by 1930s global warming?"

I'm glad George brought up the Dust Bowl. The drought was one thing, the actual dust storms were largely the result of farming activity, removing deep rooted grasses, and poor soil conservation. Deniers would be best served to leave this one out of their playbook.

The thing too learn from the dust bowl to me is this. Human activity helped create the problem and humans did much to correct the problem thru better practices. This should give us hope that we can do something about global warming.

I usually don't think one day is enough to conclude from ..... but 55 degrees on January 26th is strange. It feels like March outside.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

And George's cherry pick of the Dust bowl belies the fact discussed in the PNAS article linked above about how globally the percent of the earth's surface with a drought 3 or more standard deviations from the norm has gone from 1-2% of the total surface to around 10%. That's a really scary trend, considering the global temps have only gone up around 1 degree Celsius and all trends make it very probable that we're looking at 4% Celsius by the end of this century.

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, technically, Hansen et al 2012 is about heat wave events and not about drought. But yeah, the trend is really scary, unless you just don't understand what it means.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

Thanks for the additional clarification that all heat waves aren't droughts, cg. Heat waves are actually deadlier to humans than droughts, while droughts are probably more devastating to the land and economy. The worst, of course, is when the two coincide.

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gr 1 year, 8 months ago

By the way, what is 4% Celsius? Is that like really cold? Or am I confusing it with Kelvin and 4% Celsius is only slightly cool?

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boltzmann 1 year, 8 months ago

It was pretty clear from context, that it was an an increase in temperature by 4ºC to which DC was referring, not an absolute temperature - the percent symbol was, granted, a typo, but one that was easily understandable from context.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

Beware of scientist (and Presidents) with calls to action. Climate change is real. How to address it requires more thought then so far expended by our elites.

A carbon tax as argued would be the most unjust initiative since we interned the Japanese at the beginning of WWII.

Our Westar (or KCP&L) would incur a big tax because they generate a lot of carbon. That tax would be passed on to us as the first big increase in our utility rates. None of the money raised would be used to actually address carbon generation. It might come back to some of us (heavily depleted) or it might go in part to research. It would certainly go to pay for the bureaucracy needed to administer the tax.

To actually address the carbon we are being penalized for generating we would have to have Westar transition to some other “green” form of power generation or get used to not having air conditioners. That would of course cause a second major rate increase (and many more) at a pace set by the elites using the carbon tax rate. .
Now if we lived in Medford, OR, we would use hydroelectric power so our utility would not see a big carbon tax. We would not have to raise our rates to eliminate the carbon we are not generating. We might actually get back some of the tax levied on those dumb Kansans. Let’s throw a party!

Now exactly what did you do to deserve this punishment. The choice of coal to generate our power was made decades ago by those long dead. Demanding that we bear the full cost to meet a new unevenly applied federal mandate is just despicable.

Our carbon problem should be addressed as we addressed our transportation problem, - with a nationally funded trust fund. We would then share the costs of addressing this policy initiative (maybe 80/20) with all of our citizens (including those in Medford) contributing. Funds would be focused on the worst carbon generation entities. Such a process would be fair, measured and evenly applied.

The carbon tax as proposed is just another form of “triangulation” where a few people get punished and a lot get to feel good without contributing very much at all (if anything) toward the common goal. Great political theater for those unable to actually sell climate change to all of us!

Just like the proposal for control of gun violence. The elites feel good and little is accomplished while many innocents are punished. Do we see a pattern here?

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

Mod, I really am sorry you don't retain the information that I feel like I've spoon fed you in the past, so I am not sure that it will be worth anyone's time to try to drag you through the fallacies of your concerns yet again.

Suffice it to say to anyone else: if any of the issues that Mod brings up is of concern to you, please find good answers to those concerns in either of these sites, namely: http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org/node/444 where you will find information on how the carbon tax will act as a clear economic signal that will trigger growth in energy efficiency and low carbon technologies without some kind of massively orchestrated federal top-down program that Mod is suggesting we do instead.

and: http://www.carbontax.org/issues/regional-disparities/ in which any concerns about regional disparities in the impact of a nationwide carbon tax are alleviated.

George, your old school approach is no longer politically feasible if it ever was, and your "elites" vs "innocents" framing is completely off base. Expecting the fossil fuel industries to allow the government to raise funds to develop and implement a program to wean the country away from the fossil fuel industries is truly laughable.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

Not to mention that the analogy between a carbon tax program and the internment of Japanese American citizens is rather extreme.

Of course, you know I don't think the tax program will work as well as you and others do.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

What are your (functional) objections to such a tax?

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't believe it will work as advertised.

In my view, a much simpler and better way to deal with carbon emissions is to simply require all utility producers to reduce them to an acceptable level.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

That's precisely what the carbon fee and dividend would do. It'd provide a financial incentive for the utilities to reduce their use of fossil fuels, and increase their use of alternatives, while simultaneously providing financial incentives for consumers to buy those alternatives (along with the cash to pay for them.)

It could also be applied to any imports, creating an incentive for foreign governments and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

No it wouldn't.

Providing a financial incentive isn't the same thing as requiring something.

And, as long as they can pass the increased costs to their customers, which is generally the case with regulated utilities, it doesn't provide them that incentive in fact.

It will work to redistribute money, from those that use more heavily polluting electricity to those that use less of it, but that's hardly the same thing as reducing emissions across the board.

Why not just simply require them to do that?

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

Carrots work better than sticks. The idea of regulating carbon emissions and further decreasing mercury emissions from power plants may well move forward, and I hope they do, but the utilities and related industries are already screaming at the top of their voices that all of those "burdensome regulations" are "anti-business" and will cause massive layoffs across our economy.

Also, I think a carbon fee and dividend program will actually help to reduce emissions across the board: folks with lots of disposable income and entrepreneurs will buy the pricier new low carbon technologies, while those who can't afford to do that will wait for price drops that will come with economies of scale and figure out how to use less and focus more on efficiency, which will hopefully be seen as a "must" type of investment across the board. These are tried and true economic processes that have worked in transforming other industries and I see no reason why it won't here as well.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

Sometimes they do, and other times they don't.

I think that's an overly optimistic idea of what would happen - rich folks can just pay a little more in utility payments, and lower income folks can just buy a tv.

There's nothing in the carbon tax and dividend idea that would ensure any sort of environmental benefit.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

Rich folks are a very small minority of the population. Sure, they'll continue to be very wasteful of energy, even of ever more expensive fossil fuels. But the average consumers who make up the vast majority of the population won't have the luxury of being cavalier with their energy expenditures, especially as the price for fossil-fuel-sourced energy increases with the increasing fees on carbon. They will begin to reduce their carbon footprint, whether it's by carpooling or taking the bus instead of driving, insulating and weatherizing their houses (which could be partially subsidized through carbon fee dividends) and any number of other things that become viable options as the cost of fossil fuels rise.

And eventually, even the wealthy among us will make the more economical choices if those are just as easy to make as the more polluting ones.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

Maybe and maybe not.

People who care about the environment already do that, and there's already a financial incentive to do it, at least with the low upfront investment choices, since your electric bill is lower that way.

Depending on how the dividend works out, people can just use it to pay the higher electric bills, and make no changes at all in their consumption, right?

This seems like a Rube Goldberg way to go about solving the problem to me, and one that's not very likely to work.

If they implement it, we'll see, of course.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

"No it wouldn't."

That assertion flies in the face of basic economics. If the cost of an input in an industrial operation rises, cheaper alternatives will displace them.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

Not as long as they can pass the increased costs on to customers, which they can when utilities are regulated - when was the last time Westar was denied a rate increase?

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 8 months ago

Nothing will motivate change as well as a change in relative price in the market. Carbon fuels are cheaper now because a lot of their costs are externalized. Change that, and energy consumers will drive energy producers to alternatives. The incentive is simple; the producers will be able to make more money with alternatives than with fossil fuels.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

Simple requirements will work better, in my view.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

The two ways of going about it aren't mutually exclusive.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

Of course not.

cg said nothing will motivate change as well as the market, I disagree.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

Now, now lay off the personal attacks!

You have never adequately addressed the inequities in the carbon tax as defined.

You have argued for action - I agree and have provided an alternative way

You argue the time worn left anti-corporate baloney. Utilities work for us. We can make them do what we want .

Other forms of business are motivated by a bottom line. They are also regulated. If they are unique carbon generators we can control them through the regulatory process. But we must realize that any mandate on them comes back to us - the consumers. Pick your fights as they will cost you no matter what.

Why should we pay more than Medford???

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

"Now, now lay off the personal attacks" Gee, I thought your calling this an issue between "elites" and everyone else pretty much framed the conversation.

"You have never adequately addressed the inequities...." "Why should we pay more than Medford???"

We won't. Go back and read my link that shows the fallacy of your question. It also addresses your concerns over supposed inequities. Contrary to your assertion that the equity "problem" has never been addressed, this article looks precisely at that issue and gives very specific observations and suggestions that you have yet to acknowledge. Until you do this and then discuss why you think the proposed solution won't work and why, there is nothing more to say.

And concerning anti-corporate baloney, you don't have to accept that issue at all if you don't want to and still come up with the same conclusion: congress will never raise massive revenues for a centralized top-down federal program that will develop and disseminate green technologies, improve manufacturing processes and enforce the whole move away from fossil fuels through a massive set of regulations. The marketplace is a much more efficient tool for transformation, and the carbon tax, when returned directly to the consumer will help speed up that process.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

I read your missive and it does not address my concerns. It contains a bunch of theory to try to address the inequities. Why bother. Create a fund with a broad based tax like the highway funds.

A carbon tax is a tax. It will ultimately fall on all of us. Sometimes the market is useful tool for allocation. It usually is not when the driver is not profit or gain but management of pain. Corporations will either a. Close b. move off shore c. pass the tax and the costs of remediation on to the rest of us

There is no magic in your carbon tax but a thinly concealed effort to selective punish a few by suggesting a majority will benefit financially.. The sad part is that when the system is the whole economy nobody will gain from it except those newly hired to administer it. Everybody else will be net looser - some a lot more than others with no legitimate basis for that distinction.

If you can not sell an environmental tax (or redistribution of priorities to the environment ) then it is your failure - not to be rewarded with a massive playpen funded with money inequitable obtained and more than likely poorly allocated (think Solindry).

Come on- your real hidden agenda is to punish those you think have been evil carbon generators and to do so by putting the burden on the average citizen - biased toward to the middle class. Doing so by subterfuge rather than leadership.

The carbon tax is a laborious and fundamentally inequitable tax that will cost a lot of money to administer and which in the end raises almost no funding for "green" policies. (at least in the give back version). If you hold the money for "green" research" then the pain to the tax/rate payer is worse.

A simple tax will raise the revenue as equitably as possible and will allow prioritization of investment at the national/state level. That very notion is clear in your own argument.

The need is real and you should be advocating for resources from whatever source and not for a cockamamie solution to avoid real leadership.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

I continue to have no idea why you think a massive centralized federal tax funded program that shapes technological choices for our economy has any chance of being implemented by congress. You complain about Solyndra and how it was federal funds poorly allocated (when in actuality it was China's flooding the market resulting in the bottom dropping out of the market) , and yet your vague "create a fund with a broad based tax" scheme would create the potential for fiascos that would dwarf Solyndra. Your plan does not survive the very critique you aim at fee and dividend.

And your critique of fee and dividend does not address at all the main points of the article that you brush off so blithely. The first point being that regional differences are not nearly as great as it might seem when you combine the direct effects of a carbon fee with the indirect effects, reducing the regional differences in carbon fees to around 3% at $20/ton. The second point is that any regional disparities that crop up can be addressed by variable regional distribution of the fees so that a carbon rich region like the Plains states would receive a larger payment than the lower carbon intensive regions like the Pacific Northwest.

By blowing off the entire article, you impugn both the Brookings Institute and the American Enterprise Institute with such uncritical aspersions, which an accomplishment of sorts I guess. But you not only ignore the cogent points that address your concerns, you go on to insinuate that my real agenda is to "punish those you think have been evil carbon generators" at the expense of the middle class. Your reasoning skills clearly have headed south on this topic and once again I see no inclination to continue the discussion with you until you give up the name calling and address the points of the proposal.

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KiferGhost 1 year, 8 months ago

So he will be reduced to administrative gestures costly to job growth, and government spending — often crony capitalism — for green energy incommensurate with his rhetoric.

It is funny that selling millions of new cars every year is good for the economy even though the need to buy new cars to the extend we do is really a joke, the reason billions are spent on marketing and this has been true clear back to 1920's but building alternatives are job killers. Our way of measuring the economy is really the problem. The same gdp that measures goods sold also measures all the things we do to fix the bad things like repairing wrecked cars, fixing injured people, fixing people made ill from our industrial society. Until we change the way we measure economic success we will continue on the same lame brained George Will nonsense that growth (no matter what is being measured in that calculation) is good.

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KiferGhost 1 year, 8 months ago

Obama's problem is he didn't pursue the policies we should have been pursuing. It still amazes me that even the Lawrence libs think the answer is the hybrid car which is hardly a green answer to the problem.

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MrRighty 1 year, 8 months ago

No one worth the air they breathe denies that the climate changes...and that, currently, its getting warmer. Many, however, (and the number grows daily...even within the scientific community) doubt that humans have much to do with it or that there is much we can we do to stop it. When climate change science becomes more science and less politics, then I'll start believing. When the data most climate scientists around the world have used for their models is renewed and not provided to them by cheats and liars (Mann, East Anglia, et al), then I'll start believing. When temperature here in the States starts being measured by NOAA correctly (only 7.9% of surface air temp measurement stations report within the acceptable 1 degree C error, 21.5% between 1- 2 degrees (fair), 64.4% between 2-5 degrees (poor), and 6.5% report with a greater than 5 degree error (ridiculous!) then I'll start believing. Where is Al Gore now? Where is this growing upswell of outrage by the scientific community? Gathering dust is where they are. Gore is a joke. EPA is a joke. The only thing about climate change the President cares about how good it can make his speeches sound. I'm sure its easy and convenient to believe that the reason next to nothing, policy-wise, has been effected is because those evil Koch brother and fossil fuel lobbies purchase adminstrative and legislative action; it makes you sleep better doesn't it? The truth is they're just NOT DOING ANYTHING on their own! Chairman Maobama certainly makes a stirring speech and talks like he swings a big stick but in over 4 years, nothing real has been accomplished....nor will it because the serious people know the truth.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

"When climate change science becomes more science and less politics, then I'll start believing."

You clearly know nothing about climate change or climate science, and offer nothing to the discussion other than a litany of talking points based on nothing but ideology.

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Armstrong 1 year, 8 months ago

Thanks for the update Dr. Boz ! We all feel better now.

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boltzmann 1 year, 8 months ago

Blah, Blah, Blah... All you have done here is presented a screed of ad hominem attacks and straw man BS. Nothing useful. You should change what you wrote to "When climate change science starts producing the results that fit with my ideology, I will start believing"

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Hooligan_016 1 year, 8 months ago

Damn, thought this was going to be Krauthammer before I clicked. Nope, just George Will. Non-story, move along.

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In_God_we_trust 1 year, 8 months ago

Weatherization flights that leave white long "con" trails across the sky are a big reason for global warming. It locks heat in the atmosphere and directs the jet stream as the white trail spreads out into a thin layer of white cloud, altering weather patterns. I think Kansas gov. gets payments from the Feds for allowing these jet flights over Kansas.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

Comments are facinating - looks like I am not the only one with suspicions about the workability of this notion

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

You're just one of the many people who don't want to find a solution because the solutions are ideologically unpalatable to you.

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In_God_we_trust 1 year, 8 months ago

The "carbon tax" idea is an old one and comes right out of the UN. There is absolutely no need for another tax.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

It's a carbon fee AND dividend, hence revenue neutral. And given the impending disasters of global warming and climate change, we urgently need this new tax (and dividend.)

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

it is only revenue neutral in the minds of true belivers. It is sold

revenue neutral

generates resources to remediate carbon generation

creates large rsource pools to address climate change

It can not do all three and after paing to adminster it it would not even do the first very well. What Bozo ignores is that even if funding is given back (doing nothing to remediate carbon generation) it goes to the people in Medford and comes from he people of Kansas - it is not revenue neutral at an individual level.

Honesty in lacking in the discussion of this very rubbery topic

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

"What Bozo ignores is that even if funding is given back (doing nothing to remediate carbon generation) it goes to the people in Medford and comes from he people of Kansas - it is not revenue neutral at an individual level."

That makes no sense. Please try to explain what you mean.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

Sorry Bozo but there is a whole thread I do not intend to repeat that explains the reference to Medford. (see above)

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

"it is not revenue neutral at an individual level."

That's the whole point. If you want to continue to use fossil fuels instead of seeking out alternatives, you'll pay the price-- that's precisely where the incentive for reducing the use of fossil fuels comes from. But if you have no choice but to use fossil fuels, the dividend will partially compensate for your increased expenses. If your business is an essential one, you'll be able to pass increased costs to your customers. If it's not essential, then it's a business that the human species can't afford if it wishes to survive. In other words, it's a market-based solution.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

Of course I agree on the concept.

Unfortunately people in Kansas can not just change overnight. Thy must pay to convert coal generation to something else. They must pay to make their homes more energy efficient. They must pay to address a who0le lot of lifestyle choices they made a generation ago. Taxing them for historic choices just adds to their costs and makes it harder for them to actually address the things they need to address.

Apparently you have no faith in people doing what is right at a pace they can absorb. Let us make them pay for those past evil decisions.

The costs of carbon in many of its manifestations are already increasing. IMHO those increases will continue to move people in the right direction without a penalty clause imposed as a carbon tax/fee

If you work too hard to sell an inferior product (carbon tax) you just might end up freezinng the market and nothing will get done.

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In_God_we_trust 1 year, 8 months ago

What they need to do is provide funding for companies that can produce the energy answers that we need instead of alternative "renewable" energy - compost piles and more batteries and putting smart meters on the electric grid. These things do no good and are a waste of money and resources. There are companies that can have the answer in short order, if they can get grant funding. The dept. of energy will not fund anything other than "renewable", which is all old tech, like solar panels and wind generators and the like.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

Not sure what your point is, particularly the way you use the word "they" when indeed it is all of us together in this thing. If "you" want to give "them" funding, the best return on your investment continues to be and will continue to be in energy efficiency measures, i.e. plugging all of those holes in buildings, insulating, installing more intelligent heating and cooling systems and otherwise reducing all of the energy we waste in our residential, commercial and manufacturing endeavors. Sometimes the "old" tech may not be glamorous but it has the greatest impact.

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Mike Ford 1 year, 8 months ago

In kansas it seems that burying heads in sand and attacking science works well for the koch brothers and their string puppets. I hope the brothers pay as much for the aftermath as they do sponsoring the denial.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

Doug County: First of all I made no personal attacks. I have suggested that the references you provided are not convincing – that is not a personal attack. (see below) I have suggested that your motives may not be sincere – mot meant s an attack but an opinion. You on the other hand have questioned my reasoning ability in both not accepting your arguments and in my counter arguments.

I have come to respect your arguments as to the science but I am increasingly concerned that your arguments about a carbon tax/fee are politically motivated. You certainly have no special expertise in economics, politics or human psychology – elements heavily enmeshed in a carbon tax/fee.

I renew the charge that the motive here is to establish a new revenue stream that can be manipulated outside the normal competition for resources that is sold as revenue neutral but in fact transfers income from “the rich” and middle class to the poor. It is fascinating that the whole notion does nothing to remediate carbon generation except raise the costs of everything in the misguided hope that in time the market will solve the problem. Of course anybody that has lived in this country for more than a generation knows that the funding stream will be redirected to all sorts of ambitious government undertakings while the cost of living escalates at a breakneck pace.

The problem with this topic is that it is as slippery as buttered corn. What your references address is not consistent with what Bozo’s reference addresses. They and others all suggest variants on a theme – variants that cannot possibly exist in the same space. The tax/fee cannot simultaneously:

Be returned so that there are no winners and losers Be returned so that the poor are protected at the expense of the rest Be used to fund carbon mediation Be invested in new “green” technologies.

And of course somebody will have to administer it and depending on the complexity (regional redistribution, etc.) that somebody will be a lot of somebodies on the government dime.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

(Continued)

Yes I propose a tax that will be used to redistribute resources for the purpose of remediation of the larger carbon generators – the utilities. Yes I propose the same tax be used to create a robust electrical grid so we can make better use of our “green” initiatives that are not compatible with every location in the country. Yes I propose government identification of our worst carbon sources (collaboratively) so as to focus resources. Yes, there will be government employees but in my initiative they are already mostly there).

Yes that tax will not be as big as the proposed tax you want but it will directly address public infrastructure to actually do something about carbon generation. My tax will not redistribute money from the middle to the poor. (any more than our current system does). It will not raise the price of everything. It will not drive business off shore. It will not cause massive reallocation of human resources from old industries to new industries.

Of course it will not address climate change as fast as the true believers want. I don’t know how to do that! I do know that the proposed carbon tax/fee will not do any better than my proposal (if as good) because it will inherently be limited by the cost to the economy it will cause – costs that will lead to government manipulation creating all sorts of winners and losers as has happened with almost every government program we have invented.

Let’s compromise and call my tax a carbon tax/fee and get on with actually reducing carbon generation.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

Mod, Interesting that you can define in your head that your questioning my personal motivation and piling on your assumptions about my lack of qualifications to have an informed position on the matter is merely an opinion, not a personal attack, only to be offended when I question your reasoning ability. Well, if my questioning your reasoning ability is a personal attack, then so is your questioning my motivation and qualifications--either that or both are merely opinions with no personal attack intended. I'm fine with the latter, but if you insist on the former, then at least be consistent and admit your guilt.

I'll certainly confess to some sense of exasperation at what I interpret as your trying to sashay your way around my trying to rationally progress our discussion by addressing key points, waiting for your reply, and then addressing that reply, and seeing if there is common ground. Maybe you never intended to play by these rules, in which case I apologize for making that assumption. Those were the rules I was playing by when you made a big stink about regional disparities sinking the equitability of a carbon fee and dividend program. So then I provided you with a couple of studies, one from the Brookings Institution and one from the American Enterprise Institute which concluded that regional disparities are really more marginal than you might expect, and that any such disparities could be addressed through regional adjustments in the dividend disbursement. In my eyes, you've blown off these solutions not with logic, rather with bluster, which is the source of my frustration with your comments.

Putting all of that aside, I do see some progress in the "conversation." Specifically, you say that : " The tax/fee cannot simultaneously:

"Be returned so that there are no winners and losers Be returned so that the poor are protected at the expense of the rest Be used to fund carbon mediation Be invested in new “green” technologies.

"And of course somebody will have to administer it and depending on the complexity (regional redistribution, etc.) that somebody will be a lot of somebodies on the government dime."

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

(continued)

Regarding your first point: of course there will be winners and losers, but you are missing where those winners and losers are. Any equities between economic classes can be addressed in the disbursement of the dividend, so it can be positively progressive if that would be the intention, regressive, or even neutral. The real intent is to provide a clear, predictable economic signal that returns the externalized costs to carbon emitters, so that there will be an economic reward to shifting away from them and toward low carbon, more efficient alternatives, which, by the way, are available in every region of the country. Your tax would be more directed toward federally instigated, top down infrastructure shifts, while the revenue neutral carbon tax that I'm envisioning will use the marketplace more. You and I may not be all that far apart on this, since I'm fine with increased regulatory pressure and targeted federal programs as well--I'm just not as optimistic as you that the political will exists to get those projects through congress.

And as for the second point, using the IRS mechanism is a very clean and efficient mechanism that already exists to both collect the fees and disburse it with a minimal overhead. This has been the proposal all along as they already have the expertise on both counts, so would require a relatively small additional overhead to implement.

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jay_cheese 1 year, 8 months ago

Oh poor George Will....losing more and more fans each day and therefore getting more extreme to keep the ones he has. It's a real losing battle and people are taking notice, but I bet no one has been polled that question for fear of the actual results. Speaking of, it's laughable to me when he is still buying those other "polls" I see. How did those that work out for you in the election? Well it says right here we got a winner, wait a minute....

This nation is changing its stripes....protecting the environment is just one facet. Energy independence is anothe but we can't possibly all agree on the same issue... Anyone recall when not trashing this place was a conservative principle? Too bad $$$ gets in the way but that's capatilism and greed. Both are also "good" reasons to also not hire added employees but never miss a chance to throw Obamacare meat to your hungry wolves.

Can't speak for others but please maybe it is time for those of that generation "to go silently into thy good night.....". Reality is tiring of these this progressive generations anti-progressiveness mentality. We get it, constantly changing the rules to your our self benefit is nothing new (or surprising) but that welcome mat is getting worn down.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

DOUG County: No I did not mean to put you down and complimented you on your scientific skills. I hope you agree with me that your skills in the other disciplines that make up tax policy decisions are no better than mine.

Well, there is an aspect where we are far apart. I do not wish to establish an entirely new stream of revenue dedicated to the environment. I want the environment to compete for resources with all other initiatives of the various governments (Note governments). Once we establish a specific tax dedicated to the environment we open the door for judicial participation as legal action is filed claiming underfunding. I am not willing to relinquish any tax decisions to unelected for life employees. I like the way our founders set up the tax process – it protects both the target of the tax and the beneficiary of the tax.

The second aspect of the carbon tax that we do not agree upon is that IMHO a market based process does not set priorities. It sort of abdicates what gets done to 300 million doers. That IMHO is not conducive to wise use of resources. Having a quasi-governmental group set priorities allows us to focus what will almost always be a shortage. By the by, I do not limit the use of the funds to quasi-governmental entities like utilities. If investment in energy efficiency has sufficient priority (priority determined by carbon generation) then we make low cost loans or even grants to address it. And so on for whatever needs to be done.

I realize that it will be difficult to sell any additional funding of any sort at this time. Frankly I am perplexed because I cannot really define how a carbon tax will be viewed by the body politic as anything other than a tax and at that a tax that redistributes resources in a manner that IMHO will require a great deal of management to avoid the potential for horrendously skewed implied incentives.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

Thank you for your reasoned reply, Mod, and no, I'm no more of an expert on the intricacies of tax policies than the next guy. It may indeed be that this might leave the door open for charges by careerists of underfunding, but I don't really think so if this is crafted right. The reason being that the legislation itself will include a flat tax per ton of emissions, and levied at the wellhead and mine, not the end use point, which makes it vastly easier to determine. The rate of increased fee schedule, exempted industries will no doubt be the points of contention, but the issue of underfunding should not be an issue per se.

As to your second point, that's one reason I tend to think that the clear economic signal of a gradually increasing carbon fee will be enough to prompt investors to invest in clean green technology and efficiencies, but like I said earlier, if this is coupled with regulatory pincers and even separate federal research dollars, the incentives for dissemination of these technologies will be even more powerful. So to me, it's a chicken and egg scenario, with the carbon fee-and-dividend program spurring the regulatory community to move ahead, while the regulatory community should be supporting the fee and dividend as returning the externalities of burning fossil fuels home to roost so that the alternatives become more attractive economically.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

That talks mostly about a tax, without a dividend distribution, as a means of raising revenue for the government.

Rather a different animal from the tax/dividend idea you usually promote.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 8 months ago

The article points to a NBER study that shows fossil fuel reductions of 14% coming from a revenue neutral 15 dollar a ton carbon fee with dividends. But it also looks at many other options, many of which I disagree with.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 8 months ago

Just for clarification: revenue neutral in the aggregate. At the individual level you may take a big hit for the tax and a bigger hit to address the carbon generation that led to the tax. Everybody will see increases in just about everything. Some people may just get enough back to cover the tax and maybe a portion of the overall increase in the cost of living caused by the tax. The rest of us will become servants to a new tax schema with unknown consequence such aa court driven or run away tax rate increases.

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