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The True 97 Percent Consensus: Congress Delivers Another Carbon Dioxide Tax Beat-Down

July 20, 2018

Climate Change Weekly #292

Mid-morning on July 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution stating a tax on carbon dioxide would be detrimental to the U.S. economy. Only six out of 236 House Republicans voted against the resolution, marking 97 percent support for the resolution among House Republicans. Seven Democrats also voted to approve the resolution.

Republican congressional leaders, tired of “swamp creatures” and the mainstream media proclaiming growing Republican support for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, decided to schedule the vote this week. The near-unanimous Republican support for the resolution obliterated the media’s narrative Republicans quietly support such a tax. This week’s vote reinforces the message of the House vote in late 2016, in which every single Republican and some moderate Democrats approved a resolution opposing the tax.

Leading up to the vote, the media fawned over liberal Republican has-beens Jim Baker, George Schultz, and Hank Paulson—none of whom is in Congress or any other position of power—for supporting a carbon dioxide tax. Of course, these Bush-era establishment figures supported the tax in 2016 also. A lot of good that accomplished.

The media also fawned over former Republican congressman Bob Inglis and soon-to-be former Rep. Mark Sanford for supporting carbon dioxide limits. Inglis, of course, is a former Republican congressman because he won less than 30 percent of the vote in his 2010 Republican primary despite being an incumbent. His global warming activism played a major role in his getting trounced in the primary election. Incumbent Mark Sanford just lost his primary challenge, too, largely for the same reason.

Republicans who support global warming activism curry temporary favor with the liberal media. Media favor quickly disappears however, once they face a Democrat in a general election. Not that many ever get a chance to put their ephemeral media support to a general-election test. Inglis and Sanford can attest to that. In short, Republican primary voters see through alarmist global warming claims and turn out in droves against Republican congressional candidates who support carbon dioxide taxes.

The environmental left and the Jim Bakers of the world have been setting their hopes on 42 House Republicans who joined a group called the Climate Solutions Caucus, but only four of its members voted against the resolution this week. The caucus pledges support for “economically-viable options to reduce climate risk.” But even most of the caucus members understand a tax on carbon dioxide is incompatible with a viable economy. Even misguided Republicans who defy public opinion polls and place a high priority on reducing carbon dioxide emissions realize the United States is already reducing emissions faster than any other nation in the world, and we are doing so without a tax on carbon dioxide.

Public opinion polls show American voters continue to rank addressing global warming among their lowest priorities. Less than half of Americans, and less than 20 percent of Republicans, expect global warming to pose a serious threat in their lifetimes. More importantly for GOP policymakers, Republican primary voters place a high priority on punishing Republicans in Name Only who support carbon dioxide taxes or other government-imposed carbon dioxide restrictions.

Republican voters know Al Gore and the environmental Left have greatly exaggerated the global warming issue. Temperatures are rising much more slowly than Gore predicted, extreme weather events show no sign of becoming more frequent or severe, and global crop production continues to set annual records under our current climate.

The media are placing new hope in a conglomerate of big businesses, including non-coal energy companies, that support a carbon dioxide tax. But the media misunderstand the nature of the contemporary Republican Party and its grassroots voters. Gone are the days when establishment Republican leaders cozied up to Big Business and disregarded conservative principles and the interests of American consumers. Today’s grassroots Republican base understands businesses will throw them and their conservative principles under the bus for short-term financial gain. Media talking points that ExxonMobil now supports a tax on carbon dioxide are about as persuasive to Republican voters as talking points quoting Nelson Rockefeller or Gerald Ford.

With the House vote opposing taxes on carbon dioxide, congressional Republicans again served notice carbon dioxide taxes are off the table. In the unlikely event elected Republican officials change their minds, the grassroots base will take notice and deliver their own powerful message in future Republican Party primaries.

— Guest essayist James Taylor (JTaylor@heartland.org) is a senior fellow for The Heartland Institute.


IN THIS ISSUE …

Artic warmer in past than now Release ‘Hockey Stick’ emails, pay legal costs, courts ruleAnother study shows volcanoes are behind West Antarctic melting


ARTIC WARMER IN PAST THAN NOW

New studies show Norwegian Islands in the Arctic Ocean and at least parts of Greenland were between 4 and 10 degrees Celsius warmer than present for at least one lengthy period since the end of the last ice age. In these periods of time, carbon dioxide levels were approximately 260 parts per million (ppm)—more than 140 ppm lower than they are at present—and all without causing a massive rise in sea levels even as glaciers retreated.

In a study published in the scientific journal The Holocene, Norwegian geologists Jan Mangerud, a member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the Royal Swedish Physiographic Society, and John Inge Svendsen, a professor at the University of Bergen, found evidence Svalbard, Norway’s largest island in the Arctic Ocean, was as much as 6 degrees Celsius warmer than at present between 11,000 and 9,200 years ago, as much as 4 degrees Celsius warmer than now between 8,200 and 6,000 years before present, and at least as warm as now during the medieval warm period 900 years ago. Mangerud and Svendsen found the shells of two types of shallow marine mollusks on the island depend on much warmer temperatures than currently exist. One mollusk thrived on Svalbard 10,000 years ago and has been extinct on the island for 9,000 years. Currently, its northernmost range is 1,000 kilometers south of Svalbard. A second mollusk reappeared only recently after an absence of more than 4,000 years except for a brief period 900 years ago.

A second study estimating sea surface and freshwater temperatures on and around Svalbard, from proxy data such as lake sediment, found water temperatures were as much as five to nine degrees Celsius warmer during the early Holocene, beginning approximately 11,650 years before present, than the average for 1955 through 2012. A third study confirms a similar temperature history for summer months in nearby Greenland, where sedimentary evidence indicates temperatures were between four and seven degrees Celsius higher during the summers from 10,000 to 8,000 years before present, than during the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

SOURCES: No Tricks Zone; The Holocene (behind paywall); Boreas (behind paywall); Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (behind paywall)


RELEASE ‘HOCKEY STICK’ EMAILS, PAY LEGAL COSTS, COURTS RULE

The Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC) trounced government hacks in the grips of climate alarmist mania in two court battles recently. In the first case, Arizona’s appellate court issued a terse, seven-word decision, “Motion for Stay Pending Appeal is DENIED,” in a case in which, in late 2017, Arizona Superior Court Justice James Marner ordered the University of Arizona (UA) to release emails by university researchers tied to the Climategate email scandal. The Climategate emails released so far show researchers at universities around the world discussed suppressing data raising questions about the evidence used to support the claim humans are causing climate change, and pressured science journals not to publish articles by climate realists.

E&E legal has been fighting UA’s Board of Regents in court for release of emails from several UA professors for more than six years, after initially trying to obtain the emails through a public records request.

At the behest of the professors involved, UA refused to release the emails. E&E legal successfully argued the university improperly allowed the professors to decide what emails were responsive to its request. Since all the emails requested were work-related, produced using taxpayer resources, the court ruled all requested emails should be released, making them part of the public record. UA asked the Appellate Court to stay the ruling requiring the release while it appealed the decision. Once the documents were released, “that genie could not be put back in the bottle” if the trial court’s decision is reversed, UA argued. The appeals court denied the stay, and after more than six years of legal wrangling and the waste of millions of dollars in public funds, the public will finally be allowed to view the climate documents they had a right to from the start.

In the second case, Vermont Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout ordered the Vermont Attorney General’s office to pay $66,000 in legal fees to E&E Legal and FMELC for costs they incurred undertaking a lawsuit to force the AG’s office to turn over public legal documents related to Vermont’s dealings with disgraced former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s lawsuit against several oil companies. The lawsuit in question attempts to coerce major oil companies into paying for the states’ purported costs from climate change. E&E Legal and FMELC had requested the documents under Vermont’s freedom of information laws, but the AG refused to turn them over.

As described in Liberty Headlines, “The root of the dispute dates back several years to a multi-state effort by Democratic state Attorneys General and their deep-pocketed progressive allies to target ExxonMobil for allegedly knowing about climate change and denying it.”

After being denied the records, E&E Legal and FMELC won access to the documents through a successful lawsuit.

Historically, Vermont courts were allowed but not required to award legal fees and court costs to plaintiffs who had successfully sued the state for withholding public documents, meaning the plaintiffs often had to foot the bill for an action taken provide the public access to documents they had the legal right to. A 2011 law changed that.

“Because of AG Sorrell’s unwillingness to turn over public documents required under Vermont’s public records laws, E&E Legal was forced to seek remedies in the Vermont courts,” Craig Richardson, president of E&E Legal, told Liberty Headlines in an email. “We won at nearly every stage, which was memorialized by the court’s recent decision to award us cost and fees since we ‘substantially prevailed’ in several cases.”

SOURCES: Watts Up With That; Liberty Headlines


ANOTHER STUDY SHOWS VOLCANOES ARE BEHIND WEST ANTARCTIC MELTING

Another recent study shows when you hear about West Antarctic ice sheets collapsing, you should think volcanic activity, not human-caused climate change.

An international team of scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), found helium in seawater near the Pine Island Glacier indicating a substantial, “previously unknown volcanic hotspot beneath the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).”

Based on its findings, the research team says volcanic activity is also likely responsible for the increasing pace at which the Thwaites Glacier, adjacent to the Pine Island Glacier, is collapsing. Glaciers such as Pine Island and Thwaites act as plugs regulating the speed the WAIS flows into the sea, leading many scientists to argue their collapse would lead to a significant increase in global sea levels.

The researchers first noted the volcanic activity in 2007, verifying its existence again in 2014. The new research, published in the June 22 issue of Nature Communications, provides the first geochemical evidence of an active volcanic heat source. With this research, scientists can now confirm heat from a volcano is producing meltwater beneath the ice sheet that is flowing into the ocean.

SOURCES: National Science Foundation; Not a Lot of People Know That

Author
James M. Taylor is president of the Spark of Freedom Foundation and a senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute.
jamestaylorspark@outlook.com
Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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