Economist Reports on Climate Conference in New York

SPAIN has business leakage, California has banned all coal-based electricity, cap and trade creates vested interests in property rights – these are some of the issues economist Alan Moran reports on in his summary of the recent Climate Change Conference in New York.  

Dr Moran also notes that scientists at the conference did not agree on whether there is likely to be global  warming or cooling in the near future or on the key drivers of climate. 

The New York Heartland Conference of “Climate Realists”
By Alan Moran

OVER 700 people attended the second Heartland Conference on Global Warming in March 2009.  At least 100 of these were scientists of considerable prominence and, as Marc Moreno pointed out the crucial part of the IPCC report was signed by only 52 scientists, not all of whom were climate alarmists. 

Among the pantheon of experts and celebrities who addressed the meetings, none were more prominent than the first two speakers: Vaclav Klaus and Richard Lindzen.  Lindzen is Professor of Atmospheric Physics at MIT and probably the most renowned expert in the world in his field.  He reiterated the evidence that global warming was not and could not occur except on a scale that is a fraction of the UN forecasts.  And he argued that the temperature trend, having risen to 1945, fallen to 1968, risen again to 1995, was now falling. 

Klaus is the President of the Czech Republic and presently President of the EU.  On his inaugural address to the EU he emphasised a need for Brussels to seek less power centrally and divest more to the members.  This prompted a walk-out of 200 of the 700 MEPs.  He is a total skeptic about global warming, which he sees as being motivated by a scare campaign in which interested parties – functionaries, scientists, vendors of particular sorts of power plant – combined with green alarmists to introduce the agenda. 

He fears it may be unstoppable and related that he had discussed the matter with President Obama, who had never before heard the skeptic viewpoint but listened intensely.  Later Richard Lindzen discussed the experience of Professor Richard Epstein, a colleague of Obama’s at Chicago University.  Epstein said that he found Obama to be ever-ready to listen but had never known such readiness to lead to a change of mind!    Obama has on several occasions referred to the need to reduce CO2 emissions as among the most pressing issues.

President Obama has appointed several people to high office who are on record as favouring drastic measures to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.  Among these is John Holdren (a long time associate of the Club of Rome’s John Ehrlich) as Science Adviser, Stephen Chu as Secretary of Energy, and Carol Browner (former EPA head) as Energy Co-ordinator. 

Altogether there were some 40 papers delivered on the science and politics of climate change.  There is general agreement that some warming has taken place this last 100 years, albeit very much less than the amount that might be expected from the increase in atmospheric CO2 combined with the IPCC’s forecasts of the effect of this on temperatures. 

The scientists did not agree fully on the direction of future climate trends, and the causes of these trends.  Some placed greater emphasis on solar changes, others on oceanic current shifts; most agreed that CO2 increases played a part. 

All however, rejected the positive feedback effect from CO2 forcing which amplifies any theoretical effect of the increase in CO2 on temperatures.  The theoretical warming from a doubling of CO2 is relatively uncontroversial (0.5-0.7 degrees C with present atmospheric levels of CO2; less with future increases as the temperature effect is logrithmatically related to the increased CO2 ) but the feedback is said by the IPCC to result in an affect that increases this to 2-5 degrees C.  An important paper by William Kininmonth, former head of Australia’s National Climate Centre, demonstrated that major positive feedback is impossible.   Some papers, notably that of NASA’s Roy Spencer, produced evidence that the feedback is negative and might totally negate the CO2 effect. 

That might bring the rival explanations into accord.  The 0.5 degree C per century warming that has occurred this last 100 years is consistent with the theoretical level of warming that might occur with a doubling of CO2.  But it is also similar to the warming that has taken place on Mars, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto.

John Sununu, a former New Hampshire Governor and prominent in the first President Bush’s administration (when he was instrumental in agreeing a vast expansion in funding for climate science) traced the long lineage of the green activists campaigning against economic growth.  Like many others he pointed out that it was temperature rises that drove the increase in CO2 in previous eras of warming (not CO2 which drove the temperature increases) and that there was no theoretical basis for arguing that an increase in CO2 would drive temperature.  Again like many others he pointed out that the rise in temperature in the first half of the 20th Century (when CO2 growth had not been significant), fall in the period till the late 1970s (when alarmist were concerned about global cooling) and rise to the mid 1990s has been followed by a falling trend since then.  

In the EU, MPE Roger Helmer pointed out the objective is for 20% of energy, which implies an unachievable 36% of electricity.  Benny Peiser however detected a softness in the EU, especially outside of the UK.  The present goal is a 15-30% reduction but this is on BAU levels.  Moreover Italy has forced through a measure requiring the EU to revisit all goals in eh event that there is to be no Copenhagen agreement. 

Klaus related data on public opinion regarding greenhouse, which showed support for action in the US to have fallen to 45% and in a recent Rasmussen poll it was rated as 20th out of 20 issues canvassed.  In Czeck Republic only 11% believe that mankind is responsible for global warming.  He also urged continued promotion of the truth about warming or lack of it but thought there was only a slender chance that the moves could be arrested in Europe as a result of the financial crisis and recession. 

Several speakers reviewed the goals of the reductions in CO2 which jurisdictions had mandated.  Californian congressman Tom Mclintock pointed to the absurdity of the state’s AB 32 which requires a 25% reduction and 10% ethanol in petrol (which would require one third of the state’s farmland).  The state has also banned all coal based electricity which is resulting in a near doubling of the contract price. 

Others pointed to the malevolent nature of cap-and-trade (most speakers thought a tax is the lesser of two evils, though acknowledged that if the EU had a tax it would be, say eu 30 rather than the eu 9 that presently prevails under the ETS).  Once introduced it is very difficult to remove since it creates vested interests and property rights. 

Professor Gabriel Calzada, addressed the disaster of wind power that Spain had experienced.  The present program has 10.2% of capacity 14,836 MW of wind and 3000 MW of solar.  Originally costed at eu85 million, the cost according to PWC eu15 billion.  Wind adds 90% to the market price and solar 460%.  Moreover this does not include the subsidy which is up to 50%, for capital installation.  Job creation which was estimated to be 50,000 is now 14,000 and falling.  Most jobs are in installation and therefore the program must increase exponentially if jobs are to grow.  It is estimated that each job has cost eu 500,000 pus the jobs destroyed as a result of the higher taxes/energy charges required to finance them. 

Spain has also seen business leakage.  There are documented cases of firms not proceeding as a result of not having an accredited GHG plan.  For example, one of the largest Spanish firms, stainless steel producer Acerinox, has moved two factories to the US and South Africa in response to the higher energy costs. 

The various papers will eventually be available on-line but in the interim, Professor Bob Carter, as well as presenting a key paper himself, operated a running synopsis of the sessions he attended.

This is at


Alan Moran is an economist at the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs.

, ,

7 Responses to Economist Reports on Climate Conference in New York

  1. John Humphreys March 17, 2009 at 1:37 am #

    With feedback, the estimated warming is 1.8 to 6 degrees (not 2-5).

    And it is not true that all the speakers rejected positive feedbacks. Many speakers were neutral on the issue and Pat Michaels (among others) accepts positive feedback in the stuff he has written.

    I don’t think it is accurate to say that we are seeing a falling trend at this point. If we are to pick up the alarmists on their premature claims, then we should also pick up the sceptics on their premature claims.

  2. Kevin March 17, 2009 at 7:36 am #

    Whether there is global warming or not, Carol Browner must go!

    In 2000, then-EPA Administrator Browner was found liable by a jury (see: Coleman-Adebayo v Browner) of tolerating a hostile work environment at EPA and her Agency was found liable for race, sex, and color discrimination. Both the Administrator and the Agency were in violation of Title VII, of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And while that trial was underway, the House Science Committee conducted a year long investigation into charges by EPA employees of retaliation against whistleblowers, and discriminatory practices within EPA culture. The findings of the investigation led the then-Chair to describe Czar Browner’s EPA as “a garbage can,” to quote from his instructions to Browner during the hearings that called her on the carpet for the reprehensible way EPA employees were handled.

    These findings led to the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation (NoFEAR) Act of 2001, that was passed unanimously in both Houses of Congress. This was the 1st civil rights law of the 21st century, and mandated that all new hires in the Federal government receive training in Coleman-Adebayo v Browner within 90 days of being hired; that all Federal workers receive this training every 2 years; and that all Federal government websites post NoFEAR information on their home pages — NOT the kind of thing most presidents would hang their hopes and hats on in appointing someone to a contentious “Czar” position. But if you consider that, had the President nominated Czar Browner for a cabinet position, she most likely would not have survived the mandatory vetting and hearings. Thus, the rationale for the non-cabinet appointment. It would appear that the President’s vetting team dropped yet another ball on this one.

    Senators Byrd and Barrasso have raised the issue generally about the dangers of the executive branch acquiring too much power through the appointment of Czars. The media have given Czar Browner and the President a free ride on her appointment to such an influential position without Congressional oversight, even though it seems likely Czar Browner is controlling the EPA message, if not its policy also. To have a President who is himself a civil rights attorney appoint Carol Browner “Czar,” sends entirely the wrong message about accountability for governmental heads, and a chill through the rank and file, who thought the days of governmental abuse by Agency brass were over.

    Czar Browner needs to relinquish her position in favor of any of hundreds of other candidates who are equally qualified (or more so) scientifically, but come without the baggage, garbage, and heavy handed reputation Czar Browner represents to those in the Federal government who remember her track record.

    This behooves media to remember for us the unfortunate and disgraceful history Czar Browner would sooner have us forget.

  3. Nick Stokes March 17, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    I don’t know how accurate is Dr Moran’s reporting of the conference generally, but one error sticks out. Vaclav Klaus is not the “president of the EU”. He is the president of the Czech Republic, which does not mean that he is the leader of the government there – as in Oz, that is the prime minister. The Czech Republic holds a rotating (six-month) presidency of the Council of Europe – one of the EU’s governing bodies. Klaus is not personally involved in that, apart from giving one speech representing of the Republic.

  4. Ian Mott March 17, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    Speaking of EPA work standards. Here in Qld the EPA is cleaning up a greatly overblown oil spill of a few hundred tonnes but which is being reported in the far more sensationalist terms of “hundred thousand litres”.

    And as the EPA is so concerned about this event, and are so keen to wallow in their chosen role as “environmental saviours” that their staff have had to switch to a, “one hour on, one hour off”, rotation to avoid the risk of heat stress.

    Yes folks it was only about 30C max, with a nice breeze off the water, and our dynamic band of planeteers could only muster up a four hour day with the shovel.

    So it is not hard to imagine how usefull they would have been if they were fighting a bushfire on a hillside at 47C.

    That same morning (15/03/09), this particular 54YO, of mainly sedentary habits ,spent 5 straight hours with a crow bar shifting a 1.6 tonne deformed log, from the back of the pile into the mill, because the truck with winch was waiting for spare parts and there was an urgent need to replace four large bridge planks. It was far from ideal but it needed doing, there and then, so it was done. As such things get done from time to time on farms all over the world.

    And instead of “avoiding heat stress”, I avoided collapse with a two minute rest in the shade and a good deep drink every half hour (every 15 minutes by noon). So lets be clear on this. If Farmers, Fishers and everyone else who makes a living out in the real world were to cost their production on EPA work standards then your box of breakfast cereal would cost you 35 bucks and you would get no change out of $50 for a single steak.

    And these are the same EPA people who are so keen to think up new burdens for landowners under some perverted form of duty of care. They have to, because nothing would ever get done if they did it themselves. As one of the old timers used to say, “they wouldn’t raise a sweat in a bathtub full of yeast”.

  5. spangled drongo March 17, 2009 at 1:46 pm #

    Yeah, must be shear hell on the front line at Moreton Is. this morning with an 8 knot sea breeze and 26 deg c.

    The only way the EPA can do anything these days is to contract it out or get in volunteers.

  6. SJT March 17, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    “OVER 700 people attended the second Heartland Conference on Global Warming in March 2009. At least 100 of these were scientists of considerable prominence and, as Marc Moreno pointed out the crucial part of the IPCC report was signed by only 52 scientists, not all of whom were climate alarmists. ”

    Marc is the expert of spin, I’ll give him that. 52 scientists who are actively researching and publishing climate science, verse 100 scientists, many of whom are retired, not researching and publishing. IIRC heartland could only summon about three of them.

  7. Bob B March 17, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    It is accurate (95% confidence level) to say the trend since 2001 is negative.

Website by 46digital