Thursday, February 21, 2008


H/T Daily Express

21.02.08, 1:14am

Steve Forbes 03.10.08, 12:00 AM ET

Bill Clinton recently brought up the idea that we might have to slow down the U.S. economy to cut back on greenhouse emissions in order to save the planet from global warming. Less prosperity will be our salvation! Putting aside the former President's preposterous proposition and despite all the concern over rising temperatures, even Bill Clinton's heated rhetoric won't spare us from a more likely threat: abnormally cold weather.

Astonishingly, a growing body of research has found that changes in sunspot activity directly correlate with temperature changes on Earth. Solar cycles usually fluctuate every 11 years. Alas, sunspot activity has been rather quiet recently. If it doesn't pick up in a couple of years we could be in for a long-term cooling the likes of which has not been experienced since the so-called Little Ice Age more than 300 years ago. That period was marked by frigid bouts of weather that devastated crops and led to periodic famines. Back then, for instance, London's Thames River often froze, whereas today that body of water gets ice only when it's spilled overboard by revelers on boating excursions. And guess what? The last big freeze came after the kind of sunspot abnormality that may be unfolding now.

In contrast, a proved correlation between temperature changes and carbon dioxide is almost nonexistent. Turns out that the sun has been quite active in the last half-century or so, hence the slight rise in global temperatures.

Other factors in temperature changes include changes in the Earth's axis, in ocean currents and in the salinity of the Arctic Ocean. Volcanoes can also have a dramatic short-term impact on temperatures. But carbon dioxide? No way.

Hurting Us for Nothing:
All of which should make congress pause before doing real economic damage in the name of saving us from Al Gore's hallucinations. One of the most damaging proposals is a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The idea is that each year the government will mandate an overall amount of permissible emissions. This cap will gradually be reduced, which, in turn, will pressure businesses to reduce their output of greenhouse gases. A company, such as a utility plant, that cuts back its emissions could sell its credits to an outfit that wants to build a facility that would emit the gases.

Apart from the fact there's no proof carbon dioxide has any impact on global temperatures, a cap-and-trade system will create an economic disaster. The government--i.e., politics--will decide how quotas are allocated. Already a bevy of companies like DuPont and Duke Energy are proffering ideas on how to do this--ideas that just happen to have particular benefits for them. The artificial scarcity cap-and-trade creates will increase the cost of energy and electricity, making U.S. companies less competitive at a time of intensifying global competition. The EU has had a cap-and-trade system since 2005, and it has already boosted power prices between 5% and 10%.

Fraud will become a fact of life. Plants in developing countries that claim they've reduced emissions are selling credits, but in many cases the reductions are fictions.

Moreover, a cap-and-trade program doesn't work. In 2006 emissions in EU countries participating in the cap-and-trade program went up while U.S. emissions went down. In other words, free-market pricing leads to fewer outputs of carbon. EU bureaucrats are busily revising their scheme. It turns out they set their cap too high. But revamping the project has raised a storm of protest from European industrialists--they fear the extra costs will force them to move facilities elsewhere.

Cap-and-trade is one European import we should do without

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