To tax carbon? or not? Examine the basis!
The state of Washington’s Gov. Inslee has established a task force to recommend ways to reduce the state’s carbon emissions footprint. Washington State is blessed with abundant hydro and nuclear electrical power, making it 80% ‘Green’ in that sector. Replacing the singular coal plant with ‘renewable’ Maybewatts or natural gas would be barely noticed. As to carbon emissions, the long pole is transportation. Converting all of Washington’s food grains to ethanol would only impact that about 10-12%. (Will the governor walk to work hungry?)
Regardless, however, there are recently noted events which beg the question about the underlying premise: are carbon emissions of sufficient affect to worry the governor or the constituency?
It is this authors’ understanding that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the alleged gold standard and that it is established that the science is settled regarding anthropogenic causation of climate change (AGW). Therefore, that assumption leads to the basis for debate: how to curb carbon emissions. (I do not disagree with the observation that the earth’s climate has been and is warming over millennial timescale, only on the causality of our contemporary observations and assumptions.)
The following items make the fundamental premise a concern for proper debate, and should make the governor and his task force take a shallow breath before emitting.
1) The June 13, 2014 issue of Science (AAAS) provides a three page article on the controversy of the climate computer models as to the best approach, noting that a) the conventional ones have not been doing well in mimicking the last 50-60 years of empirical data (Example), and b) there is noticed that conventional forecasting might have sufficient merit to be an item for a better approach.
2) The July 4, 2014 issue of Science (AAAS) provides three articles discussing the political redaction of key information and data derived charts in the “Summary for Policymakers (SPM)“. The first (Victor, Gerlagh, and Baiocchi), has this interesting comment (among others):
The third (Edenhofer,and Minx), has this:
These are lead authors at the IPCC. Since most people only read the SPM or a mainstream media filter, the real science and the confounding observations are never seen. This actually may only reinforce the purpose of assessing “… the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. …” The cause was assumed before starting.
3) The American Physics Society issued a policy statement over a year ago on climate change which resulted in a protest resignation of a stellar Fellow of the APS. In January, the APS reconvened a workshop on its policy statement due to developing evidence and a by-law 5 year schedule. Added to the review committee are the well credentialed individuals John Christy, Judith Curry, and Richard Lindzen, who admittedly question AGW assumptions. The basis for question revisiting is the extensive workshop framing document.
4) There are also questions regarding the approaches to regulation by the EPA. Since they are the assumed political gold lead, the local efforts flow from them.
5) The IPCC assessment reports have not shown a progression to improved uncertainty in future expectations. In fact and although tremendous efforts have been expended on models, the uncertainty has actually expanded or at least been unchanged. One is the projection of sea level rise (SLR). The accompanying chart shows the start and the progression. Recall that VP Al Gore used the first to claim loss of things like Miami FL. Likewise, the snapshot in time of modern satellite temperature data shows that for the last nominal 17 years (pick your anchor), the temperature trend is below the lowest projections of the computer models. Similar analysis of IPCC temperature projections and independent authors is shown in the second chart. AR4 tightened the climate sensitivity uncertainty, but AR5 increased it while the SPM asserted more confidence in man causing a problem. Included in this chart is the estimate for solar activity based on the 20th century data of low output and the ‘grand maximum’ during the last half.
Billions have been spent by governments and private investigators since inception of the IPCC with really no improvement in projections. Even though the advocates say that ‘the science is settled’, there is plenty to consider whether the ‘precautionary principle‘ should continue to rule.
Also, might want to take a just-for-fun gander at the public statements of some of the advocates, such as: