“Far-Reaching Reforms Can Wait” According to Robert J. Samuelson

1 12 2008

In a December 1st article, Newsweek business and economics writer Robert J. Samuelson (background info) addressess the issue of whether or not the Administration of President-elect Barack Obama should aggressvely pursue various major reforms immediately in early 2009, or wait until the U.S. economy recovers. 

 Robert Samuelson’s weekly column explores political, economic and social issues. He began his journalism career in 1969 and has held positions at The Washington Post, The National Journal, and Newsweek. Samuelson has won numerous awards, including The Gerald Loeb Award for Best Commentary in 1993, 1986 and 1983 (Source for picture and description, Investor’s Business Daily Editorialshere)

Samuelson’s opinion on the preferable public policy / economic policy course for the Obama Administration to take is consistent with the title of the December 1st article, i.e., “Far-Reaching Reforms Can Wait”  The full article can be found at the following web address: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/12/obamas_hard_choice.html

Following are some key exerpts from the article, with underlines and bold text on areas that I personally think are most important to consider ….


Far-Reaching Reforms Can Wait

By Robert Samuelson, Newsweek, 12/1/2008

WASHINGTON — As he assembles his economic team, Barack Obama faces a central strategic decision that only he can make. Starting with his “economic stimulus” plan, will he focus mainly on reviving the economy and relieving the financial crisis? Or will he use the economic crisis as a vehicle to advance a more ambitious social and economic agenda? The two approaches are at odds. The first aims at building political consensus and economic confidence; the second would intensify political conflict and economic uncertainty.

The decision ought to be easy. Every new president is assaulted by his own supporters, who want him to put their particular agendas atop his “to do” list. That’s already happening, as Obama allies clamor for speedy action to provide universal health insurance, combat global warming and support trade unions. But Obama — and the nation — would be better served if he concentrated for his first year on stabilizing the economy while patiently laying the groundwork for more far-reaching proposals.

The hallmark of this economic crisis has been its capacity to surprise: the desperate plight of the Big Three U.S. automakers is the latest reminder. We can expect more surprises, because the U.S. and global economies continue to weaken at a worrying pace. Consumer confidence has plunged. In October, U.S. factory orders for durable goods (machinery, autos, appliances) dropped 6.2 percent. Abroad, signs are no better. Worldwide manufacturing production is declining at an 8 percent rate. Germany is in recession; China’s growth has slowed sharply.

Against this backdrop, the parallel pursuit of crisis management and sweeping domestic reform is at best distracting. In practice, it may be politically poisonous. Superficially, the two objectives can be made to seem compatible. Obama can plug “green” investments as a way to restore job growth; he can tout a more efficient health-care system as a way to control health costs. But these rhetorical debating points obscure as much as they reveal.

Any program to refashion the energy and health-care sectors — to take these obvious candidates — would be complicated and contentious. Some producers and consumers would win; others would lose. Proposals would create massive uncertainties for businesses and raise the probability of higher costs. To succeed in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, for example, any “cap and trade” program must involve higher energy prices.

The notion that “green” investments would be large, permanent net creators of jobs is mostly a mirage. Somehow these investments must be paid for. If that happens through higher prices, higher taxes or cuts in other government programs, then “green” jobs will mainly substitute for other types of jobs. As for curbing health-care costs, that’s desirable. The trouble is that the first effect of Obama’s health-care program would probably be the opposite. Expanding insurance coverage would initially raise health spending, as greater demand for medical care met a (relatively) fixed supply of doctors, hospitals and clinics.

Obama won the election, and in normal times, his campaign agenda ought to be front and center. But these are not normal times, and what’s most important now — as he repeatedly emphasizes — is to prevent the recession from feeding on itself. This is a clear danger. Consumer spending (70 percent of the economy) has declined for five consecutive months. Eroding tax revenues may result in state budget deficits between $200 billion and $250 billion through mid-2011, estimates the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group. Required to balance their budgets, states face increased taxes or large spending cuts.

The compelling case for a big “economic stimulus” package is that it would cushion these and other spending declines. The odds are that any package will include the following: some direct payments to states; a renewed extension of unemployment benefits; tax cuts — reflecting Obama’s campaign pledge — of $500 for most single workers and $1,000 for most two-earner families; spending for infrastructure (roads, bridges, schools and, perhaps, windmills). Obama wants Congress to pass a stimulus package soon after his inauguration. Assuming he gets his wish, it’s then that he must make his crucial choice.

The temptation will be to press ahead with a “bold” legislative agenda — to ape the New Deal. This would be a mistake. The psychology of bruising legislative battles will not bolster confidence. The country does need to face its health and energy problems as well as deficit-ridden federal budgets. But trying to do too much too soon risks doing none of it well. We — and he — are caught up in a web of contradictions. In the long run, we need to discipline our appetite for health care and energy; we need to reconcile our desire for government benefits and our willingness to be taxed. But Obama’s first job is to avert an economic freefall.

Copyright 2008, Washington Post Writers Group

 The Andes of South America (amonty.wordpress.com)

Of Climate Change Alarmism, CO2 Taxes (i.e. “Cap and Trade”), and Solutions to High Energy Prices

8 06 2008

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, USA

“Climate Change Collapse” by the Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2008

The Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/public/us) provided this commentary on the failure of “Climate Change / Cap and Trade” legislation in the U.S. Senate on June 5, 2008. Read the full article here. Following are some key quotes from the article titled “Climate-Change Collapse“. Please note that any underlining or bold text in the following article exerpts are added by myself as blogger-in-chief to highlight certain key points in the quoted sections of the article.


“Backers of the Warner-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill always knew they would face a veto from President Bush, but they wanted to flex their political muscle and build momentum for 2009. That strategy backfired. ….. Those groups spent millions advertising and lobbying to push the cap-and-trade bill through the Senate. But it would appear the political consensus on global warming was as exaggerated as the alleged scientific consensus. ….. Even John McCain, a cap-and-trade original co-sponsor, now says that this scheme won’t fly until China and India sign on – which could be never.”


“Senators also criticized Warner-Lieberman’s failure to clearly specify what would happen with the vast revenues the climate bill would generate – some $1 trillion over the first decade, which environmental groups wanted as a slush fund to finance “green technologies. …… The Natural Resources Defense Council desperately tried to persuade Congress in the 11th hour that the expensive price tag is a bargain because “the cost of inaction” would reach $1.8 trillion by 2100 due to increased hurricanes and rising oceans – an argument without a shred of scientific or fiscal credibility.”

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Conservative political columnist George Will wrote two articles for the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/) that are clearly spell out the related issues of “cap and trade” and “energy development”.

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“Carbon’s Power Brokers” by George Will, Washington Post, June 1, 2008

Will’s June 1, 2008 Washington Post article titled “Carbon’s Power Brokers” (read whole article here) identifies the Lieberman-Warner bill’s central feature that was make deliberately ‘less than obvious to the general public’. In so many words, “cap and trade” legislation is essentially a less transparent form of taxation upon business’ energy production and use, and would have accomplished greatly expanded control of the U.S. economy by the newly formed environmental/energy use-control bureaucracy within the U.S. government. Following are some key quotations from the article:


“Speaking of endless troubles, “cap-and-trade” comes cloaked in reassuring rhetoric about the government merely creating a market, but government actually would create a scarcity so that government could sell what it had made scarce. ……. Businesses with unused emission allowances could sell their surpluses to businesses that exceed their allowances. The more expensive and constraining the allowances, the more money government would gain.”


“If carbon emissions are the planetary menace that the political class suddenly says they are, why not a straightforward tax on fossil fuels based on each fuel’s carbon content? This would have none of the enormous administrative costs of the baroque cap-and-trade regime. And a carbon tax would avoid the uncertainties inseparable from cap-and-trade’s government allocation of emission permits sector by sector, industry by industry. So a carbon tax would be a clear and candid incentive to adopt energy-saving and carbon-minimizing technologies. That is the problem.”

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A carbon tax would be too clear and candid for political comfort. It would clearly be what cap-and-trade deviously is, a tax, but one with a known cost. Therefore, taxpayers would demand a commensurate reduction of other taxes. Cap-and-trade — government auctioning permits for businesses to continue to do business — is a huge tax hidden in a bureaucratic labyrinth of opaque permit transactions.”


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Will’s June 5, 2008 Washington Post article titled “The Gas Prices We Deserve” (read whole article here) discusses the ramifications of political choices made by elected representative of the U.S. government in regards to energy resource development. Will discusses U.S. policy decisions to date relating to the development (or lack there of) of existing domestic U.S. energy supply sources and the ramifications upon current and future U.S. energy supplies and prices. Following are some key quotes from the article….

“Seventy-two of today’s senators (…39 Democrats and 33 Republicans)….. have voted to keep ANWR’s estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil off the market. ….. Also disqualified from complaining are all voters who sent to Washington senators and representatives who have voted to keep ANWR’s oil in the ground and who voted to put 85 percent of America’s offshore territory off-limits to drilling. The U.S. Minerals Management Service says that restricted area contains perhaps 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — 10 times as much oil and 20 times as much natural gas as Americans use in a year.”

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“Drilling is underway 60 miles off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are.”

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“ANWR is larger than the combined areas of five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware), and drilling along its coastal plain would be confined to a space one-sixth the size of Washington’s Dulles airport.”

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“Offshore? Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or damaged hundreds of drilling rigs without causing a large spill. There has not been a significant spill from an offshore U.S. well since 1969. Of the more than 7 billion barrels of oil pumped offshore in the past 25 years, 0.001 percent — that is one-thousandth of 1 percent — has been spilled. Louisiana has more than 3,200 rigs offshore — and a thriving commercial fishing industry.”

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“In September 2006, two U.S. companies announced that their Jack No. 2 well, in the Gulf 270 miles southwest of New Orleans, had tapped a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil, which would increase America’s proven reserves by 50 percent. Just probing four miles below the Gulf’s floor costs $100 million. Congress’s response to such expenditures is to propose increasing the oil companies’ tax burdens.”


Sterrenberg Castle, Europe (here)

  • Friends, my opinion is that while climate change is real, it is as or more likely due to natural cycles of the Earth’s Sun and other climatic / environmental factors than to Man-Made / Anthropogenic Global Warming.

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  • Also, if “Cap and Trade” legislation were adopted into law, it would have resulted in the most far reaching and intrusive governmental regulatory control of the U.S. economy that has ever occurred. The inefficiencies of governmental control schemes are well known to any free market-oriented economist. Even with the aspect of “market-based trading of carbon credits”, the more essential and critical issue is that low cost, established energy resources would have been deliberately put aside for the sake of adopting high cost, as yet untested energy resources and technologies. Furthermore, with existing fossil fuel sources, the technology is either now available or relatively affordable to use that will allow plentiful supplies of U.S. oil, coal and natural gas to be used in a manner that is environmentally reasonable if not benign.

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  • As an economist, I fail to see why we as a nation insist on disallowing ourselves of making use of domestic sources of energy that would a) lessen our need for military action and involvement in such places as the middle east, b) would lessen our foreign trade deficit, and c) would provide jobs and a higher standard of living for U.S. citizens.

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  • At the core is these issues are the American people ourselves. As long as U.S. citizens fail to objectively perceive the fundamental economic issues involved, they/we/I will be continually missing the mark in regards to charting the best course for the economic future of our children and succeeding generations.

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Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President (1911-2004), Pro-growth Conservative Leader

  • I just cant or wont accept the idea that the U.S. should step away from doing things that will secure a healthy, growing U.S. economy both now and in the future. Conservatives need to lead on these issues for the sake of people that cant shape the future for themselves.



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The San Juan Mountains, Southwestern Colorado, USA (here)

The Need for Joint Supply-Demand Oil-Energy Solutions

30 05 2008

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A recent Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com) article explains the current and projected petroleum production problems that the U.S. and the World are facing in dealing with oil supply-demand issues. While world and U.S. oil supplies are steady to decreasing, demand for petroleum is increasing sharply in places such as India and China. As we have experienced of late, World petroleum prices have risen sharply to attempt to ration demand.

The article discusses th concerns of both the International Energy Administration (IEA) (http://www.iea.org/) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) (http://www.eia.doe.gov/) about the production of adequate quantities of oil to meet world energy needs. The May 22, 2008 article titled “Energy Watchdog Warns of Oil-Production Crunch” written by Neil King, Jr. and Peter Fritsch, can be accessed here. Following are a few key quotes from the article by King and Fritsch…

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Regarding the IEA’s pessimistic assessment of current oil supply-demand prospects for the year 2030…

For several years, the IEA has predicted that supplies of crude and other liquid fuels will arc gently upward to keep pace with rising demand, topping 116 million barrels a day by 2030, up from around 87 million barrels a day currently. Now, the agency is worried that aging oil fields and diminished investment mean that companies could struggle to surpass 100 million barrels a day over the next two decades.

“The oil investments required may be much, much higher than what people assume,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist and the leader of the study, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “This is a dangerous situation.”

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Here is mention of the pessimistic view of “Peak Oil,” i.e., a “topping out of available world petroleum supples, as is believed in by some…

“A growing number of people in the industry are endorsing a version of the “peak-oil” theory: that oil production will plateau in coming years, as suppliers fail to replace depleted fields with enough fresh ones to boost overall output. All of that has prompted numerous upward revisions to long-term oil-price forecasts on Wall Street.”

“…the IEA’s pessimism over future supplies has been building for some time. Last summer, the agency warned that OPEC’s spare capacity could shrink “to minimal levels by 2012.” In November, it said its analysis of projects known to be in the works suggested that the world could face a shortfall by 2015 of as much as 12.5 million barrels a day, unless there was a sharp drop in expected demand.”

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The political and technical realities and limitations are briefly discussed….

Meanwhile, politics and other forces are delaying projects that could bring more oil on-stream. Continued fighting in Iraq has stymied efforts to revive aging fields, while international sanctions on Iran have kept investments there from moving forward. Rebel attacks in Nigeria and political turmoil in Venezuela have cut into both countries’ output. Big non-OPEC producers such as Mexico and Russia, which have either barred or sidelined international operators, are seeing production slump. The U.S., with a legal moratorium barring exploration in 85% of its offshore waters, is struggling to keep its output steady.


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Yet, there is some reason for optimism in terms of increasing world petroleum supplies to meet demand is found in these quotes…

A study released earlier this year by the Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm and unit of IHS (http://energy.ihs.com/), concluded that the depletion rate of the world’s 811 biggest fields is around 4.5% a year. At that rate, oil companies have to make huge investments just to keep overall production steady. Others say the depletion rate could be higher.

“We are of the opinion that the public isn’t aware of the role of the decline rate of existing fields in the energy supply balance, and that this rate will accelerate in the future,” says the IEA’s Mr. Birol.

Some analysts, however, contend that scarcity isn’t the issue — only access to reserves and investment in tapping them. “We know there is plenty of oil and gas resource in the world,” says Pete Stark, vice president for industry relations at IHS. He says the difficulties of supply aren’t buried in oil fields, but are “above ground.”

Mr. Morse at Lehman Brothers notes that there are plenty of questions about supply yet to be answered. “However confident the IEA may be about the data it has, they know nothing about the resources we’ve yet to discover in the deep waters or in the arctic,” he says.


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Question: So, what should we, in our generation and time, do to make progress on the oil-energy problem?

First, some thoughts on addressing oil-energy demand issues, then supply issues, and then an exhortation for the conservation-minded and those in favor of supply development in the short run to work together.

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Addressing U.S. Domestic Oil-Energy Demand Issues: The ideas of those who focus heavily on energy conservation measures as the solution to these impending problems are important to consider. Energy conservation will need to be a critical part of the long term solution. Transition to other energy sources will be needed at sometime in the intermediate to long run future given that world petroleum reserves dont appear to be “infinite”. So, strategies of limiting petroleum demand and/or transitioning to other energy sources for our economy, focusing on more energy efficient technology in the areas of transportation and homes/businesses, etc. certainly have to be part of the long term solution. And it would be better for the U.S. to lead in transitioning to these more efficient energy using technologies rather that to follow and suffer economically.

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However, the more extreme energy conservation-focused among us to who favor policies of no development of domestic oil supplies, preferring rather to let high petroleum / fuel prices serve as a demand rationing mechanism are either not cognizant of the economic and personal hardship these high prices will bring upon their fellow citizens, or are apparently willing to see their fellow man suffer economic and social hardship in order to achieve the “greater good” of a “renewable energy” world.

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Addressing U.S. Domestic Oil Supply Needs: Information from the International Energy Administration and the U.S. Energy Information Administration point toward critical and perhaps even catastrophic supply shortfalls in petroleum availabilty in the short to intermediate term. If the U.S. and world economy were to be severely damaged in the short to intermediate term, we may not have the financial where-with-all to be able to develop the crucially important alternative energy technologies we will need to have to survive in the long run in a petroleum-less or at least severely petroleum limited world. It is not irrelevant to ask the question “How much technical and scientific advancement is accomplished in impoverished or 3rd world countries?” Not much – those needy people are reliant on the leading world economies to provide the technical, scientific advances to help them to improve their lot in life.

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Therefore, there is a great need in the short to intermediate time frame for the U.S. to further develop and make use of available domestic oil supplies in areas that are now off limits to such development (i.e., the remaining 85% of the U.S. coastal / continental shelf area, in Alaska at ANWR and other places, through our abundant coal / oil shale supplies), etc.. Without question, this should be done in an environmentally responsible manner. The technology is available to enable safe oil supply development and utilization in the short and intermediate term, so that the U.S. economy can remain healthy enough to be in a position to develop and make use of alternative energy sources in the long run.

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The technology is not now available to quickly and dramatically reduce gasoline – diesel use without serious, serious negative impacts upon the U.S. economy, i.e., upon the economic well of our country and fellow citizens. From the above article you can see that U.S. domestic oil production needs to be enhanced and increased as soon as possible to avoid catastrophic economic impacts from severely tight oil supply-demand balances in the near future (i.e., 2015 and 2030 ARE the near future!).


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“Working Together” image

A final thought – What is needed is a willingness to come together to develop joint solutions for these and other problems in our country. To be in a position to move away from petroleum to other energy sources in the long run the country has to remain economically prosperous in the short and intermediate run. Our ideological divisions and positional inflexibility in the area of energy development, if unchanged, will cause great harm to our economy and the well being of our desendents. Workable solutions are possible to these energy problems, but they must involve action and a willingness to work together on both the supply and the demand side of the equation. The energy utilization technology is not available at this time to allow us to ignore development of supplies in the short and intermediate term. It likely will be in the long run, but we as a nation have to survive and remain economically strong long enough and be in an economic position to be able to act in the long run.


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Mountain peaks of the Himalayas

Evidence of Positive Effects of Increased CO2 on Earth’s Plant Growth

27 05 2008

An accurate understanding of the natural processes associated with the fertilization of plants by carbon dioxide are critical in forming one’s opinion about the “man-made global warming” hypothesis. Do increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 ultimately have a positive or negative impact on plant growth? As is true in point after point in this debate about global warming and climate change, there is one school of thought that predicts increasing CO2 concentrations as damaging to plant growth, and another sees it as a positive. What you will read below is evidence for the “positive CO2 impact” point of view.

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This is the third post in a series presenting information from an academic paper by Arthur Robinson, et.al. from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (http://www.oism.org/). In this paper Robinson and his co-authors address the “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide ” (click here for a downloadable copy). The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007) published this article (see the following reference)…..


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Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, 2251 Dick George Road, Cave Junction, Oregon 97523 [artr@oism.org]. Published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007) 12, 79-90.


Following are some direct quotations from the paper by Robinson, et.al.. Please go to the original paper for supporting figures and references, all of which have not be included in post. Any highlighting, underlined or bold text, or other attempts to emphasize particular parts of the text are of my doing (and not of the original authors).


FERTILIZATION OF PLANTS BY CO2: pp. 8-9 of original article

How high will the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere ultimately rise if mankind continues to increase the use of coal, oil, and natural gas? At ultimate equilibrium with the ocean and other reservoirs there will probably be very little increase. The current rise is a non-equilibrium result of the rate of approach to equilibrium.

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One reservoir that would moderate the increase is especially important. Plant life provides a large sink for CO2. Using current knowledge about the increased growth rates of plants and assuming increased CO2 release as compared to current emissions, it has been estimated that atmospheric CO2 levels may rise to about 600 ppm before leveling off. At that level, CO2 absorption by increased Earth biomass is able to absorb about 10 Gt C per year. At present, this absorption is estimated to be about 3 Gt C per year.

About 30% of this projected rise from 295 to 600 ppm has already taken place, without causing unfavorable climate changes. Moreover, the radiative effects of CO2 are logarithmic, so more than 40% of any climatic influences have already occurred.

As atmospheric CO2 increases, plant growth rates increase. Also, leaves transpire less and lose less water as CO2 increases, so that plants are able to grow under drier conditions. Animal life, which depends upon plant life for food, increases proportionally.

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(Following are examples from a large body of scientific studies showing increased plant growth in the last half century) …… (L)ong-lived 1,000- to 2,000-year-old pine trees have shown a sharp increase in growth during the past half-century. Figure 22 (in the paper) shows the 40% increase in the forests of the United States that has taken place since 1950. Much of this increase is due to the increase in atmospheric CO2 that has already occurred. In addition, it has been reported that Amazonian rain forests are increasing their vegetation by about 900 pounds of carbon per acre per year, or approximately 2 tons of biomass per acre per year. Trees respond to CO2 fertilization more strongly than do most other plants, but all plants respond to some extent.


Wheat growth is accelerated by increased atmospheric CO2, especially under dry conditions. Figure 24 (in the paper) shows the response of wheat grown under wet conditions versus that of wheat stressed by lack of water. The underlying data is from open-field experiments. Wheat was grown in the usual way, but the atmospheric CO2 concentrations of circular sections of the fields were increased by arrays of computer-controlled equipment that released CO2 into the air to hold the levels as specified.

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Figure 23 (paper) summarizes 279 experiments in which plants of various types were raised under CO2-enhanced conditions. Plants under stress from less-than-ideal conditions – a common occurrence in nature – respond more to CO2 fertilization. The selections of species …… were biased toward plants that respond less to CO2 fertilization than does the mixture actually covering the Earth, so (these results) underestimate .. the effects of global CO2 enhancement.

….(T)he green revolution in agriculture has already benefitted from CO2 fertilization, and benefits in the future will be even greater. Animal life is increasing proportionally, as shown by studies of 51 terrestrial and 22 aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, as shown by a study of 94 terrestrial ecosystems on all continents except Antarctica, species richness – biodiversity – is more positively correlated with productivity – the total quantity of plant life per acre – than with anything else.

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(end of quotations)


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To me the most valuable contribution of this section of the paper by Robinson, et.al. is the documentation of the large number of credible scientific studies that provide evidence for increased levels of plant and animal growth on the earth during the last half century – approximately the same time period over which atmospheric CO2 levels have been increasing.

Of particular interest to someone from western Kansas such as myself is evidence that increased levels of CO2 would lead to increased wheat production in the face of dry / drought-prone crop production conditions.


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Reasons for Not Accepting the “Man-Made Global Warming” Hypothesis

25 05 2008

This post continues discussion of a paper by Arthur Robinson, et.al. from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (http://www.oism.org/) addressing the “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide ” (click here for a downloadable copy). The article was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007). Following is the reference.


Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, 2251 Dick George Road, Cave Junction, Oregon 97523 [artr@oism.org]. Published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007) 12, 79-90.


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In this paper Robinson and cohorts present extensive evidence against the hypothesis of “Human-Made Global Warming”. Following are selected experts from two sections of the paper, one discussing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, and the other, the Global Warming Hypothesis. Any marked, underlined, italicized, or bold text or bullets, etc. are added by myself to help emphasize certain key points presented by Robinson, et.al. Please read the original paper (referenced above) for full representation of the text, figures and references not included here. At the end of the quoted sections are some of my observations above how scientists with varying opinions regarding “man-made global warming” need to objectively and scientifically approach disciplinary debate on the issue.


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The concentration of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere has increased during the past century. The magnitude of this atmospheric increase is currently about 4 gigatons (Gt C) of carbon per year. Total human industrial CO2 production, primarily from use of coal, oil, and natural gas and the production of cement, is currently about 8 Gt C per year. Humans also exhale about 0.6 Gt C per year, which has been sequestered by plants from atmospheric CO2. Office air concentrations often exceed 1,000 ppm CO2.

To put these figures in perspective, it is estimated that…

  • the atmosphere contains 780 Gt C;
  • the surface ocean contains 1,000 Gt C;
  • vegetation, soils, and detritus contain 2,000 Gt C; and
  • the intermediate and deep oceans contain 38,000 Gt C, as CO2 or CO2 hydration products.


Each year,…

  • the surface ocean and atmosphere exchange an estimated 90 Gt C;
  • vegetation and the atmosphere (exchange) 100 Gt C;
  • marine biota and the surface ocean (exchange) 50 Gt C; and
  • the surface ocean and the intermediate and deep oceans (exchange) 40 Gt C


So great are the magnitudes of these reservoirs, the rates of exchange between them, and the uncertainties of these estimated numbers that the sources of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 have not been determined with certainty. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are reported to have varied widely over geological time, with peaks, according to some estimates, some 20-fold higher than at present and lows at approximately 200 ppm.


Human production of 8 Gt C per year of CO2 is negligible as compared with the 40,000 Gt C residing in the oceans and biosphere. At ultimate equilibrium, human-produced CO2 will have an insignificant effect on the amounts in the various reservoirs. The rates of approach to equilibrium are, however, slow enough that human use creates a transient atmospheric increase.

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The greenhouse effect amplifies solar warming of the earth. Greenhouse gases such as H2O, CO2, and CH4 in the Earth’s atmosphere, through combined convective readjustments and the radiative blanketing effect, essentially decrease the net escape of terrestrial thermal infrared radiation. Increasing CO2, therefore, effectively increases radiative energy input to the Earth’s atmosphere. The path of this radiative input is complex. It is redistributed, both vertically and horizontally, by various physical processes, including advection, convection, and diffusion in the atmosphere and ocean.

When an increase in CO2 increases the radiative input to the atmosphere, how and in which direction does the atmosphere respond? Hypotheses about this response differ…. Without the water-vapor greenhouse effect, the Earth would be about 14 ºC cooler. The radiative contribution of doubling atmospheric CO2 is minor, but this radiative greenhouse effect is treated quite differently by different climate hypotheses. The hypotheses that the IPCC (i.e., the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, here) has chosen to adopt predicts that the effect of CO2 is amplified by the atmosphere, especially by water vapor, to produce a large temperature increase. Other hypotheses, shown as hypothesis 2, predict the opposite – that the atmospheric response will counter act the CO2 increase and result in insignificant changes in global temperature. The experimental evidence …. favors hypothesis 2. While CO2 has increased substantially, its effect on temperature has been so slight that it has not been experimentally detected.

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The computer climate models upon which “human-caused global warming” is based have substantial uncertainties and are markedly unreliable. This is not surprising, since the climate is a coupled, non-linear dynamical system. It is very complex. (Figure 19 in the original paper) illustrates the difficulties by comparing the radiative CO2 greenhouse effect with correction factors and uncertainties in some of the parameters in the computer climate calculations. Other factors, too, such as the chemical and climatic influence of volcanoes, cannot now be reliably computer modeled.

In effect, an experiment has been performed on the Earth during the past half-century – an experiment that includes all of the complex factors and feedback effects that determine the Earth’s temperature and climate. Since 1940, hydrocarbon use has risen 6-fold. Yet, this rise has had no effect on the temperature trends, which have continued their cycle of recovery from the Little Ice Age (e.g. see discussion of this historic phenomena in the paper) in close correlation with increasing solar activity.

http://www.spacetoday.org/images/SolSys/Sun/SolarFlareLargestEver700x700.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. An image of the largest recorded solar flare of the Sun

Not only has the global warming hypothesis failed experimental tests, it is theoretically flawed as well. It can reasonably be argued that cooling from negative physical and biological feedbacks to greenhouse gases nullifies the slight initial temperature rise.

The reasons for this failure of the computer climate models are subjects of scientific debate. For example, water vapor is the largest contributor to the overall green house effect. It has been suggested that the climate models treat feedbacks from clouds, water vapor, and related hydrology incorrectly.

The global warming hypothesis with respect to CO2 is not based upon the radiative properties of CO2 itself, which is a very weak greenhouse gas. It (i.e., the global warming hypothesis) is based upon a small initial increase in temperature caused by CO2 and a large theoretical amplification of that temperature increase, primarily through increased evaporation of H2O, a strong greenhouse gas. Any comparable temperature increase from another cause would produce the same calculated outcome.

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Thus, the 3,000-year temperature record ….. also provides a test of the computer models. The historical temperature record shows that the Earth has previously warmed far more than could be caused by CO2 itself. Since these past warming cycles have not initiated water-vapor-mediated atmospheric warming catastrophes, it is evident that weaker effects from CO2 cannot do so.


The “human-caused global warming” …. hypothesis depends entirely upon computer model-generated scenarios of the future. There are no empirical records that verify either these models or their flawed predictions. Claims of an epidemic of insect-borne diseases, extensive species extinction, catastrophic flooding of Pacific islands, ocean acidification, increased numbers and severities of hurricanes and tornados, and increased human heat deaths from the 0.5°C per century temperature rise are not consistent with actual observations. The “human-caused global warming” hypothesis and the computer calculations that support it are in error. They have no empirical support and are invalidated by numerous observations.


Following are a few closing comments from this blogger’s perspective on objective scientific inquiries related to the “man-made global warming” hypothesis.

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As credible and responsible scientists we are required to critically examine relevant issues, to develop and to scientificly test hypotheses in our fields of disciplinary study. We are called to apply “due diligence” in the process of first developing testable hypotheses and then actually testing them according to accepted scientific methods. That said, emotionally and politically charged topics such as “man made global warming” are difficult to handle given their inherent public scrutiny and pressures. That responsible scientists will disagree on such an issue is to be expected – in fact, it is extremely healthy. As “iron sharpens iron”, logical objective, strenuous, energetic, multi-faceted and multi-sided debate of such an issue as this is necessary.

http://www.myastrologybook.com/Plato-Aristotle-history-of-astrology%4075.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. A painting of Plato and Aristotle (presumably debating some deep philosophical issue!)

In other words, let this debate regarding the legitimacy of the findings of those who accept the man-made global warming hypothesis be joined.  As a great professor of mine once said, “You have to know what we teach you but you dont have to believe it.”  How has science ever changed direction when narrow paradigms of disciplinary thought were the only ideas allowed a hearing in an academic discipline?



Scientists Doubting the “Man-Made Global Warming” Hypothesis (Correlation does not prove causality!)

24 05 2008

Following is a news article quoting credible sources from within the scientific community disputing the hypotheses that global warming is “man made” and that atmospheric warming is actually harmful to the earth’s environment (or its inhabitants, i.e. people).

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A. “31,000 Signatures Prove ‘No Consensus’ About Global Warming” (here)

Source: Accuracy in Media (www.aim.org)

Quoting Arthur B. Robinson, president and professor of chemistry at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine,…. Robinson spoke about his petition signed by 31,000 U.S. scientists (including 9,400 Ph.Ds) who reject the claims that “human release of greenhouse gases is damaging our climate. World temperatures fluctuate all the time,” said Robinson. “The temperature of the Earth has risen many times, far more times than carbon dioxide could drive it. There is no experimental evidence that humans are changing the environment…”

Robinson said that in recent years the U.N. and a group of 600 scientists, representing less than one percent of the scientific population, reached a “consensus” that global warming is happening. This has never been done before, Robinson insists.

Robinson said that people need to look at the facts, and realize that “correlation does not prove causality.” 31,000 scientists agree. But what about the rest of the American population? “Winston Churchill once said that Americans always do the right thing after they’ve tried everything else,” said Robinson. “Maybe that’s what we’re going to do this time. But there will be a lot of suffering.”

In this article Robinson discusses how limitations on energy usage and associated technological developments are likely to have catastrophic, negative impacts upon poor populations of the world, denying them use of lower cost energy sources that they could use to better their standards of living and health standards, and consequently lead to social upheaval as people groups and nations inevitably come to conflict over acquisition of unnecessarily scarce energy resources.

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B. Published Scientific Research Providing Evidence in Opposition to the “Global Warming Hypothesis”

Following is the reference and abstract for a paper available from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (http://www.oism.org/) summarizing the scientific work of Robinson, et.al. relative to the “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide ” (click here for a downloadable copy). The article was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007)….


Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, 2251 Dick George Road, Cave Junction, Oregon 97523 [artr@oism.org]. Published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007) 12, 79-90.


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Abtract of Paper

A review of the research literature concerning the environmental consequences of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to the conclusion that increases during the 20th and early 21st centuries have produced no deleterious effects upon Earth’s weather and climate. Increased carbon dioxide has, however, markedly in creased plant growth. Predictions of harmful climatic effects due to future increases in hydrocarbon use and minor green house gases like CO2 do not conform to current experimental knowledge. The environmental effects of rapid expansion of the nu clear and hydrocarbon energy industries are discussed.

Some selected points from the authors’ conclusions are provided below (page 12)…

  • “There are no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in human hydrocarbon use or in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other green house gases are causing or can be expected to cause unfavorable changes in global temperatures, weather, or landscape. There is no reason to limit human production of CO2, CH4, and other minor green house gases as has been proposed.”
  • “We also need not worry about environmental calamities even if the current natural warming trend continues. The Earth has been much warmer during the past 3,000 years without catastrophic effects. Warmer weather extends growing seasons and generally improves the habitability of colder regions.”
  • Human use of coal, oil, and natural gas has not harmfully warmed the Earth, and the extrapolation of current trends shows that it will not do so in the foreseeable future. The CO2 produced does, however, accelerate the growth rates of plants and also permits plants to grow in drier regions. Animal life, which depends upon plants, also flourishes, and the diversity of plant and animal life is increased.
  • Human activities are producing part of the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere. Mankind is moving the carbon in coal, oil, and natural gas from below ground to the atmosphere, where it is available for conversion into living things. We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of this CO2 increase.


http://www.safecom.org.au/images/rudd-edmund-burke.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Portrait of conservative Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher, Edmund Burke (1780)

Following is a May 15, 2008 editorial from Investor’s Business Daily (http://www.ibdeditorials.com/Editorial.aspx ) on the likely impact of proposed “cap and trade” policies upon the U.S. economy that will soon be considered by the U.S. Congress. The information contained here is both serious and alarming. Environmental Protection Agency estimates of the impact of the Warner-Lieberman Cap and Trade Bill would be $3 Trillion per year to the U.S. economy (out of the approximately $14 Trillion in economic activity we in the U.S. currently have (i.e. $3 Trillion / $14 Trillion = 21% cost to the total U.S. economy)). Even the least restrictive Bingaman-Specter Cap and Trade legislation would still impose a cost of $1 Trillion upon the U.S. economy (i.e. $1 Trillion / $14 Trillion = 7% cost to the total U.S. economy). (click here for the article)

These projected economic impacts are frightening and would cause widespread economic suffering in the U.S. economy and even among 3rd world countries. I for one intend to speak out against this to the degree that I am able.  Churchlayman

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“Common-Sense Environmentalism” (Advocated by the Heartland Institute)

18 05 2008

Part of my motivation for this site is to identify credible, objective, conservative sources of information regarding political issues that are critical to the future of my family and our country. One surprisingly good source of objective information on important issues of the today is the Heartland Institute.

The Heartland Institute (http://www.heartland.org/) is a non-political nonprofit organization dedicated to the following mission:

“Heartland’s mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.”

This organization promotes and supports the idea of “Common-Sense Environmentalism“. Following is an excerpt from their description of this concept (full description found here)

Quoting the Heartland Institute: What is Common-Sense Environmentalism?

“Common-sense environmentalism recognizes that almost everyone today is an environmentalist. We all want a healthy, green environment for ourselves and our families. What distinguishes common-sense environmentalism from more extreme environmental activism is a commitment to fight real environmental problems rather than imagined ones and a realization that free markets are an ally rather than an enemy of environmental stewardship.”

“Common-sense environmentalists recognize that environmental scares are frequently unsupported by sound science and are often launched to further an anti-corporation, anti-free market agenda. Activists use junk science to stampede the public into fearing chemicals in the air, food, and water, and the possible consequences of poorly understood phenomena such as climate change.”

“The best way to achieve a healthy and green environment is to use sound science to distinguish real environmental issues from imaginary ones, and then to tap the efficiency of market forces to address the environmental issues that truly do exist. This enables us to prioritize environmental and public health problems – the first step in any serious effort to address a problem and to solve problems without trampling on other things we value, such as individual freedom and economic prosperity.”

Ah, the Rocky Mountains!


Regarding the Issue of Global Warming, the Heartland Institute provides further commentary……

“Global warming is a prime example of the alarmism that characterizes much of the environmental movement. Media coverage of the topic is heavily slanted toward alarmism because “bad news sells,” making it difficult for climate realists to get a fair hearing. Al Gore’s recent movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has been severely critiqued by many experts, yet it is being shown in high schools across the country as an educational documentary.”

“Climate science reveals that the world has warmed about 1 degree C during the past century, with half of that warming occurring before human emissions could have been responsible. Even if human activity is responsible for 100 percent of the warming since 1940, it is only about 0.5 degrees C., an amount so small it is within the error range of the instruments used to measure global temperatures.”

“There is no consensus about the causes, effects, or future rate of global warming. Most climate scientists doubt the reliability of computer models and the accuracy of land-based temperature records. Reports by the IPCC are unreliable due to political editing and rewriting of the reports’ conclusions. Some of the key evidence cited in past IPCC reports has been shown to be fraudulent.”

A view of the Canadian Rockies

“There is also disagreement over what to do about global warming. Economists believe the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty intended to reduce human greenhouse gas emissions, would cost its participants trillions of dollars while having little or not effect on the global climate. Meanwhile, the federal and state governments debate and pass legislation that will be similarly futile.”

“Many experts call for adaptation–making small changes to infrastructure and lifestyles to accommodate a slightly warmer world–rather than spend hundreds of billions of dollars trying to reduce emissions. Carbon sequestration could also play a role in responding to climate change.”

“All of the supposed catastrophic effects of global warming have been rebutted by scientists, including melting ice, hurricanes, other extreme weather, and extinction of wildlife.”

“An increasing number of experts believe the recent warming is due to natural cycles driven by variability in solar radiation.”

“Reliable experts on climate change include Patrick Michaels, S. Fred Singer, and Sallie Baliunas. Non-scientists who have rebutted climate alarmism include novelist Michael Crichton and Sen. James Inhofe.”

“For more information about global warming, go to Global Warming Facts, a Web site created by The Heartland Institute that focuses just on this issue.” (http://www.globalwarmingheartland.org/)


Another scene from the Rocky Mountains