Ruling in Mass v EPA

here . Decision was 5-4 split decision ruling against EPA, more or less breaking along party lines.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. ROBERTS, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS and ALITO, JJ., joined.

I haven’t read the opinion yet, but I’ve read a lot of case reports and rather enjoy them. What you should look for in this type of decision is whether the judges have picked the narrowest possible thing to rule on – that’s what they usually do and there’s a reason why they do. They tend to worry about repercussions of rulings in this case on other unrelated matters – there’s an old saying “Hard facts make bad law”. They have to consider not just climate change policy, but how this ruling on regulatory responsibility will be levered up in every other contentious regulatory issues.

140 Comments

  1. James Erlandson
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    A transcript of the oral argument heard November 29, 2006. While the oral arguments are interesting and sometimes funny, Justice Breyer recently said, “We see the half-hour as our opportunity to ask questions, not for the attorneys to make a new argument, … You’re talking, remember, about the oral arguments, which is about 5 percent of what happens in a case,”

    The briefs can be found here (second last entry at bottom of the page).

  2. Joel McDade
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    Readers might want to read the Volochk Conspiracy (a law review blog) and read their take as commentors chime in. One of its authors has posted here on CA from time to time.

    Link here.

  3. Nicholas
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    IANAL, but I think I probably could have been a good one if I’d studied law. I don’t think this ruling makes sense on a number of grounds.

    The first thing that stands out to me is this excerpt from the law in question:

    The Act defines “air pollutant” to include “any air pollution agent . . . , including any physical, chemical . . . substance . . . emitted into . . . the ambient air.” ⥷602(g).

    Now, this is so broad as to be meaningless. That description could cover oxygen. Would we consider a car that emits oxygen to be “polluting”? Oxygen is a chemical substance which can be emitted into the ambient air. If they meant that the EPA can regular any substance emitted into the air, why did they bother to go to the trouble of referring to “pollutants” rather than just “emissions”? So, I think we’re starting a bad (poorly defined) law here in the first place.

    Secondly, there is the issue of standing. I do not personally find their argument to have any merit. They agree that normally the plaintiff would not have standing because they can show no demonstrable harm. However, they seem to be making an exception because the plaintiff is a US state. There is no actual or imminent harm that is demonstrable. Such evidence as we have of potential harm is (a) vague, (b) far from imminent and (c) unquantifiable to any reasonable degree.

    I think the judges here have taken a leap of faith which ill suits their profession. Judges are supposed to deal with facts, not conjecture. Oh how the mighty fall…

    (I am not a US resident, so this doesn’t affect me, I just think it reflects poorly on the US Supreme Court’s jurisprudence…)

  4. Nicholas
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    Wow, it isn’t just me, an actual, true to life lawyer (Jonathan Adler) agrees with my assessment (as do apparently the four dissenting Justices):

    As longtime readers know, I disagree with the Court’s first two conclusions. I do not believe that the petitioners had standing (as argued by Chief Justice Roberts in his dissent), nor do I believe that Congress delegated the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Given that the Court concluded otehrwise[sic] on these two points, however, I think it is very difficult to argue, as the EPA did, that the EPA declined to exercise its regulatory authority on statutorily permissible grounds. I will have more to say about the case once I’ve had a chance to read all of the opinions.

    The previous post on that blog reveals some very interesting details about the disagreement between the justices about the exception which was used to ignore the normal standing requirements, which unfortunately as a non-lawyer I don’t fully understand…

  5. Mark H
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    As expected by those of us attuned to the five Supreme liberal politician-lawyers that run the Supreme Ruling Council of America, a new Fatwa has been issued to the people’s policy makers madating a war on Global Warming.

    And as would be expected, the Fatwa five needed a new theological epiphany of the meaning in the people’s laws to impose their latest higher wisdom over democracy and a free government – still, we should note four of them voted for the people, and two legally faithful mullahs authored two dissents on behalf of the people:

    Justice Roberts:

    [blockquote]…(they) made (the petitioner’s) standing seem a lawyer’s game, rather than a fundamental limitation ensuring that courts function as courts and not intrude on the politically accountable branches.

    …Petitioners’ difficulty in demonstrating causation and redressability is not surprising given the evident mismatch between the source of their alleged injury’€”catastrophic global warming’€”and the narrow subject matter of the Clean Air Act provision at issue in this suit. The mismatch suggests that petitioners’ true goal for this litigation may be more symbolic than anything else. The constitutional role of the courts, however, is to decide concrete cases’€”not to serve as a convenient forum for policy debates. See Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U. S. 464, 472 (1982) (“[Standing] tends to assure that the legal questions presented to the court will be resolved, not in the rarified atmosphere of a debating society, but in a concrete factual context conducive to a realistic appreciation of the consequences of judicial action”)[/blockquote]

    Scalia:

    [blockquote]The Court’s alarm over global warming may or may not be justified, but it ought not distort the outcome of this litigation. This is a straightforward administrative-law case, in which Congress has passed a malleable statute giving broad discretion, not to us but to an executive agency. No matter how important the underlying policy issues at stake, this Court has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency.

    I, for one, hope the government of, by, and for the people do not resist the mullahs – they have declared and we must obey. Fall to your knees oh ignorant ones, bow and grovel in admiration of their wisdom over our elected policy makers and their laws. All hail the legal mullahs altruistic guidence… [/blockquote]

    As one commentator put it “It proves that no one is above (the court’s invention of) the law, not even the President (or Congress or the people)”.

    You know, one day I’d like to live in a free country.

  6. JP
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

    Nicholas,
    If I remember correctly, the EPA recently rejected California’s efforts to get CO2classified as a pollutant. In years gone by, this could only be done by Congress rewriting portions of the Clean Air Act. Since CO2 is vital to life on earth, to classify it as something harmfull went beyond the EPA’s jurisdiction.

    Much of these kind of squabbles could be avoided if Congress would write clearer laws.

  7. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    nor do I believe that Congress delegated the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases

    Clearly they didn’t intend to, just as they didn’t delegate the EPA authority to regulate human flatulence.

    I guess it’s much easier to go the backdoor route and get a court ruling on something unrelated that happened decades ago rather than have Congress actually vote to delegate such authority today.

    It all seems so silly. It’s one thing for a gov’t entity to regulate something and have someone cry-out that it is unconstitutional or something. But an entity says, “I don’t have the power to do this,” and someone sues to say, “Oh yes you do!”

    I guess it all follows from the hand-washing attempt of, “We can’t do anything about it because we don’t have the power.” That won’t work anymore.

  8. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

    Machiavelli would have loved this. The EPA feigned being against the EPA regulating CO2. Now they own it.

  9. Follow the Money
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    Another validating win for the carbon marketeers via their state agents, and manufactured Demcoratic party “common” wisdom.

    American Liberals are becoming as adept in manipulating discourses for their corporate money donors as Republicans have been for years.

  10. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    RE: #7 – Unquestionably, there were and are elements within both the EPA and Administration who actually hoped for this outcome.

  11. Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

    Re: Mark H’s quotation of Scalia:

    Mark H., you quote:

    Scalia:

    [blockquote]

    I, for one, hope the government of, by, and for the people do not resist the mullahs – they have declared and we must obey. Fall to your knees oh ignorant ones, bow and grovel in admiration of their wisdom over our elected policy makers and their laws. All hail the legal mullahs altruistic guidence… [/blockquote]

    Where did Scalia make that statement?

    Sinan

  12. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

    I would like to see how they proeed in Global Cooling.

  13. Mark H
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    Re: 11

    That was (I hope) an obvious editing error on my part – the last paragraph was not by Scalia, but my bit of overwrought sarcasm.

  14. Mark H
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    Re: 11

    Although it would be rather funny for that to have been a quote of Scalia’s, I hope it was obvious that it was an editing error on my part. The last paragraph was a bit of my overwrought sarcasm.

  15. Follow the Money
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 3:35 PM | Permalink

    “RE: #7 – Unquestionably, there were and are elements within both the EPA and Administration who actually hoped for this outcome.”

    I can predict the Bush Administration will regulate carbon emissions, but can the EPA create and enforce carbon trading mechanisms?

    We’ll see where Bush goes…if he starts talking about “market mechanisms” – watch out!

    BTW, for those hwo didn’t understand my earlier “state agents” – I mean in the American sense — individual state governments influenced by the carbon trading interest, many of which now adopting Kyoto-style rules and exchanges.

  16. JohnM
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    I’m sometimes not sure what to make of the people who post on here. Given the implications of “peak oil” would it actually be a bad thing if the EPA clamped down a bit on the profligate use of a non-renewable resource for personal transportation? Mann is out to lunch with his hockey stick and some of the more apocalyptic visions of the future don’t stand up to close scrutiny but there is a bigger picture here beyond the confines of the global warming debate. Our grandchildren and great-granchildren would probably appreciate having some petroleum left.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil

  17. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

    RE: #16 – http://www/dieoff.org

    Sort of a older site. Got tin foil?

  18. Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    Nicholas, I hope it will make you happy that I also 100% agree with your appraisal about the standing, not being a U.S. citizen either:

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2006/11/massachusetts-v-epa_29.html

  19. DougM
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 4:30 PM | Permalink

    We have centuries of known fossil fuel reserves. Coal can be turned into oil. The US Air Force has already tested jet fuel made from coal. There is huge reserves of oil shale in the US alone, and recovery techniques are already being tested. There is also a recovery method just going into commercial use that can recover some of the eighty percent of oil left in the ground by current oil wells. Should we be invesigating alternatives? Yes! Should we be in a panic? No!

  20. Reid
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 4:33 PM | Permalink

    The ruling doesn’t compel the EPA to regulate CO2. As long as Bush is in charge the EPA will study the issue and make concerned announcements and pronouncements but will do nothing significant. If the Democrats win, AGW will be gospel and the EPA will regulate CO2. Al Gore will be named special ambassador to the planet.

  21. rhodeymark
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    If the EPA is forced to litigate actual climate change issues, won’t discovery require all the datasets that contentions are based upon? Once the Fed gets involved at a specific level, would not FOIA then be applicable for background auditing? Obviously, IANAL.

  22. John Baltutis
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

    Re: # 16

    Our grandchildren and great-granchildren would probably appreciate having some petroleum left.

    See http://www.sepp.org/Archive/NewSEPP/Oil%20-%20Fumento.htm and http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/vernon/060904 ; just two of many which counter the peak oil myth you’re needlessly worried about.

  23. jae
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    20: Good point. Note this statement in the decision:

    Finally, the court held that EPA can only decline to regulate greenhouse gases if “it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do.”

    Now maybe EPA will be funding AGW studies. Maybe a boost for Solar research…

  24. JP
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 6:41 PM | Permalink

    Despite what SOCTUS wrote, the EPA, as the Clean Air Act was written has no jurisdiction as far as “regulating gases that may cause Climate Changnge. This a perfect time for Congress to limit the jurisdiction of the Courts on important regulatory questions. What the EPA can and cannot regulate is determined by Congress and not 5 justices. Of course, so many people are so use to judges writing laws they forget this.

    Climate Change is a dubious subject, infintely opened to many interpetations. By classifying CO2 as a pollutant, the SCOTUS opens up an entire new class of litigation by activists; as someone posted on another site, CO2 levels in most office enviorments average 1600-2200 ppm. Cannot wait for lawsuits that attempt to tie an entire hosts of ailments to corporate offices. Perhaps farmers can sue utilities when draught conditions exist. You can imagine a new corps of enviormental lawyers sueing God who knows whom for CO2 related hardships. If I was a lawyer, I would be seeing green right now. As they say, the “science” is settled; the High Court said so.

  25. george h.
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

    The left has sought for years to bypass democratic processes and use the courts and activist judges to make policy and expand its power. Through the IPCC and now the Supreme Court and EPA, it has now found it can also circumvent science. Who needs peer review? Legislation from the bench now includes the adjudication of scientific theories whether intended or not. Perhaps the court could be asked to decide between competing theories in biology, or Lubos, if you’re reading these comments, we could have the court decide amongst competing string theories. And what a boon to the bureaucrats in the EPA whose authority is to now encompass the regulation of trace gasses.

  26. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 7:36 PM | Permalink

    On the flip side of this, for the rank and file of the EPA, this may mean huge workload issues as they start to increasingly chase after non issues. Could mean an eventual exodus. But of course, then, psuedo scientists can replace all the ones working there now….. :(

  27. Gary
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

    What also is troublesome is that this suit was brought by five State Attorneys-General, just like they brought suits against tobacco producers and leaded paint manufacturers (who were found guilty even though they stopped making leaded paint 30 years ago!). What we’re seeing is a string of increasingly successful attempts to extort the big companies to fill the coffers of State treasuries and do an end-run around direct taxation of the public. The integrity of scientific research is going to be further degraded as thewe lawyers who are supposed to protect us from the criminals flex their muscles and manipulate it to their own ends.

  28. JeffB
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    WOW .. for once .. I get to jump in and voice a valid opinion. As a Ph.D. in Toxicology, and an individual who used to conduct site risk assessments regarding air modelling and air polution from site emissions .. I can honestly say .. this is the worst case of Activist Judges exerting an effect on US policy and law!

    The Clean air act was never designed to regulate CO2 .. end of story! In our risk assessments, we NEVER assessed CO2. We had a whole list of chemicals that we assessed, most of which were heavy metals, VOCs, HC, NOx Sox, and particulates, but CO2 never made the cut. This is understandable, because the interpretation of CO2 being a “pollutant is a political matter.

    I found the idea encompassed in one of the new reports very interesting. That being that the EPA was required to regulate Greenhouse Gases! This position requires one to first accept that greenhouse gases are pollutants. In this context, the only “pollutant” status than I can think of regarding greenhouse gases is Global Climate Change. Thus, not unexpectedly, the 4 typically regarded liberal judges all buy AGW as FACT, whereas, the opinion of Roberts et al, seems to indicate that they have not reached this conclusion, and strictly interpret the law in its orginal intent, that being of real polutants, which are know to be without doubt harmful to human and environmental health.

    This type of ruling is what Conservatives in America are trying to do away with. Since when are judges on the Supreme Court charged with making Scientific Judgements??

  29. Boris
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    25:

    Who needs peer review?

    Of course we know what the bulk of peer reviewed studies say, which might explain why the court ruled as it did.

    As for the EPA getting out of regulation. That’s going to be a tough one since they’ve already acknowledged, along with every other scientific body, that GW is human caused.

  30. Steve Beery
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    All is not lost. As a mater of fact, the rulling just may help you.
    The EPA is subject to the DATA QUALITY ACT which will open the “science” to independent review. You may be able get the codes and data to the computer “Climate Model”.

  31. JohnM
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

    Sure there are alternatives #22 but the cold hard reality of the situation is that none of them are anything like as easy in technological and economic terms as pumping out light crude oil and that the transition to an economy based on that technology is probably going to be a painful one (think Great Depression in the 1930s sort of painful) especially for people who are not Canadian or Venezuelan. Having something like 17% of the world’s crude oil production going on US transportation needs this late in the day, simply because the American public has consistently refused to switch to economy cars or public transportation, doesn’t make a lot of sense when the longer perspective is taken into consideration.

    If this Supreme Court ruling helps to remedy that a bit then I can’t see it as a bad thing. The politicians won’t deal with the issue head on for fear of being voted out of office in the short terms so the EPA and the Supreme Court is a useful way for them to pass the buck a bit and get the job done. I find the “CO2 isn’t a pollutant” argument a bit of a stretch in this context given that CO2 is obviously not coming from a natural source and emission from car exhausts is definitely altering the composition of the atmosphere to a measurable extent. Even if most people on here are skeptical (rightly in my opinion) about the degree of global warming being predicted by some of the more alarmist environmental types only a complete crank could claim that it is definitely a complete non-factor in that regard and that CO2 emissions will definitely result in zero negative economic impact in the decades ahead.

    The way ahead ultimately is probably a large scale switch back to nuclear power generation and it is a bit ironic that the tree huggers who are making all the noise about global warming probably indirectly helped to create much of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 by stopping the development of the nuclear power industry. I’d have more respect for the environmentalists if they didn’t try to pretend that windmills and other renewables can be used to sustain our current level of social development. The more intelligent ones must know they are lying through their teeth on that. Environmentalists do need to be challenged because the consequences of what would happen if the political elite ever fully bought into their agenda doesn’t bear thinking about. This blog definitely does a good job that way.

  32. jae
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 9:29 PM | Permalink

    31, John: AMEN

  33. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 9:42 PM | Permalink

    I have not read the opinions as yet, but Chief Justice Roberts’ concern about standing would seem to be a critical issue here. The Supreme Court has been, nearly to the judge, very strict on the issue of a case brought to the court having standing. In this case I believe it means that the petitioner had to demonstrate particularized injury to them.

    I’ll need to see how the majority opinion skirts that issue.

  34. Paul Allen
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 9:56 PM | Permalink

    How strange to find ourselves talking about Peak Oil. If you believe in peak oil and believe that alternatives will be costly, you should also be skeptical that CO_2 concentrations will double.

    The middle-of-the road position on Peak Oil (e.g. that of Matthew Simmons) is that oil production will plateau but not peak–at least not for a rather long time. This is because oil-reserves are estimated with regard to price–and because these estimates are done by accountants for publicly traded corporations, the estimates are conservative–based on historic prices not future trends. Consequently, when production declined in the USA beginning in the ’70s as result of wells running dry. Those wells dried in an accounting sense not an actual flow sense. This is quite different from the way in which wells have run dry in the past. E.g., the first major strike: Spindletop technically did run dry because of overly rapid production damaged the field.

    Anyways anyone who predicts CO2 doubling is likely betting on massive use of coal.

  35. Joe Cool
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 10:14 PM | Permalink

    So what all this really means is that now congress and/or the EPA can, if they so desire (and can get tax revenue/spend money on) regulate my bodily methane emissions with SCOTUS approval. I can’t wait to see the law requiring Taco Bell to infuse all their products with Beano. Unfortunately the SCOTUS interpretation of the Commerce Clause allows them to make this ruling, uphold any of the inane laws that follow and still sleep at night thinking that they are “defending” the Constitution.

  36. Paul
    Posted Apr 2, 2007 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

    will the EPA be regulating water vapor next?

  37. T J Olson
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 12:27 AM | Permalink

    JohnM writes that the so-called Peak Oil “problem” is going to be painful – on the order of the government exacerbated Great Depression.

    Yet there is no historical precedent for this claim in energy. The transitions from wood to charcoal, from whale oil to coal, and from oil to nuclear power – on the contrary – auger for smoother transtions. Advancing technology creates more energy alternatives and the historic long-term decline of energy price/unit of GDP continues, as Peter Huber explains.

    The only exceptions have been short-lived and man man. The pain is protacted only when, as during the Great depression, government intervention exacerbates the crisis, like under (and after) President Nixon’s price controls on oil in the 1970s. When controls were repealed, prices fell again. Likewise, the latest oil price spike is caused by the politics of Iran taking UK soldiers hostage.

    To my knowledge, no one has made a killing predicting an intrinsic or imminent shortage like “Peak Oil” purports to. Moreover, the people who prophecy “shortages” like the late Paul Ehrlich, who expected shortfalls in strategic minerals, including oil running out, by 1985 are now conveniently forgotten.

    Famous oil analyst Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates is of like mind.

  38. Mark H
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 12:57 AM | Permalink

    Here is my take:

    First, its clear the plaintiffs had no standing. Article III of the Constitution is an essential underpinning of the seperation of powers and the petitioners did not remotely satisfy it. They failed to allege an “injury-in-fact” that is actual, imminent, particular, or concrete. (Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992). The plaintifff did not demonstrate that the so-called injury was ‘fairly traceable’ to unlawful conduct of the EPA and the the injury would be redressed through the requested relief. (Allen, 468 U.S. at 751).

    Second, Congress did not deligate authority to the EPA to regulate the emissions of the greenhouse gases from motor vehicles, cows, or other sources. The text, history, logic, and subsquent history of the Clean Air Act confirm this. In 1978, Congress did not consider or ask – either in debate or its mandates – that greenhouse gases be regulated or considered a form of pollution. In fact it did not think of CO2 being a form of pollution, it did not enact rules concerning greenhouse gases NOR did it deligate such authority as an “intelligible principle” to shape agency policy.(Brown & Williamson, 529 U.S. at 133).

    In none of its subsquent Acts did Congress presume it granted regulatory authority over greenhouse gases and, in fact, assumed the opposite. ( See National Climate Program Act of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95-367, 92 Stat. 601 (1978) (“an Act to establish a comprehensiveand coordinated national climate policy and program”). In fact, more recently in the:

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/legalbriefs/ma_v_epa_10-24-06.pdf

    “1990 Amendments (are) several provisions encouraging “non-regulatory” approaches to greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, Congress considered and rejected an explicit proposal to regulate greenhouse gases. The amendments initially approved by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works included limits on automobile tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, yet this language was stricken before passage due to staunch
    opposition on many fronts. See Control of Emissions from New Highway Vehicles and Engines, 68 Fed. Reg. 52922, 59926-27 (Sept. 8, 2003). In the end, Congress told the EPA to study greenhouse gas emissions, not to regulate them. As summarized by one of the leading authorities on the Clean Air Act…”.

    And

    ” In 1995, the Senate unanimously approved the so-called Byrd-Hagel resolution rejecting the Kyoto Protocol and stating that the U.S. will not act to control greenhouse gas emissions unless and until the rest of the world is willing to follow suit, S. 98, 105th Cong.(1997)…”

    Therefore,

    “Given the extent of the congressional efforts to (directly) address the issues concerning GHGs and the absence of a credible mandate, there is little support for a claim that EPA has some latent power and obligation under the CAA to regulate these emissions. Arnold W. Reitze, Jr., Air Pollution Control Law: Compliance & Enforcement 427 (2001).”

    Last, as Scalia pointed out:

    [url]http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/06pdf/05-1120.pdf[/url]

    In the end, EPA concluded that since “CAA authorization to regulate is generally based on a finding that an air pollutant causes or contributes to air pollution,” 68 Fed.Reg. 52928, the concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases allegedly affecting the global climate are beyond the scope of CAA’s authorization to regulate. “[T]he term air pollution’ as used in the regulatory provisions cannot be interpreted to encompass global climate change.” Ibid. Once again, the Court utterly fails to explain why this interpretation is incorrect, let alone so unreasonable as to be unworthy of Chevron deference.

    The Court’s alarm over global warming may or may not be justified, but it ought not distort the outcome of this litigation. This is a straight forward administrative-law case, in which Congress has passed a malleable statutegiving broad discretion, not to us but to an executive agency. No matter how important the underlying policy issues at stake, this Court has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency.

    Still it would seem further political debate in America is useless. Public policy on global climate is now removed from democratic consideration and the will of the people, and now under the direction of our imperium of five. .

  39. Andrey Levin
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 2:15 AM | Permalink

    US Congress will love the idea that from now on country will be run by EPA.

  40. T J Olson
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 2:30 AM | Permalink

    The optimistic outcome is this:
    Bush kicks the can down the road by having the problem studied. The Data Quality Act keeps litigants from getting the US EPA from being Draconian about highly uncertain harms. And Chief Justice Roberts gets the High Court to revisit this decsion soon after the composition of the court changes. The problem of standing overturns this decision, leaving the issue subect to legislation instead of judical fiat.

    The pessimistic fallout is this:
    With or without changes in Congress or the Presidency, environmental lobbying groups will sue the EPA to set national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for CO2. Since the High Court in previous rulings has prohibited the EPA from considering cost when seting NAAQS in the past, the national costs could be enormous unless a legislative backlash ensues. This will further politicize the UN dominated IPCC process and make Kyoto costs look miserly. But environmentalists will tout regulatory maximum control as a “model for the world,” while global GDP growth suffers and people die needlessly by the tens, maybe hundreds of millions because of poverty.

    But people will forget this genocide, just as Rachel Carson remains lionized as a heroine while 50 million Africans have died since her “Silent Spring” triumph.

  41. Demesure
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 3:15 AM | Permalink

    #34 Simmons, a “middle of the road” position on peak-oil hummm ?
    Doesn’t remind you of AGW doom prophets, this kind of dialog :

    In his book, “Twilight in the Desert,” Oil Analyst Matthew Simmons argues we’re nearing the point when the world will use more oil than it can produce.

    (on camera): Do you hear a ticking clock? MATTHEW SIMMONS, AUTHOR OF “TWILIGHT IN THE DESERT”: I hear a gong. I heard a ticking clock during the ’90s.

    SESNO: And if we don’t act? Something doesn’t change?

    SIMMONS: Well, our life could get a lot darker fast.

    SESNO: What is your worse case scenario?

    SIMMONS: My worst case scenario is so bad that you don’t want to go there.

    SESNO: Tell me.

    SIMMONS: We basically end up having a series of energy wars over who gets oil. And they’re wars between you and your neighbor. And the war is between one town and another, and ultimately one country and another.

    SESNO: Chaos.

    SIMMONS: It’s just total chaos.

    Source

  42. Sudha Shenoy
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 4:23 AM | Permalink

    1. Steve, that’s ‘hard _cases_ make bad law’.

    2. I give below relevant quotes from the end of the Supreme Court’s judgment. They make for interesting reading.

    Nor can EPA avoid its statutory obligation by noting the uncertainty surrounding various features of climate change and concluding that it would therefore be better not to regulate at this time. See 68 Fed. Reg. 52930’€”52931. If the scientific uncertainty is so profound that it precludes EPA from making a reasoned judgment as to whether greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, EPA must say so…..The statutory question is whether sufficient information exists to make an endangerment finding.

    In short, EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change. Its action was therefore “arbitrary, capricious, … or otherwise not in accordance with law.”…. We need not and do not reach the question whether on remand EPA must make an endangerment finding, or whether policy concerns can inform EPA’s actions in the event that it makes such a finding….We hold only that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute.

  43. Boris
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 5:36 AM | Permalink

    But people will forget this genocide, just as Rachel Carson remains lionized as a heroine while 50 million Africans have died since her “Silent Spring” triumph.

    Yes, the EPA creating higher standards for new cars is genocide. And Rachel Carlson is clearly worse than Hitler. lol

  44. MarkW
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:04 AM | Permalink

    #16,

    The evidence for peak oil is nothing more than a handfull of models. Models that once again fail to predict what happens out in the
    real world.

  45. MarkW
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:06 AM | Permalink

    The idea that we have to make oil expensive now, so that our children won’t have to worry about oil getting expensive, makes no economic
    sense. Better to use the oil now to grow our economy, then when oil does start to run out, we will have even more resources with which
    to search for alternatives.

  46. MarkW
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:08 AM | Permalink

    #23,

    That depends on who is running the EPA. Given the current crowd, I would be very surprised if they did anything other than hold up
    the IPCC and declare that the consensus has decided.

  47. MarkW
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:11 AM | Permalink

    #26 Steve, if the workload increases, they will just hire more people. A beaurocrats dream.

    As to hiring psuedo scientists at the EPA, do you have any evidence that the scientists working there now aren’t pseudo?

    Remember the various studies produced by the EPA during the Clinton administration? The EPA also has a long history of producing
    dubious studies, and then refusing to produce the data behind the study.

  48. MarkW
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:19 AM | Permalink

    Boris,

    Considering the fact that CAFE standards already kill about 10,000 Americans a year, increasing CAFE will result in millions of deaths.
    Carlson is directly responsible for 10’s of millions of deaths. That’s more than Hitler can claim.

  49. Nicholas
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:31 AM | Permalink

    MarkW, I don’t necessarily agree with that statement – I understand where you’re coming from but I think there are complicating factors which make it very hard to lay the blame like that. But I think you’re getting off-track. The bottom line is, in the USA, CAFE is the legislation designed to address fuel economy (and thus, CO2 output) of motor vehicles. There is also additional legislation, mandating research into electric cars, etc.

    Then there is the separate EPA legislation which is aimed at reducing air pollution. The first point I’d like to make, is even if you think that the EPA should be regulating CO2, that this is still a case of very poor jurisprudence. Making the right decision for the wrong legal reason is wrong and can set bad precedent for the future. However, I find it hard to justify that you have to force the EPA to regulate CO2 when there is already other legislation regulating it. Why the need to double up? And if the legislative branch – whose prerogative it really is to decide this sort of thing – feels that CO2 should be regulated, surely they will pass explicit legislation?

    I can’t help but feel that this is indeed a case of the dreaded “judicial activism” – when you can’t achieve the results you want through the proper channels (i.e. Congress and the Senate) – you try to bypass them. Some people seem to think this is proper. But I feel the issue of standing (among others) is explicitly designed to avoid this kind of meddling. That is why essentially ignoring the issue of standing, as the majority of the supreme court has done, is so serious.

  50. aslan
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:55 AM | Permalink

    PEAK OIL – I am a geophysicist working in oil exploration – the peak oil theory is real but excagerated, I think that it wil be more like Plateau oil for a generation followed by slow decline. The demise of oil has been predicted for a very long time and is generaly based on ideology rather than engineering

    We are finding less oil each year and are now replacing about 50 % of what we consume by new discoveies and 80-90% if reserves growth in existing fields is included.
    The picture on natural gas is less bleak outside north America with significant extra reserves being discovered an d much stranded gas.
    Non conventional oils such as tar sands, bitumen and gas to liquids are economic in a high price environment, but very energy inefficient
    and difficult to scale up to meet the growing demand. On Curent projections non-conventionals would only meet about 7-9% of world demand in 2012.
    The large fields are mostly growing old in the tooth and have declining production only partially offset by deepwater and small fields and newer recovery technologes.

    Meeting the extra demand from China and India is a struggle so I feel that relatively high oil prices would continue, The realtively higher prices which affect Americans more beacause of low fuel taxes (compared to what we Brits have to pay – $8 a gallon anybody) may wean americans of their realtively high fuel consumption

    Daniel Yergin is a brilliant historian and economist but he is not a geologist or reservoir engineer, some of his views on oil reserves are just not realistic

  51. Armin
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but reading the last part of the ruling (page 37 and 66) …

    EPA has refused to comply with this clear statutory command. [...] Although we have neither the expertise nor the authority to evaluate these policy judgments, it is evident they have nothing to do with whether greenhouse gas emis-sions contribute to climate change. [...] Nor can EPA avoid its statutory obligation by noting the uncertainty surrounding various features of climate changeand concluding that it would therefore be better not toregulate at this time. [...] In short, EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause orcontribute to climate change. [...] We hold only that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute.

    … tells why they ruled this way. Simply that EPA didn’t explain why they don’t want to label CO2 as a pollutant. So now EPA needs to either surrender or enter the area of taking a stand in the CO2 issue (pro or not)? I’m not saying this is good (I doubt it), but correct me if I’m wrong here.

  52. Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

    Policy Watch: Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards summarizes very nicely the effects of CAFE standards and compares costs and benefits.

    One conclusion is that CAFE standards cost consumers 7 to 10 times as much as an equivalent fuel tax.

    Sinan

  53. Armin
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 8:10 AM | Permalink

    #52, The problem with fuel-taxes is that they transform the government into a junkie. Those taxes are always permanent regardless of whatever the future will bring …

    From the CAFE website

    Since 1983, manufacturers have paid more than $590 million in CAFE civil penalties

    Which over de total number of vehicles is peanuts. Compare that to the effect on your income when introducing more fuel-tax. Also it doesn’t affect the individuel user so much that wants to buy a ‘bigger’ car (which is exactely why the greenies want fuel-taxes).

  54. JP
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 8:19 AM | Permalink

    #49
    Nicholas,
    You are correct. This is a legislative matter and not a court matter. When I read the full opinions it appeared that one of the big points of the case was administrative -that is, can States sue the Federal Goverment for not enforcing some regulation to thier benefit. The court majority says they can. Justice Stevens and Breyer used the AGW argument and the recent IPCC publications as supporting evidence. However, the courts ignored that past EPA mandates contributed to much of the increase in CO2 concentrations. The 1975 mandates concerning fuel efficiencies and the catalytic converter added to the amount of CO2 in our nation. By replacing sulfuric exhausts with mainly carbon exhausts, and taking into account the unintended consequences of better gas mileage (more driving), the Congress and EPA contributed the increase in green house gases.

    How the court arrived at the conclusion that CO2 is a pollutant is another matter entirely. Any inert gas that is concentrated in sufficient quantity is deadly -even oxygen. At what level is CO2 a pollutant? 300ppm? 250ppm? On Lubos’s website, one person pointed out that office enviorments have average CO2 concentrations of 1500ppm to 2200pmm.

    This case should never had made it to the Courts. Roberts should never allowed them to grant this case cert. Individual states do have recourse to the law- it is called elections. I suppose, since the Court has spoken, the science is now setteled. Coming soon, SOCTUS signs the Kyoto Protocols into law.

  55. Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 8:36 AM | Permalink

    Aslan’s post on Peak Oil above is very sensible. This makes it rare. Peal Oil is possibly the only topic more susceptible to hysteria and bad math than Global Warming.

    Steve –

    Fill those idle hours. Its time you audited the statistical reasoning of Deffeyes and Hubbert. In Deffeyes recent book Beyond Oil he states on page 36,

    After grinding (slowly)through the 150 pages of the 1982 paper, I finally understood what Hubbert did. Because I am ultraslow with the math…

    So as to validate his self assessment of his math ability he next writes a half dozen pages of fallacious mathematical reasoning. Both he (Deffeyes) and Hubbert seem to be innocent of The Central Limit Theorem. They seem surprised that the shape of the sum of multiple samples is approximately normal. They think that they have discovered some characteristic in nature – and from there they make apocalyptic predictions.

    Aslan is probably correct. Gold was wrong. There is no Deep Earth Gas. Fossil fuels will run out but the rate at which they decline should not be estimated by bone head statistics.

    As to the Supreme Court, why get upset? If AGW is real and serious, they will appear to have been on the side of the angels. Judicial review of science as a legal principle will be strengthened. If AGW blows over, as it very well might, The Supreme Court will look foolish because it got caught up a passing hysteria. It’s supposed to be a bulwark against such things.

  56. Nicholas
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    JP, to get a little philosophical, here is how I see it.

    Typically in a federal system, you give certain areas of authority to the
    federal government and to the states. Sometimes you allow state law to
    override federal law, but sometimes you do not. Clearly in a system where
    the federal government is allowed to regulate a given activity but the
    states are not, there needs to be a mechanism for states to take action if
    the federal government is not properly enforcing its laws.

    However, I would argue that not only does it not make sense to make an
    exception for standing in this case, but that it very much makes sense to
    require that the state has standing to sue the federal government when it is
    not happy with the enforcement of federal laws. Put simply, if the state is
    not demonstrably harmed by the failure to enforce the federal law, what
    business do they have bringing it before a court? States do not have to
    approve every federal law, nor the enforcement of those laws. States’
    citizens already perform this task, by voting in federal elections. If, for
    example, federal law was enforced unevenly, impacting some states badly
    while others are treated leniently, then surely this would be a valid
    complaint which would have standing before a court. But if a state merely
    doesn’t like the way the federal government goes about its business, why
    should there be an available remedy through the court system? In a sense,
    why should state politics interfere with federal politics? They are seperate
    for a reason.

    To look at it another way, the judicial branch of government exists to
    resolve grievances and as a safety net for those accused of breaking laws.
    (Roughly, the civil and criminal court systems). This is, as I understand
    it, a civil case. If it were permissable for an entity (including a state)
    to sue in civil court without having to demonstrate being harmed, what’s to
    prevent states to go to court every time they’re slightly unhappy with a
    federal regulation, whether it affects them or not? What’s to stop the court
    system from being clogged with such cases? The standing doctrine has an
    important screening effect on civil cases, ensuring that only truly worthy
    cases take up the courts’ valuable resources. It also ensures that civil
    cases are just. The court has the power to enforce its decisions. How is it
    just that they can enforce a decision against the defendant, when the
    plaintiff was never actually harmed?

    Anyway, even if the roles were reversed, I would still think this makes a
    terrible legal precedent. I do think it is stupid to regulate CO2 at this
    stage – we simply don’t know enough about whether it’s a problem and if so
    how much of a problem – but regardless I simply don’t agree with the
    reasoning.

  57. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

    RE: #47 – The EPA currently has both. I know a few of the real scientists there.

  58. Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    Re: 52

    Apparently, I did not post the URL correctly:

    Policy Watch: Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards

    You need JSTOR access to view the full article using the link above. It is a good example how how economists approach cost/benefit of regulations. It is, of course, not shocking that when an agency is prohibited from taking cost into account, the cost of regulations skyrocket.

    Regarding consumer welfare in the case of gas tax as opposed to CAFE standards: Most gas tax proposals include a cash rebate provision which would ensure that consumers are not made worse off by the higher price they have to pay for gas.

    Sinan

  59. Mark H
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 1:59 PM | Permalink

    Re:51, Armin

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but reading the last part of the ruling (page 37 and 66) … tells why they ruled this way. Simply that EPA didn’t explain why they don’t want to label CO2 as a pollutant. So now EPA needs to either surrender or enter the area of taking a stand in the CO2 issue (pro or not)? I’m not saying this is good (I doubt it), but correct me if I’m wrong here.

    Pardon, but I do think you (or perhaps I should say “the courts”) are in error. The EPA was provided a mandate that permited it to regulate air pollution caused by air pollutants. The statutory language in question may be ‘capacious’ (broad…although I might think it would be better termed as ‘capricious’) but its meaning can easily be resolved through the traditional legal application of original meaning and/or original understanding by Congress and/or a person at the time it was passed.

    The Court stated that the original intent was to provide broad language so that the EPA would regulate any and all substances – known or unknown that might endanger human health or safety. The EPA argued that Congresses intent was not to establish a broad mandate in principle, but to regulate air pollution (i.e. ‘Clean Air) and those air pollutants that contribute to it.

    Who is correct? I suggest that the EPA is correct. Congressional debate, congressional consideration of additional legislation to broaden EPA authority, public discussion and debate, and the structural legal provisions in the act of detection, attribution, penalties, and enforcement all confirm that the scope and meaning was limited to context – in fact, the law is a contradictory mess if was expected to actually regulate greenhouse gases.

    Aside from the fact that the Clean Air Act was for clean air, the EPA offered many reasonable and typical discretionary judgments for an administrative agency – it is just that the Supreme Five had no intent of accepting any of them if the EPA did not provide for aggressive enforcement.

    Congresses intent and the EPA’s intent was irrelevant, the Court Five’s intent trumped.

  60. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

    RE: #60 – There is a “supreme” tradegy in all this. Little known fact is that besides being an emissions regulator, the EPA also serve as a remediation consultant regarding Superfund sites in underserved communities. Push comes to shove, and they have to beef up things in order to micromanage (the only way to accomplish it) CO2 emissions regulation, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Superfund work will be deprioritized.

  61. Boris
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

    48,

    If only you guys were as sceptical of the Heritage Foundation and CEI as you are the IPCC.

  62. bruce
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

    Given the comments above re Peak Oil, I assume that I am not off-topic in making some observations.

    People discussing Peak Oil, even petroleum economists in major oil companies, forget to differentiate between “reserves” on the one hand and “resources” on the other. Resources is the total quantity of hydrocarbons that might potentially be recovered, irrespective of price. Reserves are that portion of the resources that can be recovered at a specified oil price.

    Applying a little more precision than some do, the concept of Peak Oil is really saying that the reserves of sweet, easily recoverable crude oil that will turn a profit for the developers at a lowish oil price (until relatively recently US$20 or US$25 per barrel was used for this purpose) are being depleted, and may have passed a peak.

    The right question to ask then is “what would the reserves of crude oil be at a stable long term oil price of US$50 per bbl, US$100 per bbl, US$150 per bbl, US$200 per bbl and so on. In effect, I am asking “What will the supply side response be to increasing prices?”. Or “What does the supply curve look like?”. Despite widespread acceptance of micro-economic principles, for reasons I don’t understand, the petroleum industry seems to avoid discussing such issues.

    In fact, the available resources of carbon (coal) and hydrocarbons are HUGE. Enough to supply the world’s requirements for many centuries, providing the price is sufficiently high to cover the costs of extraction and to provide a return to the investors.

    At higher oil prices it becomes economic to go back to “depleted” fields and use secondary or tertiary recovery (steam injection and the like) to recover interstitial oil that remains after the first easily won oil has been removed (perhaps 30% of the in-situ oil). It becomes economic to recover ‘oil’ from tar sands, oil shales, bituminous deposits and the like. At higher prices it becomes economic to convert stranded gas to oil, or coal to oil. There are massive deposits of brown coal and lignites in many parts of the world that can be converted to ‘petroleum’ if the prices are sufficiently high. There are also frontier exploration environments (Siberia for example) where new discoveries are still being made.

    So the issue becomes primarily one of PRICE (I will leave the environmental factors to later). Two main points in regard to price.

    First, many of the alternative technologies that can produce petroleum from alternative sources are capital intensive. This makes them difficult to finance, unless some form of stable pricing can be guaranteed. It seems to me that rather than invade Middle East countries to secure supplies, some countries would be better to guarantee oil prices of say US$50 per bbl by legislative/tax means. You would be amazed at the flood of supply that would result. In fact, within a few years, supply would be such as to drive free market prices down, and those committed to paying US$50 per bbl would be complaining about the high oil price they are being asked to pay.

    The other point about price is demand elasticity to price. US consumers have been living in a dream world with their petrol prices, still only US$4.00 per gallon, which is roughly US$1 per barrel. Anybody who has travelled to the UK and Europe knows that petrol prices are at least double what they have been in the US. On my last visit to the UK, petrol cost more than Pds 1 per litre. And guess what. The market responds with a rational response. In Europe they have energy efficient cars. We used a diesel VW Passat on our last trip that achieved close to 50 mpg. Compare that with the average US SUV.

    The main issue with continuing to depend on fossil sources for fuel is NOT supply, which as I hope I have explained is sufficient to meet the requirements of the planet for centuries providing the price is set at a sufficiently high level to assure supply.

    The issue (I decline to say whether it is the real issue) is CO2 emissions and the effect on climate (if any). It is high time that governments stopped yielding to unsubstantiated propaganda, and developed a multi-lateral effort to get to the bottom of the question. When trillions of dollars and perhaps many lives (I am referring here to wars apparently driven by concerns about oil supplies) depend on the answer, the least we can expect is a dispassionate evaluation of the science that gets to the truth of the matter.

  63. bruce
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

    Re #63. My bad:

    petrol prices, still only US$4.00 per gallon, which is roughly US$1 per barrel.

    Should of course have said US$1 per LITRE.

  64. K
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

    Speaking of perspective:

    Rachel Carson didn’t kill Africans. She wrote a book about what she believed DDT usage was doing. After thirty or forty years I still have no idea if banning DDT was a good idea. And I don’t care – the science can be done by others and the regulation was done by governments, not by Rachel.

    I feel the same way about Dr. Caldicott who led the movement that essentially ended nuclear power growth in the US for thirty years. To my mind she is a fool but she didn’t run the government or miraculously direct the thoughts of those who supported her.

    Mr. Gore now carries the ‘end is near’ sign. He may be correct and foolish. He may be mistaken and foolish. He may be wise and correct. (The reader can supply the final combination.) Whatever those facts it makes no sense to attack Gore personally. The issue is CO2 emissions.

    CAFE standards don’t kill people. Car wrecks kill people.

    We don’t know about peak oil. Assemble ten experts and you get eleven answers.

    It is very unlikely that AGW and peak oil must be definitively analyzed in 2007, and not one second later, or civilization is doomed.

    Now to the Supreme Court decision: This was not a case the court could decide – the law is simply unclear. And so it was decided by philosophy.

    When judges face a law or question that defies analysis they have options. One is to just rule that the plaintiffs have not proved their case. Another is to temporize – act only to prevent immediate harm while more facts are gathered or statutes (the political process) are changed to settle the issue. And the third, increasingly used, is to decide based upon what the judge thinks is best – interpretation aka conjecture.

    My take is that Stevens and Kennedy have drifted toward deciding unclear matters based upon what they think is best. The four solid conservatives prefer the other ways of handling a case. And Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer will always lean toward letting the courts settle an unclear matter rather than urge the politcal process to kick in.

    Face it. You never voted for a supreme court justice and you never can. And even Presidents fail to guess what one will do after swearing in.

  65. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

    RE: #63 – Very good analysis. I would add that, since WW2, the supply side has been exceedingly unstable for a number of reasons. Initially, all these developing countries with oil entered the market, with their combination of huge fields and near slave labor rates, essentially turning what used to be a reasonable profit margin for domestic US oil companies into a razor thin one. Their initial response was to globalize and get involved in the overseas efforts. Then in the late 1960s, the gradual abandonment of strong money supply controls by the US and eventually other Western governments hit, followed immediately by the 1973 oil embargo. Prices skyrocketed but the economy was already slow so demand did not fall all that dramatically. Later the embargo was ended but prices were never lowered to what they had been during the 1960s.

    A supply chain geared for slim margins was therefore flooded with cash as the cheap overseas supply returned, the economy slowly improved (but in a highly inflationary mode) and the material costs and overhead became very low, relative to the ASP. The oil companies didn’t know what to spend it all on. There was a second wave of innovation and capital investment rivaling, on a percent of all monies basis. the initial one during the early 1900s.

    Then it hit – the great oil crash of the 1980s. What triggered it was a return to non inflationary macroeconomic practices, and an economy which, after the slight adjustment and employment recession of the early 1980s, went into growth mode. Simultaneously, technology was reducing per capita demand throughout the Western countries. There was no longer support for high wholesale petroleum prices. At the same time, ecological radicalism was making its mark on the regulatory environment. Initially is had started in California, in response to the Great Santa Barbara Channel Blowout and resulting spill. The noose had tightened on US domestic operations throughout the 1970s and by the time of the Crash of the 1980s, most domestic production and exploration needed to be cut back. In California, the home of medium to heavy high sulfur crude, it was essentially the end of the line for all but the most profitable operations.

    By the time prices started to build back the damage had been done. The petroleum industry had been restructured to such a severe extent that the only operations which could any longer be justified to shareholders were either overseas ones related to the Asian and Latin American megafields, and domestic ones in the Gulf of Mexico, in Texas and the Alaskan North Slope, where the crude was light enough and in sufficient masses to be able to justify the start up costs. Never again would there be a cost structure capable of motivating high supplies. A general atmosphere of scarcity and low days of supply would become the norm. Eventually, non Western nations who controlled the lowest overhead supply chains would learn how to game the system like institutional investor rings, in order to maintain the market to be in their favor.

    Eventually, innate slowing of the rate of new discoveries would combine with the lack of investment and lack of motivation and legal authority to exploit North American oil resources, to further compound the scarcity construct. A price spike during 2005 and early 2006 would briefly revive hope of justification of greater R&D and exploration spend, but sadly, it would not last. As the first decade in the 21st century entered its final year, the future of the industry was anything but assured.

  66. kchua
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

    If we accept the peak oil hypothesis, would not the following occur – fossil fuels (including natural
    gas because of susbstitution) will become progressively more expensive, driving comsumption to
    alternative energy. In turn this should constrain growth in ghg emissions. So if ghg emissions
    are a threat now, the peak oil hypothesis should take care of that.

    Yet my impression is that the alarmist is often also a subscriber of the peak oil hypothesis. This is
    a puzzle to me.

  67. JohnM
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:41 PM | Permalink

    Some people still seem to be somewhat in denial that there is a looming problem with light crude oil supply in the coming decades (remember that although there theoretically may be enough supply globally the people who have sovereignty over the bulk of it could turn off the supply for political reasons as happened in 1973 due to the Yom Kippur War) but the signs are already there all around us in the media right now:-

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060131-6.html

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/03/09/financial/f073244S57.DTL&type=business

    http://www.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUSN3023478920070330?feedType=RSS

    http://www.republicanherald.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16732396&BRD=2626&PAG=461&dept_id=532624&rfi=6

    From a US Democrat sort of vantage point increased fuel efficiency probably looks like a better way to smooth the transition to the alternatives than continuing the occupation of Iraq or invading Iran to ensure supply. Future EPA control over CO2 emissions is probably a useful lever in achieving that.

    The reason that peak oil does not automatically end greenhouse gas emissions is that the alternatives such as biofuels and coal usually involve burning carbon as well. The environmentalists are in a bit of a bind on this because although they talk about renewables a lot only nuclear power can actually realistically fill the gap when it comes to the power stations needed to supply major cities, if fossil fuel use is to be drastically scaled back in the years ahead, and they helped to stall progress on that a generation ago in most western countries.

  68. T J Olson
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    Boris (#43) and MarkW (#48)-

    We’re getting off topic here, but just to record the record straight, Boris wrote: “Yes, the EPA creating higher standards for new cars is genocide. And Rachel Carlson is clearly worse than Hitler. lol”

    The EPA was created more or less a decade after Carson wrote and died from cancer she believed was caused by the environment. The ensuing chemo-phobia resulted in prohibiting the use and manufacture of DDT – the cheapest, best defense against malaria bearing mosquitos. This administrative fiat by the first EPA head appointed under President Nixon , William Ruckelshaus (1970-1973) – a lawyer, not a scientist, no less – was taken by the international community as an environmentalist model worth emulating.

    As documented at eco-imperialism.com, tens of millions of mostly black people have died after richer nations successfully availed themselves of this lifesaving pesticide because they weere denied its protective benefits.

    Last year, decades after this needless genocide (DDT’s inventor was awarded the Nobel prize, after all), the UN finally relented. But I’m among those waiting to see how far this reversal proves effective in saving the neglected poor of the world.

    Boris, I think you stand corrected.

  69. DeWitt Payne
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    Scrubbing of coal-fired power plant exhaust to remove sulfur and particulates has significantly decreased power plant efficiency, i.e. more CO2/watt generated. It will be interesting to see the EPA try to reconcile that issue. Anybody want to start a pipeline company to pump CO2 from combined cycle gasification plants to the salt domes in the Gulf? Probably too early.

    It’s not just the fact that alternative fuels are capital intensive. It also will take time to permit and build the plants. It’s all very well and good to say that $200/barrel oil will bring on new supply, the question is will the supply get there in time to prevent painful disruptions in the economy. The production curve on page 43 of the paperback edition of Beyond Oil by Deffeyes could be interpreted to show that the OPEC price increase in the 1970’s did increase supply, eventually. The cost, though, was a world-wide recession. The DJI lost 45% of it’s value, for example. Stagflation was born. Wonderful times.

  70. MarkW
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

    Boris,

    Nobody here is “skeptical” of the IPCC. We have examined the data and studies behind the report, and found problems with them.
    That’s a big difference from your position that CEI et. al. aren’t trustworthy mrely because they disagree with IPCC.

  71. T J Olson
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

    CORRECTION: Carson died from a cancer she believed resulted from her exposure to man-made chemicals in the environment. Between the 1980s and ’90s, this model of evaluation was abandoned because, except under certain conditions, “pollution is pretty much irrelevant to cancer”.

  72. MarkW
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    DDT was never a problem, yet because of bad science and excellent marketing, it was driven off the market. The result is that malaria and other misquito borne diseases that were under control, quickly spun out of control. The result was 10’s of millions of people dead. Carlson didn’t put a gun to people’s head, but she might as well have.

    CAFE makes cars less safe, so that accidents that would have been survivable absent CAFE, turned deadly.
    So it is reasonable to lay blame for the deaths on CAFE.

  73. MarkW
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 7:18 PM | Permalink

    Uh, who’s invading middle eastern countries to ensure oil?
    I don’t see anyone doing that.

  74. Scott Saleska
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 7:32 PM | Permalink

    As a scientist who was involved as an Amicus (“friend of the court”) in this case, perhaps I can help clarify some misunderstanding.

    For example, some derision has been expressed here about the fact that the Clean Air Act defines “air pollutant” to include “any air pollution agent . . . , including any physical, chemical . . . substance . . . emitted into . . . the ambient air.” ⥷602(g).

    It has been claimed that this is meaninglessly broad. However, Please note that this definition, by itself, does not allow EPA to regulate emissions of any substance, it only identifies the broad class (material emissions to the air) to which the Clean Air Act may potentially be applied, provided certain other tests are met.

    One of those tests, the key provision at issue in this case, is Section 202, which provides that emissions of air pollutants (defined above) from motor vehicles “shall” be regulated if they, in the EPA’s judgment, “cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”

    I don’t think that oxygen or water vapor, to take two examples cited here, meet this endangerment test, so it is unlikely we have to fear regulation of these gases anytime soon.

    Best regards,
    Scott

  75. Andrey Levin
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 8:23 PM | Permalink

    Re: 65

    K: google “malaria Sri Lanka ddt” and you will get the idea. Mixed together, irresponsible politicians and radical environmentalist, supported by junk science, could impose legislation of genocidal proportions. Same is spiraling out of control with AGW. Apparently, scientific credentials of EPA are less convincing to Supreme Court than award winning documentary pier-revived by Hollywood academics.

    As for layers together with Hollywood trying to solve environmental problems, my favorite is this:
    “Brockovich was a legal file clerk who helped persuade about 650 residents of Hinkley, California, to sue the power company Pacific Gas and Electric. A rust inhibitor named chromium 6 had leaked from one of PG&E’s facilities into the town’s water supply. Brockovich and her bosses claimed drinking this had caused a wide variety of illnesses in residents, from nosebleeds to cancer. In 1996 PG&E paid $US333 million. The lawyers pocketed 40 per cent of this and paid Brockovich some $US2 million for her sterling efforts.
    Brockovich, an attractive single parent, became a heroine. Julia Roberts was paid $US20 million to don the high heels and push-up bra again and play her in the film. Roberts won an Oscar and the movie grossed more than $US125 million in its first six months.
    But then an investigative journalist named Michael Fumento started to look at the facts behind the case. He found that cancer rates in Hinkley were no higher than the Californian averages. He found chromium 6 causes cancer if breathed in large quantities, but there is no evidence it causes cancer if swallowed. (Information on the websites of the US Environment Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and Australia’s Department of Environment and Water Resources suggests he’s right.) And he found that no known agent can cause more than a handful of the symptoms attributed by Brockovich and her colleagues to chromium 6.
    In other words, the case was a crock.”:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/with-friends-like-erin/2007/03/09/1173166983974.html?page=fullpage

    Meanwhile, State of California is suing six major car companies to recover damages from Global Warming to the California residents due to CO2 emissions from tailpipes of cars produced by Big Six.

  76. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    No more on Peak Oil or Rachel Carson or DDT. Interesting topics no doubt but please discuss them elsewhere.

  77. Andrey Levin
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 9:05 PM | Permalink

    Re:76

    Scott, as a scientist, or at least not a lawyer, you could probably know that:

    Water vapor is major greenhouse gas, it is necessary precursor of photosmog and acid rain, it causes fog, corrosion of metal structures, mould and rot in wooden structures and agricultural crops, in form of precipitation it contributes to floods, landslides, black ice on roads, hail, snow storms, hurricanes, mosquito-growing sites, etc.

    Oxygen is precursor of ground-level ozone, metals corrosion, wildfires, most of toxic and carcinogenic substances, etc.

    For full list of adverse effects of DiHydrogen Monoxide take a look at:

    http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html

  78. Arnost Khun
    Posted Apr 3, 2007 at 9:35 PM | Permalink

    In the dissent J. Scallia started a good argument that for CO2 to be covered by the Clean Air Act, it has to be accepted as an “air pollutant”:

    In order to be an “air pollutant” under the Act’s definition, the “substance or matter [being] emitted into . . . the ambient air” must also meet the first half of the definition’€”namely, it must be an “air pollution agent or combination of such agents.”

    I feel that this argument was not followed to its logical conclusion i.e. since by definition CO2 is an indispensable / fundamental part of “ambient air”, it therefore by definition CAN NOT be an “air pollutant”.

    cheers

    Arnost Khun

  79. Jim Edwards
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 4:22 AM | Permalink

    A few [non-repetitive] thoughts on the case holding:

    Injury:

    The Court artfully defined the injury to the plaintiffs. The main injury was not really ‘effects of AGW’ , the main injury was failure of the EPA to use their judgment to respond to the petitioner’s request for action, as required by law. If I may analogize to a recent thread, EPA can’t decide not to respond to a FOIA request. EPA may not have to provide info people want, but they have to give the info or explain their reasons for not doing so. The Court’s spin is that the EPA never made a proper judgment of whether (1) Emissions of the ‘pollutant’ CO2 (2) from cars (3) contributes to (4) the overall CO2 ‘pollution’ level (5) which reasonably may be anticipated to endanger the public health or welfare. The EPA is, moreover, being accused of wanting it both ways on the CO2-climate link.

    We moreover attach considerable significance to EPA’s “agree[ment] with the President that we must address the issue of global climate change,’” 68 Fed. Reg. 52929 (quoting remarks announcing Clear Skies and Global Climate Initiatives, 2002 Public Papers of George W. Bush, Vol. 1, Feb. 14, p. 227 (2004)), and to EPA’s ardent support for various voluntary emission-reduction programs, 68 Fed. Reg. 52932. As Judge Tatel observed in dissent below, “EPA would presumably not bother with such efforts if it thought emissions reductions would have no discernable impact on future global warming.” 415 F. 3d, at 66.

    Causation:
    Keep in mind that causation means a different thing in law than it does in science / stats. In science, causation might mean 95% confidence. The Court spun EPA’s argument as being ‘We don’t have 100% confidence, yet.’ If that were the EPA’s stand, it would be contrary to law. The statute uses the term “reasonably ,” which in legal terms is commonly equated to >50% probability [more likely than not]. The real question the Court wants the EPA to answer is: Is there more than a 50% chance that atmospheric CO2 levels will endanger public health or welfare ? If so, EPA must regulate in some manner.

    …whether ⥲02(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act authorizes EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles in the event that it forms a “judgment” that such emissions contribute to climate change. We have little trouble concluding that it does. In relevant part, ⥲02(a)(1) provides that EPA “shall by regulation prescribe . . . standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in [the Administrator's] judgment cause, or contribute to, airpollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” 42 U. S. C. ⥷521(a)(1).

    Standing:

    I thought standing would be a way to pass on this case. It clear the States can’t demonstrate causation, which is logically necessary to demonstrate they have a particular interest in the litigation. It’s a mistake to get tied up in legalese, however. It’s clear that there is a circular issue that could involve AGW and loss of coastline. It would be absurd if a court had to try a case on its merits before deciding whether it could try the case on its merits. It would be unjust if some legitimate cases couldn’t be heard because the ultimate determination wasn’t known before trial. The common law is like a toolbox from which courts can pull various tools to prove the inevitability of whatever decision they want to justify. Federal courts often appeal to principles of “substance over form.” Ultimately, it’s the Court that gets to decide what an Article III ‘case or controversy’ is, and they just did.

    Role of the Court:

    Several comments above express concern that the Court ‘got it wrong’ and our republic is damaged, somehow. That horse left the barn a long time ago. The Court has made a lot of boneheaded [mis-]interpretations of our Constitution that have screwed the American people over a great deal more than this minor decision ever could. They get to do that in our system. The Court feels even less constrained when, as in this case, they’re simply interpreting a statute. The thinking is, if they get it wrong, Congress can easily enact a new statute – not so easy when they botch Constitutional interpretation. Of course, with the new majority in Congress, the likelihood of Congress correcting any mistake here are somewhere between slim and none. The Court gets to spin the facts the way they want in the decision. Tough.

  80. Nicholas
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 6:21 AM | Permalink

    Jim Edwards, fascinating post. Some comments.

    Injury:

    The Court artfully defined the injury to the plaintiffs. The main injury was not really effects of AGW, the main injury was failure of the EPA to use their judgment to respond to the petitioners request for action, as required by law.

    But the law was not intended to address greenhouse gases was it? If not, how is their addressing this concern required? Seems like a bizarre interpretation of the law to me, almost as bizarre as declaring 350ppm CO2 to be a pollutant. It’s only by an extremely broad (in my opinion, as I’ve stated previously, IMO so broad as to be meaningless) reading of the law that they can make this judgement.

    Causation:

    The real question the Court wants the EPA to answer is: Is there more than a 50% chance that atmospheric CO2 levels will endanger public health or welfare? If so, EPA must regulate in some manner.

    In my opinion, this is simply not known at this stage. If so, what then? Toss a coin?

    Standing:

    It would be absurd if a court had to try a case on its merits before deciding whether it could try the case on its merits. It would be unjust if some legitimate cases couldnt be heard because the ultimate determination wasnt known before trial.

    It would also be absurd and unjust if a court were to rule against a defendant, when the plaintiff can not demonstrate any actual harm by the defendant. I understand your point, but it seems to me, all it means is that the plaintiffs have to provide at least a THEORETICAL harm that they have suffered, which can be later judged as part of the case. I don’t believe they have provided even that. Potential future harm simply does not cut it. I can’t sue you because your dog could bite me tomorrow, surely.

    Role of the Court:

    I can’t disagree with you at all. While I see harm in the consequences of this decision, it is minor compared to the harm caused by previous constitutional law judgements by the US Supreme Court. Still, every little bit is worth fighting for. It’s salami tactics. They chip away a bit here and a bit there, and pretty soon the law and justice are strangers.

    Anyway, I think your interpretation is probably correct, but I still think that the issue of standing was handled incorrectly by the majority.

  81. Scott Saleska
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    Andrey Levin wrote (#78):

    Water vapor is major greenhouse gas, it is necessary precursor of photosmog and acid rain, it causes fog, corrosion of metal structures, mould and rot in wooden structures and agricultural crops, in form of precipitation it contributes to floods, landslides, black ice on roads, hail, snow storms, hurricanes, mosquito-growing sites, etc.

    Oxygen is precursor of ground-level ozone, metals corrosion, wildfires, most of toxic and carcinogenic substances, etc.

    This is true, of course, but not problematic for the Clean Air Act. Many others also seem to have the mis-impression that somehow this decision means that, e.g. water vapor, can be regulated because it is also a greenhouse gas. Not so.

    To be regulated, an emitted substance must be:

    a. an air pollutant (see all-encompassing def above)
    b. “cause or contribute to” endangerment, in the expert judgment of EPA (NB: not the Court)

    Ambient water vapor surely plays a critical role in amplifying the CO2 and other GHG warming, but anthropogenic *emissions* of water vapor do not cause or contribute to AGW. There are lots of human-caused water vapor emissions, but these do nothing to cause global warming. The stock of water vapor in the atmosphere has almost nothing to do with the relatively insignificant amount of human emissions of H2O.

    There is no scientific or legal reason to regulate emissions of H2O because of AGW. That was true before this decision, and it remains so after it.

    Hope this helps,

    Scott

  82. JP
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    #84

    Steve,
    We approaching the time where state mandated regulatory agencies like the EPA will be out of reach of the law (ie Congress). This should have never made it to the SCOTUS. If MA had a beef with the EPA about whether the EPA should lable CO2 a pollutant, its state’s AG had Congress and its oversite committees to turn to. Since the EPA is a branch of the Executive, the state AG may never get what he wants unless Congress re-writes the law.

    The way it stands now, activists can petition a friendly state AG to file a federal complaint; said complaint will get fast-tracked to the SOCTUS, and the SCOTUS can rule on any number of things that are beyond its competence and its jurisdiction. Who knows, maybe the HS will be used as evidence in some future case, and before you know it Federal Law will stipulate that the MWP and LIA never existed – and to say otherwise can get you sued. Who knows, maybe AGW skpeticism will go the same way as Creationism.

  83. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

    From Chief Justice Roberts dissenting opinion I think the essence of the standing argument is made.

    Applying that standard here, petitioners bear the burden of alleging an injury that is fairly traceable to the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to promulgate new motor vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards, and that is likely to be redressed by the prospective issuance of such standards.

    The point I see is that by sliding over, under or through the standing barrier, the justices in the majority opinion are putting themselves directly into the debate on global warming on the side of those who apparently want some regulating done and never mind how much it mitigates real or merely believed potential harmful effects. In fact I find the vagueness of their arguments much the same.

    After saying that, I think that a political reaction to the consensus on AGW is coming, whether by the courts or congress. Of course those involved in this process are well aware that potentially unpopular decisions with the people are, for political expediency, always better made by those who serve for life. I see regulations in attempts to mitigate the effects of GW somewhat as I saw the initial popularity of the war with Iraq that dwindled sharply when people realized its price and saw that some of the initial reasons for the actions were oversold. Whether our government will be able to alter the argument, if required, from the initial purpose of climate change mitigation to something like energy independence remains to be seen. It hasn’t been particularly successful in making the WMD transition to nation building in Iraq.

  84. jae
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    83: You say:

    Ambient water vapor surely plays a critical role in amplifying the CO2 and other GHG warming, but anthropogenic *emissions* of water vapor do not cause or contribute to AGW. T

    I would sure like to see some proof of this amplifying effect. As far as I know, it is theorized. Mainly by the modelers, I think, to allow the models to predict rediculously high future temperatures. Got references?

  85. Curt
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    Scott #75, #83:

    I fail to see how your distinction between CO2 and H20 holds. Warming due to anthropogenic H2O emissions have been documented many times — for instance Christy attributes the higher 20th Century warming trend in California’s Central Valley compared to virtually no warming trend in the adjoining Sierras to irrigation and the subsequent evaporation. And obviously the fact that this is not a global warming effect does not have any bearing under the Clean Air Act, which was established to regulate (primarily at least) local pollution effects.

    Also, in many southwestern US cities, the additional humidity caused by human water use means that cheap swamp coolers are no longer effective for cooling a house, so more expensive compressive air conditioners must be used, or cooling must be done without.

    So if warming due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions can be said to be harmful and therefore permit the EPA to regulate these emissions, I can’t see any reason why H2O would be treated differently under this decision.

  86. Mark H
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

    Jim, (#81)

    I should withhold comment until I have a bit more time, but as a couple of your thoughts seemed off-key I’ll risk being premature. You said:

    The Court artfully defined the injury to the plaintiffs. The main injury was not really effects of AGW’ , the main injury was failure of the EPA to use their judgment to respond to the petitioner’s request for action, as required by law.

    Perhaps it would be helpful to discuss the notion of injury in the context – i.e. injury’s role in ‘standing’ vs. it’s role in determining likely damages to the litigant. That being said, the way I read the opinon that according to Stevens, Mass. has a right to sue for judicial review because it is vested with a procedural right” and “has standing if there is some possibility that the requested relief will prompt the injury-causing party to reconsider the decision that allegedly harmed the litigant.”

    Stevens goes on to quote Tenn. Copper v. Georgia to establish these “quasi-Soveriegn” rights that permit it to sue without meeting the normal standing requirements (e.g. injury in fact) and, after finding Mass has standing, he lists the possible injuries to Mass that may be relieved by EPA action.

    I did not see an argument that claimed that the EPA’s alleged failure to follow the law resulted in the injury that was “EPA’s failure to follow the law”. If so, the Court’s are being shameless in begging the question.

  87. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

    It’s really a bummer you guys nuked my RoHS related post. There is precedent in how RoHS has been handled, that will definitely be relevent as this new wrinkle plays itself out. Oh well, I tried.

  88. Scott Saleska
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    Re #85 (from Jae):

    I would sure like to see some proof of this amplifying effect. As far as I know, it is theorized. Mainly by the modelers, I think, to allow the models to predict rediculously high future temperatures. Got references?

    There is a voluminous literature on the water vapor feedback, as it has long been understood by scientists to be important in this regard:

    The earliest reference I could point you to is from the 19th century (Arrhenius, 1896). The latest is of course whatever version of the IPCC you care to consult (and references therein). An early modern general reference is the famous 1979 National Academy of Sciences study (the “Charney report”, which I think may be the first National Academy study on anthropogenic greenhouse warming). Any modern basic textbook on atmospheric science or meteorology will cover this; a particularly clear and straightforward exposition may be found in: J. Harte, Consider a Spherical Cow: A course in environmental problem solving (1988) (authored by my Ph.D. adviser from graduate school).

    I understand that many reading this blog reject the basic science underlying global climate change, but for those who might take that position, I doubt that any reference would be convincing. As a test of that proposition, I might ask: Do any of the above references convince you?

    Re #86 (from Curt):

    I fail to see how your distinction between CO2 and H20 holds….

    You are quite right, at least insofar as there can be local effects (warming and cooling) due to water vapor emissions (or reductions in such emissions). Jules Charney (chair of the above cited 1979 study), was perhaps among the first to estimate the magnitude of these in relation to reduction in water vapor emissions from deforestation.
    [ Side note: by the way, are you certain the Christy result you cite for California's central valley is in the direction you report? I am unfamiliar with this study, but if there were a water vapor effect due to increased irrigation and subsequent evaporation, I would have thought it would be a cooling one. Unless maybe you are referring to a nighttime effect?? Without having looked into it, I would anticipate cooling during the day due to latent heat flux from evapotranspiration, with a possible nighttime warming effect due to the more humid air when there is no evapotranspiration to cause cooling but there is a local greenhouse effect from higher atmospheric humidity -- note that this nighttime effect would like work consistently only in a desert, where even nighttime air is well below saturation. ]

    But in any case, the distinction about which I was speaking still holds: anthropogenic water vapor emissions do not cause or contribute to anthropogenic global warming, and so are irrelevant to regulating climate change.

    As far as whether a case can be made for regulation of water vapor emissions in some other context: all I can say, to somebody who thinks that water vapor emissions are the primary cause of a problem that they think should be regulated under the clean air act, is: good luck, you are going to need it.

    Cheers,
    Scott Saleska

  89. jae
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

    89:

    I understand that many reading this blog reject the basic science underlying global climate change, but for those who might take that position, I doubt that any reference would be convincing. As a test of that proposition, I might ask: Do any of the above references convince you?

    On behalf of myself and the rest of the “many” here that reject the basic science, thanks for the generalized ad hom.

    I located and scanned the Charney Report, and at first glance, there appears to be nothing there but biblical armwaving about model predictions and an estimate of temperature increase of 3 +/- 1.5 deg. C for a doubling of CO2. Didn’t notice any sort of first principles analysis, except a general reference to the Classius Clapyron equation (but I only scanned it; I’ll read all of it tonite). Can’t find the paper by your advisor on the “Spherical Cow,” but Googled many references to it. Could you provide me with a link to the paper?

    I don’t think the “science is settled,” regarding water vapor feedback (or any other of the feedbacks, for that matter), and I believe I’m in good company. Climate models do not settle the science, in my mind.

  90. Curt
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 9:20 PM | Permalink

    Scott #89:

    Thanks for your reply. You ask whether Christy did actually report heating due to anthropogenic H2O emissions. Yes, he did (J. Climate 2006). You can read Steve McIntyre’s take on it here, with the key graphs copied:

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=697

    In addition, here’s a news release from last week about a NASA/JPL study on California temperature trends:

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2007-035

    They report significant nighttime (especially) heating trends in rural agricultural areas as opposed to rural non-agricultural areas. As you suspected, the biggest increases are in irrigated desert areas.

    I understand your scientific distinction that these are local heating effects, not global. But since the Clean Air Act does not make any distinction between local and global harms, and indeed has always been used for local harms, I do not see that there is any legal distinction here, and this is a legal issue.

    Finally, you say, “to somebody who thinks that water vapor emissions are the primary cause of a problem that they think should be regulated under the clean air act, is: good luck, you are going to need it.”

    I would certainly hope so, but I would have thought the same thing about ppms of CO2.

  91. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 4, 2007 at 9:37 PM | Permalink

    Dr Saleska, you observed:

    There is a voluminous literature on the water vapor feedback, as it has long been understood by scientists to be important in this regard: … The latest is of course whatever version of the IPCC you care to consult (and references therein). An early modern general reference is the famous 1979 National Academy of Sciences study (the “Charney report”, which I think may be the first National Academy study on anthropogenic greenhouse warming).

    I recently referred to the Charney Report in a post here, observing as you did that it was the first NAS report on the topic. (Had you googled “charney report climate”, you would have seen a link to climateaudit in the first ten). This post observed that in the nearly 30 years since the Charney Report, there had been virtually no reduction in the confidence intervals of the projected impact of 2 xCO2. I quoted the following passage from the Charney Report on the impact of increased water vapor.

    The associated increase of absolute humidity increases the infrared absorptivity of the atmosphere over that of CO2 alone and provides a positive feedback …the consequence is that ΔQ/ΔT is decreased and ΔT increased by about a factor of 2. For doubled CO2, the temperature increase would be 2 deg C. One-dimensional radiative-convective models that assume fixed relative humidity, a fixed tropospheric lapse rate of 6.5 K km-1 and fixed cloud cover and height give ΔQ/ΔT= 2.0 wm-2 K-1 (Ramanathan and Coakley, 1978). This value is uncertain by at least +-0.5 wm-2 K-1 because of uncertainties in the possible changes of relative humidity, temperature lapse rate and cloud cover and cloud height.

    To my knowledge, your assertion that the basic physics by which increased CO2 translates into (say) 2.5 deg C warming is explained in the IPCC reports is incorrect, as far as I can tell. It would be more accurate to say that the reports presume the basic physics, which is, in my opinion, too bad in a report for policy-makers and a literate public who are interested and concerned with the topic but trained in other specialties. I suggested to Mike MacCracken prior to IPCC 4AR that it would be very instructive both for policy-makers and for the many concerned citizens to have a definitive and up-to-date exposition of the basic physics. Instead, IPCC 4AR decided to have a self-congratulatory and fatuous history of climate science that, in my opinion, has no place in a policy document (whatever interest it may have in a history of science class.) Thus there is no basic exposition in IPCC reports to my knowledge – it’s possible that I’ve missed a relevant section in one of the documents – if so, I would appreciate the reference and will consult it.

    While the above paragraph in the Charney Report may well be valid, many of us are used to more substantive documentation and even engineering-level analyses of several hundred pages, in which evidence for the claims in the above paragraph would be established in detail. I’m not used to situations where one has to make decisions on such slim exposition and, it is disappointing that, after all the work in the IPCC reports, such an ancient source is being applied.

    Personally, I would be interested in something about 50-100 pages on the topic, rather than a few lines. I’ve consulted the basic textbooks (though not the text that you mention) and find myself frustrated that I’ve been unable to find an exposition that is neither simple arm-waving (e.g Houghton’s assertion that increased CO2 causes the altitude of radiation to increase – which is doubtless true but doesn’t control for changes in lapse rates) reporting of GCM results where the underlying physics is mingled with all kinds of modeling assumptions that are impenetrable and may or maynot have a systemic effect on the results.

    You say:

    Any modern basic textbook on atmospheric science or meteorology will cover this; a particularly clear and straightforward exposition may be found in: J. Harte, Consider a Spherical Cow: A course in environmental problem solving (1988) (authored by my Ph.D. adviser from graduate school).

    Well, I’d be interested in this exposition or any other suggestion. However, as noted above, Houghton’s text falls well short of the professional quality of analysis that I’ve become used to other topics. That’s not to say that the analysis is or isn;t right; merely that it is very cursory.

    You say:

    I understand that many reading this blog reject the basic science underlying global climate change, but for those who might take that position, I doubt that any reference would be convincing. As a test of that proposition, I might ask: Do any of the above references convince you?

    This is a very unfair statement. Most of the discussion on this blog has been about proxy studies. Far from “rejecting basic science” in this area, I am attempting to apply basic statistical standards to studies that are essentially statistical, but which do not meet proper standards. The statistical criticisms that we made of prominent studies relied upon by IPCC were endorsed by both the Chairman of the NAS Committee on Theoretical and Applied Statistics and by the NAS Committee on Surface Temperature Reconstructions. While the latter committee felt that it was “plausible” that similar conclusions could be reached on alternative grounds than the discredited Mann study, they failed to ensure that the reconstructions that they relied upon for comfort did not also use questionable proxies, such as bristlecones that they had concluded should be avoided. In a seminar, they said that they just “winged it”. Although I have a low view on the quality of scientific work in the multiproxy area, it is invidious for you to suggest that this is a “rejection” of basic science. These proxies studies are highly questionable and, in the words of the NAS press conference, were “oversold”.

    That doesn’t mean that other arguments are invalid. But it does indicate that, in the proxy case, one could not rely on IPCC due dligence.

  92. Scott Saleska
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 12:58 AM | Permalink

    Jae wrote:

    On behalf of myself and the rest of the “many” here that reject the basic science, thanks for the generalized ad hom.

    Dear Jae,

    This comment was not intended as an ad hom, my apologies if you took it that way.

    But we might both recognize an epistemological reality that communication and persuasion depend, at some level, on a level of shared understanding upon which communication and persuasion can be built. My perception is that sufficient common ground and agreement may be lacking, but of course that could be further explored.

    For example, you suggest that “models” are inadequate to address the question. But to my mind, all scientific understanding is based on models of one kind or another, beginning with Newton’s F=ma, and including, of course, the Clausius-Clapeyron relation to which you refer. If you reject “models” in all their manifestations as a mode of understanding in any context, then we will obviously not get very far. But I suspect it is more likely that you do not reject all models or all contexts. In which case we need to come to a better understanding of where a mutually acceptable starting point might be, before we could have a productive discussion.

    Based on what you have said so far, I doubt you will find either the Charney report (or the “Spherical Cow” — a textbook, not a paper) very useful, because like much of science, these build upon foundations, and take as a given, things that I suspect you will not accept as a starting point. The Charney report is a concise summary by leaders in the field of science that is done elsewhere. In particular, it is heavily dependent (even more than the IPCC) on models that were state of the art in the 1970’s, but which would be considered primitive today. In any case, since it focuses mostly on general circulation models, I suspect you won’t find it very helpful.

    Best,Scott

  93. Scott Saleska
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 1:08 AM | Permalink

    Dear Steve McIntyre,

    In response to my comment that some readers of this blog seem to reject the science of climate change, you wrote,

    This is a very unfair statement. Most of the discussion on this blog has been about proxy studies. Far from “rejecting basic science” in this area, I am attempting to apply basic statistical standards to studies that are essentially statistical, but which do not meet proper standards.

    My apologies, but please note that what I referred to was (some of) those “reading this blog,” not those writing it. Though I haven’t so far worked in the climate proxy field, I basically see what you are trying to do here as scientific in a fundamental sense: evidence based inquiry, without accepting the say-so of anybody no matter their authority. (Whenever I look at this site — not often enough, apparently, to have seen your earlier post on the Charney report — I am reminded of the saying that I think I first saw on the Splus news list: “In god we trust, all others must bring data.”) CA certainly is more scientific in terms of representing the actual ongoing (sometimes messy) process of ongoing evidence-based inquiry than any blog I am aware of. I read your GRL paper when published, thought it a reasonable criticism at the time, and noted that the NAS report did basically endorse it.

    Anyway, I am way behind in class prep for tomorrow, but now that I have a better idea of what you folks are thinking about for the water vapor issue, I will see what I can come up with after more careful reflection. I am not a particular expert in this area, but I should be able to dredge up a good review paper or two.

    Cheers,
    Scott

  94. Andrey Levin
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 1:30 AM | Permalink

    Re:82

    Scott, consider this: US motor vehicles emit 60% of transportation CO2, which is 20% of all US emissions of CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels, which is 20% of global CO2 emissions from combustion of fossil fuels, which is 3.5% of natural CO2 yearly emissions, which is responsible for about 5% of total GHG effect, unknown part of it could be a reason for Global temperatures increase by 0.6 C in past century. If EPA managed somehow to reduce CO2 emissions from US motor vehicles by 10%, it will cool the Earth for some unknown fraction of 0.000000025 C per year. Multiply it by 100, you still have minuscule amount.

    From the other hand, combustion of 1 kg of gasoline generates about 1.5 kg of water vapor, and water vapor in atmosphere is responsible for no less than 90% of GHG effect.

    Why not to regulate water vapor emissions from combustion of fossil fuel (oil) in motor vehicles?

  95. chrisl
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 2:03 AM | Permalink

    “In God we trust, all others must bring data”
    JohnA, you have to put that up in the heading somewhere!

  96. Tom Vonk
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 2:43 AM | Permalink

    For example, you suggest that “models” are inadequate to address the question. But to my mind, all scientific understanding is based on models of one kind or another, beginning with Newton’s F=ma, and including, of course, the Clausius-Clapeyron relation to which you refer. If you reject “models” in all their manifestations as a mode of understanding in any context, then we will obviously not get very far.

    Words are important . What you miss in the quote above is the word “numerical” .
    While on a meta-level the general relativity is a “model” of gravitation , the numerical model trying to solve Einstein’s equations is quite another cup of tea altogether .
    You may accept the general relativity yet refute the numerical “solutions” proposed by a computer run .
    What many scientists on this blog or elsewhere reject (see f.ex the thread here about exponential divergence) are not the conservation laws or fluid dynamics – it is the relevance of a numerical computer simulation that introduce a huge number of man made numerical artefacts that have no physical meaning (time and space integration steps , statistical approximations , time averaging and such) .
    So yes , numerical models are not always adequate to adress dynamical problems and especially then not when they have to deal with non linear chaotic systems .

  97. T J Olson
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 4:28 AM | Permalink

    Scott Saleska (#82)-

    Logically, problem this Court holding poses is more extensive than Scott admits. Since the EPA may regulate emissions it deems reasonably threaten the public, what is “reasonable” is up for grabs – precisely the difficulty underlying Steve’s work.

    Suppose UHI – or really human land use change – actually drives most of the observed ACW effects? (Which isn’t an unreasonable interpretation of the divergent NH/SH satellite data.) Will the EPA then have the responsibility to throttle the entire US economy?

    Of course, many disagree, if only because this rulling achieves the end to requiring the EPA take a stand on ACW, and orthodoxy will be enshrined as policy without long-overdue criticism.

    But the logic of the slippery slope is strong, because it has long been established by EPA history. It’s why the US Army Corps of Engineers, empowered to “regulate navigable waterways” in the US, also regulates non-navigable bodies – like lakes in Minnesota – under splendid theory that they could be navigable!

    Thus, the American theory of limited government is diminished by bureaucratic practice.

  98. MarkW
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 4:50 AM | Permalink

    #86, Curt,

    20 something years ago, I was visiting Palm Springs, CA. I read an article in which it mentioned that the extra humidity from the city
    was starting to affect the kinds and concentrations of desert flora near the city.

  99. MarkW
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 4:55 AM | Permalink

    Scott,

    It’s odd how AGW alarmists are always quick to declare that anyone who doesn’t agree with them “rejects science”.

    I have yet to see anyone on this site reject science. We reject certain studies, when those studies are found to have flaws that
    render them meaningless.

    There’s a big difference between the two positions.

  100. MarkW
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 5:03 AM | Permalink

    #93 Scott,

    Let me see if I have this straight. You are arguing that since some models adequately explain reality, that therefore all models
    adequately explain reality?????

  101. MarkW
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 5:04 AM | Permalink

    #94 Scott,

    Now you are claiming that you can read the minds of people of who read blogs, but don’t post?

  102. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

    #94. Dear Scott,

    thank you for these comments. Your comment below captures in a few words what I try to do:

    I basically see what you are trying to do here as scientific in a fundamental sense: evidence based inquiry, without accepting the say-so of anybody no matter their authority. (Whenever I look at this site … I am reminded of the saying that I think I first saw on the Splus news list: “In god we trust, all others must bring data.”) CA certainly is more scientific in terms of representing the actual ongoing (sometimes messy) process of ongoing evidence-based inquiry than any blog I am aware of. I read your GRL paper when published, thought it a reasonable criticism at the time, and noted that the NAS report did basically endorse it.

    It amazes me how much rage and anger this process has engendered, and I will undoubtedly quote your comment from time to time when I’m criticized. From your own actions with the Amicus Curiae brief, it sounds like you likewise do not necessarily “accept the say-so of anybody no matter their authority”.

    Cheers, Steve McIntyre

  103. jae
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 1:09 PM | Permalink

    Scott, if water vapor exerts a positive feedback effect, would you please explain to me why July temperatures in Gulf Coast and Southern states (very high humidity) are lower than at low elevations in the Desert Southwest where humidity is extremely low (same latitude, almost same altitudes). Temperatures in are about 3 degrees C higher at low elevation, low humidity Southwest locations. If there is a forcing effect, it appears to me that it is negative. The water vapor decreases the diurnal variation, so that there is more total heat in the air in the South, but not more temperature. (I’m talking about thirty year averages here.)

  104. Jaye Bass
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    M&S can be a powerful tool for understanding something, testing something, or designing something. However, the code has to be both verified and validated. In my industry we tend to validate a lot over time (model/test/model) and it results in models and simulations that we can trust for certain tasks, sometimes those tasks involve spending money based partially on model results. That does not mean we stop collecting real data nor do we fool ourselves into thinking that if the model disagrees with the data then the data has to be wrong.

  105. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 1:51 PM | Permalink

    RE: #104 – Hehehe! Energetics, yes indeed … Picture this. The sun rises in say, NW Mississippi, on say, July 15. What happens with a given parcel of air, which, as of dawn, is near ground level? Now, sun rises in the aptly named Thermal, California. Same question, what happens to a given near surface parcel?

  106. Demesure
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    #100

    It’s odd how AGW alarmists are always quick to declare that anyone who doesn’t agree with them “rejects science”.

    Same old trick a la Al Gore stating GW is a “moral issue” (understated: you disagree, you’re immoral).

    Anyway, whatever the Supreme Court could have said, here in France, you can read media headtitles like “Bush lost a battle, US Supreme Court considers CO2 a pollutant”. Try to say it’s untrue and you’re are qualified a denier or even worse, a Bushist :-( Desperating !

  107. bruce
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    Scott (or any other climate scientist who cares to contribute).

    In post #92, Steve McIntyres stated:

    To my knowledge, your assertion that the basic physics by which increased CO2 translates into (say) 2.5 deg C warming is explained in the IPCC reports is incorrect, as far as I can tell. It would be more accurate to say that the reports presume the basic physics, which is, in my opinion, too bad in a report for policy-makers and a literate public who are interested and concerned with the topic but trained in other specialties. I suggested to Mike MacCracken prior to IPCC 4AR that it would be very instructive both for policy-makers and for the many concerned citizens to have a definitive and up-to-date exposition of the basic physics. Instead, IPCC 4AR decided to have a self-congratulatory and fatuous history of climate science that, in my opinion, has no place in a policy document (whatever interest it may have in a history of science class.) Thus there is no basic exposition in IPCC reports to my knowledge – it’s possible that I’ve missed a relevant section in one of the documents – if so, I would appreciate the reference and will consult it.

    I am a layman insofar as climate science is concerned. However, I am very interested in a credible explanation of the physics by which CO2 warms the planet by (Steve says) 2.5 Deg C, but which IPCC SPM says could be up to 6.4 Deg C under some scenarios. We are told to go to RC for an explanation, but I’m afraid that responses like “Sigh. Read the published peer-reviewed literature” don’t really help that much.

    I do appreciate your participation here, and welcome your comments on this important issue.

  108. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

    #108. Scott has got an exact understanding of our “evidence-based” approach; and I am optimistic that we’ll get some references that are not Gavin-esque “Sigh… Read the literature” that you rightly object to. Everyone please chill for a while, he’s got other things to do, but he said he’d back to us and I’m sure he will.

  109. DeWitt Payne
    Posted Apr 5, 2007 at 9:31 PM | Permalink

    I see Consider A Spherical Cow is a available from Amazon, but considering that only 29 pages of the book appear to be devoted to Climatology (so if I buy it used, I’m effectively paying $1/page and probably more than that because I probably know at least something of what’s there already), I would be much more interested in The Dynamic Environment: Computer Models to Accompany Consider a Spherical Cow/Windows by Leonard J. Soltzberg (Paperback – Dec 1995) which doesn’t seem to be available any more.

  110. Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 7:19 AM | Permalink

    Hi all,

    Scott asked me about water vapor references in regard to this conversation. Have you read the string of papers by Soden and Held?

    Soden and Held 2006, An Assessment of Climate Feedbacks in Coupled Ocean’€”Atmosphere Models, J. Climate 19:3354, DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3799.1 reviews the relative role of various feedbacks in the IPCC AR4 runs.

    Held and Soden, “Water Vapor Feedback and Global Warming” Annu. Rev. Energy Environ. 2000. 25:441’€”75 is a general review of the problem, including discussions of the different dynamics and physics involved in water vapor response to temperature changes in the boundary layer and free troposphere, as well as a discussion of the feedback on a global level. If you haven’t read it, I think you will find it very interesting and though-provoking.

    Cheers,
    Dan

  111. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 7:45 AM | Permalink

    #111, Hi, Dan. We’ve had some discussion of Soden and Held 2006 in the past. What surprised me in the discussion was that Held’s expectation was that cloud feedback in the GCMs would be positive in some models and negative in others. He expressed surprise in a realclimate comment that it turned out that it was strongly positive in all models. His surprise would be a cause for concern to me.

    Held and Soden 2000 online here sounds like a more appropriate entry point for people here. I will set up a thread for it.

    IF one were managing climate model engineering in the same way as space station engineering, I think that there would be a lot of attention on the manifold issues of cloud and water vapor feedback. I think that one could have justified 60% of AR4 being devoted to this one issue, instead of a couple of pages. A suggestion that I’ve made from time to time, which has thus far fallen on deaf ears, is that the present debate would be well served by the models being reviewed by independent engineers funded to do so in a proper way, rather than the present system of literature review by able but committed scientists.

  112. Demesure
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    Everyone please chill for a while, he’s got other things to do, but he said he’d back to us and I’m sure he will.

    @109
    For sure, as a CA reader, I didn’t like Scott’s first post about “some CA readers rejecting basic science” (how he can count readers must be interesting to discuss in a telepathy blog). I prefer much more his following post where he promised to get back for further discussions on water vapor.

  113. Sudha Shenoy
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    #110.

    Two copies of the book are available on Abebooks @ around $US57 or so. Bookfinder & Powells Books are also worth trying. I’ve had good experiences with all three.

  114. Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 8:51 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Re: convection and cloud model testing.

    The problem has been a lack of detailed data. If you could accurately and precisely measure the temperature, water vapor content and cloud radiative forcing over the whole atmosphere at high space and time resolutions, you could go a long way towards testing and correcting the cloud and convection parameterization. Those data are finally becoming available; between the COSMIC GPS satellite network, which can produce accurate temperature profiles through most of the depth of the atmosphere 2500 times/daily, the various spectrally-resolved IR observing instruments (AIRS, IASI, eventually CrIS), and cloud-observing satellites like CloudSat, we are amassing data that will provide a serious capability to falsify model statistics at a wide range of time and space scales.

    This is not to say that people haven’t been working on the problem with the data at hand. The ARM observation sites were designed expressly for this purpose- here’s a brief summary white paper on the topic:

    Dan

  115. Jaye Bass
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    “some CA readers rejecting basic science”

    So how does that compare with RC readers forming neighborhood GHG groups. I’m sure Gaia approves.

  116. jae
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 9:16 AM | Permalink

    Junk Science says the Supreme Court decision doesn’t make any difference.

  117. jae
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    Wow, if you want a lesson on just how many uncertainties there are in climate models, read the white paper linked by Dan. A question: when you pile dozens of uncertainties on top of each other, how do you calculate the overall uncertainty?

  118. Scott Saleska
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    Hi guys,

    Aww, man, I knew I was going to be in trouble when I pushed the submit button on the at one about CA “readers” rejecting the science. We all have our biases. Mine, as part of the “mainstream” scientific community, is to rely on the expertise of others for topics outside my area of work (which focuses on mostly on ecosystem feedbacks to climate, through vegetation and carbon cycling, etc). I will leave it to you folks to characterize your own biases, else I get myself into another round of hot water. In the interest of seeing whether we can achieve common ground on something, what if I said that many folks on this site “reject the consensus science”, rather than rejects science. If you don’t like that, propose something else you think if more accurate.

    -Cheers,
    Scott

  119. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    RE: #115 – Here is a potential issue which I suspect the “postive feedback only” modellers have gotten burned by. When I evaporate water, that process is endothermic. When it condenses, the process is exothermic. But what about after condensation has occurred? This is where I suspect some have gotten wrapped around the axle. I suspect quite a diverse set of energetic situations, vis a vis already formed clouds, depending on cloud type and where a cloud bank is in its life cycle. Also, obviously, clouds are also filters vis a vis EM energy in certain bands.

  120. Scott Saleska
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre,

    Regarding water vapor, as you can see, I have punted the issue to my colleague Dan Kirk-Davidoff, who actually does climate modeling and studies water vapor, and knows far more about the details than I do. It looks like the Held and Soden (2000) paper is exactly the type of reference you were asking for, I hope you agree (that it is the type of paper you wanted, not necessarily with its content).

    Thanks!

    -Scott

  121. Scott Saleska
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    Regarding “Spherical Cow” book: it is a basic undergraduate text on using simple box models for addressing environmental problems. It has a simple two-layer climate model in it, but it is mostly pedagogical. It is a delightful textbook at a basic undergraduate level, but based on the exchanges here so far, it is probably not what you are looking for.

    Cheers,
    Scott

  122. jae
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

    119: Scott. I don’t believe in “consensus science,” when there are obviously so many uncertainties in the science. In fact, I don’t even believe a consensus exists in climatology. Consensus is anathema to good science, IMO. On the other hand, I accept that GHGs are causing some warming, but I think it is relatively minor, so I guess I partly agree with the “consensus.” We will be glad to have that CO2 in the air if some of the leading solar scientists are correct about future cooling.

  123. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    Mine, as part of the “mainstream” scientific community, is to rely on the expertise of others for topics outside my area of work (which focuses on mostly on ecosystem feedbacks to climate, through vegetation and carbon cycling, etc

    That’s refreshing. Of course, there are those supposedly in the “mainstream” scientific community who admit they are not statisticians but continue to reject the expertise of those who are when it comes to statistical issues. Sometimes, their statistical aptitude is actually below those of posters on this site (even those with minimal statistical training). Mathematical and statistical issues happen to be what this site is about the vast majority of the time.

    But I’m not quite sure how your area of work ties-in with the EPA suit in question. I would think that would be left to the “expertise” of someone else.

    I do find your background and the terminology of your academic position interesting, as I think someone with a position such as, “Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology” who were in the “skeptical” category would be accused of “not being a climate scientist.” But supporting the “consensous,” I imagine this criticism does not happen to you.

  124. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    Mine, as part of the “mainstream” scientific community, is to rely on the expertise of others for topics outside my area of work (which focuses on mostly on ecosystem feedbacks to climate, through vegetation and carbon cycling, etc). I will leave it to you folks to characterize your own biases, else I get myself into another round of hot water. In the interest of seeing whether we can achieve common ground on something, what if I said that many folks on this site “reject the consensus science”, rather than rejects science. If you don’t like that, propose something else you think if more accurate.

    I’ve got a long answer and a short answer. But first let me ask you: is the Hockey Stick (plus/minus the spaghetti graphs) part of “consensus science”?

  125. bender
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    It’s not the “consensus science” I object to. It’s the consensus *non-science* masquerading as science. And the HS is part of that.

  126. JohnM
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

    You don’t need to use statistics to know that Mann’s hockey stick is bogus. The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period are matters of historical record. There are plenty of examples over in Europe of how land use changed over the centuries with changes in the climate along with accounts of rivers freezing over etc that don’t in the modern era. Mann’s hockey stick is therefore clearly not “consensus science” given that this wide array of information was deliberately ignored but an exercise in politically motivated historical revisionism.

    “Consensus science” in my opinion would, however, include stuff like the IR spectrum of CO2. The fact that the O-C-O angle bend vibration absorbs heat that is radiated out from the surface of the Earth in the form of IR radiation is the main basis for believing that having more CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to higher temperatures (rather than Mann and his revisionism of climate history, which is basically a bit of a red herring in all of this) and has been since Arrhenius first looked at this whole question in the 1890s. People who come on here simply to have their view that global warming is a myth validated should probably be made aware of that more often.

  127. John Lang
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    John M #127 – “Consensus science” in my opinion would, however, include stuff like the IR spectrum of CO2.

    It would be nice, however, if someone could actually show the specific part(s) of the IR spectrum that CO2 is presently absorbing and how much the additional absorption is actually contributing to temperature rise.

    For example, this chart which shows CO2 absorbs an extremely small part of the IR spectrum compared to idea presented of a grand greenhouse effect.

  128. John Lang
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

    Sorry, the complete chart did not show up. Essentially, water vapour is already full absorbing the IR spectrum that CO2 absorbs except for a small area around 15 um.

    More detail regarding this can be found here .

    For comparison, here is graphic of the entire EM spectrum of which the IR spectrum is a very small part and the fact that the 15 um part is a miniscule fraction of the entire EM spectrum .

  129. JohnM
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

    For anybody interested in the historical background to the question of CO2’s link to temperature this url is worth a look:-

    http://hidraulica.unalmed.edu.co/~ojmesa/DGW04/co2.htm

    It addresses John Lang’s point above. The upper atmosphere where those CO2 IR bands are not currently saturated is the key. There is a solid scientific basis for believing in the existence of AGW. The real question at issue is how drastic it would be with a doubling in the concentration of CO2 rather than outright denial that there is a link. Many scientists have predicted “not very”, while others have a more apocalyptic viewpoint obviously.

    http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/

    Quack science like Mann’s hockey stick is a propaganda exercise deliberately designed to scare the politicians and the people who vote them into office into doing something that they might not otherwise do if the effect didn’t appear to be all that drastic and there was reason to believe that it was no more significant than the natural cycles that happen based on fluctuations in solar irradiance.

  130. John Lang
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 8:38 PM | Permalink

    John M – I’ve read through your links above before.

    The first link is what made me the most sceptical. By the time you go through the 2 dozen links(/hoops) it makes you go through, you realize that they (the global warming scientists) do not have this figured out at all yet – the real scientific evidenced-based foundation that is.

    They need to rely on the climate models to estimate all the various feedbacks and energy transfers in the atmosphere that are required to estimate 4 w/m2 or 2 w/m2 or 25 w/m2 per doubling of CO2. It is extremely complicated so one has to rely on a climate model.

    We have to rely on James Hansen to tell us how CO2’s limited IR spectrum absorption bands affects the climate.

    Since it is so complicated and I am not willing to accept James Hansen’s word, we have to then rely on climate history.

    The geologic and the ice core records of CO2 and temperature tell us that the relationship between CO2 doubling and temperature is only 1C or less per doubling of CO2 (not up to 6.2C) as James Hansen tells us.

    If it did, the temperatures 400 million years ago (when CO2 was 4,000 ppm) would have been 26.0C warmer than today (which is wasn’t, 4.0C is the best estimate.)

    In other words, we have only seen 0.4C of temperature increase since the beginning of the industrial age. We might see another 0.5C over the next century and another 0.5C of warming might happen before we run out of fossil fuels.

    The rest of it is hysterical exageration. 50% of 15 ums of IR absorption does not add up to anything unless it can be shown or proven how it raises temperatures.

  131. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 6, 2007 at 9:08 PM | Permalink

    I strongly disagree with readers using terms like “hysterical exaggeration”. The scientists in question may be right or wrong, but are serious people and are not simply having a hissy fit.

    I happen to think that there’s a valid issue in the discussion of water vapor/CO2 overlap and a good point has been raised, but you spoil your point by going a bridge too far.

    Folks, you have to learn that to third parties you’re only as strong as your weakest point. If you try to say too much, you’ll end up spoiling your best point by including a weak point. And anyone reading your post will find your weakest point like a magnet.

    So please edit things with that in mind. Re-read your posts and try to take out the weakest point. And don’t please don’t attribute motives to people.

  132. DeWitt Payne
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

    #122
    Scott, thanks for the info on Spherical Cow. Do you have other suggestions in addition to Held and Soden 2000 and Soden and Held 2006? I’m particularly interested in latent heat transfer and how it might be affected by temperature.

    #128

    Unfortunately, IR spectra of CO2 and H2O vapor are almost always in percent transmittance. low resolution and generally taken at high concentration so weakly absorbing bands can be seen. This is a result, I think, of IR spectra being used primarily by organic chemists for structure analysis and using single beam spectrometers rather than for quantitative analysis. I know there are programs and databases like MODTRAN and HITRAN, but they aren’t free and I’m trying to do this stuff with minimal expense.

  133. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 3:12 AM | Permalink

    DeWitt, MODTRAN is online here for free …

    w.

  134. Mark H
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    RE:132

    An excellent bit of advice, one that I am going to have to remember in my political discussion. Of course, the ethics of political discourse is so poor, I am not sure it matters as much… I mean, look at who we elect.

    Another way I have put it: “your point does not survive exagerration”.

  135. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

    Re: #132

    Folks, you have to learn that to third parties you’re only as strong as your weakest point. If you try to say too much, you’ll end up spoiling your best point by including a weak point. And anyone reading your post will find your weakest point like a magnet.

    And might I add, wastes a lot of time and space discussing/debating a point (often not all that important) that is not even relevant to the thread. I think it also flags individuals (at times incorrectly) as being less serious or informed about the subject matter.

  136. KevinUK
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    #132 Steve

    We all know that you are a very reasonable person and are probably the type that always looks for the best in people and who always gives people the benefit of the doubt (except when it comes to the interference rule in squash of course ;-)). However some of us, when we see something that walks like a duck, that looks like a duck and that quacks like a duck, are happy to call it a duck. When we see gross distortion of data, manipulation of the historical record and clear exaggeration in the form of the warped predictions of future warming of our planet by climate modellers then I think the less polite ones amongst us are entitled to refer to this sort of deliberate alarmist activity as ‘hysterical exaggeration’. It’s certainly an accurate term IMO in regard to how the current warming trend is reported within the MSM at the very least.

    KevinUK

  137. DeWitt Payne
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

    #134 Willis,

    Thanks. I think I have seen that site before. Unfortunately, at one point at a time, it might take me a while to collect all the information I think I need.

  138. Patrick
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

    Given the implications of “peak oil” would it actually be a bad thing if the EPA clamped down a bit on the profligate use of a non-renewable resource for personal transportation?

    It would be wonderful if we used more nuclear/wind/etc power to get rid of coal pollution and leveraged it for plug-in hybrids so we would use less imported oil. And we should do that even though doubling CO2 will be less dire than the alarmists speculate. however, “given the implication of ‘peak oil’ ” I’d say either peak oil or AGW will get us, but not both. if we dont have the fossil fuels to burn, how can they cause a climate calamity, right?

  139. johnandrews52
    Posted Jul 22, 2008 at 6:24 AM | Permalink

    Can we run our car with water and gas?
    Can anybody tell me is the HHO Gas is real working or is another scam?

  140. Phil
    Posted Nov 16, 2008 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

    The Mass v. EPA decision has been used by the Sierra Club (and others, including Nasa’s Dr. James Hansen, who appears to have filed a personal brief) to successfully appeal a permit granted by EPA on the basis that the EPA failed to apply “BACT” or best available control technology to limit CO2 emissions from a second waste-coal-fired electric generating unit at Deseret Power Electric Cooperative’s existing Bonanza Power Plant near Bonanza, Utah. Permits for over 100 new coal-fired plants and expansion of refineries now appear to be in legal limbo, pending a decision by the new administration over what the BACT would be. The EPA appeals board, in a historical understatement, said: “In remanding this permit to the Region for reconsideration of its conclusions regarding application of BACT to limit CO2 emissions, the Board recognizes that this is an issue of national scope that has implications far beyond this individual permitting proceeding.” http://yosemite.epa.gov/oa/EAB_Web_Docket.nsf/Recent~Additions/C8C5985967D8096E85257500006811A7/$File/Remand…39.pdf

    IIRC, coal supplies about 50% of our electricity and no new refineries have been built in decades – only existing ones have been expanded. Since CO2 now appears to be, for all practical purposes, classified as an actual “air pollutant” AND this decision may now serve as a precedent requiring control of CO2 emissions, ANY future emissions of CO2 will probably now be required to be regulated by the EPA.

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