Tag Archives: global warming

CEI Podcast for February 23, 2012: Global Warming and Mass Movements

Have a listen here.

In 1841, the Scottish writer Charles Mackay observed, ” the cup of life is not bitter enough to our palate, and we distill superfluous poison to put into it, or conjure up hideous things to frighten ourselves at, which would never exist if we did not make them.” CEI Warren Brookes Fellow Matt Patterson believes this glass-half-empty aspect of human nature applies directly to today’s global warming debate.


Icemakers: Mankind’s Doom

An article at Time explains “How the Ice in Your Drink is Imperiling the Planet,” and what regulators are doing about it:

NIST is thus urging refrigerator manufacturers to look closely at the design of their icemakers, insisting that there are “substantial opportunities for efficiency improvements merely by optimizing the operations of the heaters.”

That appeal to reason, NIST officials hope, will be enough. But just in case it isn’t, the Department of Energy has announced that it intends to add 84 kilowatt hours to the efficiency rating of every refrigerator equipped with an icemaker. Consumers will feel that fact in the wallet—and if manufacturers don’t scramble to improve their numbers, they soon will too.

The 10:10 Project and Zeno’s Paradox

The goal of the 10:10 Project is to cut carbon emissions by 10 percent per year. Sony, which supported the 10:10 Project until a promotional video featuring exploding global warming skeptics offended a lot of people, has its own project called the “Road to Zero.”

While they mean well, supporters of the two initiatives seem to have forgotten Zeno’s paradox. Suppose that people are particularly zealous about their carbon-cutting and cut 50 percent per year, not 10 percent. Not only does that make the math easier, it biases the numbers against the argument I’m making.

Their emissions would go from 1 to 1/2 to 1/4 to 1/18 to 1/16, and so on. Emissions move asymptotically towards zero, which is a fancy way of saying they never actually get there.

As with most campaigns of this sort, 10:10 and Road to Zero may succeed in making people feel good about themselves. And there is some value in that. But the schemes, especially taken together, are too clever by half. Or, more likely, the opposite.

Regulation of the Day 143: Your Bedtime

Japan’s Environment Ministry is encouraging its citizens to go to bed an hour earlier at night, and get up an hour earlier in the morning.

There is much wisdom in the old “early to bed, early to rise” adage. But that’s not what the Environment Ministry has in mind. They see going to bed early as a way to fight global warming.

By saving an hour’s worth of lighting and other electricity use every day, the Morning Challenge campaign says the average household can emit 85 fewer kilograms of carbon per year. Staying up late ensures mankind’s doom.

It is astounding that the Japanese regulators think that your bedtime is government business. Then again, this is the same country that has a legally allowable maximum waistline.

CEI Music Video

If the embedded video isn’t working, click here to watch.

CEI colleague Marlo Lewis is a fine guitarist. He performs regularly in a folk trio. He also recently adapted an old Paul Simon song and redid the lyrics to be about global warming. The result is CEI’s first music video. Since I have a lot of recording experience from when I was younger, I was tasked with recording and mixing the music. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon at work, and it turned out very well.

School Choice: Mankind’s Doom

Caleb Brown points to a study that finds a novel reason to oppose school choice: global warming. In a competitive educational marketplace, it is likely that fewer children would attend schools in their own neighborhood. That would mean less busing, and more driving in cars to get children to school. School choice, then, would contribute to global warming.

The study does not appear to be satire.

Bin Laden Admonishes U.S. on Global Warming

The old religion meets the new religion:

Osama bin Laden’s latest reason to condemn the United States has to do with climate change.

The al Qaeda leader in a new audio message published by al Jazeera, bin Laden verbally attacks the U.S. and other industrialized nations for polluting the planet.

On the Nature of Change: Calm Down!

One of history’s great debates is whether we will die in fire or ice. The proportion of the populace crying each variety of wolf varies according to the fashion of the time.

Vikings newly introduced to Christianity, taking note of their surroundings, sided with ice. They conceived of hell as a cold place, filled with blue devils.

A few centuries later, Dante wrote his Divine Comedy. Its famous first canticle, Inferno, had a very different, much hotter picture of hell.

Fast forward to our time. In the 1970s, ice was the fashion once again. Grant-seeking scientists and credulous journalists warned of imminently fatal global cooling. A new ice age was dawning.

In this decade, fire is all the rage again. Many of those same grant-seeking scientists and credulous journalists have changed their minds. Now global warming will cause catastrophe. And these 690 other things (!).

The particular charges change from generation to generation. But the verdict is always the same: apocalypse. A common thread runs from the Book of Revelations to Nostradamus to Rachel Carson to James Hansen. That threat is imminent doom. As one doomsayer after another is proven wrong, the litany gets quite tiresome.

The Earth has cooled over the last decade; we will die in ice.

But it’s gotten warmer over the last century. Fire, then.

But it’s cooler than it was in the High Medieval period. Ice.

But warmer than during the Dark Ages. Fire.

And so on.

Global temperatures will continue to change, ebb, and flow, whether or not we emit a given amount of CO2, and whether or not we care. Yet many people view climate change as a horror. It must be stopped at any cost.

There is a reason why global warming alarmists don’t like to use the phrase “global warming.” They prefer “climate change.” The prospect of a world two degrees warmer than the one we live in now isn’t very scary. But the notion of climate change does scare people. Framing it that way has been devastatingly effective in getting publicity and funding. It’s good for business.

Today’s dominant mindset that any climate change at all is bad is puzzling. It implicitly assumes that today’s climate is the best of all possible climates. Maybe that’s true. But maybe it isn’t. The trouble is that few climate activists seem to have had that thought. The idea of change is so scary that nobody has the presence of mind to ask if that’s a problem or not.

I give them the counsel of Marcus Aurelius, who lived during the (rather warm) second century AD: “To be in the process of change is not an evil, any more than to be the product of change is a good.”*

No, change simply is. It is a part of life. Let us observe, adapt, and live in peace with each other and the world that we all call home. I’m not scared. You shouldn’t be, either.

*Meditations, IV.42; trans. Maxwell Staniforth.

Lomborg Strikes Again


Some people want to cure malaria by reducing carbon emissions. Others want to cure it with mosquito nets, better health care and sanitation. Which is a more effective use of our limited resources? The answer is important; malaria kills about one million people every year. Getting it wrong costs lives.

According to Bjørn Lomborg, “For the money it takes to save one life with carbon cuts, smarter policies could save 78,000 lives. ”

Let’s pursue those smarter policies, then.

Food: Mankind’s Doom


In Sweden, food and menu labeling has started to include the estimated carbon footprint of each item.

Don’t read too much into the labels, though. The New York Times notes that “the emissions impact of, say, a carrot, can vary by a factor of 10, depending how and where it is grown.”

With that much imprecision built in, if the labels change consumer behavior as much as supporters hope, it’s entirely possible that eco-concsious diets could result in more carbon emissions, not less. A classic case of leaping before you look.

This new religion is a piece of work. It comes complete with a deity (Gaia), clergy (activists), indulgences (carbon credits), and now, dietary restrictions.