As we head to the polls November 2nd, one of the ugliest and most watched global warming battles will get a litmus test by the voters of California. First some background.
California’s Global Warming Solutions Act called AB32 was passed by the Legislature in 2006 and requires the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions (mostly CO2) to 1990 levels by 2020. Proposition 23 on the ballot tomorrow would suspend the law temporarily, until the state unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.
Proponents of AB23 say the suspension is needed because California is financially and figuratively broke, energy costs are already the highest in the nation (I paid 40 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity this summer in 100 degree heat), and it will drive more businesses out of California. Relocation has been on my mind as of late, that’s for sure. Many of my business friends are thinking similar thoughts. California is poised to kill the goose that laid the golden state egg.
Critics say the usual emotional talking points we hear regularly; we have to save the Earth and California has to set the example. I’ll point out that California has already set an example on the world stage, and has the toughest pollution restrictions in the USA. But, the greens here don’t know when to stop. For them, environmental legislation is like an addiction. They can’t seem to get enough to satisfy their cravings.
From my vantage point here in California, the battle has gotten pretty ugly and I can’t wait for November 2nd to be over. This is probably the fiercest state election I’ve ever seen. Virtually every nasty attack ad and dirty trick of all sorts have been hauled out of cold storage to be thrust on-air, onto the web, and into print media. The battle over Proposition 23 is particularly tiresome, since the greens have pulled out all the stops, and have reportedly outspent the backers of Prop 23 by a 2 to 1 margin. The New York Times reported on October 11th that:
As of Monday, the No on 23 forces had raised $16.3 million to the Yes campaign’s $8.9 million, according to California Secretary of State records. Over the last two weeks, nearly $7 million has flowed into No campaign coffers while contributions to the Yes effort had fallen off strikingly.
The money is making the battle on television and web ads reach the supersaturation point. Amazingly, Prop 23 ads even made it into the World Series:
In fact, the anti prop 23 saturation is so bad, I’ll bet that in the Google ads below this, you’ll see a Prop 23 “Dirty Energy” ad appear. Like this one:
Of course the premise of the web ad is a lie. Existing air pollution laws in California won’t change, and companies are still free to develop and sell clean energy solutions wherever the market leads them. And when you look at California’s energy supply…
…you have to ask yourself: “where’s the dirty energy problem?” With coal making up only 18.2%, “dirty energy” is really a non-issue.
“Dirty energy” wailing aside, all that will happen is that the Prop 23 (if passed) will put AB32 on hold until such time that California’s wrecked economy recovers and people are back to work and unemployment drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. Critics say this is impossible, but when you look at California’s unemployment rate since 2000, you see it is not:
California produces only 1.4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, so our efforts to address climate change cannot be successful alone. AB 32’s go-it-alone approach will impose massive costs on businesses that can be easily avoided by relocation across state or national boundaries. Other states and countries are postponing costly global warming regulations. Suspending AB 32 is common sense and protects businesses and families from cost increases that would result from moving forward with AB 32 now.
Of course I’ll probably be labeled an oil shill for even citing this website, but the only dog I have in this fight is one of my own business survival.
And while we are on the subject of money, I want to say that money has turned the Prop 23 issue into a veritable circus here. TV radio and web is being carpet bombed with anti prop 23 ads. It’s so bad that some other political candidates are complaining they can’t buy ad space on radio and TV.
But what is the worst, is the fact the the anti prop 23 crowd has abandoned all pretense of it being about science related to global warming. Instead, they are focusing on making the issues about pollution and what they call “dirty energy”. Then, they tug at emotional heartstrings. For example, have a look at this ad where the American Lung Association prostitutes itself for the anti prop 23 campaign. This ad has been getting constant airplay:
Direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eEmXlJ-Gts
The kid with the inhaler is a nice touch, don’t you think? There’s no science here, AB32 it’s about limiting CO2 and other GHG’s, not particulates! Kids don’t need inhalers for 390 ppm of CO2! And I used to think the Lung Association was a straight shooter. With this ad, they’ve reached a slimy low. They are off my list of charities now. They should be off everyone’s.
And it gets worse. This screwball advertising focus on “dirty energy” and “dirty pollution”, problems that have already been mostly solved in California and have little to do with GHG’s like CO2, has been so intense that it’s illegally spilled over into the ballot language itself.
The Sacramento Bee reports:
Ballots printed for the county’s roughly 380,000 registered voters say Proposition 23 would suspend laws requiring “major polluters” to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That language was thrown out by a Sacramento superior court judge, who ordered several edits to the original language drafted by the attorney general’s office, including changing “major polluters” to “major sources of emissions.”
The Proposition 23 campaign has demanded that the county “take immediate steps to reprint the ballots remaining to be sent to vote by mail voters as well as ballots to be distributed on election day.”
“Fresno County is a county of significant size in California and in a close election, its vote, now tainted by this serious error, could call into question the state results and possibly give rise to an election contest and require a new statewide election on Proposition 23,” attorney Colleen C. McAndrews wrote in a letter to the Fresno elections officials.
According to Paul Chesser in the American Spectator:
Officials say it’s too late to do anything about the 140,000 mail-in ballots that have already been distributed, and that they will post signs with the correct language at polling places.
Well la dee dah, what if Prop 23 loses by about 100,000 votes? Do we get a do-over? A month ago, the LA Times reported Prop 23 was in a dead heat.
Now the LA Times says support for Prop 23 is slipping:
Education mattered more than income in the survey. Among likely voters with college degrees, 55% opposed Proposition 23, as opposed to 37% of those with a high school degree or less. But there was no significant difference between those earning more than $80,000 a year, or less than $40,000
But there’s that education issue again. and as pointed out in our recent WUWT profile of the thoughts of Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., the haves versus the have-nots of education are greatly outnumbered:
So it’s still a crapshoot in my book. And that’s why the legal battle over the ballot language could be very important.
There’s nothing good I can say about the debate surrounding Prop 23. There’s been a lot of dirty pool played. I was invited to be in a community leaders debate on Prop 23 by my local Chico State University, but they balked and I was disinvited when I said I wanted to show some slides, even though there were no caveats on presentation style in the invitation. Plus the student debate just a couple of hours before, in the very same room, organized by the very same people, used slides. But I couldn’t?
What would I have shown? Well, in additional to showing the unemployment slide (above) there’s really only two slides and one news story that matter to the faulty science behind California’s AB 32 global warming law.
Here’s what I would have talked about if I was allowed:
1. I would have shown a screencap of this story in the San Francisco Chronicle:
And pointed out or read these pertinent passages:
The pollution estimate in question was too high – by 340 percent, according to the California Air Resources Board, the state agency charged with researching and adopting air quality standards. The estimate was a key part in the creation of a regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board in 2007, a rule that forces businesses to cut diesel emissions by replacing or making costly upgrades to heavy-duty, diesel-fueled off-road vehicles used in construction and other industries.
The setbacks in the Air Board’s research – and the proposed softening of a landmark regulation – raise questions about the performance of the agency as it is in the midst of implementing the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 – or AB32 as it is commonly called, one of the state’s and nation’s most ambitious environmental policies to date.
The 340% error really calls the regulatory authority of CARB into question.
2. This graph about CO2 being logarithmic along with this text.
The greenhouse gasses keep the Earth 30° C warmer than it would otherwise be without them in the atmosphere, so instead of the average surface temperature being -15° C, it is 15° C. Carbon dioxide contributes 10% of the effect so that is 3° C. The pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 ppm. So roughly, if the heating effect was a linear relationship, each 100 ppm contributes 1° C. With the atmospheric concentration rising by 2 ppm annually, it would go up by 100 ppm every 50 years and we would all fry as per the IPCC predictions.
But the relationship isn’t linear, it is logarithmic. In 2006, Willis Eschenbach posted this graph on Climate Audit showing the logarithmic heating effect of carbon dioxide relative to atmospheric concentration:
We’ve already gotten most of the warming CO2 will provide.
3. And finally this graph and map:
Goodrich (1996) showed the importance of urbanization to temperatures in his study of California counties in 1996. He found for counties with a million or more population the warming from 1910 to 1995 was 4F, for counties with 100,000 to 1 million it was 1F and for counties with less than 100,000 there was no change (0.1F).
I’d ask this question: How does a CO2 molecule know which county to heat the most?
But, as we’ve seen, the argument about global warming, AB32, and Prop 23 isn’t about science, it’s about emotions, icons, power, elitism, and money. Lots of money.
Whatever happens on election day, the issue is far from over. As I commented to Dr. Judith Curry recently, it is like the world’s longest Monopoly game.