The House passed the Waxman-Markey climate change bill (HR 2454); the Democrats' proposal now is pending in the Senate. Section 705(e)(2) of the draft (page 692) directs the EPA to attempt to avoid "atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations above 450 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent." This prescription is clothed in terms of "the latest scientific information." Similar numbers have been mentioned in discussions on the mooted Copenhagen climate treaty--though Dr. Hansen and other radicals argue for an even lower concentration of 350 ppm carbon equivalents.
Of course, U.S. carbon emissions have declined of late, though global emissions are up. That's because "non-Kyoto countries" (mostly the developing world) produce the majority of atmospheric carbon. China and India, for two, will not except any binding emission limits--and they account for 26 percent of emissions. (Any new Copenhagen agreement may not even be legally binding.) So U.S. cuts likely won't accomplish much--even if man-generated carbon is at fault. But never mind that science.
Further, the draft legislation's metric is bogus, as Luboš Motl explains:
The very basic features of the notion of the "carbon dioxide equivalent" are pseudoscientific in character because the linear formula that is implicitly assumed contradicts basic physical properties of the gases -- overlapping spectral lines as well as the nonlinear dependence of the greenhouse effect for each individual gas.For that reason, even the EPA says that employing carbon dioxide equivalents "is declining." But, this Frankenstein may soon become law, so never mind that science as well.
Assuming "450 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent" remains the trigger, where are we now? The current CO2 concentration is 386 ppm. And "the current value of the combined concentration is around 448 ppm and it could reach 450 ppm in 2010." So, were the legislation passed, we'd start off over the limit.
Why is this important? Because of Section 707 of the draft legislation (page 698), the first part of which reads:
Not later than July 1, 2015, and every 4 years thereafter--Such a statutory directive represents an unprecedented delegation of power to a future President. As Christopher Horner says on Big Government:
(1) the President shall direct relevant Federal agencies to use existing statutory authority to take appropriate actions identified in the reports submitted under sections 705 and 706 and to address any shortfalls identified in such reports.
The provision is quite clearly installed for green pressure groups to sue to force the chief executives’ hands to seize all manner of power otherwise unavailable to him under our system but desired by the greens and whatever they can convince the federal court’s 9th Circuit is in our interests. That is, the bill actually does mandate that a "climate emergency" be declared by the federal government when global greenhouse gas concentrations - which are not something which the bill or the United States can control and over which we have a decreasing influence each day - reach 450 parts per million. Which the bill’s authors knew would already be the case by the time the bill was adopted. . .The Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott wonders:
[T]his agenda transparently is not about GHG concentrations, or the climate.
It’s about what this provision would bring: almost limitless power over private economic activity and individual liberty for the activist president and, for the reluctant leader, litigious greens.
Would the president be empowered to do things like nationalize whole sectors of industry, ban coal use, restrict private automobile use, or anything else the "emergency" requires?Well, yes, that's the point. Waxman-Markey is less about climate change than radical environmentalists experimenting with the economy so they can tax Western Civ.--to the detriment of ordinary Americans. No wonder Fidel Castro favors the bill.
Conclusion: Talk of a climate tipping point seems to inspire all sorts of totalitarians. So I agree with Luboš Motl:
It's extremely bad to design laws and treaties resembling the global warming communism. But it's even worse to give people additional powers "activated" as soon as some ill-defined, scientifically meaningless quantities exceed some arbitrary thresholds. It's hard to believe that a responsible politician could ever support such a bill. . .For those of you keeping score at home, there's 219 of them in the House of Representatives.
Isn't it cleaner to clarify the situation by saying that the police state begins in January 2011, rather than to encode this plan into convoluted verbal constructions using ad hoc definitions that are detached from the scientific content? . . .
Everyone who is supporting legislation of this kind is an irresponsible lunatic.
Planet Gore's Chris Horner:
It says use all existing authority -- the Clean Water Act, NEPA, Endangered Species Act, and any federal law requiring a permit for any economic activity that does or could lead to GHG production -- in a way that is not at all clear is consistent with the legislative intent, design, or otherwise feasible use (before this bill). This asserts on Congress’s behalf that these laws are now legislatively intended to serve as GHG-suppression regimes -- after establishing in an earlier provision causation by and harm from each and every existing or new increment of economic activity that uses or produces resources.(via reader OBH via Melissa Clouthier, Heritage Foundation)
That’s new. That’s big. Both on its face and taken in context. All laws intended for purposes A, B, and C are now also expressly intended to be used -- mandated -- to chase an elusive global GHG concentration downward by emission avoidance. This is not the IRS getting Capone on tax evasion because the Feds couldn’t nail him for his racketeering, murder, etc. Tax evasion laws were intended to be used against tax evaders no matter what else those people did, and were employed for the purpose of prosecuting tax evasion. Not every law on the books was intended to keep CO2 from being emitted. Now, everything in an enormous suite of laws intended to manage interstate commerce in the name of ensuring free-flow of goods, services, and other economic activity is turned into an environmental law seeking the rationing of permitted interstate commerce in the name of the atmosphere.