This week has been an important one in the battle over climate change. On March 28 Trump signed and released a new Executive Order (EO) on “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” On March 29 the House Science Committee held a hearing on “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method.”
Trump’s Executive Order
The March 28 EO was notable for its breadth and its likely result of substantially changing the direction of Obama’s climate policy. It avoided, however, two issues of great importance for the Trump Administration’s climate policy. The first is whether the US will continue to sort of be a party under the so-called Paris Treaty. The second is whether EPA will reconsider its 2009 Endangerment Finding (EF), which claims that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. Given the reluctance of Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt to clearly state their views on the scientific aspects of climate change since assuming office, which would be necessary if EPA is to reconsider the EF, I wonder whether they may be trying to avoid doing so and instead trying to dodge an issue of great public controversy. Delingpole, however, blames Pruitt rather than Trump.
The March 29 Hearing
The March 29 hearing was of particular interest because of the testimony by Dr. John Christy. In previous testimony he showed in easily understood graphical form that the IPCC model projections are significantly different from actual observed global temperatures. This time he added to that by showing that if CO2, the IPCC’s favorite cause for increased global temperatures are left out of their climate models, the models do far better at explaining temperatures. In other words, it is the IPCC’s unjustified insistence on blaming CO2 for global warming that explains why their temperature forecasts have been much too high.
Christy further cited the same study I have been discussing in recent months, which shows that changes in atmospheric CO2 levels have no significant effect on temperatures. I find Christy’s arguments persuasive and readily understandable. The effect is to present a powerful argument against further use of the IPCC’s models by EPA or anyone else, and in favor of using the econometric approach proposed by Wallace, Christy, and D’Aleo (2016) as the basis for understanding the role of CO2 (or the lack thereof) in global warming/climate change.
At the March 29 hearing, the only testimony by a climate alarmist, Michael Mann, gave all the usual “consensus” arguments for the IPCC case but did not effectively challenge Christy’s testimony or any of the other skeptic presenters.
The Mismatch between the Administration’s Actions and the Situation
So the Trump Administration appears to be softening its stand on climate while the scientific evidence against climate alarmism has become even stronger and easier to understand. I would argue that a stronger case should result in a harder stand against alarmism rather than a softer stand. A much stronger stand (by ending US involvement with the so-called Paris Treaty and reconsideration of the EPA Endangerment Finding) is more than justified on the basis of the arguments made in the latest Christy testimony. There is simply no basis for further serious policy consideration of the UN IPCC’s and EPA’s bad “science.”
Not to reconsider the EF will put the EPA in legal jeopardy from suits by climate alarmist groups seeking to force EPA to implement its current Endangerment Finding and force EPA to pursue a far harder approach by having to wipe each of Obama’s climate regulations by revocation or revision compared to adopting the much simpler approach of wiping out the underlying EF and thus all of the regulations based on it. Leaving the EF in place would also make it much simpler for a future alarmist-inclined Administration to reinstitute the baseless Obama climate regulations. There is even a rumor that the Trump campaign promised EF reconsideration prior to the election; I hope that Trump will honor both this rumored promise as well as all of his other promises concerning climate policy, particularly the exit from the Paris “treaty” perhaps by exiting the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).