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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 06/ 2/2008

Freedman: Is Climate Change Twisting Tornadoes?

By Andrew Freedman

The 2008 tornado season is off to such an abnormally active and deadly start that even typically storm-hardy residents of tornado-prone areas of the country have begun asking: what is going on?

For example, on May 21, the New York Times ran a story that told the woeful tale of Mr. John E. Hill of Clinton, Arkansas, who has been befallen by two tornadoes this year, three months apart. One tornado destroyed his workplace in February, and another twister in May took out his house, cars and cash savings. "I don't know what this is," Mr. Hill told the paper. "I've lived in Arkansas most of my life, and I've never see this many tornadoes. They're all over the place."

Continue reading to understand the range of opinions on global warming and tornadoes. See Jason's post for this week's full forecast.

Some in the meteorological community, who are seeing the signs of a record-setting year in the works, share Mr. Hill's view that something may be amiss. They are asking the question of whether the frequency and distribution of tornadoes this year - they have occurred earlier and farther north than would be expected thus far in a normal season - have something to do with global climate change.

Stu Ostro, who is the senior director of weather communications at The Weather Channel, has noticed some odd trends in tornado climatology in recent years, with more significant fall outbreaks and wintertime tornadoes, and many twisters striking outside of traditionally tornado prone areas. Ostro said that changes in the timing and distribution of tornadoes could be part of the atmosphere's response to warming temperatures, since warming alters the availability of moisture and influences large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns.

Ostro pointed to this year's unusually violent January and February skies as evidence that human forcing may be playing a role in addition to natural variability. In total, eighty-four tornadoes were recorded in January (although this number has not yet undergone final review by NOAA), which far exceeded the three-year average of 34, and 148 struck in February, which was well above the three-year average of 25. These two winter months also were above normal when compared to the longer-term averages as well.

Add to that recent trends in fall severe weather outbreaks and Ostro says there may be a human hand in the overall patterns, although global warming cannot be pinpointed as the cause of an individual severe weather outbreak or specific tornado, just as it can't be blamed for causing a particular hurricane. However, overall trends in such storms can be evaluated for their links to climate change.

"While there's no clear indication of an increase in tornado frequency or intensity as a result of global warming, there is evidence that it's affecting the seasonality and geographic distribution of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, with many outbreaks in recent years that have been unusually far north for the autumn or winter," Ostro said in an email conversation. "And it's logical that this would happen as the climate warms."

Ostro's Weather Channel colleague, Severe Weather Expert Greg Forbes, wrote on the station's weather blog in January that recent trends justify raising the question of whether "global warming has already begun to affect tornado and severe thunderstorm climatology."

"The rarity of tornado events makes it hard to prove that there's a trend - and to disprove that there isn't one," Forbes wrote.

Other meteorologists aren't willing to go quite as far as Ostro and Forbes, however. For example, in a Washington Post article on May 21 that was discussed on this blog, tornado researcher Howard Bluestein of the University of Oklahoma was quoted as saying that "We absolutely don't know" whether climate change is influencing tornadoes. "And I would not even . . . venture a guess," Bluestein told the paper.

According to Greg Carbin, who serves as the warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, it will take several more years to sort out whether climate change is altering tornado frequency and distribution.

"We saw a pretty remarkable outbreak back in February coming roughly a month ahead of when you'd normally expect something like that, but one month does not make a trend," Carbin said in a phone interview.

Carbin cautioned that while research indicates that warming may increase atmospheric instability and that "tornado alley" may be pushed northward, tornadoes need a variety of ingredients in order to form, and they all must be carefully calibrated in ways that scientists still don't fully understand. "The complex interaction of the variables make it difficult to draw any conclusions as to what we might see in a warmer world," Carbin said.

Moisture, instability, upper level disturbances, and atmospheric wind shear are some of the necessary ingredients for tornado formation. Regarding moisture, Carbin said that because increased distance from the Gulf of Mexico tends to limit the available moisture for severe thunderstorms to form, it may be difficult for tornado alley to simply shift northward. In addition, climate change may shift the area of stronger upper atmospheric winds that are vital for instigating powerful tornadoes.

Wind shear, which is the difference in wind speed or direction with increasing height, may also be in shorter supply over the U.S. if warming trends continue, Carbin said. "By all accounts the shear is going to be a real problem with a warmer continental United States," he said.

Interestingly, hurricane researchers are also wrestling with the wind shear issue, since climate change is suspected of playing a role in changing the frequency and/or intensity of hurricanes. While some shear is essential for tornado formation, it is the death knell of many incipient hurricanes, and some research indicates that shear could increase in the Atlantic Basin if the ocean and atmosphere continue to warm.

As tornado season barrels on, it may be little comfort to people like Mr. Hill of Arkansas that in time it may be possible to tie global climate change to the tornadoes that tore through his life. But if he gets struck again, whether or not is warming related, perhaps storm chasers should just start chasing him?

By Andrew Freedman  | June 2, 2008; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Next: CommuteCast: June at Its Best


You are in luck Mr. Freedman. An American physicist has invented a machine to remove CO2 from the atmosphere!

Machine Invented to Remove CO2 from the Air

The downside is that it will undoubtedly make your degree in climate change policy a little less relevant. But at least the global crisis has been averted. Try to look on the bright side.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 2, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Why does the sky turn an eerie greenish in severe conditions?

Posted by: Dave in Adams Morgan | June 2, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

From what I understand, the sky turns green because of the pollen and dust on the ground getting thrown up into the clouds.

This was a pretty interesting read, thanks! I have also found it pretty strange that so many tornadoes are ocurring outside of their "normal" times of the year and outside their "normal" areas of formation. Hopefully it's just a temporary thing, like mother nature simply forgetting to turn off the "spring machine" *cough cough* think lack of SNOW *cough*

Posted by: weatherdudeVA (Lake Ridge) | June 2, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry for the double post here, but I found a better answer to the "sky turning green" question. Sorry for giving incorrect info.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA (Lake Ridge) | June 2, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I thought this winter was an abnormally cool one. So how does a cooler winter spawning more tornadoes have anything to do with global warming?

I just dont know. Just know you look so tough in your glamour shot...whats going to happen when the warming crisis is averted and you all just go back to being dorks?

Posted by: PK | June 2, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Greg Carbin is right - one month does not make a trend - but my view is based on all of these outbreaks (not just the one in February 2008): November 10, 2002 (Van Wert, OH F4); November 5-6, 2005 (25 fatalities in Evansville, IN); November 12, 2005 (Iowa); November 15, 2005 (F4 Madisonville, KY); November 15-16, 2006 (8 fatalities in Riegelwood, NC); December 1, 2006 (tornadoes in PA); October 17-18, 2007 (tornadoes in MI); January 7, 2008 (EF3 in WI).

Posted by: Stu Ostro | June 2, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Another good read Andrew, thanks. These sorts of deviations from normal bear watching and often make for pretty interesting thesis topics.

Posted by: John | June 2, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

You can disagree with global warming without putting down climatologists, meteorologists, other scientists and those interested in weather. Everyone should respect each other's opinions WITHOUT putting someone else down.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA (Lake Ridge) | June 2, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Comments that include personal attacks or resort to name-calling will be deleted. Users will be blocked on second offense.

Posted by: Capital Weather Gang | June 2, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

How can one help from putting down glamour shots?....I mean look at them. If this site was just about reporting the weather then I would agree there weatherdude VA. But this site is much more than just giving the weather. Its about being hip and cool and with it, despite the fact that none of these guys would know hip and cool if it flew down out of a cumulonimbus cloud and bit them on the holier than thou arse.

The same people who argue that we a product of natural selection now scream that we must suspend change and with it the adaptation. Sounds like playing God to me. Maybe if polar bears had cell phones they could tell each other where the remaining drift ice is, but alas...they do not... SO WE MUST SAVE THEM! WE DECIDE WHO LIVES OR GOES. We ARE MAN.

Posted by: PK | June 2, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

--begin quote--
Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, these destructive forces of nature are found most frequently in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains during the spring and summer months. In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries.


Tornadoes Occur Anywhere


Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year.
---end quote---

source of the quotes - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

That page is an excellent reference for safety procedures and precautions pertaining to tornadoes. I highly recommend it for everyone. Tornadoes can happen anywhere. Everyone should know how to prepare and what to do during a tornado.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 2, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

For those interested in the latest state-of-the science relevant to behind Global Climate Change - rather than just the opportunity to rant blindly- see the latest National Academy of Science report at:

BTW: Note the reference is to Global Climate Change, not global warming - the two are not the same. On average, the planet might be warming, but not necessarily everywhere nor uniformly over time.

For those really interested and perhaps concerned about anthropogenic climate change, let's have some comments on something concrete, namely the new bill before the Congress, the Climate Security Act of 2008 (see today's Washington Post). This may not be the best bill, but at least there is some real action being proposed and debated. It boils down to a cost/benefit analysis - how much risk is society willing to take and at what cost - to mitigate the possible (likely?) impacts of climate change.

Posted by: Steve Tracton, Cpital Weather Gang | June 2, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to see more comments address tornadoes and climate change. Do you think this year's tornado season is unusual, and do you think it may have links to climate change or is entirely natural? On what grounds do you base this judgment? What are some of the implications of a changing tornado season?

From my research for this column it became clear that there is a range of views on the subject in the scientific community, and that tornado research is an area, like hurricanes, where scientists are increasingly providing a climate context for a highly variable weather phenomena.

Posted by: Andrew Freedman, Capital Weather Gang | June 2, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I will comment on climate change. I think it is a redundant and disingenuous term. Climate always changes. It has never been stagnant and never will be. Saying climate change is like saying wet rain.

Former Vice President Gore scared everyone with his totally bull crap "global warming" movie. The planet has a fever. Mr. Freedman even wrote about the melting Arctic and the Maldives "swimming".

Now that it appears that the warming has stopped, and that the temperature is actually be declining, the AGW crowd wants to change the term from "global warming" to "climate change". What a complete and total CROCK!

The temperature peaked 10 years ago. And the current long range forecast is for more cooling over the next 10 years. A reasonable person would call that good news. But not the AGW crowd. No, they consider that bad news and are using every possible spin and excuse they can come up with. Even to the point of changing the name from "global warming" to "climate change".

I will continue to call it global warming. Unless we are going to regress all the way back to the 70's and call it global cooling.

My 2 cents since you asked for it.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 2, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Climate change is just an evil plot to stimulate the economy.

Posted by: Steve, Capital Weather Gang | June 2, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q: Thanks for your thoughts. As I've said before, "climate change" is a term that's been around for a long time, and is used because it's simply more accurate than the term "global warming," not because a sudden drop in temperature necessitated a wording change. Each week you or someone else mentions the use of "climate change" as if it's a conspiracy by environmentalists to distract attention from global warming, when in fact it is the more scientifically correct term and has been in use since, well, the climate began changing.

Posted by: Andrew Freedman, Capital Weather Gang | June 2, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I suppose you have to use a new term, since there is no man made global warming -
Global warming hypothesis fails simple tests

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 2, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman, Former Vice President Gore has assured me that the planet has a fever and that the problem is man made global warming. I will stick with that term, until it switches back to global cooling. But thank you for the info.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 2, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Rather than examine the the number of actual tornadoes, I think it makes more sense to study the the historical record of larger-scale climatology and possible changes therein of the conditions conducive to tornadic activity. >

The extensive and recurrent outbreaks of severe storms over the eastern two thirds of the U.S. over the past several weeks was largely associated with an "omega" block. This near stationary setup - in my experience- is not especially unusual in spring and early summer. What's critical is the amplitude, persistence, and placement of key features (trough/ridge) of the block.

I've done research in blocking, but am unaware (or don't remember) about any study exploring this particular aspect of the subject.

As "John" suggests, this looks like one of the possible thesis topics for someone. Any takers?

Posted by: Steve Tracton, Cpital Weather Gang | June 2, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Andrew, I know this goes against your convictions, but you can probably forget so-called "global warming" for the high number of this year's American tornadoes. They were mainly caused by an unusually active cyclone storm track throughout most of the East and Midwest (hence the heavy rains), a jet stream somewhat to the south of normal causing COOLER rather than warmer conditions, strong, active cold fronts/thermal contrasts causing jet-stream-related tilted-updraft thunderstorms and squall lines. In effect, we had late March and April conditions thought most of May....and since April normally reports the highest numbers of big destructive tornadoes (F4 and F5) the April flow pattern we had throughout most of May led to an unusually high number of large tornadoes. It is normal for May to have the highest reported number of total tornadoes of any month of the year, but they are usually weaker, on average, than April twisters. The fact that they were not, this year, is a testimony to the March and April-like violence and instability lasting till the end of I said, from the south-of-normal jet stream.

Posted by: Mike | June 2, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

QUOTE: Why does the sky turn an eerie greenish in severe conditions?

Posted by: Dave in Adams Morgan | June 2, 2008 12:58 PM

Dave: The green is believed to be caused by hail shafts interacting with certain wavelengths of light within the thunderstorm....and how our eyes interpret it.

Posted by: Mike | June 2, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I suppose you have to use a new term, since there is no man made global warming -

Global warming hypothesis fails simple tests

Mr. Q.

Mr. Q: I totally agree with you that global warming is nonsense (and a good part of the scientific community agrees), but certainly you can come up with better websites than the one you posted to show that. What you posted, while indeed factually correct, was more blog politics than science.

Posted by: Mike | June 2, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

The Heritage Foundation has done an economic impact study of the proposed Lieberman-Warner bill. The costs are stunning!

S. 2191 imposes strict upper limits on the emis­sion of six greenhouse gases (GHGs) with the pri­mary emphasis on carbon dioxide (CO2). The mechanism for capping these emissions requires emitters to acquire federally created permits (allowances) for each ton emitted. The cost of the allowances will be significant and will lead to large increases in the cost of energy. Because the allow­ances have an economic effect much like the effect of an energy tax, the increase in energy costs creates correspondingly large transfers of income from pri­vate energy consumers to special interests.

Implementing S. 2191 will be very costly, even given the most generous assumptions. To put a firm floor under the cost estimates, we assume that all of the problems of meeting currently enacted federal, state, and local legislation are overcome. A further unlikely condition is added; namely, that a critical but unproven technology--carbon capture and sequestration--will be ready for full-scale commer­cial use in just 10 years.[1] Making a more reasonable assumption about just this one technology leads to dramatically higher (but by no means worst-case) costs.[2] We use these two cases to bracket our cost projections of S. 2191:

* Cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) losses are at least $1.7 trillion and could reach $4.8 tril­lion by 2030 (in inflation-adjusted 2006 dollars).
* Single-year GDP losses hit at least $155 billion and realistically could exceed $500 billion (in inflation-adjusted 2006 dollars).
* Annual job losses exceed 500,000 before 2030 and could approach 1,000,000.
* The annual cost of emission permits to energy users will be at least $100 billion by 2020 and could exceed $300 billion by 2030 (in inflation-adjusted 2006 dollars).[3]
* The average household will pay $467 more each year for its natural gas and electricity (in infla­tion-adjusted 2006 dollars). That means that the average household will spend an additional $8,870 to purchase household energy over the period 2012 through 2030.

Our analysis does not extend beyond 2030, at which point S. 2191 mandates GHG reductions to 33 percent below the 2005 level. However, it should be noted that the mandated GHG reductions con­tinue to become more severe and must be 70 per­cent below the 2005 level by 2050.

In addition to taking a bite out of consumers' pocketbooks, the high energy prices throw a mon­key wrench into the production side of the econ­omy. Contrary to the claims of an economic boost from "green investment" and "green-collar" job cre­ation, S. 2191 reduces economic growth, GDP, and employment opportunities.

Though there are some initial years during which S. 2191 spurs additional investment, this investment is completely undermined by the neg­ative effects of higher energy prices. Investment contributes to the economy when it increases future productivity and income. The greater and more effective the investment, the greater the increase in future income. Since income (as mea­sured by GDP) drops as a result of S. 2191, it is clear that more capital is destroyed than is cre­ated. The cumulative GDP losses for the period 2010 to 2030 fall between $1.7 trillion and $4.8 trillion, with single-year losses reaching into the hundreds of billions.

The hope for "green-collar" jobs meets a similar fate. Firms are saddled with significantly higher energy costs that must be reflected in their prod­uct prices. The higher prices make their products less attractive to consumers and thus less compet­itive. As a result, employment drops along with the drop in sales.

With S. 2191, there is an initial small employ­ment increase as firms build and purchase the newer more CO2-friendly plants and equipment. However, any "green-collar" jobs created are more than offset by other job losses. The initial uptick is small compared to the hundreds of thousands of lost jobs in later years. Table 1 shows the high and low projections of the employment and income effects of S. 2191.

A less prominent part of S. 2191 subjects all imported goods to GHG emission rules. An understandable attempt to limit our loss of inter­national competitiveness, this provision opens yet another area of uncertainty. For all imported goods, it will be necessary to measure the GHG footprint, compare the relative aggressiveness of national GHG limiting programs, and assign a possible emissions tariff. The inherent impreci­sion involved with such calculations leaves inter­national trade vulnerable to bureaucratic caprice and increased trade tensions.

Description of the Legislation

S. 2191 is a cap-and-trade bill. It caps green­house gas emissions from regulated entities begin­ning in 2012. At first, each power plant, factory, refinery, and other regulated entity will be allocated allowances (rights to emit) for six greenhouse gases. However, only 40 percent of the allowances will be allocated to these entities. The remaining 60 percent will be auctioned off or distributed to other entities.

Go here to continue reading.

Go here for the companion article and report.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 2, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Mike wrote, "I totally agree with you that global warming is nonsense (and a good part of the scientific community agrees), but certainly you can come up with better websites than the one you posted to show that. What you posted, while indeed factually correct, was more blog politics than science."

That is a fair criticism. But finding good websites to fight the alarmist onslaught is not that easy. Normally I try to use their own websites, like realclimate, noaa, ipcc, etc... But those clips are not available on those sites.

Hopefully, people will be able to go the link and watch the two clips and not get bogged down in the politics. But I concede that your criticism is a fair one.

Any help fighting the good fight would be much appreciated.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 2, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Mike, I didn't argue that the active 2008 tornado season is due to climate change. Instead I presented evidence for and against the link between climate change and the deadly tornado season from experts in the field. Therefore, it's not accurate to say that the views you expressed in your comment go "against my convictions," as you put it.

Posted by: Andrew Freedman, Capital Weather Gang | June 2, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I've cited the National Academy report , which documents the science, i.e. evidence relative to climate change. I'm still waiting for you guys to document the comparable evidence that "global warming is nonsense"

To repeat something I know Mr. Q has seen on another blog, but has not respond to (as far as I know), " What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence" Case dismissed!

Posted by: Steve Tracton, Cpital Weather Gang | June 2, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

The Weather Channel's Dr. Greg Forbes has an excellent blog post recapping the March-May severe weather season

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | June 2, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting points are being made on both sides of this discussion.

There has indeed been a multi-decadel increase in U.S. tornado frequency during the past 60 years. Nearly three times as many tornado's were reported during the 1990's as during the 1950's. But, lo and behold, this increase was ongoing during the 1960's, which was still within the 1945-1975 cool period. Recent warming didn't begin in earnest until around 1980. Warming temperatures could not possibly have been the reason for a 30% increase in tornado's during the 1960's compared to the 1950's.

Climate change (global warming) could certainly be responsible for increased frequency of storms. There is credible evidence that this is indeed occurring on Jupiter, even though no humans are there to be overly concerned about their carbon footprint.

Gallup Polling indicates that with skyrocketing energy prices, the number of Americans placing a supreme priority on environmental concerns is also declining. How will Americans feel when gasoline reaches a national average of $7.00 per gal. vs. $4.00 per gal. ??

An Alan Greenspan quote from his book, "The Age Of Turbulence". "Cap-and-Trade systems or carbon taxes are likely to be popular only until real people lose jobs as a consequence." "There is no effective way to meaningfully reduce emissions without negatively impacting a large part of an economy".

Posted by: Augusta Jim | June 2, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

The Lieberman-Warner bill is nothing more than a HUGE money grab for government. They may claim to want to fight "global warming", but that is nothing more than a flimsy excuse to get their hands on our money.

Now I don't care if people call it a tax, call it a fee, call it an expense, call it whatever you want. I do not want to waste my time arguing over terminology. This bill will create an additional 3 to 6 TRILLION dollars for the government!! And where will that money come from? It will come directly out of our pockets. Businesses may write the check for the cost, but rest assured that cost will be passed on to their customers. And that is you and I. The consumer will be the one paying the cost. Anyone who suggests otherwise is flat out lying.

Some people may not care about the cost. Some people will undoubtedly feel that it is simply a cost that must be borne in order to combat global warming. But similar schemes (Kyoto) have not produced tangible results. In fact, the United States, who did not sign Kyoto, has made greater gains in reducing CO2 than the countries who did sign it. Even though those countries have implemented their own cap and trade schemes, they have seen no real reduction in their CO2 emissions.

But the politicians don't really care about CO2 reductions. They only care about the money. And they already have big plans for how they are going to spend our money.

I know big business and I can guarantee you what they will do if this bill passes.

Some will attempt to comply. But some will immediately begin taking ALL manufacturing off shore to China and India. This bill gives China and India a free pass until 2020. So by moving their manufacturing to China they can completely avoid the asinine cap and trade of Congress. And by avoiding the cap and trade, they lower their cost, which means they can sell their product cheaper than manufacturers who stay in the United States.

Eventually, the manufacturers who did not rush to move their manufacturing to China will be forced to move their manufacturing to China to remain competitive.

Only Congress can come up with a plan so stunningly stupid and short sighted. Drive our remaining manufacturing jobs to China. Absolutely brilliant!

Here is a portion of the Wall Street Journal's take on the bill - Cap and Spend

--begin quote--
Cap and Spend
June 2, 2008; Page A16

As the Senate opens debate on its mammoth carbon regulation program this week, the phrase of the hour is "cap and trade." This sounds innocuous enough. But anyone who looks at the legislative details will quickly see that a better description is cap and spend. This is easily the largest income redistribution scheme since the income tax.

Sponsored by Joe Lieberman and John Warner, the bill would put a cap on carbon emissions that gets lowered every year. But to ease the pain and allow for economic adjustment, the bill would dole out "allowances" under the cap that would stand for the right to emit greenhouse gases. Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced a package of manager's amendments that mandates total carbon reductions of 66% by 2050, while earmarking the allowances.

When cap and trade has been used in the past, such as to reduce acid rain, the allowances were usually distributed for free. A major difference this time is that the allowances will be auctioned off to covered businesses, which means imposing an upfront tax before the trade half of cap and trade even begins. It also means a gigantic revenue windfall for Congress.

Ms. Boxer expects to scoop up auction revenues of some $3.32 trillion by 2050. Yes, that's trillion. Her friends in Congress are already salivating over this new pot of gold. The way Congress works, the most vicious floor fights won't be over whether this is a useful tax to create, but over who gets what portion of the spoils. In a conference call with reporters last Thursday, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry explained that he was disturbed by the effects of global warming on "crustaceans" and so would be pursuing changes to ensure that New England lobsters benefit from some of the loot.

Of course most of the money will go to human constituencies, especially those with the most political clout. In the Boxer plan, revenues are allocated down to the last dime over the next half-century. Thus $802 billion would go for "relief" for low-income taxpayers, to offset the higher cost of lighting homes or driving cars. Ms. Boxer will judge if you earn too much to qualify.

There's also $190 billion to fund training for "green-collar jobs," which are supposed to replace the jobs that will be lost in carbon-emitting industries. Another $288 billion would go to "wildlife adaptation," whatever that means, and another $237 billion to the states for the same goal. Some $342 billion would be spent on international aid, $171 billion for mass transit, and untold billions for alternative energy and research - and we're just starting.

Ms. Boxer would only auction about half of the carbon allowances; she reserves the rest for politically favored supplicants. These groups might be Indian tribes (big campaign donors!), or states rewarded for "taking the lead" on emissions reductions like Ms. Boxer's California. Those lucky winners would be able to sell those allowances for cash. The Senator estimates that the value of the handouts totals $3.42 trillion. For those keeping track, that's more than $6.7 trillion in revenue handouts so far.

If Congress is really going to impose this carbon tax in the name of saving mankind, the least it should do is forego all of this political largesse. In return for this new tax, Congress should cut taxes elsewhere to make the bill revenue neutral. A "tax swap" would offset the deadweight taxes that impede growth and reduce employment. All the more so because even the cap-and-trade friendly Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the bill would reduce GDP between $1 trillion and $2.8 trillion by 2050.


--end quote---

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 3, 2008 12:17 AM | Report abuse

My last comment was rather long. There is a key sentence that I want to call attention to.

Via the Wall Street Journal - "This is easily the largest income redistribution scheme since the income tax."

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 3, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse



June 2, 2008

Mr. President, I support cutting carbon emissions, but we must cut carbon without cutting family budgets or worker payrolls.

At a time when Americans are suffering record pain at the pump, high energy costs, a home mortgage crisis, and a soft economy, this is not the time to raise energy prices on our families and workers.

I just returned from a six city energy tour of my home State of Missouri. From Joplin, Missouri in the southwest part of the State to Palmyra in the northeast, families and truckers are suffering from record high gas prices. Drivers are fed up with gasoline prices approaching $4.00 and diesel prices even higher.

I heard from truckers, and small trucking businesses. They are struggling now, with some even being forced out of business. And when truckers pay higher prices, we all pay higher prices for everything, because of the transportation costs of our products. Why would we vote to make this misery worse?

I fear this bill will make the suffering of our families and workers much worse. The sponsors of the substitute themselves tell us that their bill will raise between now and 2050 over $6.735 TRILLION - that is trillion with a "T". If you wrote that out it would be 6735 and nine more zeros after that. That number is so big, it will not fit on a single poster-board as you see here.

That $6.7 trillion will come from the pockets of millions of families and workers across the nation. Bill sponsors may claim they are trying to hit energy companies with the cost of this program. But, we all know that they will just pass on their costs on to families and workers in the form of higher energy bills and more pain at the pump.

The statement is continued here - Statement of Senator Bond

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 3, 2008 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, considering that we were supposed to have a record breaking year of hurricanes last year and didn't and now they're saying that this year tornados MUST be related to global warming - you may be able to tell why I can't take someone with a degree in weather seriously. Just get one prediction correct and I might be a little more likely to consider it.

Posted by: Patrick | June 3, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Patrick, my piece made it quite clear that no one is claiming that the record tornadoes this year "MUST be related to global warming" as you stated in your comment. Rather, people are investigating whether there is a link between tornadoes and climate change, with some believing that connection is already making itself known, and others not so sure.

Posted by: Andrew Freedman, Capital Weather Gang | June 3, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

The Heritage Foundation report and Chris Bond statement only address the economics of dealing with climate change (which I agree with) - NOT statements, science or otherwise ("evidence"), about climate change itself. Implicitly, of course, the fact that there is such a bill in congress indicates climate change is occurring and needs to be addressed.

Nice try, Mr. Q., but this diversion of attention from the science to economics of climate change just plays to my theme earlier:" What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence".

For those who are meaningfully interested in the subject of climate change (or global warming if you prefer) - in addition to the NAS report - see:
In other words, blind, emotional, non-supportable statements, regardless of position on climate change, must be dismissed outright for they are; bombastic ranting with no objective purpose other than to get attention. So, unless Mr. Q. and other like minded folks come forth with evidence based statements, I'll not respond further.

Posted by: Steve Tracton, Cpital Weather Gang | June 3, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Steve Tracton wrote, "For those really interested and perhaps concerned about anthropogenic climate change, let's have some comments on something concrete, namely the new bill before the Congress, the Climate Security Act of 2008 (see today's Washington Post). This may not be the best bill, but at least there is some real action being proposed and debated. It boils down to a cost/benefit analysis - how much risk is society willing to take and at what cost - to mitigate the possible (likely?) impacts of climate change."

I did as Steve Tracton suggested and I commented on the Lieberman-Warner bill.

Then, Steve Tracton wrote, "Nice try, Mr. Q., but this diversion of attention from the science to economics of climate change just plays to my theme earlier: ..."

What the heck!?!? Are you feeling alright Mr. Tracton?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 3, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Capital Weather Gang wrote, "Comments that include personal attacks or resort to name-calling will be deleted. Users will be blocked on second offense."

But Steve Tracton wrote, "In other words, blind, emotional, non-supportable statements, regardless of position on climate change, must be dismissed outright for they are; bombastic ranting with no objective purpose other than to get attention. So, unless Mr. Q. and other like minded folks come forth with evidence based statements, I'll not respond further."

Does anyone else see a double standard here?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 3, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Fine, Mr. Q. I appreciate your post on the economics aspects. That was my first query.

Now, where's the beef on the science behind your denial of climate change?? Since you (and some others) seem to dismiss even the possibility of global warming, the evidence must leave no doubt whatsoever. You state above, "global warming hypothesis fails simple tests", without saying which tests. Newton's law of gravitation does not pass some tests. Does that mean it's totally invalid and provides no guide on what to expect when an apple falls off a tree? So, please come up, if you can, with a contribution that demonstrates anthropogenic climate change - without any doubt - is not occurring. I contend to do so falls under the mantra enunciated by Carl Sagan; "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". Otherwise, "case dismissed".

Posted by: Steve Tracton, Cpital Weather Gang | June 3, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Mr Q is my hero.

He does the legwork to find the info that back up what I think. Its amazing.

No one even stops to think that only .1 percent of all the animals to ever exist on earth exist currently. .1 percent. Thats 1/10 of 1 percent. Did man's actions kill off all the innocent animals?

Why must we break the bank to ensure that this .1 percent sticks around? Why must we undo the fabric of natural selection? Those species with the ability to adapt to changing environment succeed. What is wrong with that? Polar bears are cute when they are born, thats what is wrong with it.

What is going on in congress is absolutely asinine. I cant wait for year 18 of this plan when we have an abnormally large outbreak of volcano's and its all undone.

Do we get our money back then? Or do we get extra taxed because all the weight of the man made structures obviously pushed dont the crust of the earth causing more magma to flow up. Maybe call it Global Crust Depression and tax the crap out of everyone and make money off new industries that come up with lightweight materials.


Posted by: PK | June 3, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

And its not that we dismiss the idea of global warming. Its that we keep it in context and dont allow panic to dictate our actions.

Posted by: PK | June 3, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Tracton wrote, "Now, where's the beef on the science behind your denial of climate change??"

Isn't that a loaded question? Denial of climate change? It isn't that a disagree, it is that I am denying it. Sort of like denying the holocaust?

I never disagreed with climate change. In fact, I stated that I think the term is redundant. Saying climate change is like saying wet water. Of course the climate changes. It always has and always will.

I disagree with the theory of man made global warming. I disagree primarily because I don't think that science is anywhere close to having a FULL AND COMPLETE knowledge/understanding of our climate.

And they have not claimed that they do have a FULL AND COMPLETE knowledge/understanding of this planet's climate. I am not asserting that they have.

But what some scientists have done is assert that, even though they do not have a FULL AND COMPLETE knowledge/understanding of this planet's climate, they are certain that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will result in increased global temperatures.

Only man (and yes, I count myself in that broad category) could be so arrogant as to believe that everything he does NOT know about our climate will have no impact on his theory.

I don't believe that. I believe that as scientists learn more they will discover that things they did not know negated their theory.

That is the short answer. There is more, but that is my primary complaint. I have a ton of work to get to. I will check back later this evening.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 3, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q doesn't seem to understand how science works. Science will never have a FULL AND COMPLETE understanding of anything, because science is constantly redefining itself through new experiments and observations. That's the paradox the "prove global warming" or "prove evolution" can't wrap their heads around. But with that said, we don't have a FULL AND COMPLETE understanding of how normal cells mutate into cancer cells. By that logic, would you say that we have no business saying smoking causes cancer, then? No, of course not. You don't need a FULL AND COMPLETE understanding of something to understand the basics of it to be true. And the fact that CO2 traps heat is so basic that elementary schoolchildren can understand it.

Posted by: Jeff | June 3, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Jeff, I said I disagree with the theory of man made global warming. Perhaps I should have clarified that by saying I disagree with the current theory of man made global warming being put forward by Dr. Hansen and others. And I am not alone in that disagreement. Not even the IPCC agrees with Dr. Hansen's vision.

Yes, Jeff, I am aware that CO2 traps heat. It would appear that you are not completely up to speed on the theory of man made global warming. The issue is not so much whether or not CO2 traps heat, the issue is how much of a temperature rise will that create and the great underlying issue pertains to feedback mechanisms of any potential rise in temperature. Will they be positive or negative? No one really knows.

Jeff, do you know how much of a temperature increase a doubling of CO2 would produce in a closed, weather control environment like a greenhouse? I do. Do you know how much of Dr. Hansen's theory relies on positive feedback/forcings? I bet you don't.

Jeff, did you know that with each IPCC report, they have LOWERED their temperature rise estimate?

How do we know that with the next IPCC report the projected temperature rise will not be less than 1 degree Farenheit?

Will a 1-2 degree temperature rise be a bad thing or a good thing? Far more people die from cold related injuries than heat related ones.

Dr. Tracton and Jeff, are each of you prepared to give up your current careers and start a brand new career in an unrelated field?

That is really what it all boils down to.

Allow me to set up one single question and each of you can answer it. Just one question.

There will be MILLIONS of manufacturing jobs lost if this bill passes. MILLIONS. That is not an over estimation or exaggeration. It is a fact. Some of those people are parents with kids to feed. Some of those will be older workers close to retirement. And they will be out of work. Looking for not only new employment, but most likely new employment in an entirely new field.

So just how confident are you and Dr. Tracton on these pertinent points -
1. The science behind man made global warming is sound.
2. There aren't any gaps in the knowledge that may completely negate the current theory.
3. A rise of 1-2 degrees over the next hundred years would be bad for the planet and the people on it.
4. Implementing cap and trade or Kyoto will have a meaningful impact on future global temperatures.

Those are the four key points. And I would thing you would have to be sure about all four points to want to implement a policy that will cause millions of people to lose their jobs.

So here is the question to both Jeff and Dr. Tracton -
Are either of you sure enough in your convictions about the damage we face and the benefit of cap and trade that either of you would be willing to give up your own careers and start a whole new career in an unrelated field?

If you wouldn't be willing to put yourself and your own family through it, then you shouldn't advocate it for others.

I look forward to a response to that single question from Jeff and Dr. Tracton.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 3, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 4, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

This article has been pushed off the front page and is only accessible via the archive and rss feed. Which means that almost no one will see it now.

I didn't comment on this yesterday because I didn't see the need. But since almost no one will see it now, I have to say something.

Steve Tracton said, "Implicitly, of course, the fact that there is such a bill in congress indicates climate change is occurring and needs to be addressed."

That is horrible logic, Dr. Tracton! Since someone is talking about something it must be real?!?! Are you kidding me?

By that logic, shouldn't there be WMD in Iraq? I distinctly remember Congress debating the issue. Didn't they include the WMD charge in the bill authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam?

And you want me to believe in the Hansen/Gore theory of man made global warming?

Don't respond to this comment, respond to the question I posed above.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | June 4, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Re: Steve Tracton's suggestion to look at larger-scale environments

What we have done is to look at large scale parameters associated with severe weather (specifically convective available potential energy, wind shear over various levels, and the lifted condensation level height). The relationships we can develop between significant severe thunderstorms (2 inch diameter hail, 65 kt winds, and/or F2 or greater tornado) are much better than for F2 and greater tornado alone. The long-term favorable tornadic environments don't show a strong relationship with anything like the US national average temperature. The significant severe storms environments do show a relationship (linear correlation coefficient ~.55). On physical principles, I don't the case for a tornado-global warming relationship is nearly as good as one for hail. Both phenomena are favored by large values of CAPE, which should increase in a warmer environment and has increased from the early 1970s, but tornadoes are more influenced by shear, which should decrease in a warmer environment and slightly decreased from the early 70s to the late 90s, although there's no statistical significance

Posted by: Harold Brooks | June 7, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

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