BELIEVERS in man-made global warming like to tout models predicting future temperatures based on atmospheric carbon levels. For more than a decade, actual recorded temperatures haven't tracked with these projections. But the Obama administration isn't letting scientific data get in the way of trying to remake society based on its near-religious belief in man's ability to control the weather.
When microwave regulations were issued in May, the administration adjusted government calculation of the “social costs of carbon.” The new rules, which may soon apply to numerous products, assume $36 in “social benefits” is generated for every metric ton of carbon removed from the atmosphere. That increases the financial “benefits” of carbon regulation by about 50 percent, masking the true, negative economic impact.
Howard Shelanski, administrator for the federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, recently explained to a U.S. House subcommittee how “social costs of carbon” estimates are developed. His explanation provided little reason for trust.
Shelanski said estimates must account for “changes in net agricultural productivity and human health, property damage from increased flood risk, energy system costs, and the value of ecosystem services lost because of climate change.” In other words, regulators must estimate the cost of highly speculative events that may never occur, or might occur regardless of atmospheric carbon levels. The anticipated “costs” of those theoretical future events are then counted as current “savings” created by carbon regulations.
The estimates are based on three “integrated climate change assessment models” that “combine climate processes, economic growth and interactions between the climate and the global economy into a single modeling framework,” Shelanski said.
This comes from the same federal government that finds efficient mail delivery a continual challenge. And from the same Obama administration that predicted its budget-busting “stimulus” plan would keep unemployment from going higher than 8 percent and would lower that rate to around 5 percent by 2013. Instead, unemployment reached 10.1 percent and the current national unemployment rate is about 50 percent higher than Obama officials predicted.
Yet we're supposed to believe the Obama administration has now mastered accurate, simultaneous prediction of the weather, U.S. economic growth and weather's impact on global economic activity — past experience notwithstanding.
Shelanski noted developers have changed the three assessment models, but stressed that federal government inputs, including items such as “climate sensitivity distribution” and “socio-economic trajectories” will “remain unchanged.”
In other words, the models' developers may second-guess their work, but not the federal government. Federal officials remain blithely self-assured in their ability to accurately predict “climate sensitivity distribution.” So parts of the system are constantly changing; other parts aren't. And inaccurate assumptions could be embedded throughout.
The only certainty is that proposed regulations will drive up current consumer costs based primarily on speculation about carbon's potential impact on an imaginary future.
As U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, noted, “The fear that carbon may one day impact our economy becomes self-fulfilling as the current generation is hit with a new carbon tax and the cost of every item and unit of energy rises faster than wages.”
Citizens expect regulations to be based on hard science and accurate cost-benefit analysis. Despite their technological veneer, the Obama administration's “social cost of carbon” estimates might as well be based on reading frog entrails to forecast the future.