Wyoming Liberty Group
Global Warming is Cooling Off
Coal is a major industry in Wyoming. According to the most recent data available, Wyoming is not only the nation’s top coal producer, it produces well over three times as much coal as West Virginia, the nation’s second largest. Mining in Wyoming accounts for of U.S. coal production.1
Mining (excluding oil and gas production)2 accounts for nearly $11 billion, or 28.4 percent, of Wyoming’s gross domestic product. Wyoming’s coal industry employs approximately 7,500 people with income averaging over $80,000 per year. Coal not only brings jobs to Wyoming, it brings well-paying jobs.
With that in mind, it is concerning that the EPA’s endangerment finding on greenhouse gas emissions serves as a justification for the federal government to promulgate regulations that will have a significant negative impact on Wyoming.
The discussion of global warming/climate change has been poisoned by the way the media has framed the debate. For clarity, the debate is not over climate change, nor is it over global warming. The debate is over whether the statistically insignificant portion of greenhouse gases attributable to man are causing global temperatures to shift from a randomly selected, and inadequately defined, norm.
What do I mean by statistically insignificant? According to NOAA, carbon dioxide makes up approximately 0.04 percent of the atmosphere. Yet, of that, only approximately 3 percent is man-made carbon dioxide. That means the elimination of all man-made carbon dioxide would impact 0.0012 percent of the atmosphere.
Despite this, alarmists continue to push anthropogenic—man-made—climate change. Scholars of the subject find themselves questioning why the general public has not come to accept the conclusions they are pushing. A recent study declared “[d]espite overwhelming scientific consensus concerning anthropogenic climate change, many in the non-expert public perceive climate change as debated and contentious.” Should we be concerned that the “non-expert public” has not bought into climate change science?
Global warming/climate change is an interesting area of science. The scientific method usually requires the formation of a question and the creation a hypothesis used to make a prediction. Then the hypothesis is tested, analysis conducted, and a conclusion may be derived. However, in climate change science the consensus came during the prediction phase. Testing and analysis have only been conducted using computer models whose conclusions have been wildly inaccurate.
Proponents of climate change oriented policies are also quite inconsistent in their discussion of weather as opposed to climate—which is a broader term than weather. Global warming is purported to endanger public health by “increasing the severity and/or frequency of extreme weather events”. Meanwhile, the record setting lull in major hurricanes or three straight years of below average tornado activity is immediately discounted as an outlier. Yet every time a storm does hit, global warming hits the headlines.
Why is the general public doubtful of a consensus based solely on computer models? This list of 107 failed predictions provides some insight. Yet, despite these failures, the predictions made by computer models are the basis of EPA regulations targeting the coal industry. This was not always the case. Projections of a coming ice age during the 1970s led to discussion of solutions as extreme as “melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot.” It is impossible to know to what extent common sense influenced the decision not to take such extreme measures (as opposed to the inability to devise a tax and associated government agency to implement these solutions), but we can all be glad cooler heads prevailed.
Today the same organizations, such as NOAA, that concerned themselves with an ice age in the 70s are pushing for regulations based on their greenhouse gas hypothesis. One of the strongest arguments made in favor of regulation is the melting of Antarctica. In 2010 NASA told us “[t]he continent of Antarctica has been losing more than 100 cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice per year since 2002.” We are told neither why 2002 was chosen as the measuring point, which limits us to nine years’ worth of data out of the 12,000 years since the end of the last glacial period. The assumption made here (rather than a tested and proven hypothesis) is that this reduction is due to global warming.
As NASA pointed out, “West Antarctica is very different” from East Antarctica. West Antarctica is the area of concern in regards to Antarctic ice melting. Enter the Institute for Geophysics at The University of Texas. The UTIG “examined the Thwaites Glacier in Western Antarctica and found that it was being melted from below by geothermal heat released by submerged volcanoes.”
While the EPA may successfully shut down 28 percent of the Wyoming economy, it cannot stop geothermal warming of Antarctica. These findings from UTIG demonstrate that blind reliance on computer models created by people with a defined agenda and unable to incorporate all variables is a dangerous foundation for government policy.
1 – All data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census Bureau, and U.S. Energy Information administration is for 2012, the most recent year available.
2 – Data is not available for coal mining as a subcategory. Coal mining accounts for over 78 percent of employment in mining (except oil and gas) or nearly 26 percent of all mining.
3 – According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patters, http://censtats.census.gov/cgi-bin/cbpnaic/cbpsect.pl, coal mining employs 7,355 and support activities for coal employ another 101, or 7,456 jobs. Petroleum and coal manufacturing combine for another 935 jobs, but cannot be broken down into coal manufacturing. Coal mining and its support activities have an average income of $81,510 while petroleum and coal manufacturing has an average income of $98,526. It is safe to assume that the additional jobs in coal manufacturing would not significantly lower the average income for people employed in the coal industry if it were included.