by Dr. Roy Cordato
Senior Economist, Emeritas
Weekly John Locke Foundation research division newsletter focusing on environment issues
This newsletter highlights relevant analysis done by the JLF and other think tanks as well as items in the news.
1. Obama Administration Trades Blood for Oil
While the country was focused on the debt extension deal being hashed out between Congress and the White House, President Obama reached an agreement with the auto industry to raise what are called Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. These are laws that mandate the average mileage that a fleet of cars sold by a particular manufacturer must achieve. Under these new rules, the fleet standard would increase to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Just for comparison, the 2011 2-passenger Smart Cart is advertising 41 mpg on the highway. The problem is that if automobiles are going to meet this standard, the auto companies will have to seriously downsize their fleet. The reason why the Smart Car even gets the mileage it does is because it’s so small and light, as was noted in this Washington Examiner Editorial:
It is inescapable that more weight means lower fuel economy, so heavier vehicles will have to go. So prepare to say goodbye to sport utility vehicles, pickups and minivans, the very vehicles millions of American families and businesses must rely upon every day. Even when lighter vehicle materials like aluminum and carbon fiber can be used instead of steel, the only SUVs and minivans that will survive will still have to be significantly smaller than at present, and thus far less practical for consumers.
The editorial goes on to point out:
By far the worst result, however, will be the fact that thousands will die because Obama, fanatical Big Green environmentalists, and their allies in the federal bureaucracy care more about removing micro-amounts of emissions than they do about the safety and convenience of people on the roads.
The indisputable fact is that, everything else equal, the smaller and lighter the car, the less safe the car. This has been backed up numerous times by studies from the liberal Brookings Institution, the National Academy of Science, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The latter estimated that for every 100 lbs reduced from the weight of a car weighing 3000 lbs, the traffic death toll goes up by 5 percent. The NAS estimated that CAFE laws are currently causing about 2600 deaths in one year.
But this carnage is not discouraging our carbon fetishist in chief. After all, blood on the highway can be cleaned up, but once an additional amount of CO2 is released in the atmosphere, it will stay there for centuries.
2. Why models are misforecasting climate change: a new study provides an explanation
One undeniable fact in the data surrounding the study of climate change is that the models that have been designed to predict global temperatures have consistently gotten it wrong. That is, they consistently over predict the amount of warming that actually occurs. A new study in the climate journal Remote Sensing, by Spencer and Braswell, has provided research from satellite temperature measurements, arguing that the earth releases excess heat much more efficiently than any of the models assume. A press release from the University of Alabama at Huntsville, where the researchers are based, states the following:
Data from NASA’s Terra satellite shows that when the climate warms, Earth’s atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change have been programmed to "believe."
The result is climate forecasts that are warming substantially faster than the atmosphere, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.
The previously unexplained differences between model-based forecasts of rapid global warming and meteorological data showing a slower rate of warming have been the source of often contentious debate and controversy for more than two decades.
A test of whether the climate modelers are true scientists or simply environmental zealots will be whether or not they adjust their models’ assumptions in the coming years to reflect the results of this research (given that it holds up).
3. Weekly Ozone Report
Each week during the summer ozone season, this newsletter will report how many high ozone days have been experienced throughout the state during the previous week, where they were experienced, and how many have been recorded during the entire season to date. While many environmental groups express concern about air quality, the John Locke Foundation is the only organization that keeps up-to-date track of the actual ozone data and reports it in an unfiltered manner on a regular basis.
The ozone season began on April 1 and ends October 31st. All reported data is from the North Carolina Division of Air Quality, which is part of the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. During the period from July 25 through July 31 there were 2 reported high ozone readings, which occurred over 1 day. They were recorded on 2 different monitors in Mecklenburg County. So far this season, there have been 81 readings on various North Carolina monitors that have exceeded federal standards of .75 parts per billion.
Click here for the Environment Update archive