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Copenhagen Treaty: bad science, dangerous policy

Lord Christopher Monckton, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s science adviser and a leading voice on climate-change skepticism, recently spoke at a Minnesota Free Market Institute event at Bethel University. Though he spoke for close to an hour-and-half refuting the many myths, misconceptions and outright falsehoods perpetuated about man-made global climate change, it was the final four minutes of his presentation that created media buzz. Referring to the proposed 2009 U.N. Copenhagen Climate Conference Treaty, Monckton noted that if President Barack Obama signs the document, the treaty conditions will become part and parcel of U.S. law, irrespective of their constitutionality.

In addition to an international cap-and-trade scheme, the Copenhagen Treaty creates a “world government” among whose purposes is the transfer of wealth from the West to developing countries in the form of “climate debt” — our reparation for creating carbon dioxide. The treaty gives this world government enforcement authority over countries that sign the treaty.

Having read the relevant sections of the treaty, I agree with Monckton that the proposed international cap-and-trade scheme, culminating in the signing of an international treaty that would trump our ability to control energy policy here in Minnesota, is devastating for both our economy and the ideal of America. But that is only part of the story.

Drastic impact on economy, quality of life, protections
The Copenhagen Treaty internationally, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation nationally and the unachievable targets for alternative energy passed by our own state Legislature and signed by the governor are all actions that have no significant impact on climate change but drastic impact on our economy, our individual quality of life, and the fundamental protections Americans are guaranteed by our Constitution.

Energy policy and environmental protection ought not be about picking winners and losers in the market. Sound energy policy frees market forces to provide clean, reliable, low cost energy. For the future, we must lift the ban on nuclear power-plant construction; for today, we must remove the barriers standing in the way of promising new technologies like clean coal; we must forge economically viable alternative forms of energy through market forces, not subsidies. Government should focus its efforts on legitimate environmental concerns — protecting the environment from unsafe levels of toxic pollutants, not from the carbon dioxide we exhale with every breath.

Before imposing any energy or environmental policy, one should ask and answer four key questions.

First, does the problem at hand warrant government intervention? I agree with Monckton that the best available evidence indicates human contribution to climate change is scientifically insignificant. Climate change (hotter and colder) is a naturally and constantly occurring process brought about by factors that dwarf human activity and are beyond human control.

Second, does the proposed solution actually address the defined problem? Even if one accepts that the Earth’s climate is getting warmer, studies have shown that were all of the protocols proposed by the Kyoto Treaty, for example, imposed worldwide, the effect on the average annual global temperature change would be statistically insignificant.

Third, is an energy or environmental policy politically practical, and can it be technically implemented? It is arrogant and ignorant to think that an international government can alter the average temperature of a small planet in a large universe by a few degrees over a century of time. We have neither the technology to do so nor the political clout, the Copenhagen Treaty notwithstanding, to enforce such a treaty on a worldwide basis — without significant force of arms. It is disingenuous and counterproductive to claim such ability and irresponsible to spend precious tax dollars on an unachievable objective.

Fourth and finally, sound energy policy demands that policymakers do not cause more harm than they alleviate. The economic cost of producing less energy at higher costs (the Minnesota solution) is irresponsible governance. The costs of implementing cap-and-trade legislation do not stand against analysis on economic principles; the costs can be “justified” only by the ideological desire that government manage the economy. Wealth transfer does not change the Earth’s temperature.

This brings us back to Monckton’s warning that the Copenhagen Treaty is a threat to American sovereignty. Climate change is vitally important — not for any valid scientific reason, but because it is being exploited to push a progressive political agenda. Co-opting science in support of ideological policy motivates bad science and dangerous policy. The last four minutes of Monckton’s speech highlighted the dangerous policy; in the first 90 minutes he exposed bad science. Armed with the latter, we will defeat the former.

Former State Auditor Pat Anderson is a candidate for the Republican endorsement for governor. She resigned as full-time president of the Minnesota Free Market Institute to campaign. Video of the Monckton presentation at Bethel University is found here.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moen on 10/28/2009 - 11:23 am.

    Climate science is an complex discipline, based upon reams-and-reams of data. It’s a young science with many discoveries ahead. But unfortunately, the global warming ‘discussion’ long ago left the realm of science and became a politicized ‘battle’ with zealots for foot soldiers.

    I blame the politicization of climate science largely on the United Nation’s ‘Climate Change 2007′ report that claimed CO2 drives global warming. This conclusion, made in the report’s summary, went well beyond the scientists’ findings in the body of the report. The fact is, the UN’s claim is not backed up by a smoking gun that proves CO2 drives global warming. The UN’s leap of faith is hugely important to our energy policy.

    Hindsight also makes it clear that the UN had not even proved their most basic point: that climate change is global. Their data and recent discoveries suggest climate change varies by region.

    If ‘drives’ and ‘global’ are correct, America and the rest of the world must quickly restructure our energy infrastructure to reduce CO2 emissions. But if CO2’s contribution to climate change is scientifically insignificant we need to rethink our response to whole thing. If Mother Nature actually drives climate change, then we should not move precipitously to burden our economy with carbon taxes and alternative-energy subsidies. I, for one, do not want to pay a dollar or two more per gallon, skimp on heat or see the blight of wind mills because of faulty science. Moreover, America just can’t afford any more system-wide bad choices.

    Sadly, we’ve out-sourced our scientific opinion to the United Nations. …an organization more concerned about political influence and funding than conducting good science. The UN also needs to perpetuate the Kyoto Protocol to remain in the game.

    It’s crystal clear. The United States needs our own objective, transparent climate commission to think-through global warming. We need the advice of a Climate Truth Commission before we burden our economy with expensive energy. Both sides of the man-made global warming issue should welcome such an approach. Each is so darn sure of its facts.

    — Robert Moen, http://www.energyplanU

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 10/28/2009 - 10:27 pm.

    I fail to see that Anderson has any training that would qualify her to render an opinion on the issue of global warming, pro or con. I certainly do not and, so, must rely on those who are qualified to do so.

    As for the balance of Ms. Anderson’s rant, she seems blythely ignorant of the fact that international treaties have been entered into since well before the founding of this nation. (Hint: that’s why the U.S. Constitution provides a mechanism for handling our entry into such treaties. And it’s not simply in the hands of the President.)

    Mr. Moen’s qualifications are as much a mystery, although he, too, seems to come at the issue with a bias against any international approach to the issue.

  3. Submitted by myles spicer on 10/29/2009 - 11:37 am.

    I am astounded, amazed, even amused at virtually ALL the Republican positions on vital issues as of late. Whether is be health care, environment, regulation…whatever, it is essentially “let’s do NOTHING!

    I would love to see them rename their party to
    “The Nihilist Party” — a far more accurate description of their ideology.

  4. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 10/29/2009 - 02:36 pm.

    Dig a little deeper and you will see that Lord Christopher Monckton, Anderson’s so-called expert, also has no scientific training whatsoever.

    Shame on MinnPost for printing this tripe.

  5. Submitted by Nancy Gertner on 10/31/2009 - 08:55 am.

    I don’t claim any scientific expertise except for having the power of observation.

    Today marks the end of the wettest October in memory in my lifetime. Minnesota farmers are struggling – and waiting – to get their crops out of the wet muddy fields. Most farmers expect to complete their harvest before we turn the calendars to November, and so this year is very frustrating to them.

    Because agriculture is such a large industry in Minnesota, the economic impact from the harvest has a domino effect.

    So when the crops stay in the fields, we Minnesotans can all be affected.

    So why was October so wet this year? Is there a scientific reason?

    Or is God sending us yet another plague, like the floods and the bridge falling down, for electing Tim Pawlenty as our governor?

  6. Submitted by Michael Zalar on 11/02/2009 - 06:04 pm.

    Lets just look at point number Three : “It is arrogant and ignorant to think that an international government can alter the average temperature of a small planet in a large universe by a few degrees over a century of time..”

    Turn the clock back about 200 years to 1816, the year without a summer. As a result of the erruption and explosion of Mt. Tambora, which threw vast quantities of ash and rock into the upper atmosphere, caused the lowering of temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere to such an extent that hundreds of thousands of people died, there was a snowstorm in JUNE in Quebec that dropped a foot of snow, and famine nearly world wide.
    This was a volcano (and thankfully the debris filtered out of the atomosphere within a couple years). To think that we cannot outdo, over the course of centuries, what one volcano can do in a couple of days, really is the height of stupidity. One of those remarks that is insubstantial and foolish in the extreme.
    Climate is far more fragile that people seem to think – look at the past and you will see how easy it is for changes to be effected by events such as fires and volcanos. And somehow similar things can happen because of Man.

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