Climate Change Report Gets Cold Reception on Capitol Hill

Ken Silverstein | Jan 17, 2013


A new report that says climate change is a matter of national urgency is getting a cold reception from leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee says that the evidence of the earth’s warming is becoming more apparent.

But the odds of any federal legislation that would be enacted to combat such effects are nil. That’s because the two political parties, generally, are sharply divided over whether man-made emissions are the central cause behind the gradual warming trend. Most Republicans and some Democrats say that the phenomenon can be attributed to natural causes in weather cycles.

To that end, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Republican-dominated leadership has said that it will not consider any proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If technologies improve and they would become commercially available, then that would be the market-wise thing to do. Specifically, those leaders are saying that any resurrection of the carbon tax idea won’t happen.

Similarly, President Obama is saying that his administration is not going to get bogged down in trying to enact a carbon tax. However, unlike the House Republicans, the president believes that government regulations can lead to fewer heat-trapping emissions and that such rules would accelerate those tools that could lower those releases.

“Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” says the 60-person federal advisory committee that authored the draft climate report. “Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and in some regions, floods and droughts ... These changes are part of the pattern of climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.”

Last year was the hottest year ever recorded in this country, according to those who track such things. It was also among the 10 hottest worldwide. The draft report issued by the federal advisory committee says that unless steps are taken to reduce heat-trapping emissions that global temperatures could rise by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of this century.

“Climate change is already affecting us and there’s a growing demand at the local level for information about what it means for our present and our future,” says Todd Sanford, a scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The climate conversation always starts with science. Because policymakers have generally supported policies that increase emissions, successfully adapting to climate change is becoming more difficult.”

New Thinking

The political opposition to crafting any legislation to deal with climate change is too formidable, meaning that any such bill could not make it to the House floor for a vote. Meantime, Democrats from coal-producing states are also opposed. Two West Virginia lawmakers have co-authored a measure that forbids any federal carbon tax on electric or transportation fuels.

Rep. David McKinely, R-WV, has joined with Rep. Nick Rahall, D-WV, to say that a carbon tax would increase the price of all energy forms. It is therefore not a tenable solution in today’s economic environment.

However, in some conservative circles, there is support for a carbon tax. Former Secretary of State George Schultz has said that British Columbia has implemented a carbon tax whereby its government will gradually increase it before redistributing the revenues to individuals. So, it is popular. He adds that Republican lawmakers may want to take up this measure to regain its standing as the party that has adopted and enforced the original 1970 Clean Air Act. 

“Conservatives have the answer to our energy and climate challenge,” adds Bob Inglis, head of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative and a former Republican lawmaker from South Carolina. “It’s about correcting market distortions and setting the economics right. We need to stop retreating in denial and start stepping forward in the competition of ideas.”

Despite the disagreements between the parties and among conservatives, companies are moving forward to reduce their carbon footprints. Calvert Investments discusses Google, AT&T and Coca-Cola. Google, for instance, publicly lists its renewable energy holdings as well as its carbon footprint that it wants to reduce to zero. Meanwhile, AT&T also has a goal of increasing its green energy and decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. Coca-Cola has pledged 5 percent cuts in all of its emissions by 2015.

By any measure, the earth is warming. The president has his ideas while House leaders have theirs. And whether one attributes this to man-made greenhouse gases or natural weather cycles, it is undeniable that major parts of the marketplace are making their own moves.

EnergyBiz Insider has been awarded the Gold for Original Web Commentary presented by the American Society of Business Press Editors. The column is also the Winner of the 2011 Online Column category awarded by Media Industry News, MIN. Ken Silverstein has been honored as one of MIN’s Most Intriguing People in Media.

Twitter: @Ken_Silverstein

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Expand on your statement please

Would you care to expand on your last paragraph? "By any measure, the earth is warming. The president has his ideas while House leaders have theirs. And whether one attributes this to man-made greenhouse gases or natural weather cycles, it is undeniable that major parts of the marketplace are making their own moves." What measure? compared to when? We know the President supports very high subsidies to wind and solar vs. the House priority of an energy policy that makes economic, scientific and technological SENSE. So what if a few companies in the US reduce their tiny footprint? What impact globally does that make for humankind? zilch. and they should get zilch for their noble efforts.

What part of "Science" don't you understand

It's amazing how brainwashed Ken Silverstein is (and apparently the militant global warming religionists are) in completely ignoring REAL science proving that man made global warming is the biggest scientific hoax perpetrated this century.  Let's look at the headlines of this week shall we:

UK MET office announces that NO WARMING has happened for 16 years.(

NASA Climate Research: Human CO2 Has Little Impact On Long-Term Climate Change (

 NASA's James Hansen's finally concedes 'flat' global temps (

More Than 1000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims (

Scientists Unequivocally Establish That Medieval Warming Was Unprecedented & Global (

Satellites Confirm: Atmospheric Global Cooling Reigns, Not The IPCC's Predicted CO2 'Global Warming' -- 'The 2012 year-end satellite measurements...reveal global cooling currently dominates' (

It takes either an intellectually challenged advocate, or a corrupt one - to continue arguing a theory so clearly grayed (if not disproven). 

Meanwhile, EnergyBiz, Silverstein and the acolytes of MMGW ignore other science that could  COMPLETELY explain all warming evidence since 1970.  Cloud cover being one:

New paper finds increase in US sunshine has had 4.4 times more effect than greenhouse gases since 1996 - Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres (

I'd love just for once defenders of the BIG LIE would be honest that at the very least, the "science" is far from settled.  But that might cut off the paychecks from their puppetmasters I suppose.





Thank you.


This is what you get when you tell the truth, no paycheck.  America can do better than that.

My paycheck

To the note directly above this one: My paycheck is issued by this publisher, who is paid by the sponsors that you see on the side of each of its web pages. None of them have ever contacted me and asked me to editorialize in favor of their ideas, nor have I ever been asked by my publisher to do so. In fact, I have no idea how the advertisers feel about the issues in which I cover.

As I've said many times before, I try to be intellectually honest. And, you the reader or readers, are more than free to respond and to disagree as you have here. I don't have the final word. You do. But in this forum, I put my name and my research out there for all to see. On the other hand, you write in anonymously and we the readers -- and I the editor -- have no idea from whom you get your paycheck. So, while your ideas may be valid, they hold less validity because we don't know anything about you. I do know, for example, that you write in and make this same point each time.

A few other points: I really don't have a dog in the fight. All I can really do is to rely on the experts with whom I speak. I'm more than open to new ideas. As for my publishers, I do believe that they are skeptical of climate science. In fact, once the CEO wrote me a fiesty note about something I had written with regard to climate change. I responded to him: Get in line with everyone else.

We exchange ideas here without the name calling, Jim. 

Ken Silverstein

Climate change caused by CO2 emissions is simply not proven.

I am astonished that those from the "scientific" community insist that climate change is caused by something that has not been proven. The IPCC report is known to be wrong. "Infinitesimal" CO2 increases cannot affect climate to the extent scientists (funded by those who would significantly benefit financially) say. There is no proven, scientific evidence. Policies requiring drastic reductions in CO2 emissions are unrealistic and threaten human well-being in developing countries by curtailing abundant, reliable, affordable energy sources. Any energy policy needs to be "global" to be truly effective. To enrich the rich and make the poor poorer would cause untold global harm and destruction. Perhaps science will not explain weather changes and storms. Perhaps the underlying fears come from a rejection of the Creator, a suppression of truth of his existence, and a lack of honor and thanks for the brilliant order and structure of his creation. Instead, the creation is worshiped rather than the Creator. It is worth thinking about. Romans 1:18-25

climate change

I am astonished that those who live their lives by superstition and who deny science and are willing to kill the Earth for their political prejudice. 

Although I worked as a Senior Engineer for Pacific Gas and Electric in Technical Services, my degree was a MS in Environmal Management, and for decades I have watched as we slowly damaged our Life-Support System on Earth.

It is beyond comprehension why folk would follow their superstitions and political prejudice and let our Earth die.  They are following the same folk who screamed "WMD!" at them until we had to mass-murder all those Iraqi civilians.


"I am astonished that those who live their lives by superstition and who deny science and are willing to kill the Earth for their political prejudice."

Would you care to expand on the statement above? I am not sure where you were going with it.

Ed Reid

Energy Consultant

Don't begin vast programs with half-vast ideas

Yes, the globe has been warming since about 1650, the trough of the Little Ice Age. Yes, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing since about 1750. (We might therefore conclude that CO2 was "leading from behind".)

However, we do not know what the ideal global average temperature is, nor what the optimal atmospheric CO2 concentration is. We do not know what the global average surface temperature is, nor do we know what the global average surface temperature anomaly is, though we have estimates.

We do know that the temperature data we do have is flawed, since it requires "adjustment" before it is used to estimate the global average surface temperature and the global average surface temperature anomaly. We also know that the GCMs used to project future temperature increases are flawed, since they all project higher than actual temperatures, even compared to the adjusted temperatures. Recent papers suggest that approximately half of the reported global average surface temperature anomaly is in the adjustments, rather than in the underlying data.

We also know that a carbon tax, while it might induce some actions to reduce carbon emissions, would not produce a predictable reduction in US carbon emissions, though it would produce a reasonably predictable increase in federal revenues. We can surmise, from the comments by those interested in imposing a carbon tax, that the incremental revenue is their primary interest.

We also know that the globe has only one atmosphere and that CO2 is a globally well-mixed trace gas. Therefore, we know that emissions reductions in the US would only affect ~16% of global annual CO2 emissions; and, that reductions in global annual CO2 emissions would require global action, especially by those countries whose annual CO2 emissions are still increasing rapidly. While those countries appear to have a significant interest in emissions reductions from the developed nations, they appear to have little interest in reducing their emissions, or even in reducing the current rate of growth of their emissions.

Ed Reid

Energy Consultant

Why aren't the record highest temps by State increasing?

I was looking at a listing of the record high temperatures by State compiled at using date from the National Climatic Data Center.  The list was copyrighted in 2005 and I am not sure if that was the last update.  The interesting thing is that of the record high temperature extremes only 10 occurred after 1950 and none after 2000.  The latest date shown for an extreme high temperature record was in 1994 in two States--Nevada and New Mexico.  A couple of recorded extremes date back into the late 1800's with a considerable percentage occuring in the 1910's and 30's.  So, if the overall temperature is climbing so dramatically, why aren't these extremes climbing?

I believe there is global climate change because it has been happening since the Earth was formed.  It has changed dramatically in both directions--warmer and colder since mankind first walked the Earth.  I do believe that manmade CO2 and waste heat has impacted climate change; but, manmade CO2 as the PRINCIPLE cause of global climate change--I really have my doubts.  Should we develop more efficient powerplants?  Absolutely--waste not, want not. 

Global climate change is being used as an argument to support massive transfer of the tax burden from big and high profit business concerns to other businesses and the citizenry through PTCs, cash grants in lieu, and REC trading.

China is busy modernizing its coal-fired fleet through a program that requires new plants to be supercritical or ultra-supercritical and also requires that the plants be designed large enough to not only meet new demand but to supplant older facilities and demolish them.

We are so stupid in our programs--doing things that are not cost effective or even reliable, that compromise the intregrity of the electrical supply, and that waste massive quantities of building materials due to low energy output per ton of concrete, steel etc.  We are even encouraging the construction of these facilities at a breakneck pace, driving up the cost of these materials for other businesses, industries, and homes while simultaneously increasing the cost of power.  We are increasing our natiional debt while simultaneously allowing GE, Google, BP, Duke Energy and others to avoid substantial, and in some cases all, tax liabilities.  One could argue the US government is borrowing money to pay the tax bills of those entities.

Mark Wooldridge

CO2: Infinitesimal Trace Gas

Only 4 molecules in every 10,000 atmospheric molecules are CO2.  That's 400 PPM or .04 percent.  ANY gas at such an incredibly low level of concentration cannot possibly impact the climate to the extent described by these "scientists".   Something else is going on and it appears to be "political science" not "earth science".  Congress is wise to ignore these religious zealots.