January 16, 2010
Rasmussen talks candidly about climate change
FROM-Farm and Ranch Guide
It is being called “climategate” - a term used to refer to a scandal involving climate science. The term was created in November 2009, when e-mails and data were released to the public that questioned the authenticity of global warming.
Though Kimball Rasmussen, CEO of Deseret Power, did not use the term “climategate,” he did declare there is no subject at this time which “stands greater in importance - not to mention confusion, hype and hysteria - than the topic of climate change.”
Rasmussen speaks around the country almost weekly on his findings.
“This has had an amazing response. The media leads you to believe that this is a done deal and the people are accepting it and buying into it but they aren't. The people really have a lot of concerns about this,” he said.
Rasmussen spoke recently in Montana at the Montana Farm Bureau Annual meeting. He began his foray into climate change in 2008 when he was asked to give a speech on the topic.
He wasn't comfortable with the assignment and wanted to “speak intelligently on the subject” and help answer any questions that might reasonably come up, so he dove into a mountain of personal research. He read thousands of pages of documents, studies, books and reports, including the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR4IPCC). The report is considered the heavyweight in the climate change arena.
Rasmussen quickly discovered many elements of the report “are poorly understood (or misunderstood) by much of the public, and sadly, by most policy makers as well.” He didn't like that, he said, and set about to make the information clear and easy to understand.
In a recent phone conversation, Rasmussen said one of the most confusing aspects of the report is its discussion that a doubling of carbon dioxide levels would raise atmospheric temperatures by three degrees. What the report and climate-change advocates do not make very clear is that the doubling of carbon dioxide levels extends back to the base year of 1750.
“Most people think that warming is a fairly recent thing, but it's not,” Rasmussen explained.
A doubling of the 1750 levels is not likely to occur much sooner than the year 2100; yet many groups do not report those facts.
Furthermore, Rasmussen said that the world is more than halfway there, in terms of doubled carbon dioxide levels since 1750, adding that the temperatures have only gone up three-fourths of one degree since 1750, which is “suspicious.”
“If the earth responds to carbon dioxide in the next 100 years like it has during the last 250, we would expect only an additional three-fourths of a degree of warming by 2100,” he said.
Those are definitely not the numbers being thrown out to the public.
“And if it turns out they have fudged the data, all that does is move the warming number down even more,” he said.
According to historic records, the earth is actually in a cooling trend over the past 10 years and is recovering from the “little ice age” that has lasted for more than 200 years.
Rather than argue whether the science or data was correct, Rasmussen then decided to accept their information as correct, take that information and run his calculations from it. He wanted to know just how much of that warming can be avoided by actions, however drastic that the U.S. might undertake.
“The answer to this question is astonishing,” he said.
Through his research, Rasmussen determined that if the United States overhauled their Power Sector through the use of cap and trade legislation, it would delay the natural warming trend by only seven-one hundredths of one degree Celsius over the next century.
He further explained that if the U.S. completely eliminated all fossil fuel emissions from coal, gas or oil, the country would be plunged back to the dark ages and only lower world-wide temperatures over the next 100 years by 0.21 degrees.
“Oh how I wish that all policy makers understood this calculation and the trivial amount of cooling that might occur from curtailment from U.S. activities,” Rasmussen said. “A mere .07 degrees Celsius.”
That is a tremendous amount of expense for such a small result, he said. He is concerned about the economic effect drastic measures would have on the already shaky U.S. economy and, reciprocally, the rest of the world.
By placing penalties on companies within the U.S. borders, Rasmussen said many companies may shut their doors, go bankrupt or move their manufacturing elsewhere - such as to an undeveloped country with no emissions policies. That type of outmigation would devastate the U.S. economy and actually increase the very world-wide pollutants an overhaul is trying to reduce.
In terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Rasmussen pointed out that in 2004 China produced 2,222 tons of carbon dioxide per million dollars of GDP while the U.S only emitted 516 tons of carbon dioxide per million dollars.
“With China emitting nearly quadruple the carbon dioxide it should not be surprising to expect that an outmigration of U.S. industry would result in a net increase in worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, as well as other pollutants where environmental regulations are much less stringent,” said Rasmussen.
“The U.S. contribution to pollution is only a small fraction,” he added.
Likewise, their efforts to clean up - made at great cost and sacrifice to U.S companies and citizens - will only bring a small benefit.
“This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to improve. I believe we should. And it doesn't mean that our efforts to improve are not having an impact. I think they are, but this (climate change issue) has been overblown,” he said.
“With all the downward trends of the economy, we must be careful that we don't further perturb the economy with an ill-advised energy policy calling for drastic carbon reductions that are likely to have no benefit to the environment and come with enormous expense,” he continued.
“We need to set an example of progress through technology, efficiency and conservation that promotes a healthy United States and thereby a healthy world,” he said.
“I have great hope in the ingenuity and innovation of America. I believe that we can, and will, find new and cleaner sources of energy. But this must be done wisely, methodically, and patiently, with proper balance of economic and environmental objectives. The climate question will be solved by a free and prosperous society and the United States of America can and will be the leader in this regard,” he concluded.
Rasmussen's booklet entitled, A Rational Look at Climate Change Con-cerns and the Implications of U.S. Power can be read on the Web at http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/other/rational_look.