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Donald F. Boesch
President, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Donald F. Boesch

Donald F. Boesch, an oceanographer, is president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability for the University System of Maryland. ALL POSTS

Both are needed

Q: As the prospects for a climate bill in the Senate get dimmer, some in Congress have said the solution is not to limit U.S. emissions but instead invest in green technology (wind, solar or earth's natural heat) that might be able to produce the same energy but with less pollution. Is this a good way to go, instead of setting a legal limit on emissions?

In an op-ed in the Post last month, fellow Planet Panelist Bjorn Lomborg opined that, rather than setting politically difficult limits on carbon emissions that drive up energy costs, governments should radically increase spending on research and development in green technologies.

Now, many other economists believe Lomborg underestimates the environmental and social costs of the present carbon-based energy system and overestimates the necessary costs of the transition to renewable energy. Furthermore, the timeframe over which a government-R&D-only approach could reduce greenhouse gas emissions is out of line with consensus of climate science informing us that very sharp reductions are needed over the next four decades.

To the degree to which there is ever a consensus among economists, it is that progressive and binding caps on emissions and the strong market forces they would create are required in order to make the needed energy transition in a timely, innovative and cost-effective manner. Carbon has a significant cost to us already, one that will grow dramatically in the future, so, it is reasoned, it should also have a price.

Now, there is still an important role for government investments in green technologies, particularly in the development of the basic scientific understanding that underpins them or where the long lead times and great technical challenges dissuade private investment--carbon capture and sequestration comes to mind.  While I agree with Lomborg that a technology revolution is required, leading economists believe this can only be accomplished by innovation that brings costs down in response to market forces as driven by price and regulation.

P.S.: As an up-date on last week's posts on whether climate science is trustworthy, this article in The Guardian shows that the claims made by climate skeptics about the Climate Research Unit e-mails are demonstrably false. Also, the former U.K. chief scientist suggested that the highly sophisticated hacking operation was probably carried out by a foreign intelligence agency to disrupt the Copenhagen Summit. Finally, a Penn State inquiry concluded that there is no substance to allegations that scientist Michael Mann suppressed or falsified data; deleted e-mails or other information; or misused confidential information.

By Donald F. Boesch  |  February 4, 2010; 9:21 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Capping emissions and stimulating investment go hand-in-hand | Next: D.C. plastic bag fee offers climate solution


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This Brand New Video Blows a Huge Gaping Hole in Obama's Cap and Tax Scheme:

Posted by: CommieBlaster | February 6, 2010 6:53 PM
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P.S. Mr. Boesch, The only Global Warming occurring is from the hot air coming out of your post every week. I mean seriously, how does a story by two green activists make it into the IPCC report?

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 5, 2010 9:26 PM
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Here Everyone... Read the e-mails for yourself.

Mann e-mail of 11 Mar 2003
In one e-mail, as a response to an e-mail indicating that a paper in the scientific journal Climate Research had questioned assertions that the 20th century was abnormally warm, Mann wrote:

“I think we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal."[37]

Jones e-mail of 8 Jul 2004
An 8 July 2004 e-mail from Phil Jones to Michael Mann said in part:

"The other paper by MM is just garbage. [...] I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

Jones e-mail of 2 Feb 2005
A 2 February 2005 email from Phil Jones to Michael Mann includes:

"And don't leave stuff lying around on ftp sites - you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days?—ours does! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind.”

Trenberth e-mail of 12 Oct 2009
An email written by Kevin Trenberth, a climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, discussed gaps in understanding of recent temperature variations:

"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't,"[

Phil Jones
"I've just completed Mike's Nature TRICK of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to HIDE THE DECLINE."[

You don't have to be a Climate Scientist to understand this. We are supposed to invest Trillions of Dollars based on the manipulation of Data by Corrupt Scientist? Thank God for Senator Inhofe!

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 5, 2010 9:00 PM
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Penn State’s (three person board of inquiry) findings and, more importantly, the focus have set off a wave of criticism accusing the university panel of failing to interview key people, neglecting to conduct more than a cursory review of allegations and structuring the inquiry so that the outcome -- exoneration -- was a foregone conclusion.

On Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Investigations Committee, charged that the Penn State's failure to settle all the charges and called into question professor Mann's work. He is demanding that all grants to the noted scientist be frozen.

Mann, according to published reports, has gotten a grant almost $550,000 in stimulus money to study climate change and is part of a nearly $2 million grant to Penn State to study the impact of climate change on various diseases.

"Until the investigation is completed," Issa said, "the National Science Foundation should immediately freeze all grants and funding, including the $541,184 stimulus grant, to Professor Mann."
Criticism directed at the conduct of the investigation is being spearheaded by Steven Milloy, a former Fox News contributor and publisher of Junk Science, a Web site dedicated to debunking global warming research.

"It was set up to be a total whitewash and the panel made no effort to investigate," Milloy said. "They didn't even interview the recipients of the e-mails. It is ridiculous."

He charges that the panel did little more than look at the e-mails Mann sent and that, despite claims that "hundreds of hours" of time had been put into the investigation, only two people were actually interviewed. "None of them had any direct knowledge of the e-mails," he said.

"The only interviews cited in the report other than Mann's are with Jerry North and Donald Kennedy," he said. "Both are Mann's supporters and none have anything to do with the charges. Kennedy was the editor of Science magazine, and North helped Mann defend the 'hockey stick' graph. Yet Phil Jones, who got the e-mails, wasn't contacted."

Steve McIntyre of the Web site Climate Audit also charged that the panel looked at papers that were already publicly available. "They did not examine any of Mann's correspondence that was not already in the public record," he said. In effect, he argued, the panel didn't use any of its investigatory powers to plumb deeper.

Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative research and educational institute, proposed that the state legislature conduct an independent investigation of the charges and Mann's research.

A spokesman for the foundation said it was a "conflict of interest" for Penn State to investigate itself. Republican State Rep. RoseMarie Swanger also called for a separate investigation to be conducted by the state.

Graduate School Dean Henry C. Foley, who headed the investigation, referred all calls on the subject to media representatives for the school, who failed to return phone calls.

-Ed Barnes

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 5, 2010 8:53 PM
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