You Ought to Have a Look: The Weather According to Maue, Comments on EPA Power Plant Rules, the Government Bogarts the Weed

You Ought to Have a Look is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science posted by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger.  While this section will feature all of the areas of interest that we are emphasizing, the prominence of the climate issue is driving a tremendous amount of web traffic.  Here we post a few of the best in recent days, along with our color commentary.

Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger

One of the planet’s most prolific weather and climate Tweeters is Florida State PhD and WeatherBell wizard Dr. Ryan Maue (rhymes with zowie). Ryan’s initial claim to fame was his analysis of tropical cyclone (e.g., hurricane) activity that shows, over the past 45 years, lots of variability but no overall change.  Originally published in 2009, it flies in the face of global warming doomsayers who predict increases in all manner of extreme weather events including hurricanes and their tropical brethren. As a young scientist, going against the grain is not typically a good career move (which is why the global warming establishment is self-perpetuating), but Ryan is driven more by the truth than by political correctness. In fact, political correctness is an antonym of Ryan.

He has risen to prominence as the creator of the amazing analyses and graphics produced by the private weather forecasting firm WeatherBell Analytics. Many of these products find their way onto Ryan’s Twitter page along with some insightful (and often witty) commentary. His analysis of current weather events is unparalleled. If you’ve heard of the “polar vortex,” you can thank (or blame) Ryan: he first popularized this arcane professional term last winter.

This past week he has been active, covering the humongous lake-effect snows burying parts of greater Buffalo, the cold outbreak setting all-time monthly low temperature records in the Eastern United States, and pushing back against the growing tide of media that so desperately wants to link it all to global warming.

From our standpoint, Ryan is one of the best young weather/climate guys out there. If you don’t want to limit yourself to only encountering  Ryan’s analysis on the Drudge Report (which actually isn’t too limiting since his work is frequently featured there), then you ought to have a look for him on Twitter and become another of his more than 13,000 followers. To tune in to Ryan telling it like it is, check out @RyanMaue.

Also worth noting is that the deadline for the public to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants is December 1 (yes, that’s the Monday after Thanksgiving). This legislation is the crème-de-le-crème of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants to 30% below the emission level in 2005 by the year 2030.  According to the EPA, that will result in a reduction of 730 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to taking 150 million cars off the road.

While that sounds like a lot, it really is a very little, especially when it comes to the climate impact. In public comments we are about to submit, we calculated that these emissions reductions would avert only 0.02°C of projected global warming by the end of the century—a value too little to care about (and assuming a warming that is way too much). That is, unless you care about the price. Then you come to realize just how much  pain this insignificant gain costs.

Just this week, an economic analysis from Energy Venture Analysis was released examining the impact of the proposed EPA regulations on energy prices. From the report’s press release:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed carbon rule is the latest in a series of regulations alongside rising natural gas prices that will increase the cost of electricity and natural gas by nearly $300 billion in 2020 compared with 2012, according to a study released today by Energy Ventures Analysis, Inc. The study, “Energy Market Impacts of Recent Federal Regulations on the Electric Power Sector,” demonstrates the heavy financial burden the EPA’s collection of regulations will force on American families, businesses and manufacturers through soaring energy costs.

The study found the typical household’s annual electricity and natural gas bills would increase by $680, or 35 percent, from 2012 compared to 2020, escalating each year thereafter as EPA regulations grow more stringent. The cost of electricity would increase the most in states that have implemented deregulation of wholesale electric power markets, where the price of electricity will rise to the marginal cost to support new generating capacity.

The full report, including an online tool to examine the impacts on a state-by-state basis, is available here.

If you wish to point out any of this to the EPA, or if you have other details (pro or con) that you feel worth mentioning, you can submit your comments at the website Regulations.gov. We are currently busy putting the final touches on ours!

And finally, a bit of a departure. While typically our focus here is on global warming, the bigger view of the Center for the Study of Science is examining how federal control of research dollars influences science. Global warming is a prominent (and popular) example, but it is by no means the only science topic that is co-opted by the government. 

We just came across this example even though it was reported on earlier this year: “Feds Accused of Steering Funding to Anti-pot Researchers.” As drug legalization is a major libertarian emphasis, we thought it was worth dusting off this article and mentioning it here. That the feds are apparently meddling in the scientific research process and favoring those researchers who will produce results that support the federal stance (in this case, that marijuana is bad) should hardly be surprising for anyone who follows us at the Center for the Study of Science.

From the article’s lead:

As the nation’s only truly legal supplier of marijuana, the U.S. government keeps tight control of its stash, which is grown in a 12-acre fenced garden on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

From there, part of the crop is shipped to Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, where it’s rolled into cigarettes, all at taxpayer expense.

Even though Congress has long banned marijuana, the operation is legitimate. It’s run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which doles out the pot for federally approved research projects.

While U.S. officials defend their monopoly, critics say the government is hogging all the pot and giving it mainly to researchers who want to find harms linked to the drug.

For the rest of the story of the government bogarting the weed, be sure to check out the full piece.

That’s it for this week. We’ll be off for Thanksgiving next week, but we’ll be back with other interesting tidbits that you ought to have a look at come the first week of December.