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Ray Haynes

Mr. Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]

A Bunch of Hot Air
State Global Warming Lawsuits...
[Ray Haynes] 12/23/03

Whenever I hear politicians start to whine about global warming, I get suspicious. Since most of us (at least during an election year) are not much more than a bunch of hot air anyway, it could probably be argued that we are more responsible for causing global warming than you are.

So, when I read that a number of elected attorneys general in a variety of different states were suing the federal government to get more regulations over more of our life in order to do something about the perceived problem of global warming, I got worried. These attorneys general, in eleven states including California, have sued the federal government seeking to have the Environmental Protection Agency enact stringent new rules on emissions into the atmosphere.

While the suits each vary a bit in details, at their heart they all seek to force the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Another common trait they all share is that they are founded on shaky science and could cost you your job, or your car, or any other of a number of the nice things to which you have become accustomed in this technologically advanced society.

When the phrase “global warming” first burst onto the public scene a few years ago, it was based on computer models of temperature change over the centuries. Scientists thought that the overall temperature of the Earth was rising and that this is caused by the so-called greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide which are being emitted due to human activity such as driving our cars and operating our factories (once again, excluding big-mouthed politicians). Self-named environmentalists quickly embraced these conclusions. But even a first-year computer science student knows that a computer model is just that – a model. If faulty data is plugged into the model, faulty results emerge (garbage in-garbage out). In recent years, more and more scientists have come to question the assumptions about global warming and mankind’s role in it – if any – that these computer models lay out.

While the work of scientists skeptical about global warming has not disproved the theory, it has certainly raised enough questions to make fair-minded public policy experts wary of rushing headlong into fixing something when we don’t really know if it needs fixing in the first place. At a minimum, more recent scientific work shows that assumptions and conclusions on which these lawsuits are based are questionable and shaky.

What is not shaky is the fact that stiff new regulations such as those called for in these lawsuits would have an adverse impact on our economy (and, consequently, your job).

One study by the Energy Information Administration of global climate regulation concluded that America’s gross domestic product – an overall measure of our total national economy – would be reduced by almost $400 billion by 2010 if such regulation were to be implemented. That is a lot of jobs for a lot of people. A similar study by the Heartland Institute found that a national program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by seven percent below 1990 levels by 2010 would increase gasoline prices by at least 65 cents per gallon, which means if it costs you $150 per month to drive to work now, it will cost you over $200 per month to drive to work if the government gets its way.

Those are the big, national numbers. What does it mean for you and your family? To answer that question, keep in mind that “adverse economic impact” is just an economist’s way of saying “job loss.” This same Heartland Institute study estimated that 2.4 million jobs would be eliminated in America if the type of wide-spread greenhouse gas emissions control envisioned by the states’ attorneys general lawsuits were enacted. That, in turn, translates into an average household income reduction of $3,372 per year. That is like an increase of $3400 in your taxes, not to mention the other extra costs you would incur, all for a questionable theory based on questionable science. Unfortunately those hurt the most by these proposed regulations would be senior citizens and low-income families trying to heat their homes in the winter or cool them in the summer.

This all adds up to only one thing in my view: These lawsuits rest on a weak foundation of questionable law, questionable science and questionable application of facts. All of us want clean air, fresh water and a healthy atmosphere for our families to live in. I would hope that politicians would actually do things that would help us achieve those things. That would require some politicians, like our own Attorney General Bill Lockyer, however, to stop emitting their own greenhouse gases. Maybe we can get the federal government to regulate their emissions. That would cool off the atmosphere, and help us achieve some level of peace and security. It’s also probably too much too hope for.


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