Boulder “SmartRegs” a dumb idea

The Daily Camera reports:

Thousands of landlords who rent out homes in Boulder will be forced to invest a combined millions of dollars in upgrades — costs that could be passed on through higher rent — if the city approves new energy-efficiency standards.

On Thursday, the Boulder Planning Board will take up “SmartRegs,” a proposed point-based system designed to get rental properties — which make up about half of the city’s housing stock — to reduce their carbon footprint.

Read the rest of the article. The Camera published my comments on this in the April 24 edition:

“SmartRegs” is corporate welfare to finance a wasteful solution to a problem with debatable significance and causes.

“What happened to global warming?” asked a BBC headline last year. “One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over,” the article concluded.

Warming aside, there are still problems to address. In “Breaking the Global Warming Gridlock,” CU Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. explains that instead of endlessly debating the science, “practical steps to reduce our vulnerability to today’s weather … would go a long way toward solving the problem of tomorrow’s climate.”

The most ethical step is to promote prosperity though economic liberty and free markets. Wealthy populations are less vulnerable to climate-related threats than poor ones.  As economist Indur Goklany observes, more people will die from hunger, unsafe drinking water, and malaria because of poverty than global warming.  In terms of human well-being, it’s better to be wealthier in a slightly warmer climate than poorer in a cooler one.

If you support actions to mitigate climate change, mandatory emissions reductions is not the best method. “Freakonomics” author Steven Levitt prefers geoengineering solutions. Unlike emission reductions, they take immediate effect. They are also reversible, and the cost is “literally thousands of times cheaper” than reducing carbon emissions, says Levitt.

Solutions promoting innovation and wealth probably offend religious strains of environmentalism as sinful hubris. After all, it celebrates human accomplishment rather than promoting self-denial, guilt for driving, and subservience to Gaia and big government.

Some useful references I either used or did not have room to mention given the word limit:

  • ClimateDebateDaily.com: A log of essay and research from two perspectives:
    1. “…supporting the idea that global warming poses a clear threat to humanity, that it is largely caused by human activity, and that solutions to the problems of climate change lie within human reach.”
    2. “…challenging the view that the world warming that began around 1880 is caused by human activity, that it poses a serious threat, or that the vagaries of earth’s climate are within human control.”
  • Ari Armstrong, Radical Environmentalists Undermine Human Progress.
  • From Science Daily: “In contradiction to some recent studies, [Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol] finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.”
  • The Times of London reports: “The United Nations climate panel faces a new challenge with scientists casting doubt on its claim that global temperatures are rising inexorably because of human pollution.”
  • Studies and commentary by Cato Institute scholars.
  • From David Thoreaux at the Independent Institute:

As reported in the London Daily Mail, Phil Jones, the scientist at the center of the Climategate scandal in which leaked email documents reveal that IPCC scientists were manipulating data, has now made a series of major admissions, including the following:

* Data for the IPCC’s vital “hockey stick graph” used by climate alarmists has gone missing
* There has been no global warming since 1995
* Warming periods have happened before, such as the Medieval Warm Period—but NOT due to man-made changes”

In response to Nub’s comment below, I found the BBC interview with Phil Jones. The relevant section shows that it’s not accurate to say, as the Daily Mail did, that  “there has been no global warming since 1995.”  Here’s the section:

B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

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3 Comments

Filed under public policy, published

3 responses to “Boulder “SmartRegs” a dumb idea

  1. nub

    the only point in this post that i find even mildly convincing is that the new regs might raise rents. the rest sounds like you've been getting all your information from extremely dubious sources. no warming since 1995? that's one way to put it i suppose, if you completely ignore the context of the quote. i'll let you check that on your own time, but for now will simply point out that 2009, according to nasa, was the second warmest year on record, capping off the warmest decade on record. source: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/temp-

  2. wakalix

    Re. the 2000s being a warm decade, I should first note that whether it is or is not does not in itself justify or invalidate any specific climate related policy. That's one of the take-home messages I got from taking a class from Roger Pielke, Jr. That said, Roger Pielke Sr. had a blog post in December 2009 where he referred to two of his published papers and then wrote:The conclusion from these (and other papers on this subject) is that the claim that the first decade of this century is the warmest on record is based on temperature data sets that clearly overstate the magnitude of global temperature anomaly.<http://is.gd/bGW0T>

  3. wakalix

    Re. the 2000s being a warm decade, I should first note that whether it is or is not does not in itself justify or invalidate any specific climate related policy. That's one of the take-home messages I got from taking a class from Roger Pielke, Jr. That said, Roger Pielke Sr. had a blog post in December 2009 where he referred to two of his published papers and then wrote:The conclusion from these (and other papers on this subject) is that the claim that the first decade of this century is the warmest on record is based on temperature data sets that clearly overstate the magnitude of global temperature anomaly.<http://is.gd/bGW0T>

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