Policy: Environment & Energy

If the globe isn't warming, does that undercut EPA regulation of carbon dioxide?

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Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone,Climate Change,EPA,Energy and Environment,Air Pollution

My Washington Examiner colleague Ashe Schow links to Hayley Dixon's story in the Telegraph reporting a leaked report to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in which scientists predict that the earth is entering an extended period of global cooling. Those scientists note that the ice cover in the Arctic Sea has increased 60% this year as compared to 2012, instead of melting away as global warming alarmists predicted. And they note — and this is more significant — the embarrassing fact that there has been a "pause" in global warming since 1997 rather than the increase in temperatures that the alarmists predicted.

This is starting to look like an Emily Litella moment — you know, the Saturday Night Live character who, on being told that an elaborate theory she has spun out from a misinterpretation of words is wrong, says, "Never mind."

In previous reports the IPCC has misinterpreted data a plenty. In one case it took a journalist's prediction that the Himalayan ice sheet would melt in 2350 and changed that date to the considerably less remote 2035. So it's not likely that the IPCC is going to proclaim that we face global cooling rather than global warming.

Even so, I am reminded by a characteristically bracing blogpost by my former American Enterprise Institute colleague Michael Greve that the supposed consensus that global warming is a threat was the basis of the Supreme Court's 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA requiring EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. The Court ruled that carbon dioxide, which is non-poisonous and necessary for animal and plant life, is a pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act of 1970. But if carbon dioxide is not producing supposedly dangerous global warming, there is no basis for calling it a pollutant. Is it possible that Massachusetts v. EPA will some day be reversed?

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