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What Global Warming? Science-Doubting Florida Lawmakers Move to Kill Cap-and-Trade

| November 16, 2011

A melting globe in Sydney's Darling Harbor. (Dave Sag)

With the sponsor raising questions about climate-change science, a House panel moved forward Tuesday with repealing a law that could lead to using a “cap and trade” system to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.

The law, pushed through in 2008 by former Gov. Charlie Crist, has never been used to pursue cap and trade — an approach that would provide incentives for businesses, such as electric utilities, to reduce emissions.

But Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican sponsoring the repeal bill, described cap-and-trade laws as “government picking winners and losers” and said such laws kill jobs.

“This is government central planning in a place where I don’t think it should be,” Plakon told the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, which voted 8-5 along party lines to support the repeal bill (HB 4001).

Plakon, who is chairman of the House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee, said the climate-change science that led to such efforts to reduce emissions has been “called into question.” Skeptics contend that scientists have misused information to bolster the idea that man is creating climate change.

But Rep. Dwight Bullard, a Miami Democrat who voted against Plakon’s bill, dismissed such arguments, saying only about 8 percent of scientists reject the idea of climate change.

“I tend to go with the other 92 percent who are out there advocating for it, that it is real,” Bullard said.

Early in his administration, Crist drew widespread attention for taking steps aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The 2008 law — dubbed the Florida Climate Protection Act — set up a process by which the state Department of Environmental Protection could develop rules for a cap-and-trade system and seek ratification from the Legislature.

Under a cap-and-trade system, the state would set an overall limit on emissions and would set aside certain amounts for businesses such as utilities. If the businesses emit less than they are allowed, they could sell “credits” to other companies that might be over their emission limits.

With no state movement toward such a system, Democrats on the subcommittee Tuesday questioned the need to repeal the law.

“I’m a little confused why we need to repeal something just because it’s dormant at this moment,” Bullard said.

But Plakon raised the possibility that future lawmakers could enact a cap-and-trade system and said it should be erased from state law. The House bill is only scheduled to go before one more panel, the State Affairs Committee. An identical bill (SB 648) has been filed in the Senate.

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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4 Responses for “What Global Warming? Science-Doubting Florida Lawmakers Move to Kill Cap-and-Trade”

  1. Outsider says:

    “Only 8 percent of scientists reject the idea of CLIMATE CHANGE?” Well of course the climate is CHANGING; it’s been changing for the five billion years the Earth has been in existence. The evidence of that is clear: the ice age, the melting of the glaciers that formed the Great Lakes. How many SUV’s were plowing the Earth when the glaciers melted leaving the Great Lakes? Noone doubts climate CHANGE; the real issue is manmade global warming. How many scientists agree that there is global warming and it’s caused by man? I would bet it’s a lot less than 92% of them.

  2. Liana G says:

    An intersting article was written in The Hedgehog Review titled “The Protestant Structure of American Culture” noted that ‘although all rich nations have embraced the cause of environmentalism, some have done so much more enthusiastically than others.’

    21 nations were divided into 2 groups – dark green and light green. 11 were categorized as light green – those concerned only with water and air quality that directly impacts their environment. 10 were categorized as dark green – those concerned with the entire ecosphere including the rain forest, ozone holes, endangered species, and everything else.

    It was found that 9 out of the 10 dark green countries are of Protestant heritage (Austria being the exception), and none of the 11 light green countries are of this Protestant heritage. The 11 light green countries include 6 Catholic countries, one Greek Orthodox (Greece), one Jewish country (Israel), and three Confucian/Buddhist (Japan, Korea, Taiwan).

    In addition, it was found that the Protestant countries are the richest (with the exception of Japan) have been the richest the longest, are/and have been the most modern the longest, and are/have been the most democratic the longest with the most vibrant civic cultures.

    What the research discovered was that there is a correlation of Protestant heritage with modern economic prosperity, successful democracy, and strong environmentalism. Yet in America, the religious group least concerned with the environment is the Evangelical Protestants whose tradition stems from such ideology.

    Well, capitialism does produce green paper so there’s the connection.

  3. Sherry Epley says:

    Not to confuse anyone with the facts of scientific opinion:

    Statement on Human Impacts on Climate Change

    In April 2004, the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics endorsed a position statement on climate change adopted by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Council in December 2003. The statement follows:

    “Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth’s climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth’s history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.

    “Human impacts on the climate system include increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and their substitutes, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.), air pollution, increasing concentrations of airborne particles, and land alteration. A particular concern is that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide may be rising faster than at any time in Earth’s history, except possibly following rare events like impacts from large extraterrestrial objects.

    “Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have increased since the mid-1700s through fossil fuel burning and changes in land use, with more than 80% of this increase occurring since 1900. Moreover, research indicates that increased levels of carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. It is virtually certain that increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will cause global surface climate to be warmer.

    “The complexity of the climate system makes it difficult to predict some aspects of human-induced climate change: exactly how fast it will occur, exactly how much it will change, and exactly where those changes will take place. In contrast, scientists are confident in other predictions. Mid-continent warming will be greater than over the oceans, and there will be greater warming at higher latitudes. Some polar and glacial ice will melt, and the oceans will warm; both effects will contribute to higher sea levels. The hydrologic cycle will change and intensify, leading to changes in water supply as well as flood and drought patterns. There will be considerable regional variations in the resulting impacts.

    “Scientists’ understanding of the fundamental processes responsible for global climate change has greatly improved during the last decade, including better representation of carbon, water, and other biogeochemical cycles in climate models. Yet, model projections of future global warming vary, because of differing estimates of population growth, economic activity, greenhouse gas emission rates, changes in atmospheric particulate concentrations and their effects, and also because of uncertainties in climate models. Actions that decrease emissions of some air pollutants will reduce their climate effects in the short term. Even so, the impacts of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations would remain.

    “The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change states as an objective the ‘ . . . stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.’ AGU believes that no single threshold level of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere exists at which the beginning of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system can be defined. Some impacts have already occurred, and for increasing concentrations there will be increasing impacts. The unprecedented increases in greenhouse gas concentrations, together with other human influences on climate over the past century and those anticipated for the future, constitute a real basis for concern.

    “Enhanced national and international research and other efforts are needed to support climate related policy decisions. These include fundamental climate research, improved observations and modeling, increased computational capability, and very importantly, education of the next generation of climate scientists. AGU encourages scientists worldwide to participate in climate research, education, scientific assessments, and policy discussions. AGU also urges that the scientific basis for policy discussions and decision-making be based upon objective assessment of peer-reviewed research results.

    “Science provides society with information useful in dealing with natural hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and drought, which improves our ability to predict and prepare for their adverse effects. While human-induced climate change is unique in its global scale and long lifetime, AGU believes that science should play the same role in dealing with climate change. AGU is committed to improving the communication of scientific information to governments and private organizations so that their decisions on climate issues will be based on the best science.

    “The global climate is changing and human activities are contributing to that change. Scientific research is required to improve our ability to predict climate change and its impacts on countries and regions around the globe. Scientific research provides a basis for mitigating the harmful effects of global climate change through decreased human influences (e.g., slowing greenhouse gas emissions, improving land management practices), technological advancement (e.g., removing carbon from the atmosphere), and finding ways for communities to adapt and become resilient to extreme events.”

  4. Why don’t the Republican controlled legislatures in Florida and Washington, DC pick up the phone and hire the world’s leading scientists on Global Warming. The vast majority overwhelmingly say that Global Warming is substantially contributed to by human activity. The head in the sand approach (we don’t really know what the cause is) was the same excuse BIG TOBACCO used for 30 years to say they did not know FOR SURE ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY that smoking caused cancer.
    Rarely in our lives do we make life and death decisions based on absolute certainty. Most of the time it is based on what is likely. Do you drive a car? If so there is a chance you might be in a major accident, but the chances are slim, so you take the chance. ON the other hand if there was a 92% chance of being involved in a terrible accident you would not take the chance.
    I have told my kids that Global Warming is the single most important problem they will face in the coming years. Like the story about the Frog in a pot of water on the stove, they will not feel the heat until it is too late.

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