Falwell on Global Warming

27 February 2007

Jerry Falwell just gave a sermon about "The Myth of Global Warming." He rattles off some common talking points, and then finally uncovers the three-point secret agenda:

  1. Those talking about global warming are trying to economically destroy America because... uh, I guess they're communists or something.
  2. They want to switch the topic from the fact that the world is morally bankrupt.
  3. Global warming is just "Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus."
Keep in mind that this guy is the head of Thomas Road Baptist Church, a megachurch which boasts 24,000 members.

Drudge, Gore, and Tennessee

Drudge recently linked to this press release, and ran this breathless headline:

It's amazing how many news organizations are reporting this uncritically. Don't these people do any fact-checking?

First off, the Tennessee Department of Revenue has stated that the Tennessee Center for Policy Research is "not a legitimate group." Second, the "20x AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD" claim is inflated. That is a national average, which takes into account mobile homes and apartments as well as larger houses like Gore's. The average consumption in the Tennessee region is actually much higher than the national average, due to the hot summers and cold winters in that area. Overall, Gore only consumes 3x the average in his area, not 20x. And if you look at consumption by square-foot, Gore's use is within the average range.

Further, Gore's average energy consumption doesn't even really contribute to much in the way of greenhouse gas emissions. Gore buys his power from Green Power Switch and is even installing solar panels. And even if he wasn't doing so, most of the energy produced in Tennessee comes from hydro-electric and nuclear power anyway, so not even that would be contributing to any significant greenhouse gas emissions.

Newsflash: Salman Rushdie Has a Hot Wife

25 February 2007

Dick Cheney

23 February 2007

Jonathan Karl recently interviewed Dick Cheney on the topic of global warming.

JONATHAN KARL: But what's your sense, where is the science on this? Is global warming a fact? And is it human activity that is causing global warming?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Those are the two key questions. I think there's an emerging consensus that we do have global warming. You can look at the data on that, and I think clearly we're in a period of warming. Where there does not appear to be a consensus, where it begins to break down, is the extent to which that's part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it's caused by man, greenhouse gases, et cetera.

True, there is no unanimous consensus as to the exact amount of anthropogenic warming. But there is a scientific consensus that the anthropogenic causes are very significant, and most likely the largest contributor to the warming of the past 50 years.

IPCC 2001:
"Human activities ... are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents ... that absorb or scatter radiant energy. ... [M]ost of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations"
Joint Statement on the Science of Climate Change 2001 (signed by the National Academies of 17 nations, including Britain's Royal Academy of Sciences):
The work of the IPCC represents the consensus of the international scientific community on climate change science. We recognise IPCC as the most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes, and we endorse its method of achieving this consensus. Despite increasing consensus on the science underpinning predictions on global climate change, doubts have been expressed recently about the need to mtigate the risks posed by global climate change. We do not consider such doubts justified.

The National Academy of Sciences 2001:
Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise... The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities
American Meteorological Society 2003:
There is now clear evidence that the mean annual temperature at the Earth's surface, averaged over the entire globe, has been increasing in the past 200 years. There is also clear evidence that the abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased over the same period. In the past decade, significant progress has been made toward a better understanding of the climate system and toward improved projections of long-term climate change... Human activities have become a major source of environmental change. Of great urgency are the climate consequences of the increasing atmospheric abundance of greenhouse gases... Because greenhouse gases continue to increase, we are, in effect, conducting a global climate experiment, neither planned nor controlled, the results of which may present unprecedented challenges to our wisdom and foresight as well as have significant impacts on our natural and societal systems.
American Geophysical Union 2003:
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.
IPCC 2007:
Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [>90% certainty] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

Cheney goes on:
We've set targets for ourselves in terms of increasing energy efficiency, that is reducing the amount of energy per unit of output. And we're doing better at meeting those targets than I think virtually anybody who signed up with Kyoto. Most of the folks who signed up with Kyoto are not going to meet the targets.
I believe that Cheney is talking about the president's Clear Skies Initiative, but this is comparing apples to oranges. The Clear Skies Act, sponsored by James Inhofe, set only very modest goals for reductions in SO2, NOx, and mercury emissions. It really did nothing with respect to greenhouse gas emissions.

But going forward, if we are going to have a policy, we've got to find ways to do that are not inconsistent with economic growth. You can't shut down the world economy in the name of trying to eliminate greenhouse gases. But there are some answers out there — nuclear power, for example, is one of them. And getting the United States back into the nuclear power game I think would be a significant benefit — both in terms of producing the energy we need, but at the same time not contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
I'm not aware of anyone proposing that we shut down the world economy in the name of eliminating greenhouse gases. That's just so much hyperbole. Nicholas Stern, chief economist at the World Bank in England, released a 700-page report assessing the costs and benefits of greenhouse gas reductions. I haven't read the report myself, so I can't speak for its accuracy, but he came to the conclusion that it would ultimately cost less to start reducing emissions than it would to continue business as usual.


Motorized self-tuning guitar modifications

Colossal Squid

22 February 2007

New Zealand fishermen have caught the largest specimen of Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) found anywhere in the world. Ever.

Rep. John Linder

20 February 2007

Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.), pictured center, has apparently read Michael Crichton's book State of Fear and now thinks that he's a expert in climatology who needs to burden us all with his opinions. To express his outrage over "alarmists," Linder recently wrote an article in the Washington Times likening those who believe the scientific consensus on global warming to eugenicists.

"Global Warming" had a precursor in capturing the hearts and minds of the world. Michael Crichton, in his novel "State of Fear," brilliantly juxtaposes the world's current political embrace of "global warming" with the popular embrace of the "science" of eugenics a century ago. For nearly 50 years, from the late 1800s through the first half of the 20th century, there grew a common political acceptance by the world's thinkers, political leaders and media elite that the "science" of eugenics was settled science. There were a few lonely voices trying to be heard in the wilderness in opposition to this bogus science, but they were ridiculed or ignored.
Basically, Linder is just trying to poison the well here by equating those who accept "settled science" with killer eugenicists. He also fails to mention what exactly this "settled science" he's referring to is.

One must ask, "How in the world did university researchers come to conclusions that defended this outrageous affront to society?" A look back at the research concluded that the researchers adjusted their outcomes to support the theory of those paying for the research. This is not unusual. It is very easy to believe that the settled science regarding climate change is just as suspicious, and indeed may be another example of pseudo-science capturing the imagination of politicians, actors and the media elite who have a desperate need to embrace some "science" which may force us to change the way we live our lives.
Um, is there any evidence of that happening here today? It seems fairly irresponsible to suggest that the world's climatologists are fudging their research like 20th century eugenicists unless you can actually back it up. Further, the form of this argument is horribly flawed. Using the same basic form, I could just as easily say: "Many women throughout history have been prostitutes. Indeed it is often referred to as the oldest profession. Therefore, it is very easy to believe that John Linder's wife is a prostitute."

While a congressional delegation was visiting the Antarctic expedition in January of 2003 we were shown the results of the Vostok ice-sheet cores where temperatures and CO2 levels were measured as far as 400,000 years ago. At that time, the level of CO2 was 280 parts per million parts of atmosphere (ppm), about what it was 20 years ago. The levels of CO2 and temperature rode up and down in consonance over 400,00 years. "Who," I asked, "was burning the fossil fuels 400,000 years ago?" I was treated as though I was rude.
First off, CO2 levels haven't been at 280 ppm since the industrial revolution. Second, nobody ever claimed that CO2 was solely caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Indeed there has been a regular carbon cycle over the past 400,000 years, due to a complex interaction of many factors, partially driven by cyclical changes in the earth's orbit. But that cycle, for the past 400,000 years has always peaked at around 280 ppm of CO2. Here's a graph of past CO2 levels:

It looks somewhat anomalous to me. But Linder writes it off by just saying that CO2 levels were at 280 ppm 400,000 years ago, they went through some cycles, and today we're pretty much where we were 400,000 years ago. No big deal, right?

We see pictures of huge blocks of ice crashing into the sea from the Antarctic Peninsula, which comprises about 2 percent of the continent. The fact that the remaining 98 percent of Antarctica is growing by 26.8 gigatons of ice per year is ignored.

Yes, the interior of Antarctica has been growing due to increased precipitation, and the edges have been melting and falling off. But to say that 98% of Antarctica is growing by gigatons is very misleading. On a whole, Antarctica has been losing mass. What's more, so has Greenland and pretty much every mountain glacier in the world. Here's a before-and-after from the north pole:

And here's a look at what's been going on with all the mountain glaciers in the world:

He goes on:
The most prevalent and efficient greenhouse gas is not CO2; it is water vapor, which accounts for about 60 percent of the heat-trapping gases while CO2 accounts for about 26 percent. So, why are we being served a daily diet of our destroying the environment with our behavior as it relates to CO2? Because our behavior has little to do with the amount of water vapor, so it is a non-starter when it comes to those whose principal goal is ruling our lives.
Actually, water vapor is a feedback, not a forcing agent. It stays in the atmosphere for about 10 days (as opposed to CO2, which stays in the atmosphere for about 100 years) and is not the primary cause of the recent warming we've seen. This hasn't just been ignored by the climate scientists of the world, and they didn't just make it up to rule our lives.

When it comes to methane, another greenhouse gas, termites are responsible for 11 percent of the world's production from natural sources. Seventy-six percent comes from wetlands, which provide habitat conducive to bacteria, which produce 145 million metric tons of methane per year during the decomposition of organic material. It is curious that the very alarmists on climate change are alarmists on saving and increasing wetlands.
Notice the sleight of hand here. Termites are responsible for 11% of the natural methane emissions. Wetlands are responsible for 76% of the natural methane emissions. Let's look at how these stack up against anthropogenic sources:

Linder continues:
This is not the first charge against human behavior. Many of you will remember the "scientific" studies 30 years ago about the destruction of the ozone layer, particularly at the poles, that would reduce the atmosphere's ability to stop infrared rays from the sun. We would see increasing incidence of skin cancer and increasing temperatures. It was theorized that this was caused by the increased production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that were used -- as Freon -- in refrigeration units.
When Freon was invented it was considered a miracle gas. It replaced, in refrigeration units, a combination of toxic gases that, if released, actually killed people. But the settled science concluded that human activity was a threat to the planet. We outlawed the production of CFCs and thousands of people across the world died from eating rancid food due to the loss of refrigeration.
First off, the ozone layer blocks UV radiation, not infrared radiation. Second, why is "science" in scare quotes here? It's pretty well-settled that ozone blocks UV radiation. It's fine if you want to do a cost-benefit analysis and say that the costs of limiting CFCs outweigh the benefits of decreased incidents of skin cancer, but Linder seems to be using a policy question (whether or not we should decrease our CFC output) to cast doubt on a scientific question. It's as if he'll only accept science that supports his side of an argument. Everything else is just "science."

Most have been through more than one alarmist cycle of doom. The predictions by scientists in Time magazine's "Another Ice Age?" in 1974 and Newsweek's "The Cooling World" in 1975 come to mind. The latter article stated that scientists "are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climactic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic."
The Time and Newsweek articles certainly got this one wrong. There was no scientific consensus that there would be catastrophic global cooling back in the '70s. If you look at the actual science journals of the time (not popular magazines like Time and Newsweek), they painted a far more sober picture. They acknowledged that aerosols had a cooling effect, but ultimately that we didn't know enough about the climate at the time to make such predictions. Nonetheless, wiseguys like Linder love to keep this myth alive.

Today, if there is a settled science, it is adduced by climatologists who have been observing and studying the world for decades. Many are retired and not seeking government grants for research and thus not inclined to reach outcomes that are politically popular....
But wise old heads believe that we are going through normal cycles of heating and cooling that we have seen over hundreds of millions of years as the earth heats and cools when the activity of the sun changes. The earth is heated by the sun. The sun is impacted by magnetic forces creating outbursts called sunspots, which increase the heat it imparts. During the coldest period in the Little Ice Age, which ended near the end of the 19th century, sunspots almost completely disappeared for 70 years. The earth cooled. Sunspot activity has been declining for a number of years and is expected decline by 40 percent over the next decade. The world is about to enter a cooling period. Be prepared to change your lifestyle.
Wrong again. Scientists have considered sunspots, and it appears that they aren't the cause of this recent anomalous warming. I also like how Linder uses the phrase "wise old heads" instead of "people who haven't published any papers in scientific journals or done any new research in a long time," acting as if that gives their opinions more weight.

Jeff Miller

18 February 2007

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-CA), pictured left, just added his two cents to the global waming debate in Congress. He begins by mentioning how he had to shovel ice off his sidewalk the other day. He never explains why this matters to his argument at all, but the implication is that global warming isn't so bad after all because, hey, there's ice on my car. Anyway, after this inane anecdote, Jeff gives us his opinion.

Debates on global warming are always very passionate with respected scientists on each side of the argument. I believe global warming or climate change to be cyclical in nature and not entirely man-made.
Translation: I'm hearing things from both sides, so these opinions probably have equal weight and I can just pick the one I like better.

I'm all for Congressmen making their own independent judgments on policy matters, but when it comes to making scientific judgments, I'd like to see Congressmen show a little deference to what the scientists are actually saying themselves. This false equivalence drives me crazy. In the past, we had the OTA to tell Congress what science was actually saying, so that Congressmen could make informed decisions. We could apparently use something like the OTA again. Anyway, Jeff goes on to give the science-y explanation for why he thinks greenhouse gases aren't behind our recent warming.
Research shows temperature changes took place long before the Industrial Revolution. We have seen a warming trend since the last Ice Age, which took place some 20,000 years ago, and temperatures peaked in 1998 with El Nino. We are continuously in a state of peaks and valleys, and the next extreme change could be tens of thousands of years from now.
First off, 2005 was the warmest year on record. Second, scientists have already accounted for past temperature cycles (see the Milankovich Cycle). But still they believe that the recent anomalous warming, especially in the past 50 years, has been due to the coinciding spike in greenhouse gases.

First ever footage of a live giant squid!

17 February 2007

A Bridge to the Past

16 February 2007

Rep. Ben Bridges (R-GA) has introduced a bill to stop teaching evolutionary theory in public schools. The bill comes attached with information that apparently exposes evolutionary theory as a Pharisee Jew conspiracy.

Included here is documentation which confirms that "evolution science" is NOT "secular science" as the Courts have viewed it to be, but is, in fact, an alternate religious "creation scenario" which is derived concept for concept from the Kabbala, a mystic, anti-Christ "holy book" of the Pharisee Sect of Judaism.

To provide this evidence, Bridges referred his colleagues to http://www.fixedearth.com/ (cover letter here, memo here). Fixed Earth is a geocentrist web-site that claims to expose the "Copernican and Darwinian myths."

How do these people get elected?

McCain At Discovery Institute

15 February 2007

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is going to be speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Discovery Institute, an Intelligent Design / Creationist think-tank famous for its vocal opposition to the theory of evolution.

If it's any comfort, it looks like McCain's topic is going to be "What is the role of the U.S. in the global community?" Also, two other groups are co-sponsoring the event (CityClub of Seattle and the Seattle World Affairs Council).

Anyway, let's see what McCain has had to say in the past about ID. This first one is from August 2005:

Daily Star: Should intelligent design be taught in schools?
I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they've got to be thoroughly presented. So to say that you can only teach one line of thinking I don't think is - or one belief on how people and the world was created - I think there's nothing wrong with teaching different schools of thought.
Daily Star:
Does it belong in science?
There's enough scientists that believe it does. I'm not a scientist. This is something that I think all points of view should be presented.
This second one is from July 2006:
In the final question of the evening, an audience member asked McCain to outline his stance on teaching evolution and creationism in schools.

"I think Americans should be exposed to every point of view," he said. "I happen to believe in evolution. ... I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not."
I don't know what to make of this guy.

Dinosaur Farts

11 February 2007

The House of Representatives has recently held hearings on the IPCC AR4 report on climate change. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), pictured left, had this to add to the discussion:

So, whether or not how dramatic this change will be, or is, what it’s caused by, are things that honest people, I think, can disagree with, and I really personally, having been a journalist, the first thing I was always cautioned by when someone was claiming, well, everybody is on my side, or everybody says this, or there is a total consensus, almost always when people said that to me over my years as a journalist, it wasn’t true. It was that there were honest people who disagreed and significant disagreement on such issues.
Of course honest people can disagree. That's what makes science work. But it does raise a red flag when pretty much all the scientific bodies come down on one side of the issue and pretty much all of the relevant peer reviewed literature does as well. Nothing is 100% certain in science, of course. But that doesn't mean that everyone's honest opinion should be given equal weight when it comes to policy decisions.

His website on global warming has much the same to say on the topic. Right at the top of his page, Dana Rohrabacher claims, as Sen. James Inhofe did not too long ago, that 17,000 scientists signed the Oregon Petition, despite the fact that being a scientist wasn't a requirement for signing the petition, there was poor oversight as to who actually signed, and that the petition was circulated in a rather shady fashion.

Dana also provides several other links to various petitions and think-tank websites to demonstrate that there is a "significant disagreement" regarding climate change. However, all of these petitions and think-tanks seem to recycle the same names under different organizations to create the appearance of a large group of people. For example, Fred Singer is involved with pretty much every link on that page. He signed the Oregon Petition, he founded the Science and Environmental Policy Project, he is one of the experts at the National Center For Policy Analysis Global Warming Hotline, he is one of the 60 signers of the Canada petition, he is one of the signers of the Statement By Atmospheric Scientists On Greenhouse Warming, and he was a member of the Center For Science and Public Policy (Frontiers of Freedom). Some other recycled names include: Sallie Baliunas, Patrick Michaels, David Legates, Frederick Seitz, Willie Soon, Stephen McIntyre, and Ross McKitrick. Repeating these names over and over doesn't increase the number of "honest people" who significantly disagree over the issue.

Anyway, Dana went on:
We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?
Yes, there have been temperature cycles in the past, but the temperature has generally been very slow to warm. As far as dinosaur farts go, NASA scientists Schmidt and Shindell have published research indicating that during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (a warming period 55 million years ago), a massive release of methane (a greenhouse gas) from the ocean floor resulted in a "rapid and intense warming" (abstract here, news release here).

Rep. Rohrabacher also suggests that since we don't know what caused climate changes from millions of years ago, we probably don't know what is causing the climate changes today. That doesn't logically follow at all, and doesn't diminish the fact that we have good proxy data from the past 1,000 years and direct observations for the past 150 years. This is what they show:

The temperature graph correlates pretty well with this graph showing a rise in Carbon Dioxide emissions into the atmosphere from the same time when the temperature spiked upward:

You can also see that the carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have been somewhat anomalous within the past 400,000 years:

James Inhofe

04 February 2007

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), famous for referring to global warming as "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and calling the EPA a "gestapo bureaucracy", recently had some crazy things to say about global warming and the IPCC AR4.


I was on a program yesterday with Art Robinson. He was one of the scientists in the Oregon petition, 17,800 scientists, that said that, yes, we understand that we are going through a warming period, but it's not due to manmade gases. And this is ten years after they came out with their report, and nobody ever talks about that.
Wrong. The Oregon Petition, circulated in 1998 to oppose the Kyoto Treaty, was not signed by "17,800 scientists." The petition was available online for anybody to sign. You could indicate an advanced degree, if you chose to do so, or none at all. There was extremely lax oversight as far as verifying the credentials of those who signed the petition, too. Some of the signatories included Star Wars characters, Dr. Gerri Halliwell (the Spice Girl, who did not personally sign the petition and is not really a doctor), and Redwine, PhD (see pdf at p. 152). Scientific American investigated the Oregon Petition in 2005 and concluded that the number of climate scientists was approximately 200, most of whom either didn't know what they were signing or no longer support the contents of the petition 10 years later. That is a far lower number than the 17,800 James Inhofe cited. (Note: This isn't all that was wrong with the Oregon Petition. It was also sent out to scientists all over the country accompanied by a paper made to look like an official report from the National Academy of Sciences, leading the NAS to publicly disclaim any involvement with the petition)

Inhofe went on:
M. O'BRIEN: That's James Hansen, one of the leading climate scientists. He says it's crystal clear. What do you say?
INHOFE: I'd say that that's James Hansen, who is paid $250,000 by the Heinz Foundation. I think he'd say almost anything you ask him to say.
my favorite quote of all the people who were on the side of saying manmade gas caused global warming was a socialist in France. He's a geophysicist named Claude Allegre (ph). He's a member of both the French and American Academy of Sciences. He says, "The cause of global warming is unknown. The proponents of manmade catastrophic global warming are being motivated by" -- and listen to this, Miles -- "money."
Given that Inhofe has reveived more than $1 million from the energy and natural resource sector since taking office, it seems odd that he would insinuate that the world's scientists are being motivated by money.

Plus, that is a pretty sweeping accusation to make. It's unclear whether Inhofe thinks that scientists are consciously misrepresenting the science in order to make a profit, or if he thinks that they are just subconsciously interpreting the results in a way that benefits their research programs. The implications, given his specific mention of James Hansen, is that this is a conscious plot by an international cabal of greedy climate scientists. Regardless, the accusation that the idea is motivated by money seems pretty careless. Here is a list of some highly respected scientific organizations that have acknowledged significant anthropogenic global warming:
I find it hard to believe that all of the scientific organizations whose expertise bears on this subject are motivated, consciously or subconsciously, simply by making money.

It didn't stop there. Inhofe went on with what I anticipate will be a popular talking point in the coming weeks:

Now, you won't get the report from scientists probably until May or June. But this summary is all you're going to look at. You're never going to talk about anything else.

And that's -- and let me just read to you to show you that I'm right on this thing. On page four, it says, "Changes in scientific work to ensure consistency with the summary for policymakers will ensure."

These are politicians, these aren't scientists.
Wrong again. The Summary For Policymakers was written by scientists. The drafting process is summarized here and here. Basically, it was written and edited by hundreds of scientists. The lead author of each of the 11 upcoming chapters was well represented during the drafting process. If the author of a section was unhappy with how the SPM treated their area, they would raise their objections and the changes would be made. It was a very thorough process with scientists all over the place. To suggest otherwise just makes Senator Inhofe look bad. But I'm sure that this ridiculous meme will be picked up and repeated ad nauseum.

As far as the quote Senator Inhofe mangles from the Appendix of the report (near the bottom of p. 4), that simply says that the changes in the clarity of the language agreed upon at the SPM panel will be used in the forthcoming individual chapters (it takes a long time to proofread 1,600 pages). The science will not change or be altered to fit the SPM. James Inhofe inserted the word "science" into that quote even though it never appears in the original. The real quote says: "Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the panel shall be those to ensure consistency with the Summary For Policymakers or the Overview Chapter."

All in all, I am very happy that this guy isn't the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works anymore.

One more. In 2006, Inhofe gave a speech on the Senate floor where he pointed to a picture of his family and stated:
"... my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I'm really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we've never had a divorce or any kind ofhomosexual relationship."

Congratulations, Senator Inhofe!

IPCC + Bodman

03 February 2007

The IPCC released the Summary for Policymakers section of their fourth assessment report (AR4) yesterday. Some highlights:

  • "The understanding of anthropogenic warming and cooling influences on climate has improved since the Third Assessment Report (TAR), leading to very high confidence [>90% certainty] that the globally averaged net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming, with a radiative forcing of +1.6 W/m^2."
  • "Changes in solar irradiance since 1750 are estimated to cause a radiative forcing of +0.12 W/m^2, which is less than half the estimate given in the TAR."
  • "The combined radiative forcing due to increases in carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide is +2.30 W/m^2, and its rate of increase during the industrial era is very likely [>90% certainty] to have been unprecedented in more than 10,000 years. The carbon dioxide radiative forcing increased by 20% from 1995 to 2005, the largest change for any decade in at least the last 200 years."
  • "Average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the last half of the 20th century were very likely [>90% certainty] higher than during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely [>66% certainty] the highest in at least the past 1300 years."
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman had this to say:
“Even if we were successful in accomplishing some kind of debate and discussion about what caps might be here in the United States, we are a small contributor to the overall, when you look at the rest of the world, so it’s really got to be a global solution.”
However, the US actually contributes about 1/4 of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

It is also disingenuous to suggest that we might be the only ones to act. Here is a map of the 161 countries which have ratified the Kyoto Treaty, which uses a cap-and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

We're hardly alone in this. That being said, I do agree that mandatory caps could possibly be ineffective. If the United States were to cap carbon dioxide emissions, it is likely that the industries affected would simply move their operations into countries with more lax emissions standards. China and India, as well as other "developing counties", are exempt from emissions cuts under Kyoto, even though China will likely become the top contributor in the future.