Seems everyone is talking about the massive United States federal deficit and how it has now reached an unfathomable $14 trillion. Is there any way to comprehend such a bloated number? Try this: the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. At that speed a photon of light starts at the surface of the Sun and reaches the Earth in 8 minutes. On Star Trek, the speed of light is warp one — at that speed the Enterprise would travel about 6 trillion miles in one year. If each dollar of the deficit is represented by one mile, it would take the Enterprise more than two years traveling the speed of light to go 14 trillion miles.
So what can we cut out of the federal budget to make any kind of dent in this enormous pile of borrowed money? We could start with the vast sums of cash being wasted on climate change research.
This year, your government will spend in the neighborhood of $4 billion on global warming research, despite the fact that there has been no global warming since 1998, and despite all of the billions that have been spent so far yielding no conclusive evidence that using fossil fuels to make energy has any significant effect on Earth’s temperature.
The human component of carbon dioxide that is injected into the air each year is very small, on the order of 3%. Half the carbon dioxide emitted into the air by human activity each year is immediately absorbed into nature. Carbon dioxide is 8% of the greenhouse effect; water in the air is 90% of the greenhouse effect. By volume, carbon dioxide is currently at about 390 parts per million in the atmosphere, increasing at about 2 parts per million annually. In other words, carbon dioxide is increasing at a rate of .5% per year. Since human activity adds 3% of the carbon dioxide that gets into the air each year, the human component of the increase in carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year is 3 % of .5%, or just .015%.
Here is what the federal government thinks is happening with the Earth’s climate due to the burning of fossil fuels — the following quote is from chapter 15 of the Advancement of Science’s 2011 budget request:
Past scientific research demonstrates that the Earth’s climate is changing, that humans are very likely responsible for most of the well-documented increase in global average surface temperatures over the last half century, and that further greenhouse gas emissions, particularly of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, will almost certainly contribute to additional widespread climate disruption. This climate disruption poses considerable risk to society because it can be expected to cause major negative consequences for most nations and to a wide range of species.
The first sentence is obvious: of course the Earth’s climate is changing; it always has and always will no matter what we do.
The next statement — “humans are very likely responsible for most of the well-documented increase in global average surface temperatures over the last half century” — is speculation. The statement completely ignores any natural variability in the climate. Apparently all of nature’s power to regulate the Earth’s temperature, which has been going on for millions of years, stopped 50 years ago, and now carbon dioxide is the principal driver of the climate. This is political and social advocacy, not science.
Then, this statement: “further greenhouse gas emissions, particularly of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, will almost certainly contribute to additional widespread climate disruption.” The implication is that there has already been widespread climate disruption — there has not. There is no more extreme weather going on now than anytime in the last 2,000 years. Per the complex Orwellian world of government-speak, we have now moved on from “global warming” to “climate change” to “climate disruption.” Climate change wasn’t frightening enough! What’s next? My money’s on “climate disintegration” — that should keep the money flowing so we can figure out who and what will be disintegrated.
The statement then reads: “This climate disruption poses considerable risk to society because it can be expected to cause major negative consequences for most nations and to a wide range of species.” And that is the key to all of this: the fear factor. Pitching rising sea levels and other catastrophic consequences to keep the research money coming.
If you want to know where to save money in the budget, cut the vast sums of redundant funding headed to redundant federal agencies doing redundant climate change research. Four billion dollars to study climate change — and that’s just for this year!
Check the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2011 budget request, and go to chapter 15: Climate Change in the FY 2011 Budget. The numbers are staggering. In 2011, your government will spend $10.6 million a day to study, combat, and educate about climate change.
The big winner in the climate change money train is the National Science Foundation — they are requesting $1.616 billion. They want $766 million for the Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability program, a 15.9% increase from their last budget. They also need another $370 million for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), an increase of 16%. They say they also need another $480 million for Atmospheric Sciences, an increase of 8.1%, and Earth Sciences, up 8.7%.
Oh, and $955 million for the Geosciences Directorate, an increase of 7.4%.
The second largest request for money in 2011 comes from the Department of Energy. They say they need $627 million for things like funding for renewable energy. The request represents a whopping 37% increase from last year! They want a 12% increase for energy efficiency programs. They want to eliminate $2.7 billion of subsidies for industries that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide.
Let’s get NASA in on the parade! For 2011, NASA wants $438 million to study climate change, an increase of 14%. NASA’s total Earth Sciences budget request is actually $1.8 billion. Some $809 million of that is for satellites, some of which are specifically put in orbit to study climate change. It is difficult to separate out which ones are for climate monitoring and which ones are not, so I won’t include this number in the overall climate change money train. But make no mistake: a significant percentage of the $809 million is exclusively for climate change satellites.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is looking for $437 million for climate research. This is an increase of 21.4% from the previous budget. This includes funds for regional and national assessments of climate change, including ocean acidification. Once again, another meaty bag of money to tap into for researchers, who have nice cars and big houses and need to keep up the payments.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) is also interested in robbing the climate change vault — they say they need $244 million in 2011. Of this total, $171 million is for the Climate Change Adaptation initiative. This program identifies areas and species that are most vulnerable to climate change, and implements coping strategies. Another $73 million is needed for the New Energy Frontier initiative. The goal of this program is to increase solar, wind, and geothermal energy capacity.
Solar and wind power don’t survive without this government funding.
Is that $14 trillion making sense yet?
Of course, there’s more. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants $169 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an increase of 1%. Do you believe that next year greenhouse gases will be reduced by the EPA spending $169 million? I would bet the ranch that greenhouse gases will continue to increase next year, and the year after that, and the year after that despite EPA spending your money.
Is there any government agency that does not get some climate change funding? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants $338 million for climate change programs. They want $159 million for climate change research, up a whopping 42%. They also want another $179 million for renewable energy, an increase of 41%! The USDA’s climate change efforts are supposed to help farm and land owners adapt to the impacts of climate change. Yes, really.
Redundancy on top of redundancy, piles of money on top of piles of money. All to study climate change, which, according to the theory, should be warming us rapidly, but, according to the data, has stopped. How much of the requested money these government agencies actually get is not yet known. The way they spend money in Washington, you can rest assured they’ll get most of it.
If you’re looking to cut the budget, climate change is a good place to start. If we don’t get a handle on Washington’s spending soon, and I mean very soon, climate change will be the least of our problems.