Keystone XL: Sachs strikes back

Article Highlights

  • Sachs again offers no actual evidence in support of his assertions.

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  • Can anyone possibly believe that emission reductions of 80 percent are anything other than a fantasy?

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Fact-free he began and fact-free he remains.

Herewith, some observations on Professor Jeffrey Sachs’s response to my critique of his criticism of the recent State Department analysis of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in the context of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A summary of his original criticism of Keystone XL is as follows:

•    “The world is on a trajectory to raise the mean global temperature by at least 3 degrees C by the end of the century.”
•    “The world is experiencing a rapidly rising frequency of extreme climate-related events such as heat waves.”
•    “The Keystone pipeline is crucial to the global carbon budget,” that is, an effort to limit the use of fossil fuels to an amount that would yield a global temperature increase of no more than 2 °C.

In my critique, I argued that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report (AR5) presents no temperature data — that is, an actual temperature trend, which is the only definition of the phrase “on a trajectory” that is meaningful analytically — even remotely consistent with Sachs’s assertion of a temperature trajectory yielding an increase of “at least 3 degrees C by the end of the century.” I pointed out that the data on tornado, hurricane, and cyclone activity, wildfires, sea-level increases, droughts, and flooding are inconsistent with the assertion of “a rapidly rising frequency of extreme climate-related events.” I added that the data on the Arctic ice cover are ambiguous, in part because the satellite record begins in 1979, that is, at the outset of the warming period that began in the late 1970s and continued through 1998. I noted also that it is not plausible to argue that Keystone XL “is crucial to the global carbon budget” (about which more below) given the vanishingly small contribution of the proposed pipeline to aggregate GHG emissions even under the most extreme assumptions.

Read the full article at The American.

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About the Author

 

Benjamin
Zycher
  • Benjamin Zycher is the John G. Searle Chair and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on energy and environmental policy. He is also a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

    Before joining AEI, Zycher conducted a broad research program in his public policy research firm, and was an intelligence community associate of the Office of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, US Department of State.  He is a former senior economist at the RAND Corporation, a former adjunct professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and at the California State University Channel Islands, and is a former senior economist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.  He served as a senior staff economist for the President's Council of Economic Advisers, with responsibility for energy and environmental policy issues.

    Zycher has a doctorate in economics from UCLA, a Master in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from UCLA.

  • Email: benjamin.zycher@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Regan Kuchan
    Phone: 202.862.5903
    Email: regan.kuchan@aei.org

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