Georgist Proposals and
the Global Warming Controversy
[Excerpts from a letter to Nadine W. Stoner,
President, Common Ground, U.S.A., 9 July, 2007, responding to a
proposal for a letter lobby by Edward Lawrence of Fairhope, Alabama.
These proposals were drafted in response to bills introduced in the
U.S. House of Representatives (HR 2069) and Senate (S. 280)]
Your recent Letter Lobby Action Alert of June 29, 2007 on these two
bills gives me great cause for concern. It "severely misreads the
facts" and inaccurately presents a "Georgist" view.
Following is information that would give balance to Ed Lawrence's
Both bills presume a problem of global warming and seek to solve it.
- Global warming has been well documented in a recent (2005) book
"Thin Ice" by Mark Bowen, and has been shown to have
started long before the major effects of CO2 production by man.
His work presents a historical review and the results of studies
of ice cores from glaciers.
- Within the last month ice cores from Greenland have shown
earlier (hundreds of thousands of years) cycles of warming far
greater that the current cycle without any man-made influence.
- R. Timothy Patterson, professor of geology and director of the
Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre of Canada's Carleton University,
in June 27, 2007 issue of Investors Business Daily and in the July
2, 2007 issue if the Washington Times, stated that studies of
5,000 years of mud from Western Canada's fjords, studies of tree
rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula, and studies of water levels of
the Nile show "a direct correlation between variations in
brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called
proxies)" and "CO2 variations show little correlation
with our planet's climate on long, medium, and even short term
- The recent book "unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500
years" by S. Fred Singer, and Dennis T. Avery, based on
extensive research, holds that the slight global warming now on
Earth is part of a long established cycle associated with activity
on our sun, is not dangerous, and is not something we could do
anything about even if there were a need to, which there isn't.
This book teaches that "The Earth continually warms and
cools. The cycle is undeniable, ancient, often abrupt, and global.
It is also unstoppable. Isotopes in the ice and sediment cores,
ancient tree rings, and stalagmites tell us it is linked to small
changes in the irradiance of the sun." It also teaches that
the Earth goes through heating and cooling cycles about every 1500
years and these are in no way related to the CO2 levels.
- Some of the Earth's warmest periods, including the period of
the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, took place long before man
produced significant CO2 gases, and even in the 20th century
global temperature rise did not track well with levels of man-made
- Professor Singer is a climate physicist and professor emeritus
at the University of Virginia and distinguished research professor
at George Mason University, and was the founding dean of the
School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences at the University
of Miami and was the first director of the U.S. National Weather
Satellite Service and served five years as Vice Chairman of the
U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmospheres. Dennis
T. Avery is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former
senior analyst at the State Department.
Both bills presume that the global warming is due to man-made CO2
- Much work over the past decade has shown the high probability
that sun cycles of heating and cooling are far more likely to
cause our climate variations. BBC News Nov. 8, 1997 published
joint NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) reports of giant flares
from the sun which affect communications and heat on Earth; and
BBC News Tuesday, Jan. 27 1998 published discovery by Dr. Richard
Harrison, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot,
Oxfordshire, of "Blinkers" on the sun which release
short bursts of flashes, over 300 at any one time, which
contribute to heating the sun's outer atmosphere, the corona, to a
million degrees C when the sun's surface is only 5,500 degrees C.
surface of the sun.
- Professor Patterson also noted that "It is global
cooling, not global warming, that is the major threat to the
world, especially Canada."
Your letter accepts the premise of global warming as a man-made
problem and proposes a choice between the two Congressional bills as
solutions to the problem.
- The IBD article referred to in 2.b above shows the high
probability that global warming is not a man-made problem and that
global cooling is a much more difficult problem that may have been
somewhat delayed by our man-made CO2 activity. Recall the "Little
Ice Age" of the middle ages which caused so much cooling that
whole summer growth seasons were actually lost. The Vikings were
frozen out of pastoral Greenland; and a few years back some WWII
fighter planes were discovered on the beach of Greenland due to
melting of the ice there - showing that we are now back to the ice
conditions of WWII.
- Both the Congressional bills would impose taxes and controls on
use of fuels which would greatly handicap business in the USA
without affecting other countries such as China, who recently
passed the USA in CO2 production, is generating CO2 gasses from
coal fired power plants and is still greatly accelerating the use
of coal burning power plants with no such handicaps. These bills
would create very severe problems in our economy and our ability
to compete in the world without affecting the "problem."
You reference the letter from Ed Lawrence as justification for
Georgist action as a Georgist problem needing a solution.
- The argument for taxing use of fuels as Georgist is false.
George would have taxed land use, including extraction, and this
is now in effect with heavy taxes on fuel extraction. Ed proposes
to now tax and control or regulate commerce in the use of the
extracted product, precisely contrary to George's teaching as
taxing the work products of man (after extraction), thus
discouraging man's efforts.
- Ed also justifies these taxes as causing changes in people's
ways of living and by proposing that the tax revenues could be
given to the poor - not a Georgist idea. George wanted to give to
the people free trade and that land rental value which their
community generated - increased land values. George proposed his
ideas as ways for everyone to benefit with increased prosperity
due to their presence and business without penalizing the
industrious and productive people. I do not recall any suggestion
by Henry George that the many prosperous workers should be taxed
disproportionately for the benefit of the poor and non-working
people. Did I miss that one?
The fact is that global warming appears to be happening now, but will
probably turn to cooling within a dozen years, which is a much greater
problem than the warming.
- Per the IBD article, solar output varies as much as 0.1% over
regular 11 year cycles known as "Schwabe" cycles. 6,000
years ago the earth's temperature was six degrees Celsius warmer
than it is today. Ten thousand years ago, coming out of a cold
period, temperatures rose six degrees in a decade, 100 times
faster than in the past century! Our next earth Schwabe cycle will
start cooling about the year 2020. Is it wise to screw up our
economy by taxes and controls which will only have the ecological
effect, if any, of advancing the cooling cycle and thus greatly
reducing the food productive capacity of our earth?
Man's activities have a small, and not easily measured effect on our
- Our techniques for measuring the earth's temperature are
improving, but are sadly not very good for averaging such minute
changes. Recent reviews showed placement of pertinent temperature
measuring and recording devices on a roof top within a few feet of
an air conditioning exhaust, and in areas that were rural when
placed, but are now urban.
- Most accurate temperatures are inferred from other measurements
such as chemical analysis of trapped air in ice cores and in
decaying material at the bottom of the cores, growth bands in old
trees and fossils and sediment bands in rock and ice (See 1.b).
How many measurements, and where, would be needed to average the
temperature of Asia?