Sanders on ARGOCOGLOWARM: Experts Need Not Apply

Columnist David Sanders’ long-running series—it began in long-ago 2008— on the Arkansas Governor’s Commission on Global Warming (ARGOCOGLOWARM) continues today with a look at how those with experience and expertise in dealing with climate change issues were systematically excluded from the commission’s activities.

Why? Because there was no room for dissent in the pre-cooked agenda of the consulting group that drove the commission, the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS). Read the whole thing.

Sanders cites two commission members who were dissatisfied with the ARGOCOGLOWARM approach: Richard Ford, a University of Arkansas at Little Rock economist, and Gary Voigt, president of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives.

As an added Arkansas Project bonus, I’m including the text of an op-ed that Ford wrote for the Electric Cooperatives January 2009 magazine, at the jump. It offers Ford’s objections in a bit more detail. And remember that he’ll be one of the presenters at the “unofficial meeting” on global warming hosted by the Joint Energy Committee today at the Capitol, unless they cancel it again.

Economist discusses commission’s recommendations on global warming
By Richard K. Ford, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Originally Published in January 2009 issue of “Rural Arkansas,” publication of the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, and reprinted here by permission.

In November, the Governor’s Commission on Global Warming released 54 recommendations, and the publication of its final report. The recommendations will go to the governor and will no doubt be submitted to various committees of the upcoming Arkansas General Assembly. I served on this commission and I feel compelled to share some of the concerns I have about the process and the recommendations.

From the very beginning, some commission members had trepidation about the fashion in which the commission conducted business. Commission members were asked to approve the employment of a consulting firm, the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), with virtually no consideration for alternatives. After CCS was hired, commissioners learned the decision also meant almost total power over the agenda, proceedings and the policy options considered was relinquished to this advocacy group.

The advocacy position of CCS was clear after the first meeting managed by the consultants. Though promoted as an impartial, nonpartisan group, CCS constrained genuine debate while pushing the same set of questionable positions it sold in many other states. Commissioners were assigned to subcommittees with no input from the commissioners as to which of these Technical Working Groups they thought best fit their respective expertise. Commissioners also had to follow convoluted voting procedures, in that every initiative that was proposed was assumed to be approved, unless enough people voted against it. This created an atmosphere of peer pressure and discouraged open, honest debate.

But the worst part of the process was to ignore the very law that created the global warming commission. Commissioners did not, as Act 696 of 2007 requires, “conduct an in-depth examination and evaluation of the issues related to global warming and the potential impacts of global warming on the state…,” nor did commissioners “study the scientific data, literature and research on global warming to determine whether global warming is an immediate threat to the citizens of the state …” Because commissioners did not deliberate on these issues, it was impossible for the commission to discuss and evaluate the benefits that might be associated with the options presented by CCS for consideration. This left the commission suggesting public policies without even a pretense of conducting a cost/benefit analysis.

Nevertheless, this CCS-dominated commission recommended 54 options with an undoubtedly underestimated $3.7 billion price tag, but with no estimation whatsoever as to how much the citizens of Arkansas might benefit or possibly be harmed. For starters, I am concerned that the commission recommends establishing an entirely new state bureaucracy to track global warming matters.

But perhaps the most egregious idea of all is to require K-12 public schools to teach global warming awareness. Two thoughts come to mind when this proposal is considered: Where does the teaching stop and political activism begin? This issue was considered when an English court prevented schools from showing Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” film without proper balance. Plus, since schools are already loaded down with mandated curriculum, what will this proposed mandate replace? Math?

Let us hope that our governor and other political leaders have better judgment than the commission and will reject the most outrageous and expensive proposals, while keeping any that would benefit Arkansas.

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9 thoughts on “Sanders on ARGOCOGLOWARM: Experts Need Not Apply

  • January 14, 2009 at 9:35 am
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    My suggestion is that you take a look at the percentage of your stories unrelated to (so-called) global warming.

    Focus is everything, and fully 40% of your blog addresses political stories that are unrelated to “climate change.”

    If you’re going to be a blog on the order of Scientific American, don’t dilute your message with these periodic political items.

    All they do is confuse the reader — who comes here looking for a non-partisan analysis of today’s science.

    I’d cut the trivia about some congressional session or another from 40% to, say, 20% of your coverage.

    Reply
  • January 14, 2009 at 9:54 am
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    Good points, Searcher. The Arkansas Project is noted for it’s non-partisan analysis of today’s science. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to the lab. I’m going to crack this global warming thing yet!
    D.

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  • January 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm
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    I applaud your faithful pixel donation to the coverage of the global warming commission. Frankly, I don’t care that your enthusiastic treatment of the issue is due to the sheer bliss you derive from repeatedly typing ARGOCOGLOWARM. Who am I to question your motivations?

    Reply
  • January 14, 2009 at 2:51 pm
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    I actually look forward to getting back to the Arkansas Project’s endless series of bikini shots. This global warming discussion veers too close to serious policy talk for my tastes.
    D.

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  • January 14, 2009 at 5:14 pm
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    OK Mr. ARPro Guy, you have tried my patience to the breaking point. Running a blog like the one you produce isn’t rocket surgery or brain science either. Enough of the photos of “things” obviously born of a drunken encounter between Don King and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Enough photos of old Scrotum Face, Mike Beebe. And puleeze, enough photos of Our Esteemed State Representative From Little Rock The Honorable Dan Greenberg. ENOUGH.

    If you aren’t willing to post more bikini (or even better, less bikini) clad young ladies (or more likely, Miss Arkansas Project Girlfriend has caught on and is monitoring too closely for safety), then just don’t bother anymore.

    By the way, I have a little extra time on my hands right now. If you would like, I hereby offer my services as a web-surfer, seeking out young shapelies (is that a word) for inclusion in future postings. Hey, it’s just the kind of guy I am…

    Reply
  • January 14, 2009 at 6:34 pm
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    Tread lightly here David. I like these pictures as much as Cameron, perhaps even more. But if you continue to post bikini-clad girls and provide links to places like GGW, you may be accused of actually CAUSING global warming with this blog. Then the ARGOCOGLOWARM will find a way to tax The Arkansas Project in order to collect “their” $3.7 billion.

    Oh, I and I found this in the Official Alarmists Dictionary.

    Main Entry: pending ice age (archaic)
    Part of Speech: noun
    Definition: 1. words used to inflict mass hysteria; 2. method by which scientists procure federal grants; and 3. method by which federal, state, and local governments, along with international quasi-governmental agencies relieve the citizenry of its capital.
    Synonyms: global warming, climate change, bad days, cloudy, yucky outside.

    Reply
  • January 15, 2009 at 7:14 am
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    Not only is our own planet in danger of Global Warming/Climate Change apparently. A report will be released today indicating life on the planet Mars. Now, finding life on another planet might seem to be news, but for the ARGOCOGLOWARM, it won’t be THE news. Along with news of life being found will be information that this life is producing Methane, the same killer (and stinker) gas produced by cows here on earth. The same cows the EPA is now considering taxing for all the methane they produce. According to comments from a news story regarding the upcoming report release, “…Prof Pillinger told The Sun last night: “Methane is a product of biology. For methane to be in Mars’ atmosphere, there has to be a replenishable source. The most obvious source of methane is organisms…”

    Perhaps the ARGOCOGLOWARM should reconvene and consider passing an additional tax on the methane produced by these climate-change-inducing-organisms. We could add it the tax Beebe is wanting to tack on the backs of the poor cigarette smoking and methane generating people of this state.

    Climate change must be fought on all fronts. On to Mars. Think of all the neat names and acronyms we can come up with for this new challene.

    Reply
  • January 15, 2009 at 9:36 am
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    I think you and David may be the only people writing/caring/thinking about this pressing issue.

    Reply
  • January 19, 2009 at 10:20 pm
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    Captain Richard Ford? Could this be the same Professor Richard Ford who once (late ’80’s?) piloted his sailboat on Lake Maumelle while entertaining a female student? Somehow, Sandi Moore was knocked off the boat and drowned. What a wonderful representative for such an important commission! Now, if only more college professors will take cute young coeds on a one-way sailing trip, we can end the horrors of global warming.

    Reply

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