Inside The Ignorant New York Times Echo Chamber

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article reporting on the goings on at EPA as the agency moves toward rescinding the Obama administration's regulations aimed at controlling the weather by tripling your cost of electricity.  The headline was "Trump Takes a First Step Toward Scrapping Obama’s Global Warming Policy."  Lede:

The Trump administration will repeal the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s effort to fight climate change, and will ask the public to recommend ways it could be replaced, according to an internal Environmental Protection Agency document.

I noticed that there were a couple of hundred comments on this article, so I decided to take a look.  This was quite a revelation.  Of course, the comments ran about 30 to 1 negative to what EPA is proposing to do; but I expected that.  And of course, many of the comments had a high degree of anger and vitriol and name-calling in them; but I expected that as well.  No, the revelation was the extraordinary extent to which the commenters at Pravda show themselves to be completely ignorant and uninformed on the issues relevant to the debate.  But then, these people rely on Pravda as the principal source of information on this subject.  I guess I should not have been so surprised.

For example, a substantial number of commenters had somehow gotten the impression that implementation of Obama's Clean Power Plan would be an effective measure toward staving off a catastrophic global warming.  For example, we have this from "Austin Al":

The planet is cooking, so strong actions are necessary to reduce greenhouse emissions. Going backwards is not the answer. We need to cooperate to insure survival of the species, apparently Mr. Pruitt doesn't get it.

Or, from "winthropo muchacho" of Durham, NC:

The power industry knows full well the consequences of continued unabated carbon emissions to the atmosphere and deliberately chooses profitability over the health of humankind and numerous other species threatened with extinction.  It's that simple.  

From "RLW" of Chicago:

To all of you out there who have children and grandchildren, be aware. This Trump presidency is on the way to destroying the planet for your grandchildren and all who follow.

From "SR" in the Bronx:

[T]heirs is a homicidal streak, that will roast us all in a stormy cauldron of hurricanes, ozone, and CO2 that no witch trio would want.

OK, NYT readers: Do you have any idea how the CPP is supposedly going to stop the "planet" from "cooking" and avoid "roasting us all" and "insure the survival of the species"?  The CPP has as its goal the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. electric power sector by about 30%.  The electric power sector is about 40% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so the overall reduction in U.S. emissions from this regulation, assuming that it is fully implemented and that it completely works as intended, is about 12%.  Can we please calculate how much global warming by the year 2100 will be avoided by this reduction?  If you think that the whole "GHGs cause global warming" thing has not been proved and is a scam, your answer will be "zero."  But I ask you to assume for purposes of this question the accuracy of the worst-case models used by the U.S. government associating GHG emissions with increasing world temperature.  

Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger at Cato undertook that exercise when the CPP was announced back in 2015.  For their calculations, they used the government's own model, known as MAGICC.  The results:

The EPA’s own policy analysis model, called MAGICC*, tells us how much global warming will be prevented by the new plan:  0.019°C by the year 2100 (based on procedures similar to those we detailed here).  That’s the amount of temperature change a person will experience in about every second of life. It is simply impossible to detect this change in any global temperature history.

Even that is an overestimate of the actual impact of the plan.  The EPA has also published a “base case” which includes emissions reductions expected from existing state and federal regulations.  The difference between the plan and the base—i.e., the future temperature savings directly attributable it drops to 0.009°C—let’s be generous and call that 0.01°C. 

Yes, this whole thing is to avoid 0.01 deg C of anticipated warming.  Frankly, it's pathetic.  No world temperature measuring system in existence or conceivable could even measure if such a reduction of previously-anticipated warming (over nearly a century!) had been achieved.  Of course, you can scour the archives of the New York Times, and you will never find this information.  

And how about the economic impact of the CPP?  The whole idea here is to force premature closure of a few hundred perfectly functional power plants running on coal and oil, and their replacement with new sources, many of which will be much more expensive and intermittent solar and wind facilities.  It's impossible to put a precise number on the costs, because the CPP leaves it up to states and utilities how they will respond to the new strictures.  But it's hard to imagine that the costs could be less than several hundred billion dollars.  These costs will go into your electric bill.  Is there any possible way that this could be anything but a gigantic negative for the American household?

Well, here is how a few commenters at Pravda view the economics.  From "leptoquark" in Washington:

It's so sad that Trump et al. would cede the enormous economic opportunity available in cleaning up power generation. He, and the GOP, can't hold back the country forever, though. At least the dam seems to be breaking on electric vehicles.

So in leptoquark's calculus, spending hundreds of billions to replace cheaper energy with more expensive energy is "ceding an enormous economic opportunity."  From "Jim" in California:

That the Trump-Pence administration, claiming to possess keen business acumen pursues a fiscally idiot policy of pouring funds into high cost coal energy is beyond idiotic.

Jim has somehow got the idea that EPA is proposing to "pour funds into high cost coal," rather than simply rescinding regulations that restrict coal.  From "Blue Moon" in Old Pueblo:

China will pick up the slack by developing green energy alternatives; the U.S. will be left behind. China will wind up being the key in staving off global warming and climate change . . . .    

It's the old theory that the way for the people to get rich is for the government to waste as much money as it can as fast as it can.  Where did we learn that economic theory?  Oh, I remember -- Paul Krugman!  But here's the news for Blue Moon:  while China is putting out press releases about some Potemkin village wind and solar projects, what it is actually doing is flooding its own territory and the world with coal power.  

They read their Pravda every day, and they think they know what is going on in the world.  Sad.