Obamacare & Climate Change: Temperature, Health Targets

There it was, hidden on page 1,323 of the 2,700-page health care bill: a proposal to define the ideal climate for the Continental United States and Alaska. For no reason I can see, Hawaii is excepted.

Maybe because of skittishness over this bill that would grant “native” Hawaiians sovereignty recently passed in the House of “Representatives.” In the name of the secular god Sensitivity, nobody wants to make Hawaiians angry.

Anyway, I’m no lawyer, so I can’t understand the blah-blah-blah, but the law says that each State will be required to meet a “temperature target.” If the yearly averaged temperature deviated from that target, then certain penalties would kick in. More on those, and the targets, in a moment.

Why a “temperature target” in a health care bill? The language points to scientific studies which purport to show that deviations from “ideal temperatures” result in “challenges to and deviations from homeostasis, which puts undue stress on the immune system”, therefore resulting in greater rates of illness.

Greater rates of illness mean, of course, more sick bodies. And more sick bodies means higher medical and insurance bills, and so forth. We knew these kinds of things were coming: since the government will be taking over health care, it must seek to reduce the costs of that care. And in regulating climate, they think they have found a way to do so.

Supplying insurance against climate change doesn’t work. As I have pointed out until I was sore in my typing fingers, insurance is not health. For example, suppose some lethal new bug is making its way through the population. You can treat the bug via vaccination, antibiotics, by removing the vector that transmits it, or whatever. But it would do no good to announce a policy of insuring the infected.

If you’re sick, you don’t want insurance, you want health; you want a cure, not insurance. You cannot insure your way out of an epidemic. Insurance is just a way to add costs to health care.

So the Obama administration will attack the “vector” that they say will bring increased rates of illness. That vector is “changes in climate”; specifically, temperature change.

The Environmental “Protection” Agency will be in charge of setting both the ideal temperatures and the allowed deviations. The EPA will also be allowed to suggest penalties for when those allowed deviations are exceeded.

There are some constraints the EPA must follow.

The country will be divided into climate “zones.” That is in quotes, because the zones aren’t contiguous; they appear to be climatically gerrymandered. For example, Vermont, California, New York, and Massachusetts are “Zone B”. Texas, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Alaska are “Zone C.” Strangely, Arkansas is its own zone. And so forth.

Each zone will have its own temperature ideal. Like I said, these ideals aren’t yet specified; that will be left to the bureaucracy. But what’s fascinating is that each State in a zone must meet the same ideal. Texas and Alaska, therefore, must have the same yearly averaged temperature.

I’m happy to report that “yearly average temperature” is reasonably defined. The “max minus min divided by two” for the dailies, and then the dailies are averaged. There are words for how to handle missing data. These appear to be lifted directly from the National Climate Data Centers’ boilerplate.

The deviations aren’t specified yet, either. But they are allowed to be different for each zone. And there is a grace period. Ideals won’t have to be met until 2014, and the harshest penalties won’t kick in until 2020. Again, I’m no lawyer, but it appears that if any State in a zone fails to meet it targets, all States in the zone are punished equally.

Those penalties aren’t yet specified, but the law did suggest possibilities. There is the usual “denial of federal funds” language, apparently for highway monies. There are also words about increased health care payout burdens: I gather that each State would be reimbursed for Medicare etc. at a lesser rate.

There are some unique punishments. One is mandatory Earth hours. That is, each State would have to prove that it reduced energy consumption the year following its deviation from the ideal temperature. To do that, citizens would be forced to disable their electrical service for up to “twenty-four hours for each calendar month.”

Another penalty is enforced reductions of flights out of (by not into) a State. A third is that a State must demonstrate that its “highway usage” decreased by some set amount. Presumably, this would mean limiting driving in some way.

Look for these new regulations soon. The EPA is expected to reveal them to the public on April 1, 2011.


  1. LeChat

    This is not funny. I wish people would lay off the April fool’s jokes

  2. Briggs


    I’m not laughing, either.

  3. anniemae

    Please tell me this is a joke, a sick twisted one at that. If it’s true I now have a new mission in life “Defund the EPA”!

  4. Briggs


    Sick and twisted is my specialty.

  5. Doug

    You had me until I looked again at the date. Scary that this is so plausible.

  6. I don’t know what’s more frightening: The fact that Briggs came up with this idea, or that it seems so horrifyingly plausible. The page reference is a nice touch.

    Please tell me in no unclear terms that it’s a prank!

  7. L Nettles

    The really scary part is the plausibility of the premise. Thanks for the laugh

  8. PaulR

    Yes, Nettles is right, the scary part is the plausibility of the premise, and the deceptivity implicit, and the overreach, that would fit perfectly with these Demo-NAZI’s.

  9. PaulK

    “max minus min divided by two” = half the daily temp range. Should have been “plus.”

    That’s when I went back to the top and saw the post is in the “Fun” category.

  10. Brilliant, Matt! When Rahm Emanuel learns how he wasted this particular crisis will he be a sick puppy or what?

  11. john

    This article will be referenced as fact multiple times. I guarantee it.

    By tomorrow you need to amend it for clarification.

  12. Denny

    Mr. Briggs,

    I pray this is a April Fool’s Day joke…but I wouldn’t be surprised at all that the Politicians would do this…What other “surprises” are in this Bill??? I really hope it is “found” unconstitutional!!!! I pray and I pray somemore!!!

  13. Très drôle!! But you left out the 2,699 pages devoted to leaches and blood sucking ticks.

    Side note: if you are going to write a book about vampires, why not call it “The U.S. Congress Wants Your Blood”. Of course, it wouldn’t be non-fiction, but it would be a monumental horror story.

  14. realitycheck

    As a commentary on the current state of affairs Briggs should be given an ATTABOY as this parallels the insanity I’ve experienced as a government nuclear scientist working on the Hanford reservation.

    Hey, if you want to understand where all this comes from look no furhter than the state of Washington. There, a foundation known as The Bullitt Foundation (http://bullitt.org/)provides grants to environmental organizations, nominally, $50K/y, to promote environmental ideals, etc. Cross check Bullitt grant recipients with Washington Department of Ecology Public Participation Grant recipients who also happen to agitate about Hanford’s contamination and the correlation is very high (R>0.9). Oh yeah, the administator of The Bullitt Foundation grants is noneother than the founder of Earth Day (Denis Hayes, President and CEO), and, so it goes…

    Anyways, as near as I can tell the following isn’t an April Fool’s Joke, as it appears to be a legit CBS webpage allowing anyone to rate Obama’s first year performance on a variety current events…have at it!


  15. Thanks, realitycheck. At the time I cast my secret ballot the overall score was – A:5.32%; B:3.85%; C:3.76%; D:22.90%; and F:64.17%. Now if CBS News would only run one on themselves – but this is all probably another April Fool’s joke and will never again see the light of day.

  16. Jerry

    Make fun all you want, but I think it’s a good idea to link climate change to health care reform. After all, Al Gore is famous for saying the planet has a fever. If it had universal health insurance maybe it could afford an NSAID.

  17. Alan Bates

    You do, of course, realise that someone, somewhere will think this is a good idea.

    It was the minus instead of plus that did it for me but, who knows, if even scientists can’t sort out simple statistics what do you think politicians will make up?

  18. DirkH

    Wouldn’t an A/C suffice to neutralize the climate change “vector”? So Obamacare would pay the bill and A/C would count as a medication?

  19. How did someone think up this crazy scheme? What basis is there for setting an ideal temperature? How in world can someone imagine that the “ideal temperature” for a wayward state in a zone can be used as a basis for setting fines against all of the states in the zone? How can Alaska and Texas we lumped together? Doesn’t the constitution sets states rights or has it been nullified by the EPA? Since the whole data base on temperature is now highly questionable, how will they be able set the standards for ideal temperature? I think the congress has run amok.

  20. DirkH

    The “mandatory earth hours” are great by the way, William, thanks! Great stuff!

  21. michel

    You are wrong to argue that health insurance is not really insurance. Consider the European situation. You are enrolled, along with everyone else, in a compulsory insurance scheme at birth, and you remain in it for life. If you fall ill, it pays defined benefits.

    At birth, with a few exceptions, we don’t know who will fall ill or when or what of. Before birth we know it even less, for an individual. We do know that some of us will fall ill in various ways.

    One way for a society to run this is simply to say, you fall ill, its your problem. Pay for it. Another way is to say, buy insurance against the possibility. Just like you insure against fire or accident, insure against illness costs. A third way is for a society to offer universal insurance.

    Insurance is possible because the risks are unknown, but their incidence is known. Everyone therefore benefits from having coverage, because they do not know whether they need it or not. This is the essence of insurance, coverage against what seem to be random unfortunate events.

    Of course you can have health insurance, if you can have any sort of insurance.

  22. Briggs


    I think a closer reading of what I said will fix the problem. I did not say what you said I said. I said, health insurance is not health. Search for “health” in the box and look at all the different posts on the topic where I discuss the other of your arguments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *