Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 29, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

GLOBAL WARMING....Juliet Eilperin has a good story about global warming in the Washington Post today. Read it.

And keep in mind that the issue is not that the things she writes about are going to happen in 50 or 100 or 200 years. The issue is that within 20-30 years it will become impossible to stop them from happening no matter what we do. And since it will take a minimum of 20-30 years to make any serious progress on greenhouse gas emissions, we need to get our asses in gear now.

Here's how. Step 1: Get rid of the nitwit in the White House who's convinced global warming can't exist because that would be inconvenient for the Republican Party's funding base. Step 2: Replace him with someone who can read a simple chart. Step 3: Pray.

Kevin Drum 2:37 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (204)

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Comments

The Dad of The Dad is a retired professor of Atmospheric Science, and he says there is ample evidence that we've already passed any tipping points a few years back.

So drink up, save your pennies, and move to higher ground.

Posted by: The Dad on January 29, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin, do you think if you didn't drive a giant SUV around that would help with greenhouse emissions?

Posted by: Rad Racer on January 29, 2006 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Step 0: Stop appointment of Alito to the Supreme Court: call a Senator and tell them to filibuster.

Posted by: NealB on January 29, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, The Dad rides his bicycle everywhere, the Wife of The Dad commutes to work on a bus, the car of the Family of Dad gets great mileage with low emissions, the Thermostat of Dad is always set low requiring sweaters and lots of hugs, the House of Dad is very energy-efficient, and The Dad hisself is a green architect with his own anonymous blog at http://rktect.blogspot.com

Just so you get a bit of background...

Again, sell that beachfront property and move inland.

Posted by: The Dad on January 29, 2006 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum misrepresentates my point of view.

I do believe in global warming, and I believe it will be a postive phenomena for all of mankind, and womankind, and childkind.

It will you understand leave no one behind.

People will not have to wear winter jackets in winter. They will be able to go to the beach all year round, and play golf. No one will die of hypothermia, and polar bears will no longer need all that fur. These are all positive phenomena, or as my friend Alberto would say (for all you Latinos in the audience) positivo phenomeno.

Posted by: George W Bush on January 29, 2006 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps, then, the question is the extent to which we can minimize the damage and/or turn the process around.

(Of course, the latter would be a tremendously difficult job, and I imagine many would dispair of ever getting it done. It's not impossible, however.)

Posted by: Demosthenes on January 29, 2006 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, are you stupid, a liar or both?

The USG's position on climate change is that the climate is warming, that this has anthropomorphic causes and that reduction of GHG is needed to combat it.

Sheesh. Just lying about something doesn't make it true, you know.

Sheesh.

Posted by: am on January 29, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

About 800 C.E. temperatures in Europe(and it is becoming apparent in most of the Northern hemisphere)rose considerably. No human-produced greenhouses gases were to blame. About 1150 they dropped back below the temperatures of 800 C.E. This is called the Little Ice Age and it continued for some 400 years. Again no human-produced greenhouses gas(or cutback in) to blame.

Posted by: lee on January 29, 2006 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK

Do you think if you didn't drive a giant SUV around that would help with greenhouse emissions?

I thought he had some sort of overpowered sports car.

I'm a closet environmental fatalist. Our ability to stop anthropogenic climate change is about as great as the that of a few aspergillus cells to stop their companions from using all the agar as they rapidly approach the glass wall of the petri dish. Any government that tries to slow things down gets cut down by its own people or left behind in the global industrial rat race. Maybe we could stop global warming with cheap, safe, and efficient fusion reactors. Anything less, I don't think so. At some point in the future we'll come back into the balance, so I figure there is a good reason to protect what's left of the preindustrial world.

Exciting time to be alive though.

Posted by: B on January 29, 2006 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, if you keep Alioto out of there, suddenly all the CO2 will go away.

You want some ideas?

--Get back to work on nuclear power plants in the U.S.

Europe (except France), which has been getting all squeamish about the ones they already have, need to get over it and keep them in operation.

You can piss and moan all you like, but for a planet with rapidly increasing energy needs, unless somebody invents cold fusion in the next ten years, the solution is going to have to include some forms of nuclear energy.

--Continue research on fusion and other long-range alternatives. Also the shorter-range ones, like thin-film solar cells. Try to avoid the "Manhattan Project" syndrome where one Big Solution is preferred over all others. Even nuclear power isn't a cure-all. Many small solutions are going to get the job done.

For the same amount of government money, a hundred small research grants to universities and small companies will probably do more good than one big government project. I still remember the Space Shuttle almost killing off the rest of the launch industry.

--Let gas and fuel prices stay high. Don't subsidize, except maybe for those poor who are in emergency situations.

--Keep the regulatory environment friendly to existing alternative energy sources. Encourage zoning that allows solar and wind generators. Regulations that permit integration of home power systems with the main power grids. Continue tax breaks for alternative installations, and companies that use alternative energy.

--Create more incentives to drive high-mileage vehicles. Maybe some tax breaks. The high fuel prices are doing most of the work. Companies are selling every hybrid they can build.

Try not to jump in with both feet in this, like demanding all cars that get less than 40 mpg be outlawed, or something. An economic depression isn't going to be any more popular than global warming. Believe me, the car companies would love to sell an SUV that gets 50 mpg as much as you would like to buy one.

--Keep some perspective. The U.S. isn't the only problem.

--Try not to let the politics completely overwhelm the issue.

--When setting up plans and new ideas, for God's sake, try to have some people who know something about technology and industry in on it. The last thing we need is policies set by legislators who think that the only thing you need to do to get 100 mpg cars is pass a law demanding it.

--Tell Al Gore, who's antagonizing Canada, one of the few friendly oil sources we still have left, to sit down and shut up.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 29, 2006 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK

And let's get something clear:

Even if it turned out that climate change had nothing whatsoever to do with your SUV, we are still running our society on a non-renewable resource.

That resource is the key to plastics, fertilizers, medicines, and hundreds of other things. We're burning it up.

A lot of that resource comes from countries that hate our guts. Some of them hate everybody's guts. This is not smart. Even if we open up our own supplies--a good idea--that isn't going to end oil imports by itself.

Finding alternatives to burning hydrocarbons is going to be an issue at some point, CO2 or no CO2.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 29, 2006 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

Tell Al Gore, who's antagonizing Canada, one of the few friendly oil sources we still have left, to sit down and shut up.

Why isn't this at the top of the list? If he's really pissing off the kanook mullahs than we need to get on this immediately.

Tbrosz -- your solutions are for keeping the economy going as we run out of oil. They will do nothing to stop or slow down global warming. The free market dictates that most of the oil in the world will get burned up unless a cheap (under $15 / barrel equivalent ) is found.

Posted by: B on January 29, 2006 at 3:31 AM | PERMALINK

Compliments to Dad and family for walking the walk. They've earned the right to preach.

Wish I could say the same for politicians and movie stars who bitch about global warming while owning a dozen cars, five houses, and private jets.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 29, 2006 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

B:

Where did you get $15 a barrel for the level at which people would go to some trouble to switch sources? I understand there's a point where capital investment in an alternative balances higher operating costs of an existing (this becomes less important as operation time increases), but oil is over $60 a barrel now.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 29, 2006 at 3:39 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe that wasn't clear. I assume you meant that an energy alternative would have to be the price equivalent of $15 a barrel oil before someone would switch from $60 a barrel oil. I think that the alternative would not have to be that much cheaper, and the level would vary depending on many circumstances. For an industry that relied heavily on energy, it wouldn't take much to convince them. The Northwest aluminum industry was once driven by hydroelectric power.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 29, 2006 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,

The point I was making is that much of the remaining reserves can be produced for under $15 per barrel. For instance, Saudi production costs are probably still under $3.

The current $65 dollar price is demand driven. A lot of that money goes to Saudi harems and Chevron stock buy backs. If demand dried up the price would bottom out a reasonable distance above production and transport costs. The majority of the oil is going to come out of the ground under any free market scenario I can imagine. Exploration in difficult terrane / deep water and high density drilling would stop but existing fields will keep draining.

The convenience of oil (ease of transport, ease of conversion to gasoline) and its utility in the chemical industry are other reasons it will keep being used even if you saturate the market with nuclear plants and solar cells.

Posted by: B on January 29, 2006 at 4:02 AM | PERMALINK

Although Bush might say he believes that anthropogenic global warming is real, no shortage of right-wing hit men (and women) attack that position every day with stupid lines about the little Ice Age, etc.

As someone who worked with Oppenheimer at Princeton a while back, one potential solution we explored was some kind of large-scale carbon sequestration program combined with a shift to a hydrogen economy.

As for the renewable v. fossil fuel problem, I think the consensus is that solar is the renewable of choice. I guess nuclear is a possibility, but it's such a money pit!!

Posted by: Matt on January 29, 2006 at 4:10 AM | PERMALINK

You're right. Alternatives become economical at prices slightly below the multiyear mean price of petroleum. What I was saying is that petroleum stays economical as long as the proceeds feed the Saudi camel going in circles at the wellhead.

Posted by: B on January 29, 2006 at 4:11 AM | PERMALINK

The convenience of oil (ease of transport, ease of conversion to gasoline) and its utility in the chemical industry are other reasons it will keep being used even if you saturate the market with nuclear plants and solar cells.

Good point. Note that alternative methods of generating electricity don't do that much for transportation unless we move to electric or hydrogen vehicles. The key is to start moving at least some of the eggs into other baskets. If we're not burning natural gas in power plants, maybe we could be burning it in trucks.

Most ideas I've seen for artifically "storing" CO2 are a bit silly, but I haven't looked at the technologies recently.

Ethanol has a lot more potential if ways can be found to utilize the cellulose plant materials and wastes, or low-maintenance plants, instead of things like corn that take a lot of energy-using upkeep.

The CO2 generated by burning plant material is part of the short-term carbon cycle, and does not have the kind of potential negative effect that burning fossil fuels has.

I'd like to see as many ideas as possible pursued. The danger of many large government programs in this kind of thing is that they tend to select one Big Answer, and run it into the ground.

Oh, and don't let the environmentalists knock down useful power-creating dams.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 29, 2006 at 4:20 AM | PERMALINK

Off to bed. Sorry if I kind of chewed up the thread...this is one of my favorite tech topics. It's too important to be used as a political weapon by either side.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 29, 2006 at 4:22 AM | PERMALINK

This might belong in the category of "use'm or lose'm", but we've got lots of methane hydrates just offshore:

The newly discovered deposit, believed to be substantial in size, was found about 15 miles off the coast at a depth of about 2,600 feet, at the summit of an undersea mud volcano. Scientists were conducting an unrelated study when they came across the volcano, which sits on top of an active fault zone in the Santa Monica Basin.

Lots of newly discovered natural gas. Good news if you're worried about running out of fuel, bad to terrible news if you're worried about climate change. Methane is a worse contributor to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide, so we may be worse off letting this stuff evaporate than burning it.

Posted by: bad Jim on January 29, 2006 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

This is also one of my favorite topics - I can't believe you mentioned ethanol, though! What a waste of land and effort for such an inefficient source of energy (if you are even on the side of the debate that believes it is a net energy source) ...

As for carbon sequestration, I assume you are referring to forest replantation and iron filings in the ocean. I was referring to CO2 capture and storage (which can be done for about $50-$100 per ton). The cost needs to come down, obviously, but economies of scale may help. One big concern is ensuring that it stays in the ground.

Posted by: Matt on January 29, 2006 at 4:50 AM | PERMALINK

>"Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has accused the oil industry of financially backing the Tories and their "ultra-conservative leader" to protect its stake in Alberta's lucrative oilsands.

Canadians, Gore said, should vigilantly keep watch over prime minister-designate Stephen Harper because he has a pro-oil agenda and wants to pull out of the Kyoto accord -- an international agreement to combat climate change.

"The election in Canada was partly about the tar sands projects in Alberta," Gore said Wednesday while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah."


Gore is absolutely right. Canadian federal politics can be 90% explained by the oil sands and quebec. Yet even with every possible factor in his favour - weak opposition leaders, two elections in a row, better funding, a huge government corruption scandal - his Conservative party was still able to muster only 124 seats out of 308, a lame duck minority government right from the start.

And precisely due to the suspicions Gore has raised. To such an extent that Harper's campaign team send out broadcast emails to US conservatives to "shut the f$ck up please, don't support us" during his campaign.

Canada will not be able to meet its Kyoto commitments, due to the tar sands. And its money completely drives Alberta politics, and Alberta's oil-driven agenda distorts our economy (every other province competes in a bidding war for doctors, nurses, etc leading to oil in Alberta impoverishing other provinces). Without the tar sands, btw, Canada is past its production peak!

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on January 29, 2006 at 4:57 AM | PERMALINK

Oops. "Yet even with every possible factor in his favour.." his = harper's

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on January 29, 2006 at 4:58 AM | PERMALINK

At a 50 dollars a ton it would actually only cost half a trillion dollars to reduce global emissions to zero. On the same order of magnitude as the US military budget. Maybe if we elected a president whose father was once threatened by triatomic atmospheric gases lacking molecular dipole moments . . .

I suspect this cost was calculated for large point source in the vicinity of an optimal geologic reservoir. Putting CO2 traps on small and mobile emission sources would be pretty much impossible.

Crap that's a close tennis match.

Posted by: B on January 29, 2006 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

I have to ask... where would you PUT fifty billion tons of CO2 a year? Sheesh, people worry about nuclear waste, but that's not just orders of magnitude, but tens of orders of magnitude less material, and it's solid at standard temperature and pressure!

Seriously, nuclear power is going to be the best option. Yes, you gotta deal with the waste, but it's better than burning coal (which releases radioactive particles into the atmosphere) or oil (which makes guys with funny views on religion want to throw radioactives together to cause an explosion). Every watt of power you generate with nuclear fission is a watt of power you don't have to generate by setting fire to something.

Sure, the oil will still be extracted, and plenty of it burned too. But oil is also lubricants, and plastics, so just because it's pumped doesn't mean it's going to end up in the atmosphere.

Posted by: Avatar on January 29, 2006 at 5:41 AM | PERMALINK

If you want to lower greenhouse emissions then the only sure way to accomplish it is to cull the herd. Kill off say 50% of the Earths population with something like a birdflu pandemic, or global famine, or a catastrophic natural disaster like colliding with an enormous asteroid. People are far too ignorant and greedy to do what needs to be done to repair the environment, we would rather live it up today and let future generations pay the tab. More drinks barkeep, and put them on my children's tab!

Pray for a plague and hope it's a big one.

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on January 29, 2006 at 5:51 AM | PERMALINK

After we win back a Congressional majority, the notes from Cheney's energy meetings will be subpoenaed. It's only a matter of them trying to delay the inevitable exposure of their corrupt scheme as long as possible.

Posted by: melior on January 29, 2006 at 5:58 AM | PERMALINK

Eric Paulsen:
You first, dude.

Posted by: rhinoman on January 29, 2006 at 6:05 AM | PERMALINK

where would you PUT fifty billion tons of CO2 a year?

It's more like 10 billion tons. People have discussed pumping it down into the deep ocean (imagine a brew of acidic champagne circulating at 1 to 2 km depth), deep petroleum reservoirs (pure unadulterated supercritical CO2), or special cold pressurized reservoirs where it might form solid CO2 clathrates. We actually do a little bit of option number 2 to increase production efficiency in older oil fields. No matter which way you choose, it's a metastable collection of CO2 until it eventually gets converted to carbonate minerals through the weathering of silicates.

Posted by: B on January 29, 2006 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

HOW ABOUT YOU 45 MILLION LIBERALS STOP DRIVING CARS??

IF YOU BELIEVE IN SOMETHING THIS STRONGLY, SHOULDN'T YOU TAKE ACTION REGARDLESS OF WHO IS IN THE WHITEHOUSE??

ITS JUST LIKE HEALTHCARE, IF IT IS SOOOO BAD, WHY HASN'T THE DEMOCRAT PARTY CREATED A PRIVATE, NOT FOR PROFIT, CHARITABLE HEALH CARE SYSTEM??

I AM SURE KENNEDY, KERRY, KOHL, ROCKEFELLER ALONE COULD DONATE A BILLION DOLLARS TO THE CAUSE. YOU COULD GIVE DONATIONS AT DAILY KOS AND DU, AND TWM. Why are you sitting around for 30 years waiting for the government to do soemthing?????

I just love the limosine liberals in their 8,000 square foot homes, with their private jets and heated pools and fleet of SUVs telling me how I need to conserve.

Posted by: Patton on January 29, 2006 at 7:40 AM | PERMALINK

Rather then take away the Middle Class families SUV who use it for their family, I would propose elimating the following:

Hollywood movies would not be allowed to use fossil fuels. Only solar power.

Matt Lauer would not be allowed to Jet half way round the world in the stupid 'wherein the world is matt lauer'. He just burned 80,000 gallons of fuel and then they cut to a story about conservation.

Arianna would have to give up her limo and her 8,000 Square foot mansion and her private jet rides.

John Kerry would have to sell his SUVs and his mansions err her mansions.

The Kennedys would give up every mansion, limo, private jet, etc. if they want to still rant about global warming.

Posted by: Patton on January 29, 2006 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, are you so warped by your hatred of George W. Bush that you cannot even read a simple magazine piece (passing as a news story) for detail?

What exactly did this "article" say? (a short exercise in "Fisking")

Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend.

-- So when was this "poll" of "scientists" taken, and where are the results? And when did science start to advance by consensus?

The "central debate"? "shifted"? Does this mean there's still a "debate" about whether the earth is ACTUALLY warming and, if it is, is its cause is anthropomorphic or solar?

This "tipping point" scenario has begun to consume many prominent researchers in the United States and abroad, because the answer could determine how drastically countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. While scientists remain uncertain when such a point might occur, many say it is urgent that policymakers cut global carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 50 years or risk the triggering of changes that would be irreversible.

This ... scenario ... could ... uncertain .. when .. may ... cut ... half ... 50 years ... risk ... triggering ... irreversible.

What a hoot! Another scare piece by a rag trying to boost it's circulation (and failing).

But, of course, you fell for it, Kevin.

Tell us HOW, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, your choice of chief executive of this nation is going to achieve a 50% REDUCTION IN THE WORLD'S CO2 EMISSIONS! None of the Kyoto signators have met even these limited goals (indeed, almost all have continued to increase emissions -- not decrease).

And you wonder why I think you're a moron?

Posted by: Norman on January 29, 2006 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Pray to whom? I thought you said that nobody's listening.

Posted by: what on January 29, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

First - we somehow have to neutralize all the "conservative" fuckers with their policies of incredularity and obduratism in the face of blindingly obvious proof that man is wreaking carbon-based havoc on this planet.

Next, if we want to combat global warming (and energy dependance on the unstable Muslim world) we need to get the incentives right. And what should be an easy sell to conservatives is setting up markets in carbon-emissions allowances. We already have these for SOx and NOx emissions and its worked rather well.

But we have to somehow drown out conservative cries that doing anything to combat GW will take us back to the stone age. If conservatives really have faith in the capitalist, free-market system, and believe it to be the most robust and flexible in the world (and I agree) then establishment of an emissions allowances market will harness capitalism to do good. Not only will it spur efficient reductions in CO2 emissions, but more research into alternate energy resources as well.

It's not the whole answer, but an important piece, and I don't understand why conservatives would fight it (unless maybe they're maybe in the pocket of Exxon or something.)

Posted by: ctm on January 29, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, nice step 1, 2, and 3, but a little unrealistic. Here's what will happen in no small part because people like you want to treat the cult of republicanism as rational human beings:

steps 1: continue to elect anti-science republicans because in the US money walks, shit talks, the corporate media has renounced its loyality to truth and equality, and the sheople go baaaaa. The cult of republicanism continues to consolate omnipotent unitary control over the government and propagandize corporate media. The Constitution is relegated to museums.
step 2: replace the current nitwit in the white house with someone equally easy to manipulate. The republican president declares marshall law with the supreme court's blessing.
step 3: prey (as in the US preys on by invading any country with oil it damn well feels like; that we feel isn't "cooperating" appropriately with American interests.)

Posted by: justfred on January 29, 2006 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

"nitwit in the White House who's convinced global warming can't exist because that would be inconvenient for the Republican Party's funding base"

Bingo.

Posted by: Chris on January 29, 2006 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

What's really frustrating about this issue is that it seems to generate relatively little public dialogue, whereas frivolous issues like abortion and gay marriage dominate.

In three Presidential debates in '04, I think maybe it was mentioned once. Absolutely shameful. And the limp dick Democrats should be more to blame for that, but I guess they've just become an extension of the Republican Party.

Posted by: ctm on January 29, 2006 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

One more thing - The Dad is my hero.

Posted by: ctm on January 29, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

I can't tell if this is parody Norman or echt Norman, although the sloppy grammar is some indication of the latter.

So when was this "poll" of "scientists" taken, and where are the results? And when did science start to advance by consensus?

As you may know, there is no single poll of scientists, just as there is no specific poll of wingnuts such as yourself, yet we still have a good idea of the dimwitted opinions you hold. There is, however, the accumulated opinion of:
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the American Meteorological Society, the National Research Council, the national science academies of most of the civilized world including our own National Academy of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a host of surveys of climatologists, geophysicists, and other scientists in this country and the rest of the world, etc., etc., etc., all available with the simple click of a mouse.

Tell us HOW, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, your choice of chief executive of this nation is going to achieve a 50% REDUCTION IN THE WORLD'S CO2 EMISSIONS!

When faced with a problem, the intelligent response is to acknowledge the problem and at least begin to take some action to ameliorate it. It is guaranteed that the present administration will continue to deny the problem and hinder any proper response to it. No president is going to achieve 50% reduction in the CO2 emissions, but then that is, of course, neither the objective nor the argument here.

As you can see, it's no wonder at all why one might think you're a moron.

Posted by: R.Porrofatto on January 29, 2006 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

IF YOU BELIEVE IN SOMETHING THIS STRONGLY, SHOULDN'T YOU TAKE ACTION REGARDLESS OF WHO IS IN THE WHITEHOUSE??

Whew! I'm so glad you subscribe to this idea, Patton. Your troll comments are such simple-minded Hannity-like dreck that I feel tainted even making this response. But now that you are going to sign up for Iraq, seeing how you hold that when one believes in something so strongly one must take action, it will be much saner here. What a relief!

Posted by: R.Porrofatto on January 29, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Back in 1992, when I was in graduate school studying Systems Ecology (modelling) we pretty much came to the conclusion at that point that we had passed the tipping point a few years prior. The best we can hope for is amelioration. Right now we are in the initial chaos phase of unbalanced systems seeking a new level of sustainability (which does not mean no change, it means slow change that species can gracefully adapt to).

Posted by: Carol on January 29, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Step 3: Pray

Found religion, have you?

Posted by: E. Nonee Moose on January 29, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

"(which does not mean no change, it means slow change that species can gracefully adapt to)."

Sorry, but that's garbage. How can polar bears adapt to the complete summer melting of arctic ice, predicted sometime this century? This change will happen in decades, not millenia.

Additionally, species today face the added handicap of mass human settlements that impede migration.

I think we're looking at something slightly more cataclysmic than your "graceful adaptation" scenario.

Posted by: ctm on January 29, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,

I agree with many of your ideas, although you should have followed your own prescription and left the subjective notions about what your political opponents believe out of it.

I agree that some form of nuclear energy must be part of any solution, but I also think we will need some strong government oversight to ensure that it isn't the economic boondoggle and managerial disaster that it was here back in the 70s. Unfortunately, this is where politics enters into it, and I'm afraid that the present bunch would not abet a more honest and responsible nuclear industry, but see it as one more taxpayer cash cow for their constituents to milk.

I also agree that it's probably a good idea to avoid the "Manhattan Project" syndrome, however I wonder where we would be in solar production now if the government had taken some of the advice of scientists decades ago (mostly liberal environmentalists, thus ignored) and infused real money into photovoltaic research and production.

Sure, let's continue or create tax breaks for high-mileage vehicles, but here again, politics rears its head. The politicos in power are more inclined to reduce or eliminate these breaks while enhancing full-cost tax deductions for small-business Hummers. If conservation is only a "personal virtue" you can't expect much help from that quarter.

Posted by: R.Porrofatto on January 29, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Bruce, Canada pledged in Kyoto to get CO2 levels down by 6% from 1990 levels, but is up (!) 24% and climbing, according to what I read (Green Party material). Classic Liberal hosing, don't you think?

Britain, according to the Washington Post, is down 14% already and aiming at 50% by 2050. Interesting to see who is serious and who is not.

Posted by: Bob M on January 29, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Didn't Krakatoa cause global cooling? Don't trees produce O2? Sounds like to me, if there really is a serious problem, the solution doesn't seem all that hard.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 29, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Bruce the Canuck,

Just how important an issue is Kyoto to the average Canadian? By that do they feel they need to stay a part of it even knowing it could cost them a great deal of money and are they even aware most of this money would go to places like Russia? Places doing absolutely nothing to curb pollution.

Are they even aware of the Asian-Pacific partnership?

Austin Bay wrote an interesting essay last week detailing his experience in NATO excercises in the late 70's specifically the high respect Americans and others had for the Canadian forces. Bay called them the finest in NATO and thus by definition, the world. He also remined us of the significant role Canada played in WWII punching well above their weight. At the end of WWII Canada had the worlds 3rd largest navy.

Canadians have to be frustrated at what remains. That Navy has been replaced by a small coast guard. Canada has little global influence. Much smaller Australia has far more influence. They have been highly visible in Tsumami relief and in Pakistan where Canada has been invisible. Australia is a founding member of the Asian-pacific partnership and has under Howards leadership moved from the low teens in per-capita income to the top 10 and is poised to pass Canada in a few years.

How do Canadians accept this slide?

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

It's funny, the main reason Kevin is bring up Global Warming is a segue for Bush impeachment, but on one is really talking about Bush. So what's the use in talking about Global Warming if you can't use it to your political advantage? Might as well talk about K-street.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 29, 2006 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Is it any wonder readers (and probably Kevin himself) have difficulty figuring out exactly what Kevin Drum stands for? He states we need to get rid of our president, but offers no sage advice as to how it can be done. As a matter of fact, Kevin in the past has belittled any discussion of impeachment, because the Dems have no power, or because there is no concrete grounds on which to impeach him. So when Kevin isn't full of shit, he's full of shit...

Posted by: coffeequeen on January 29, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps #1 should be for each of us who believes in global warming to make the necessary and appropriate adjustments in our INDIVIDUAL lives (much as THE DAD mentioned upthread) ...member that old "when you point a finger" thingy? And, then, MY GOD YES, get rid of the idiot in the WH and all the rest of them as well. And to the fool who wonders if YOU stop driving your SUV will it make a difference...well, DUH, if everyone did (or better yet if the available technology was used to make SUVs more fuel efficient - and GM/FORD wonder why they are becoming obsolete) of course it would make a difference!!! Just because you are ignorant don't assume EVERYONE else is...

Posted by: Dancer on January 29, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

FF,

I don't think Kevin is doing much more than blowing off steam. This is nothing more than a hissy fit.

He is as well aware as anyone this just is not a top 10 issue among voters in the USA and obviously not even in Canada. Harper made it clear he's no fan of Kyoto and Martin made it seem Harper will pull out tomorrowand triple pollution. Harper won't but the point is this was highly visible campaign issue and Martin lost.

Kevin is also aware only a minority share his religion. GW simply has not been proven and because so many frauds have grabbed this as an issue the junk science has received more publicity at the expense of what may or may not be good science. Who can tell? A vast majority of the even credible scientists are making claims they cannot possibly prove. The subject is simply too complicated and their depth of knowledge too shallow.

The result of this is the scientific frauds have become ever more hysterical and the true believers take the que. Kevin thinks by becoming more strident he'll be viewed as more serious. The opposite is true. The Canadian election hasn't helped Kevins disposiiton. Kyoto is a disaster in slo-mo. It's going to get worse.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Don't get me wrong, for a whole host of reasons I believe we should get control of greenhouse emissions and globial warming is happening, but did you know that there is evidence that the atmosphere of Mars is heating up. I guess the rovers are emitting too many pollutants.

It could be that other factors beyond greenhouse emissions are also in play. Not that it makes much difference. If the earth gets hot enough there will be a mini ice age in Europe.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 29, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Kyoto was never meant to be the only solution to global warming, but it was supposed to start us in the general direction.

Posted by: Paul Guinnessy on January 29, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Dancer,

What do you think of people like John Kerry and Bill Clinton criss-crossing the globe in their private jets and then lecturing the great unwashed on conservation?

I can't imagine you think this helps the cause. ABC will never report these facts but they're not controlling the flow anymore. The image of John Kerry calling for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos where he was rubbing elbows with the other true believers, all of whom travel by private jet, is priceless.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Paul,

Kyoto has made the problem dramatically worse. This will go down as the dumbest treaty in the history of civilization. It was egregiously poorly designend largely because so many people wanted to punish the USA. These people will never again have a leading roll in managing global pollution.

These people = French, Germans, Canadians, etc.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, for Norman's and Porrofatto's benefit, there WAS a poll of 400 meteorologists and climate scientists conducted by Gallup back in Nov. 1991, and it already showed a landslide margin believing that anthropogenic global warming was likely to be a serious problem. (I'm looking at my copy of it right now, accompanied by an indignant cover letter from the Gallup people on how George Will and Ronald Bailey glaringly distorted its results to make their readers believe that the climatologists did NOT think it was a serious problem.)

Since then, judging by all the articles I've seen in the science journals (I don't read environmentalist magazines), the consensus on the subject has only become stedily stronger.

It's nice that Tbrosz is not among those rightists sticking his head in the sand on this issue, and that he actually has some concrete suggestions on the subject, but I still suspect he underemphasizes the importance of government in sounding a general trumpet call to the public on the subject, and in itself funding research on ameliorative technology. The market does many wonderful things, but it's an utter failure in dealing with pollution problems because of the free-rider effect. (One additional item: there is some interest in the possible development of cheap but non-biological technologies for pulling CO2 back out of the air and turning it permanently into carbonate minerals. This might be the best solution of all, since one of the major aspects of the problem is that all the excess CO2 that we do produce will then hang around for as much as a century continuing to do its dirty work and pumping more heat energy into the oceans to act as a very long-lived "heat battery".)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 29, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

No, rdw, it is the corporate interests, the two-bit think tanks paid off by Exxon, and other conservative groups that are spewing disinformation, junk science, etc, in attempt to muddy the waters so that they can keep right on letting their emissions rip and reap their record profits. The public is confused on this issue, but it's because the corporate interests want it that way, and they've got the funds to do it.

Tell me what would be wrong with establishing a market in carbon-emissions allowances to combat the problem? If carbon emissions are an externality, what's wrong with creating a new market to internalize those costs? Why can't conservatives grab this concept and capitalize off it? Why do they have to pose as scientific illiterates clinging to their corporate benefactors?

Posted by: ctm on January 29, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Here is the simple chart that, well, someone can't read; but that someone would not appear to be George Bush.

http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update20_data.

If emissions are the cause of the rise in temperatures and if emissions have been on the rise since the onset of the Industrial Revolution (circa 1850), why then did temperatures go down from 1850-1920 and remain constant from 1940-1980? It's called science; you need to prove a theory with data, not a one-off correlation 1980-2005. If emissions were the cause of the temperature increases over the last 25 years, there should have indeed been the highest increase from 1940-1980 when the world, the U.S.A. inparticular, boomed industrially, i.e., accelearted in terms of fossil fuel consumption and industrial production.

Well?

The Objective Historian

Posted by: The Objective Historian on January 29, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

The political arena neatly ducks the REAL problem.

Most of the life forms on this planet are doomed unless humans learn to control their run-away population.

Even if magically the per-person CO2 production was decreased by 20% or 30% overnight, human population growth will erase all the gains in just a few years.

This is the most critical issue facing the planet and there's nary a whisper in the US political sphere... save Bushco quietly scuttling any UN attempts to promote birth control.

The answer is SO simple and painless... having two kids per couple will stabilize the population.

Promotion of this concept should be our number one priority... over all others.

Saving whales, polar bears, (insert favorite species), is all simply 'pissing in the wind' unless the underlying problem is solved.

When will somebody step up to the plate and speak the truth... or given the dominance of the religous nut cases, I wonder... would it matter?

I'm not holding my breath. (I guess, this line might be a joke given the context of this thread.)


Posted by: Buford on January 29, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Britain, according to the Washington Post, is down 14% already and aiming at 50% by 2050. Interesting to see who is serious and who is not.

One of the jokes of Kyoto was in setting the base period. Germany benefits by the collapse of East German manufacturing and 15 years of slow growth. If Germany tried they could not reach their limits. The same holds true for all former iron curtain nations none more than Russia. England has benefitted from the collapse of their coal industry and the transition from coal to oil and gas. England did NOT a thing to reach ther limits. They were guarranteed all along.

The other aspect helping the 1st world is the massive transfer of production to the 3rd world. This is a disaster for global pollution. England is producing less and China far, far more. China has no pollution controls. Thus goods which were produced in the 1st world with pollution controls are now produced with NONE. This treaty has CREATED MORE pollution.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Most ideas I've seen for artifically "storing" CO2 are a bit silly, but I haven't looked at the technologies recently.

Actually they are reasonable, and reforestation is recognized in the Kyoto treaty. references were provided by some commenters last summer some time.


As for the nitwit in the White House, the Administration has joined with Japan, China, Australia and some others on a program that's considerably more practical than the Kyoto treaty. And the Administration energy plan is a start -- continued over 20 years it should have a considerable good effect. A little porky for some, but then so was WWII with all those weapons programs that never produced a working prototype.

Warming will probably recede as the two solar cycles recede from their coincident peaks. One has a period of 11 years, the other a period of about 100 years, and both have peaked together. This has been estimated to be responsible for about 30% of recent warming.

Don't panic. Keep up the pressure for new fuel technologies.

Posted by: contentious on January 29, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

"Canada has little global influence."

I don't hear them crying very loud--the ones who do, like David Frum or Conrad Black, end up leaving the country and screwing up some other place.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on January 29, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

as Kevin wrote when commenting on Kuwait: Buy a hybrid now and be prepared.

Posted by: contentious on January 29, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

CTM,

Why would we even think about taking on significant costs to please the moonbats who believe in this junk science?

I've been watching the flakes associated with Kyoto and they are an absolute disaster. They're wrong on the science and tragically inept on their solutions. It can be summed up in one sentence, "Screw Americans".

Ain't gonna happen. This is being removed from UN AND EU hands. "IF" we are going to reduce greenhouse emissions and we need to be serious about it then we must put adults in charge.

The Asian-pacific partnership will do this. All of the ecological disasters are in the 3rd world. We need to get together and share technology and sytems to put within the reach of everyone.

As soon as you exempted China, India and Brazil you had to know manufacting was going to set up shop in China, india and Brazil. It's hard to know which aspect of Kyoto was dumbest this has to receive consideration.

What GWB is doing is getting the biggest, worst, wealthiest together in a small group to sketch out a practical plan for the future that can do as it is designed to do.

Never in a million years will Americans allow some EU or pencil-necks fine America.

The initial working group of the USA, China, India, Japan, Korea and Australia is large and powerful enough to design and implement this plan to share technology and work together to reduce global pollution, not transfer it around and make it so much worse. Once they have a path set they'll expand the group. Kyoto is dead.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

More blogging on this subject at Ezra Klein.

Posted by: opit on January 29, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

previously Kevin Drum wrote this: So while Democrats might very well need a Newt Gingrich of their own, what they really need if they want to win back control of Congress is a tectonic shift they can take advantage of and so far I just haven't seen any big, pent-up frustration on the part of center-right voters that might turn large numbers of them into center-left voters instead. It'll be healthcare eventually, but in the meantime I'm stumped.

Let me repeat my recommendation that the Democrats push Kerry's energy proposals with great enthusiasm.

Quit the Quixotic attempts to block all Bush's court nominees and emphasize solving technological problems with new technology. Whether it's kept or overturned, Roe v. Wade is dead: many counties have no abortion clinics and over half of all voters live in states that have repealed their own abortion restrictions legislatively. The filibuster threat is useless: do something useful, or at least propose a good useful alternative.

#1 security -- say you can run the war on terror better than the Republican

#2 energy security AND greenhouse gas reduction

#3 healthcare improvements

#4 repeal a few of the Bush tax reductions and eliminate loopholes where they are blatantly counterproductive to the public good.

Only a few days have passed since the quoted passage was posted, and Kevin seems to have forgotten it already. "Replace the nitwit ... " isn't a strategy, it's another in a long line of whines.

Posted by: contentious on January 29, 2006 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Paradis,

Well that's why I am asking. There's a good case of isolationism. We hear so little about Canada aside from the headline grabbing anti-American stuff.

But it doesn't strike me Canadians are isolationists. They remain part of the G-8 and NATO and seem to have very strong opinions on Iraq and Kyoto. The extreme anti-americanism doesn't seem to be the result of trade disputes but of our international policies. That's hardly islationists.

The reason I cited Austin Bay's article is I was impressed with his real and powerful admiration for Canadian forces. This is a retired American soldier participating in NATO exercises saying the Canadians were the better soldiers. That can't be easy to admit. This is 20 years ago. Would anyone say that today?

I have no problem with the Canadians refusing to participate in Iraq. Reasonable people can have disagreements. You must do what you see as best for Canada. But how do you feel that no one really cares? The fact is most Americans think Canada has only a very small and inexperienced military n capable of doing any hevy lifting or of providing much help. A not insignificant minority feel the US is better off without Canada because they'd just slow us down. It's no secret Canada has been degrading it's military.

That's a huge change in two decades.

Look at the Tsumami relief. Where was Canada? USA and Australian ships were there in two days providing critically needed water, medicine, doctors, food, rescue copters, etc. They were there for a month. Where was Canada?

Mark Steyn lives part-time in Canada and will always be a citizen. He wrote of that, "Canada is not only unable to deliver aid to distant places on the planet but unable to deliver aid to distance places in Canada.

Everytime there is a major disaster anywhere in the world such as in Pakistan and Indonesia the USA Military is there quickly and in a big way and usually has Australia with them. Where is Canada?

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with NealB and disagree with contentious. The Bush administration controls the advice of its "scientific advisers", the FDA and the Supreme Court -to-be. Standing up for what you believe to be true gets you off the payroll. Other Presidents have done this. Those other Presidents didn't spy on Americans without authorization and their cronies (Diebold) didn't introduce corruptible voting machines (see
/www.computerworld.com/securitytopics/security/hacking/story/0,10801,107881,00.html for a report about how easily these machines can be manipulated without leaving a trail). These steps (wholesale spying, control of elections) can change the American political system in an irreversible manner.

If our elections are controlled, then questions of global warming will depend on who controls the White House. If Americans have been programmed to put controlling terrorists, communists, homosexuals, ____ (you fill in the blank) above all else, we are doomed whether or not Alito gets onto the court, whether or not voting machines are made honest.

Posted by: Malvolvo on January 29, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

RDW:

The problem is that you are incorrect when you imply that the science behind global warming is wrong. Even a lot of the skeptics are now admitting that global warming is taking place but now contend that it will be good for us.

Kyoto, while not perfect, was an international treaty. As China and India ramp up their economies they will face the same restrictions as the rest of the world - China is about 10 years away from this right now. (Of course if we were serious about Kyoto then we would have the necessary technology ready to sell to them.) This was done in recognition that the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere was due to developed countries.

Kyoto also contains clauses that allow a country to back out if they found that it was causing undue hardship to their economy.

However I remain unconvinced about the actual cost of Kyoto. I liken this to the same predictions over the banning of CFC. There were some who said that it was going to cost the economy 100 billion and cause a massive slowdown in the economy. We seem to have survived that one fairly well.

The reintroduction of CO2 is a problem that has gone on too long. If we face it now we will have time to reduce and then adjust to the consequences. If we put it off with some voluntary scheme then we will be leaving our grandchildren with a world where reductions will be large, adjustment a matter of necessity and economies really will be severely hurt.

Posted by: Yelling in the fog on January 29, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with NealB and disagree with contentious.

I wrote that this was a black eye for the administration and an embarrassment to me. You disagree with that?

malvolvo is a cute pun on "Malvolio". Are you implying a decline in the auto company since its purchase by Ford?

Posted by: contentious on January 29, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

oops, confusion of threads. perhaps you disagree with my recommendation that Democrats rally behind Kerry's energy policy and make a big deal out of it.

Posted by: contentious on January 29, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

better news organizations, please:

but, according to cnn's ace weatherman, chad myers, you should calm down. the thermostats placed years ago in rural places have been overtaken with development. it's all that concrete, sillies, throwing off the temperature readings. things aren't nearly so dire, just ask chad:

M. O'BRIEN: Well it's January, late January actually, and nary a flake of snow on the ground here in New York City. And it makes us wonder is the world getting a little warmer or what?

A new British study says it's definitely a trend. In fact, scientists say 2005 was the warmest ever on record in the Northern Hemisphere. We jumped by more than a third of a degree overall. The study says greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere are part of this problem. As for the trend, 8 of the 10 hottest years ever on record have come in the past decade.

Let's check the forecast now.

Chad Myers, you're a little bit of a skeptic on global warming, I know.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, I absolutely believe that CO2 is heating the atmosphere, but also some of these thermometers that we have had out in the Plains for years or in the cities for years are getting surrounded by more buildings. So you get more buildings, you get more asphalt, you get more heat so the thermometers are different. The whole metro areas are getting warmer.

Where in fact maybe you just see if you put that same thermometer out in the middle of a corn field in Nebraska, maybe it wouldn't be too much different. We'll have to see. You know I know that this is happening, it's just a matter of how much it is. That's all.

Posted by: linda on January 29, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Objective Historian --

The link you provided didn't work, but your argument - that since temps have gone down, there can't be global warming - makes the same ridiculous assuption anti-GW people always make: "scientists are stupid". You really think scientists would promote a theory that doesn't match the evidence?

There is an explanation, and it's been known for decades; actually, it's quite telling that anti-GW people keep clinging to it. The cooling's believed to be from anthropogenic sulfate aerosols, the emissions of which have dramatically decreased recently. Which explains why it was more pronounced in the NH than the SH.

Sorry, try again.

Posted by: Earl on January 29, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the people who tout Kyoto and who oppose Kyoto have never read the damn treaty. It was hopelessly flawed. While the goal of Kyoto was right on it was a non-starter because it gave large and growing centers of polution a free pass.

Everybody has a different view on global warming. The Europeans are scared shitless because they are going to take the early brunt of global warming. The Chinese Communists are trying desparately to stay in power by giving their citizens the physical trappings of western civilization. The Africans are just trying to stay alive from day to day. The South Americans don't have the political skills to get their act together. The Americans don't want to take responsiblity for their own actions and their leadership is doing everything it can to consolidate its personal power and wealth convinced that peak oil is going to solve the problem anyway through a sudden and permanent economic depression.

Ever wonder why the administration doesn't give a shit about the middle class. They plan on riding out the end of oil in well guarded gated communities as the rest of us suffer through a prolonged dark age. For them the future looks a lot more like some Central American banana republic than Ronald Regan's city on a hill. Not surprising actually since Bush and Cheney and the guys they run with are upper class oil men who lack the vision to imagine the world without light crude.

God, I am depressing myself this morning. The truth is I am not so pessamistic. The world will survive. Humans will probably survive too. The ride to the future will be bumpy, but so was the past. Somebody up thread was "praying" for a pandemic as being our only hope for the future. Thinning the herd he called it. Pathetic. Maximizing personal wealth, health and freedom has always lowered reproduction. People secure in their own future just don't have many children. Look to Japan as an example. Its population is declining. It would be the same in Western Europe. It would be the same here in the US if we didn't have so much immigration from uncertain and poverty ridden Mexico and Central America. Times of uncertainty and poverty always result in high reproductive rates. Modern medicine has just allowed more folks to survive. There is no reason to believe that a pandemic would be more than a temporary respite.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 29, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK


"Get rid of the nitwit in the White House who doesn't think ...."

Excuse me? We had a national election 17 months ago. President Bush won. The Constitution says he serves a four-year term.

Kevin Drum is talking like a crazy person.

Posted by: GOPGregory on January 29, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

WARNING: odd tangent Notion.

I just finished reading Peter Heather's "Fall of Rome", which challenges the idea that Rome fell because Romans became lazy and rich and Christian, losing their patriotic pagan ferocity. The conventional interpretation is that the Goths and Vandals and Huns were somehow more vital than the Romans, who had lost something, somehow.

Heather shows that what actually happened was the Huns pushed the Goths inside Rome's borders at a time when (like most times) the Romans were struggling amongst themselves over who would be the guy controlling the revenue stream. So without anybody thinking about long term consequences, they let the Goths stay as an unassimilated people inside the empire. So they lost taxes and recruits from Goth land, then the Vandals and Goths and Alans, et al, took Gaul and Spain, losing more taxes, and finally the Vandals took North Africa -- and that was that: without all that revenue, Rome couldn't pay their armies, and pretty much evaporated.

But it wasn't that Rome collapsed from within, exactly. The Goths, etc., all wanted at first not to knock Rome over but to get in on all that wealth -- grazing on Rome's rich estates beat hell out of grazing on Eurasia's steppes. EVERYBODY took for granted, for several generations, that the engine and structure of all that wealth could stand what Alaric and Attila were doing to it.

I think global warming (and the distinct prospect of the Return of the Ice, as Harm de Bly has been arguing for decades: warmer oceans will kill the conveyor belt that keeps the polar ice on the poles) is like that, a kind of case study for how a republic is simply not equipped to handle a Really Big Problem Coming Very Slowly.

Until it actually costs somebody a LOT of money, I dunno where the political will is gonna come from to do much.

For all the scientific talk about 'consensus', etc., this is purely a political problem. I like the observation somebody made, that we know climate is an angry beast that has killed civilizations and species by the thousands -- and we're poking it with sharp sticks.

.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 29, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. What an unpleasant group of commenters. Outa here.

Posted by: ljr on January 29, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

If you're waiting for the Rapture, global warming doesn't matter.

Hybrids are swell. But instead of buying a $25,000 car, try slowing down to 60 or 65, inflating your tires to 38 lbs, and getting all of that crap out of the trunk. Should be good for 5 mpg. And all the money you save stays in the U.S.

Did tbroz actually say that this was a subject too important to politicize after trashing Gore and Hollywood liberals?

Posted by: Jim 7 on January 29, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,

Yep, that Alaskan oil might be worth a hell of a lot more in the future. So, let's burn it now to get to the mall.

Posted by: yesh on January 29, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Everytime there is a major disaster anywhere in the world such as in Pakistan and Indonesia the USA Military is there quickly and in a big way and usually has Australia with them. Where is Canada?

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 12:03 PM

As I recall Canada was in the Gulf Coast states PDQ after Katrina - in some places quicker than US agencies. Where was Australia then? Maybe the geographic distance had something to do with it? Um, so does that mean that Canada's geographic distance to the Indian Ocean have something to do with Australia being more visible there?

For the record, Canada contributed significant financial resources to tsunami relief, and the Canadian Forces DART (Disaster Assistance Relief Team) was stationed in Sri Lanka for several months.

The invisibility of Canada in the USA has more to do with the American MSM's insularity that with Canada's lack of action.

Posted by: Joe Canuck on January 29, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

In a world of chaos, I find it strangely comforting to see the trolls roll out on this thread to shout their same-old, miss-the-point arguments! *sigh* If it were a 5K race, the scientists would have lapped the conservatives, and the conservatives, thinking the conservatives were winning, would be snottily pointing out that the scientists were not dribbling the ball.

Two interconnected global crises are converging--global warming and peak oil. The consequences for humankind are grave. And, at least in the US, conservative political dogma is incapable of dealing with either. This is not a threat to humankind that will be solved by voluntary individual choice, a cynical attitude that government IS the problem, Christian dogma, military might and profit-based free markets.

Matthew Simmons--the conservative energy consultant who has been warning of peak oil for some time-- takes heart from history, from WW2. He observes that the allies were able to go from doormat to victors between 1939 and 1945 by extraordinary national efforts. He believes we could wean ourselves off oil (which would reduce carbon emissions) by a comparable effort.

Such an effort would involve, among other things...
1) respecting scientific thinking and not suppressing findings for political reasons
2) a four-year Manhattan project to develop sustainable, non-carbon-based energy sources;
3) a brazillion-dollar retrofitting of homes, businesses and factories to use sustainable energy
4) investment in transportation such as solar-run vehicles and incentives for bicyling and walking
5) a national values-based conversation about how to adapt our society to this radically altered environment. We need to agree on how to preserve what is most deeply satisfying to every one of us--our families, communities, our peaceful neighborhoods, our health, our liberties.

The US could lead the way for the rest of the world, if we chose. But the first problem is accepting that we are facing a threat. It took 9/11 to wake Americans up to the threat of fundamentalist extremism. What event that will make Americans "see" the environmental catastophe?

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 29, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine that you rewired the thermostat of your house so that the hotter it got, the more heat your furnace pumped out. This would be a positive feedback loop, where X increases Y increases X, etc, etc.

Measurements from Mauna Loa of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere have been steadily increasing for the past 50 years. But measurments over the last four years show that the increase is no longer steady; it is accelerating. A graph of the last four years would not show the straight line increase seen since the 50s, but a curve sloping upward.

In other words, since the 50s, CO2 has been driving global warming; now, global warming is driving CO2. The loop has been closed, positively.

The struggle for the future is behind us: we are PAST the tipping point. The upward slope of the CO2 curve is the first hill of the global thermal rollercoaster, and we're all gonna take the ride.

Posted by: Martin Richard on January 29, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

"This is not a threat to humankind that will be solved by voluntary individual choice, a cynical attitude that government IS the problem, Christian dogma, military might and profit-based free markets."

there isn't a single problem able to be solved with conservative/republican/fundamentalist dogma. Their dogma is exactly a result of their inability to comprehend and find solutions for modern problems that they hide in their fantasy reality of a mythical, nirvanaesk past. They are frightened people hunkering down in an imaginery world. Its why they are so violent to alternative ideas - such ideas expose and blow their house of cards to smitherines.

Posted by: yowzer on January 29, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

One thing to worry about it whether the neocons, in their extreme, no second thoughts manner, have a Plan to control global warming with -- you guessed it -- Nuclear Winter.

Posted by: Zandru on January 29, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

What a superb juxtaposition of posts - global warming and running out of oil.

Earth will heal herself with or - most probably - without us.

More power to her.

Posted by: CaliforniaDrySherry on January 29, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone here mentioned biodiesel as one alternative? I don't know much about it, but what I have read certainly sounded like it was at least worth taking a much more serious look.

Posted by: Ringo on January 29, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

contentious: "Quit the Quixotic attempts to block all Bush's court nominees ...."

It isn't the loss of abortion rights that has me worried about Alito-it is his support for the imperial presidency (rather than a strong federal government with checks & balances), support for states rights over national interests and for corporate interests over individual ones.

For example, Alito comes from a line of legal reasoning that says, eg, that the Constitution does not give the federal government the right to protect workers in unsafe workplaces or provide a social safety net. Unfortunately, global warming does not constrain itself to local jurisdictions. Environmental issues require a national and international response, not piecemeal local ones. For example, recent SCOTUS rulings on wetland preservation gave greater control to local developers. In the absence of the birds-eye view of the environment, eg, if my town decides to develop the banks of the Mississippi in certain ways, the towns downstream get more flooding every spring. If my state decides not to invest in sustainable energy, your state's efforts to reduce carbon emissions will be less effective.

I hate to think that the SCOTUS would start interpreting the Constitution so ideologically, ruling in ways that would shackle our ability to respond to environmental threats.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 29, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about nuclear winter, but the PNAC document does have a line about supporting research for biological weapons that target race specific genes.

Any human being who is not inherently evil will decide not to support the neocons just on the basis of their desire for developing weapons for genocide of a specific race. It follows, therefore, that the people who support these guys are either ignorant or indeed inherently evil.

Posted by: lib on January 29, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and congrats to the geniuses who bitch and moan about blaming Bush for anything(because we all know that he's not responsible for anything bad ever), then turn around and blame it on Al Gore and some comments he made about Canada.

And you wingnuts wonder why we think you're all morons.

Posted by: Ringo on January 29, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

We haven't reached the tipping point; we've gone past it.

The issue isn't preventing widescale deforestation in the northern temperate zones, extinction of cold-water fish species, and the disappearance of the Gulf Stream causing severe weather changes among countries in and on the Atlantic in the next 20-40 years.

Those are going to happen. It's a done deal.

The only issue remaining is how bad it gets after that.

My prognosis? There will be a dramatic decrease in the human population starting in 30 years, due to extreme weather, loss of growing lands and season, and the inevitable socio-economic-political reactions thereto. I have no idea what effect any of the current geopolitical upheavals will have on that - but I suspect it'll be along the lines of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic; i.e., trivial in the greater scheme of things.

From 2050-2100 things will be very bad. A lot of coastlines, with their huge metropoli, will have been lost. People will frantically relocate inland, the need for cities conflicting with the need to preserve arable land for agricultural purposes. New diseases, caused by the release of microbes previously frozen or inert or isolated, will appear in multiple waves as the released microbes mutate. Oil-based products (plastics, food, medical equipment) will vanish or become hugely expensive, leading to further dislocations in food production, storage, and distribution. And so on.

After 2100, things will settle down because there just won't be all that many humans, and human cities, left. I'm not sure which countries will emerge the least unscathed; hell, by 2100 I'm not sure which countries will still be around. (I wouldn't be surprised, for example, if the US sundered into three or four superstates, fighting over still-viable agricultural terrority.)

I'm so glad I don't have kids. And I'm kind of glad my health isn't so great; I'm not likely to be around when the serious shit hits the fan.

Posted by: CaseyL on January 29, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Something else to consider is, while not cutting out driving cars altogether, move closer to the urban areas where many people work, so you're cutting way back on commuting time each day and maybe using more public transportation.

Posted by: Ringo on January 29, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Martin Richard
The struggle for the future is behind us: we are PAST the tipping point. The upward slope of the CO2 curve is the first hill of the global thermal rollercoaster, and we're all gonna take the ride.

I agree, and now I'm just trying to figure out how to make money off of it. I'm thinking coastal property in mid-Florida.

We all believe in evolution here, right? Let's just hope the ensuing natural catastrophes will kill off the stupid people so we can do some eugenics on a global scale. I'm building an underground shelter, and women will be invited to stay based on their "br-r-r-eeeeding p-r-r-r-oclivity."

Personally, I am also thinking of starting a religious cult where God has ordered us to build a spaceship and establish a colony on Mars. think about it. The Mormons could easily afford to go to Mars, and it's not that much different from Utah.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 29, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

The invisibility of Canada in the USA has more to do with the American MSM's insularity that with Canada's lack of action.

No doubt the MSM did not focus on Canada in Indonesia but there were summaries of the ships in the region and Canada was not represented. The Canadian people are as generous an any. Steyns point wasn't the lack of aid. Canada maintains supplies for emergencies and always stands ready to donate them. Steyns point was in their inability to deliver the aid when and where they are most needed.

So degraded is Canada's military capability and so dependent on the USA for defense they cannot react quickly. The same is equally true of France and Germany. In 25 years Canada has gone from punching well above their weight to not punching at all.

Another amazing irony of Kyoto and the Canadian -American relationship is that the GW folk have effectively stopped drilling in ANWR and virtually all other promising sites in the USA. So now Canada digs. The Tar Sands might be the filthiest source of energy in the world. Canada had no shot at coming close to it's Kyoto limits anyway but this makes it espeially embarrasing. The moronic distortions in Kyoto not only resulted in a massive manufacturing migration to the 3rd world but also a transfer of energy sources for the US consumer from oil and natural gas to Canadian Tar Sands filth. Canada is polluting for the American consumer.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

When I lived in Pittsburgh, maybe it wasn't the typical city, but there were many nice neighborhoods within the city limits, I lived right around the corner from a grocery store, took the bus to work downtown, and rarely drove my car when I would visit people out of town. Other than that, I really didn't need it. I never really had any concerns about my safety, although there were definitely some areas where you knew not to wander at night.
One woman I worked with, who was about 24 at the time, had never even learned how to drive, because she grew up in the city and never really needed a car.
Hopefully I'll get back to a similar situation soon, and I think more people need to consider it. Of course, if these doomsday scenarios come to pass, I don't know what will happen.

Posted by: Ringo on January 29, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN, I was thinking about strategies for the Democrats to win more elections. You wrote: It isn't the loss of abortion rights that has me worried about Alito-it is his support for the imperial presidency (rather than a strong federal government with checks & balances), support for states rights over national interests and for corporate interests over individual ones.

As far as I can tell, where the Democrats part company with Alito he is closer to the "mainstream" than the Democrats are. He demonstrated this in his confirmation hearings. By next Oct he will have written some opinions that 70%-80% of Americans admire, and the filibuster by the Democrats will make them look even more foolish than they did on tv.


For example, recent SCOTUS rulings on wetland preservation gave greater control to local developers. In the absence of the birds-eye view of the environment, eg, if my town decides to develop the banks of the Mississippi in certain ways, the towns downstream get more flooding every spring. If my state decides not to invest in sustainable energy, your state's efforts to reduce carbon emissions will be less effective.

We do have a federal system. Perhaps you might want to work for some constitutional ammendments to address these policy issues. The court doesn't really have the authority to decide every policy issue. For example, the courts might decide that Intelligent Design is based on religion, so it can't be supported by tax money; the court can not actually mandate the teaching of evolution or genetics in high school biology.

As for the "imperial presidency" -- that's an apparition. Whether bush broke the law will be adjudicated, but there is a substantial case that he did not.

Back to the issue of winning elections: filibustering Alito will probably satisfy the Democratic donors but reduce the vote for those who try to filibuster. Democratic senators in the Red States and in the Gang of 14 are not going to do it. Every Democratic senator up for re-election will be morphed on tv into Ted Kennedy, who set new records for incoherence in the hearings. All you'll get is another Deaniac flameout.

Posted by: contentious on January 29, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

The Objective Historian wrote:

If emissions are the cause of the rise in temperatures and if emissions have been on the rise since the onset of the Industrial Revolution (circa 1850), why then did temperatures go down from 1850-1920 and remain constant from 1940-1980? It's called science; you need to prove a theory with data, not a one-off correlation 1980-2005. If emissions were the cause of the temperature increases over the last 25 years, there should have indeed been the highest increase from 1940-1980 when the world, the U.S.A. inparticular, boomed industrially, i.e., accelearted in terms of fossil fuel consumption and industrial production.

Well?

The Objective Historian

*** The CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa has risen from 314-315 in 1958 to the current ~375 parts per
million. The preindustrial concentration was around 280. So, most of the CO2 increase and concomitant long wave forcing has been in the last 45-50 years. The warming is just beginning Objective Historian.

neutrino

Posted by: neutrino on January 29, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

contentious

it is futile to worry about what kind of tv ads will be shown by republicans if democrats do this or that.

Like many moderate and centrist democrats you are under the delusion that if the Democratic leaders are just so polite in their dealings with the Republicans, the GOP will suddenly be transformed into a Buddhist monastery that will talk about brotherhood and peace, and will not say anything nasty about the dems.

Posted by: lib on January 29, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

So sad that in this entire discussion, only tbrosz has mentioned wind power.

Wind power is the only direct form of greenhouse effect mitigation, extracting as it does energy directly from the atmosphere.

Posted by: JamesP on January 29, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm becoming convinced we're dead. It's already too late.

My efforts are going to be focused on building a long term shelter so that I (or descendants) can stay mostly in it until the effects of the weather stabalize a bit. I'd say... oh in about 2150 after the environment collapses in the 2030s.

Someone should probably backup the wikipedia somehow so that when civilization is reduced to nothing we can still access what we were and rebuild quicker.

Posted by: MNPundit on January 29, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN: In a world of chaos, I find it strangely comforting to see the trolls roll out on this thread to shout their same-old, miss-the-point arguments!

Which arguments do you believe miss the point? Do you always think there is only ONE point? Is all disagreement "shouting"?

Posted by: contentious on January 29, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

jamesP.

Wind power is no free lunch. Windmills kill birds and even the Kennedy's consider them eyesores.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Whether bush broke the law will be adjudicated, but there is a substantial case that he did not.

Actually there's a very substantial case that he did, and many Republicans and conservatives agree.

With stupid statements like that, you really shouldn't be surprised that people don't take you seriously. Then again, considering your mental state, you'll probably continue to wonder.

Posted by: Ringo on January 29, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Wind power is no free lunch. Windmills kill birds and even the Kennedy's consider them eyesores.

Is that actually your argument against wind power, or just another strawman?

Of course, you'd probably rather use every type of polluting fossil fuel before ever considering such a sensible alternative. Well, I just assume you believe, that based on the views of some conservative Senator like Ted Steven or Cornyn, you're all the same. (see how this works?)

Posted by: Ringo on January 29, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

If you want the facts, check out the speech James Hansen gave in December (http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/). He lays out the case succintly, and makes three simple points. First, we are near the tipping point, but we still have time to restrain warming to a level that will not be ruinous to the health of the planet as a whole. Second, if we wish to avoid the 2-3C warming that many predict in a business-as-usual scenario, we must not build a new infrastructure of power plants, and especially must not build new coal plants. And third, we need leadership on this issue in this country. Thoughtful people of all stripes can agree with these points; look at tbrosz. Sounds to me like he's about there already.

Bitterness and despair and that sort of psychodrama is always available to us; let's not give in to that. Let's focus on the issue, pay attention to people who want to act on it (even if they come from the other side of the aisle, like McCain) and save the freaking planet from disaster.

Posted by: Kit Stolz on January 29, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

The US could lead the way for the rest of the world, if we chose. But the first problem is accepting that we are facing a threat. It took 9/11 to wake Americans up to the threat of fundamentalist extremism. What event that will make Americans "see" the environmental catastophe?

The USA IS leading the way. They led by dismissing Kyoto as a disaster. It is a disaster. They are leading by creating the Asian-Pacific partnership and taking pollution control out of the hands of the UN/EU bureaucrats. This is too serious to leave to them.

The environmental disaster isn't in the USA. It's in the 3rd world and some 1st world energy producers such as Canada. Kyoto mandated a massive manufacturing capacity transfer to the 3rd world before they were ready to receive it. China's cities are now smog-laden. The USAs cities are cleaner that ever and getting cleaner every day. Richard Nixon's EPA is entering it's 4th decade of cleanup and control. Our air is getting cleaner. Our water is getting cleaner and our land is getting cleaner. Plus we are improving in the science and technology of cleaning up cheaply and effectively.

Our are leading and we are well ahead.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Martin Richard: Thanks for pointing out what a 'tipping point' is. It's the point(s) at which natural geophysical processes take place which accelerate global warming regardless of what human beings do in the next 20 to 30 years. Examples of tipping points that have been reached so far include: partial thawing of the huge Siberian peat fields in which methane can be seen bubbling to the surface and hence into the atmosphere; loss of Arctic ice and snow leading to absorption of heat and further melting; thawing of arctic permafrost releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. Does anyone know what percentage of warming these feedback loops contribute to global warming compared to the human/fossil fuel contribution on a yearly basis now? Is it a trivial amount or a meaningful percentage?

Posted by: nepeta on January 29, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Is that actually your argument against wind power, or just another strawman?

I'm a fan of wind. I merely point out it has drawbacks and migratory birds are one major drawback. The fact the Kennedy's and Cronkites are saying 'not in my backyard' just proves these things can't be easily situated.

Also note that even Wind Power optimists are not suggesting wind can provide more than 5% to 10% of US needs. We don't have wind everywhere and we don't have it all the time. The batteries needed to use wind also present a significant disposal issue.

I think we need to use everything especially nuclear but also clean burning coal, solar, wind and large improvements in design to lessen demand. Scientific American devoted an entire issue this past year suggesting we could reduce energy comsumption over 40% using mostly off the shelf technologies. We have not has a serious push for conservation since the late 80's and really since the late 70's. Since then we're seen significant advances in technology, materials, design, etc.

Last year demand for energy dropped nearly 1.5% on top of a 3.5% increase in GDP. This is a very significant increase in energy productivity. The market works. The number of hybrids offered now is more than 5x's a few years before and it'll soon by 50x's. These changes and others might serve to cap gasoline demand for decades as the fleet gets replaced with higher MPG models.

Wind will help. But that's all.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Whether bush broke the law will be adjudicated, but there is a substantial case that he did not.
***
Actually there's a very substantial case that he did, and many Republicans and conservatives agree.

Just so. Hence the need for adjudication: two substantial cases. PTate in MN appears to believe that Alito can be counted on to rule in Bush's favor, and that it would be a disaster that has to be prevented. I think that Alito's vote can't be predicted and is unlikely to lead to disaster. The US has always bounced back democratically after presidential excesses, and will this time, whether this is judged an excess or not.

Posted by: contentious on January 29, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think democrats need to stand up and tell the republicans," We'll drill in ANWR and make more nuke power if we simultaneously spend more on alternative energy sources, conservation, and policy changes to encourage/shove us in the right direction."

Repubs should be simultaneously doing the same thing from their side. It's smart for foreign policy, it's smart for global warming, and it's smart as a new engine of innovation other than the traditional one (war).

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 29, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ringo,

Hate to disappoint but this case is not going to the Supreme Court. Bush has a great case but more important he has public opinion solidly behind him. The last thing the Democrats can afford is to keep on looking weak on national security and that is exactly what they're doing. They'll have hearings after Alito is approved and make a deal with Bush to allow it.

There's nothing the can do, especially with Alito on the court. If they charge ahead and file a lawsuit (not easy to do) they take the substantial risk of handing GWB a very important victory. Such a victory would be historic and very positive for Bush. The record since Nixon has been an erosion of Presidential power. GWB will have reversed that.

Oddly, if the Democrats do nothing it will still codify the program to an extent and GWB still gets credit for expanding Presidential Power. This is why he's been so aggressive. He is practically begging Reid to do something about it.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike - but that would require that both sides decide to screw their donors = not this generation of politicians!

Posted by: Matt on January 29, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, if you keep Alioto out of there, suddenly all the CO2 will go away.

Another thread, another straw man argument by tbrosz.

Get back to work on nuclear power plants in the U.S.

I vote we keep the nuclear waste in tbrosz' backyard.

As for the rest of your "suggestions," tbrosz, let me clue you in. When you spout of the kind of dishonest argumentation you do, you're going to find people will tend to tune you out even when you choose to be serious for a change.

Posted by: Gregory on January 29, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory
As for the rest of your "suggestions," tbrosz, let me clue you in. When you spout of the kind of dishonest argumentation you do, you're going to find people will tend to tune you out even when you choose to be serious for a change.

Hey, don't keep us in the dark, point out in each of his ideas what is dishonest. For example, I'm dying to find out what that lying bastard actually meant when he wrote "Continue research on fusion and other long-range alternatives. Also the shorter-range ones, like thin-film solar cells."

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 29, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kit Stolz referred to "the planet as a whole", but I think, actually meant the biosphere as a whole. Nearly the entire planet, less some fraction of a percent, is rock and iron core. But it's its infinitessimally thin veneer that means so much to us!

Posted by: Zandru on January 29, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

"First, we would not accept a treaty that would not have been ratified, nor a treaty that I thought made sense for the country."

George W. Bush, on the Kyoto accord, April 24, 2001

Posted by: cld on January 29, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Was just about to plant something about ethanol but I see Tbrosz beat me to it.

There's some excellent new research that demonstrates that ethanol is economically superior to petroleum, certainly politically superior, and is no more harmful to the environment than gasoline, and possilby less.

Because of the way this technology could be developed to utilize a wide variety of plant products this could be a serious industry in just a few years,

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-01/uoc--ecr012306.php

Posted by: cld on January 29, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Climate change is something we really need to start become much more concerned about politically, as a society, and as a civilization.

We always think linearly, but the worst-case scenario is a very rapid nonlinear progression that leads to unpredictable results and likely "catastrophe". The climate system is moving away from equilibrium, and we shouldn't risk continuing to push it towards potentially dangerous bifurcations - "rogue attractors" if you will - that accelerate outside our control into catastrophic phase transitions.

What's so bad?

First, throughout civilization, population and the economy have been most concentrated and vibrant around the coastlines, harbors, etc. Even today, this trend continues in many important and critical ways. Not only would these populations and centers of culture and economy be severely impacted and uprooted in the case of a warming shift that raises sea levels, they would also be in a more unpredictable fashion vulnerable to the more spectacular weather "events" like hurricanes as the waters warm up.

Second, climate zones would likely change far more rapidly than indigenous species, whether fauna or flora, to adapt and thrive. This will be a severe dislocation, especially in the case of forests, plants, and crops. Our belief in our ability to genetically engineer will not save us in this instance, or justify the cost even if it could (as opposed to taking sensible measures to preserve, protect and value natural goods and services we enjoy today - to replace all these ourselves would be a more expensive project than all the projects ever conducted on the planet to date).

Third, these impacts will obviously come down much harder on those who are not affluent, and are least able to defend themselves, either with their own resources, or strong social, cultural, and political resources. These people will also be much less capable of uprooting themselves in a way that does not devastate them in terms of their finances.

Fourth, and less important but still a critical consideration for economists, is that not only are we behind on acknowledging and addressing climate change, but we are way behind the curve in dealing with business and consumer aspects of this emerging consensus. Through innovative private-public partnerships between business and government, countries like Japan and Germany are way ahead of us in researching, developing, and producing consumer products (automobiles being the most obvious example) that will obviously dominate in a sane world.

Posted by: Jimm on January 29, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

"As you may know, there is no single poll of scientists, just as there is no specific poll of wingnuts such as yourself, yet we still have a good idea of the dimwitted opinions you hold. There is, however, the accumulated opinion of:
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the American Meteorological Society, the National Research Council, the national science academies of most of the civilized world including our own National Academy of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a host of surveys of climatologists, geophysicists, and other scientists in this country and the rest of the world, etc., etc., etc., all available with the simple click of a mouse."
--R Porofatto.

I call BS on this statement. Show me the links, and quote the specific references to such consensus, and how the determination that such a consensus exists was made. You can't do it because no such consensus exists.

From Kevin's article.

"David Warrilow, who heads science policy on climate change for Britain's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that while the science remains unsettled, his government has decided to take a precautionary approach." -- Washington Post

The precautionary principle is logically contradictory, and adhering to it would, ironically, be foolhardy. Yet this seems to be the only argument made in the article.


There is no point talking about the article in question, because it is a complete nothingburger.


The NYT article today was much better.

"Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him"

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/science/earth/29climate.html?hp&ex=1138597200&en=df8f81d4867a2143&ei=5094&partner=homepage

You've got Bush trying to silence Dr. Hanson. It seemed like a no brainer for red meat for Kevin to feed his simpleton minions. And the article had at least references to actual scientific content.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 29, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Taking the Drexel Hill Dimwit seriously - Hmmmmm,

You mean the clown who derided Senator Kerry for hanging out with the ritzy, elite crowd at Davos last week, but failed to mention Condi Rice and Saxby Chambliss speaking to and attending the World Economic Forum at the same time.

"Ritzy" - You mean all of the Chinese and Indian executives. As Daivd Ignatius wrote: "There are more Chinese, Indians and Arabs every year (at the WEF), and less of an American presence. U.S. investment banks, technologists and venture capitalists many have the spawned the globalization movement, bu it has now flowted free. The deal-makers come from all over the world."

They weren't there for the fine skiing alone - Google the latest WEF and read the list of the various financial ministers and financial movers and shakers (Bill Gates, anyone) - So, DHD, stuff that "ritzy" label unless you also want to deride Rice and Chambliss as well.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 29, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

I no longer read the Washington Post. For any reason.

Posted by: rose of Charon on January 29, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

"I no longer read the Washington Post. For any reason."

Good thinking, the less information you take in, the more certain you can be of your postitions.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 29, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Its amusing to read the suggestions about how technology may save us from an unhappy fate brought about by climate change. Maybe technology will allow us to continue a bit further along the arc were on now. But there is some point at which our species will have to radically adjust the way it lives on the planet. The end of cheap oil is not the only shortage we will face in the future.

If we extrapolate current trends for natural resources that billions of our species consume on an annual basis, we can see there will be a point where there arent enough natural resources left to support the current lifestyle for billions of humans.

Maybe it wont be in our lifetimes or in this century but humanity will reach that point someday and even our technology probably will not enable us to sustain the current mode of living. Should we start preparing for that eventuality now? I dont know but its something we need to keep in mind.

But, then again, maybe nature will intervene before weve exhausted all the resources it has provided us to use. Nature has reshaped the earth many times over the past 4 billion years, moved continents around, changed the climate and replaced species many times over that period. The current condition of the earth is not the final outcome.

Nature allowed dinosaurs to be the apex species for about 200 million years while humans have been the apex species for only thousands of years. But nature doesnt guarantee us that humans will be allowed a 200 million-year reign ours might be considerably shorter. Its ironic that we may be hastening that end with our current mode of living.

While we ought to be good stewards of the earth during our reign and our survival instinct demands we try everything we can to keep our species thriving, its not totally within our control. Nature gets the deciding vote and we dont know when it will cast its vote and how dramatic the outcome will be. Still, it seems wiser to be prudent than profligate, doesnt it?

Posted by: Taobhan on January 29, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Neutrino . . .

But that still does not explain the data.

WHY WAS THERE NO INCREASE IN TEMPERATURES BETWEEN 1940-1980? AND WHY WAS THERE A DECREASE BETWEEN 1850-1920?

You specific example serves merely as data points and are relevant, but only when used with all other data points. The recent correlation still does not explain why temperatures did not rise between 1940-1980. There is no question C02 accumulation is increasing, but it was also increasing from 1940-1960. The data does not match the hypothesis at all. If you took a graph of C02 levels and temperature increases, they would not match other than, for arguments sake, from 1980-2006. For there to be cause and effect, they should match since 1850. If you are going to rely on science, it is expected that you be scientific, not hysterical.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on January 29, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

IT'S CALLED SCIENCE.

In fact, if C02, etc. were the cause, should it not be hotter according to the putative correlation? Scientifically there is no basis for blaming emissions for global warming.

I REPEAT, LOOKING AT THE DATA FOR THE PAST 150 YEARS, THERE IS NO BASIS FOR BLAMING EMISSIONS FOR GLOBAL WARMING.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on January 29, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Objective Historian, I'll trust the arguments of the tens of thousands of objective scientists who claim the evidence is there, and who have publicly done so (not like some anonymous poster with a ridiculous nomme).

Posted by: Jimm on January 29, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa...way too far behind now. Just a couple of comments:

Matt:

I can't believe you mentioned ethanol, though! What a waste of land and effort for such an inefficient source of energy (if you are even on the side of the debate that believes it is a net energy source)

The article I cited showed that there may be practical ways to use cellulose plant waste to make ethanol. This is the crap left over when you take the food away, or maybe weeds, wood chips, and scrub plants. Unlike ethanol from corn or other high-maintenance food crops, this might easily pay for itself and be able to produce large amounts of fuel.

Thanks for the clarification on sequestering carbon. Some methods may be practical. I agree that we should avoid major environmental kicks in the pants like dropping iron filings into the ocean. That's like fixing a TV by hitting it with a hammer. It might work, but it stands a good chance of making something worse.

***

Eric:

Pray for a plague and hope it's a big one.

I have yet to see a single environmentalist who thinks the population ought to be drastically reduced jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.

***

R.Porrofatto:

I agree that some form of nuclear energy must be part of any solution, but I also think we will need some strong government oversight to ensure that it isn't the economic boondoggle and managerial disaster that it was here back in the 70s.

I have no objections to strong government oversight, for the same reasons as I have no objections to rigid legal requirements for trucks that go down the highway filled with gasoline. I would not even have problems with standardizing designs, although that raises the threat of excluding better ideas.

Ideally, nuclear power plants would be co-located with reprocessing facilities and waste storage on isolated military-type sites with the same security they now use to protect stored atom bombs. This largely eliminates transport issues.

The bad news is that such isolated places would be quite distant from the power end users, and result in big losses from transmission. Something like superconducting power lines, or using the power to crack hydrogen from water and piping that around, would completely change the picture.

I wonder where we would be in solar production now if the government had taken some of the advice of scientists decades ago (mostly liberal environmentalists, thus ignored) and infused real money into photovoltaic research and production.

They did. The result was the high-efficiency super cells that you see in satellites and space probes. If the government designed a TV, it would be sixty inches across, high-definition, use little power, get two million channels, and cost four hundred thousand dollars.

It eventually takes the private sector to bring this tech to the rest of us, and they're doing it. The cost of photovoltaics is dropping like a rock, and I'm hoping for a more positive "tipping point" in the near future.

***

opit:

Thanks for the Ezra Klein heads up. I remember his excellent work in discussing medical care systems around the world.

***

Red State Mike:

I think democrats need to stand up and tell the republicans," We'll drill in ANWR and make more nuke power if we simultaneously spend more on alternative energy sources, conservation, and policy changes to encourage/shove us in the right direction."

I'd stand up and be willing to trade raising auto mileage standards for drilling in ANWR, or something along those lines. Both would have to be reasonable--don't wreck the auto industry, and don't drill up the entire reserve. Most of these arguments have gone long past reason and are mostly about denying an opponent a political victory.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 29, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Well, well, humor in unexpected places, albeit gallows humor of a sort, as I see some of the trollers exulting in an anticipated Bush victory over the law. Geez, isn't that kind of servile, guys?

Safety Warning for trolls- discussion isn't bumper cars. I see some of you are zinging around in your heads like a supernatural handball in a court with no player. If you can see Bush on the telly when the set isn't plugged in, seek professional help.

For the woman who wondered if the scientists had forgotten to put thermometers in cornfields, where it is colder- uh, nooooo.....

It's really very simple, y'see- we took billions of tons of carbon out of the earth and put it in the atmosphere. Try and grasp the fact that it actually happened before attempting denial.

Or not, if you're getting paid by the word and need the money. I don't want to break anyone's rice bowl.

For anyone realistically discussing GW, being vegetarian will make a big difference. I'm not a vegetarian, and don't want to be one, but one sure bet is that by 2150 humans will be vegetarians- or cannibals. Could be a photo finish.

Posted by: serial catowner on January 29, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

You mean the clown who derided Senator Kerry for hanging out with the ritzy, elite crowd at Davos last week, but failed to mention Condi Rice and Saxby Chambliss speaking to and attending the World Economic Forum at the same time.


3rd PAUL,

Condi and Saxby are not lecturing the great unwashed on conservation.

BTW: Nothing happens at Davos. It's a meeting of has beens and wannabes. In the USA it's become repulsive. Why do you think the alternative media went to such great lengths to make sure everyone knew Lurch was calling from the slopes at Davos? Europe just isn't what it used to be. Condi and Saxby were there to check out the real estate market. We're selling all that State Dept space we won't be needing after we complete our 80% downsizing.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

rdw,

Thanks for your comments.

It is refreshing to be kept up to date on the opinions of the mentally ill.

Posted by: obscure on January 29, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

I call BS on this statement. Show me the links, and quote the specific references to such consensus, and how the determination that such a consensus exists was made. You can't do it because no such consensus exists.

tool,

I would be ashamed if I was a big a fool as yourself.

Posted by: obscure on January 29, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sound policy with ANWR is to do exploration with 3D seismic first (light equipment, shallow boreholes and explosives, no boomer trucks, let biologists pick timing) and then make a decision about whether to lease the whole thing. Congress and your average voter should make informed decisions.

As for our auto industry, they appear to be killing themselves. The fact that they only turn a profit on high-end 5-ton SUVs and trucks is not a good sign for their future. Even without Pelosi and "ecoterrorists" with baseball bats -- 1) Chinese manufacturers could undercut their prices and 2) high oil prices will eventually drive down demand for low fuel efficiency vehicles. At best we become a home to specialty manufacturers that focuses on branding. At worst we outsource these companies too and just keep the business offices.

Posted by: B on January 29, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Gates - A has been or a wannabe? Tough to decide. Must ponder!

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 29, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Also note that even Wind Power optimists are not suggesting wind can provide more than 5% to 10% of US needs.

This is a terrribly false myth, especially on a grid the size of North America's. Wind farms on just 3% of U.S. farmland could satisfy 100% of U.S. electrical demand, including shaping and the transmission losses from windy areas to the calm southeast. Shaping for calm periods, done with long-distance transmission and existing hydroelectric plants using pumped storage, usually only involves a 20% premium.

Wind power has become so inexpensive that even the 80% premium for electrolsys/fuel cell storage puts the cost at just over the next least expensive form of new power generation, coal. Stationary fuel cells are real and practical, unlike mobile fuel cells which just aren't practical yet and may never be.

The idea that modern wind turbines kill birds is horribly out of date. Thirty years ago when the tiny 25 kilowatt turbines were installed in Altamont pass, they did kill plenty of raptors. These days, much larger multi-megawatt turbines turn much more slowly and kill less than 1/100th fewer birds per installed acre than housecats.

Sure, some people think wind turbines are ugly. I think asthma is ugly. The choice is clear.

Wind is not a free ride, but it is by far the best decision. It shouldn't be increasing at 37% per year, there should be a TVA-scale project to replace existing plants at the rate of no less than 10% of all generation per year.

And we need modular regargable battery packs for cars that can be replaced and recharged at service stations. Then we can essentially all get electric vehicles, and problem solved.

Sure, this would all cost a few trillion. But it would be well worth it.

Posted by: JamesP on January 29, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

kill less than 1/100th fewer birds per installed acre than housecats

Wow, that's a great statistic. What does it mean?

Posted by: B on January 29, 2006 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Melior--even if the Democrats win all 435 House seats and all 33-34 Senate seats, Cheney's notes are "executive privileged." So saith the(all genuflect) SUPREME COURT. 8 to 0 I believe it was--even the ones Cheney didn't take duck hunting.

Posted by: lee on January 29, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Actually Bill Clinton delivered a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week - It is available at their web site.

Right you are Drexel Hill Dimwit - There sure were a lot of has beens and wannabes at the Forum - Let us scan a few of the washed up crowd:

Paul Wolfowitz of the World Bank
The CEOs and Presidents of:
Phizer, Mellon Financial Corp, Saudi Aramco, Dow Jones, Citi Group, Coca-Cola, Motorola, New York Stock Exchange, Lucent Tech, Intel, Corp, Google, Inc, The Carlyle Group, Dell, JP MorganChase, Monsanto, Steve Forbes of Forbes, Inc, Merck & Co, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (PRC), various People's Republic of China Oil and Chemical Groups, KT Corp of Korea, several Russian consortiums, the Minister of Commerce and Industry for India, Rupert Murdoch's son ------------

The list goes on and on and is endless for losers, has beens and wannabes.
Sally's International - You know, the Salvation Army set up a soup kitchen for the group.
Don't know why they slighted National Review Online - Sally's serves all losers, Dimwit, unless you are gay - Perhaps that is why NRO was left out.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 29, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

JamesP,

I hope you are correct but I don't see it. If in fact it is so cheap we should see wind farms growing all over the place. By your logic there is a ton of money to be made and we don't lack investment capital or the entranprenural spirit.

The Scientific American report I referred to was a special environmental issue dated Sept 05. They are very positive on wind but still only allocate a small slice of total production. It was an extremely optimistic article suggesting dramatic reductions in energy demand are possible using off the shelf technologies.

For example in the auto industry they have the ability to produce much better composites at lighter weight with the same strength as steel. They can also produce thinner steel with lighter weight and the same strength in todays cars. We have two competing technologies which can produce significant weight savings with no cost increases or safety issues. Interestingly one of the Steel companies recently announced they were building a new plant in Mississippi to produce this steel. The market is getting price signals and responding rather quickly. Newer models will be getting progressively lighter and require smaller engines and significantly better mileage.

The SA article was more positive on fuel cell technology for cars. They expect the decrease in weight, engine size and other design improvements to reduce power demands such that fuel cells can also be small and safe. If you are interested I'd encourage you to read the issue. It was incredibly optimistc.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

3rd Paul,

I take a back seat to no one in my admiration of Bill Gates but neither he nor microsoft are driving the bus anymore. He was just named Time's person of the year but it had nothing to do with business.

Bill will never be a has been so I stand corrected. However he's not there making business deals. It's an ego feast. It's all eye candy of one form or another at an unimaginably ostentatious level. The high and mighty go to be seen as one of the beautiful people. This is where Eason Jordan went last year to lose his job.

There's no question it's for the uber-rich. That's why the connection of Lurch - filibuster -Davos was made constantly. Doesn't it just scream 'insufferable elitist'?

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

3rd paul,

Bill Clinton is the description of has-been. The man is so desperate for attention he's trolling to become the leader of the liberal world. Why not? They're just as desperate.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton's speech in Davos was on climate change.

Also glad to know that the UberRich include so many Russians, Chinese from the PRC and people from the government and corporations of India - Wonder how they became so rich?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 29, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

3rd Paul,

Why wouldn't there be rich Asians? Russians, Chinese and Indians are all former socialists. We have 100 years of history proving socialists are the biggest thieves in the world. The higher one is the more to steal and the richer.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

I hope you are correct but I don't see it.

There are a lot of things you don't see, rdw.

And the funny thing is, you don't see them, so you don't see that you don't see them...

Is that an infinite regression?

Posted by: Lawrence of Arabia on January 29, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Just a note: Wikepedia, for what that's worth, says wind generator cost per unit power has been decreasing by about four percent per year. Might be a tipping point coming up there, too.

Sometimes I wonder what the wind generator industry would look like now if the government-subsidized rural electric programs hadn't killed it off in the 1940s. Kind of like the rail industry if the government wasn't subsidizing automobiles...

Posted by: tbrosz on January 29, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, some people think wind turbines are ugly. I think asthma is ugly.

Well put.

The choice is clear.

Indeed.

Posted by: Jimm on January 29, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton's speech in Davos was on climate change.

Bill is my exhibit A as to how one can have one of the finest brains ever and yet still be a fool. Bill gave an impassioned speech at a Kyoto meeting in Canada a month or two back that was just stunning. How can he not know a train wreck is coming? He's seen the data for Canada, Spain and Denmark and the others. Of the original 13 signees 11 have little hope of meeting their requirements. The three mentioned above are already 25% higher than 1990 and still increasing with NO hope of a reversal. They had committed to a reduction.

There's a chance these 3 could end up over by 50%. That's nuts. All are faced with the prospect of very heavy payments which we both know will be politically impossible.

Worst of all the payments would be made to states like Russia. This is impossibly stupid. If I wanted to design a treaty to embarrass Canada I could not have designed a better treaty.

At the same time Clinton has to be aware of the Asian-Pacific partnership. With a starting group of India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and the US it has instant credibility and dominance. Never in a million years will China, India, Brazil or ANY fast growing nation agree to a Kyoto like system with a potential for fines. Never! Yet they recognize pollution has to be reduced and will gladly participate in a cooperative. This is the model for the future. The UN is out of the game.

Bill can travel to Canada and Europe all he wants. Talk about a bubble. Kyoto is dead. He is absolutely tone death on this one.

Posted by: rdw on January 29, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

tsobhan: But there is some point at which our species will have to radically adjust the way it lives on the planet

It isn't really a point, but a continuum. Humans are in the process of adjusting. We are debating which steps to take next, and with how much investment in each.

Somebody has to shake Kevin Drum out of his conviction that nobody is doing anything.

Posted by: contentious on January 29, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK
don't wreck the auto industry, Posted by: tbrosz
Chevrolet and Ford are doing that extremely well on their own.
Scientifically there is no basis for blaming emissions for global warming. Posted by: The Objective Historian
You can take the past 1,000,000 years of historical data, but it will still show via core analsyis, that Carbon Dioxide levels are increasing and temperature levels are increasing in proportion. Poke around Pewfor more info.
Bill can travel to Canada and Europe all he wants. Talk about a bubble. Posted by: rdw
Clinton can travel the world without the protective bubble that Bush needs to go to the crapper. The ones most tone deaf on this issue are the silly people in denial. Posted by: Mike on January 29, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the starting group of India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and the United States were heavily represented at the "Losers and Wannabes" World Economic Forum, Witless. Oh did I fail to mention Brazil as well - You are unbelievably obtuse - Instead of reading your NRO crap, peruse the web site of the Forum.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 29, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wind power, solar, and energy efficient lighting/appliances are huge in the third world because it's a lot cheaper than building power plants and a distribution grid where it doesn't already exist.

Try googling: mongolia renewable energy efficiency

Posted by: B on January 29, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK


As a scientist, I have to disagree with you about one thing, Kevin. The real issue is that the scientific debate is being stifled in the interests of political ideology. Scientists who agree with the party line are allowed to speak. Those who disagree are silenced. Each may be personally honest and honorable in their opinions and highly qualified in their fields, but the end result is that the government agency becomes a propaganda tool and its statements on important issues suspect and disregarded by the scientific community.

Eilperin may be right about climate change or he may be wrong. Every researcher worth his title will tell you that he should be free to speak without having a minder present. These aren't political issues to the people working on them. We don't have a Republican theory of gravitation or a Democratic theory of relativity. We strive to discover the most precise answers to the problems that confront us and provide options to address those problems, the government can listen to them or not. If science continues to be politicized in this country, we will not be a leader in the world for long.

Posted by: mike on January 30, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

She. The reporter is a she, but Dr. James Hansen knows what he's talking about and the one they're trying to stifle.

Posted by: Mark A. York on January 30, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I meant Dr Hansen not the reporter Eilperin. But the point is the same. I attended the AGU session that Hansen spoke at and the overwhelming conclusion of the climatologists there is that climate change is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. The problem for the researchers at government agencies extends far beyond NASA and climate research, however. American government labs do high caliber research that is being corrupted by an ideological purity test.

Posted by: mike on January 30, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Mike:

Scientists who agree with the party line are allowed to speak. Those who disagree are silenced. Each may be personally honest and honorable in their opinions and highly qualified in their fields, but the end result is that the government agency becomes a propaganda tool and its statements on important issues suspect and disregarded by the scientific community.

Let's keep this in perspective. Hansen may or may not be getting wrongly pressured by his superiors, but considering we're reading about this in the New York Times I don't think Hansen is in danger of being "silenced."

Posted by: tbrosz on January 30, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody is allowed to discuss this topic until they've read Collapse

Posted by: craigie on January 30, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz,

Thats my point. It isn't about Hansen or about global warming in particular. Its about suppression of results the administration doesn't like. Hansen is a well known, established scientist with years of peer reviewed research and credibility in his field. Others can't be so confident that they're immune from reprisal. People are getting harassed, censored and fired for coming to the "wrong" conclusions. NOAA, NASA, the USGS and the EPA are just a few of the agencies that provide critical services to the nations health and safety and each has been targeted by the political leadership. The scientists who work for them need to be able to engage openly and publicly for these agencies to continue to function effectively. Political leaders need to separate the scientific conclusions from the policy. There may be a dozen ways to solve a problem, but denial of the problem itself isn't one of them.


Posted by: mike on January 30, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

JamesP: "Wind is not a free ride, but it is by far the best decision."

Check out this 230 foot beauty, currently generating half the electricity required at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

I understand that windy Minnesota could generate all its electricy using wind turbines, and I just keep wondering, what are we waiting for?

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 30, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, there is some recent GW. Yes, carbon in the atmosphere is up a wee bit. Yes, some people think the latter causes the former. But since no practical amount of radical economic solutions will change much of anything in the next decade, we may as well watch a little bit, because if we get a couple cool years in a row despite the generally increasing atmospheric carbon level, that would indicate that something else may really be driving the climate cycle.

I believe that there is one heck of an ideological bandwagon driving this debate, alright, but I wouldn't bet the farm just yet that Bush and his supporters are exactly wrong on this issue and that time will prove them exactly wrong. The only "Tipping Point" will be when a lot of overblown theory and incautious research methodology and starting assumptions get shown up as being the products of "consensus" falling prey to mass suggestion.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 30, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

"But since no practical amount of radical economic solutions will change much of anything in the next decade, we may as well watch a little bit"

How long do you suggest we sit and wait Mike? The scientific community is doing its job, taking measurements making predictions presenting conclusions and providing options. Its the job of the political community to sort through the options and find and effective and economical solution to the problem at hand. Bush rejected Kyoto, but what has he suggested in its place? His plan is to wait until he's retired and let someone else do the work.

Also, This idea that scientists are all riding an ideological bandwagon is silly. Science is a self correcting methodology. Your theory either explains the world or it doesn't. No scientist wants to be remembered as the one who insisted the earth was flat. That's why they always test their hypotheses and attempt to knock them down before they publish. Otherwise, someone else will do it for them.

Posted by: mike on January 30, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

U libs r stupid. Its freezing in Europe and Hong Kong this Winter. Global warming is total crap. The scientists are all funded by grants that grow if the problem is bigger and are all alarmists.

Happy new year. Google cloud cover, they just discovered they don't understand their model again. Climatologists have burnt their credibility like a liberals's kids burn up condoms and free STD treatment.

Posted by: McAr on January 30, 2006 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

" would be ashamed if I was a big a fool as yourself." -obsvure

My response was to a statement that there were links all over the web, ripe for the clicking. You could have proven me a fool by just providing one, which should have been a simple act, since these links are everywhere, apparently. But no, it was just that much easier to call me a name.

This is an important argument. Name calling isn't going to win it for you. You didn't provide the links because there are no such links.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 30, 2006 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

Ever wonder why we hear no intelligent signals from deep space?

Global warming and other destructive acts by top-of-the-food-chain creatures like Man may be a natural progression of life in the universe.

Crudely it may go something like this: 1.life, 2.intelligent life, 3.invention of money (which leads to infinite use of resources), 4.use of fossil fuels,5.development of capitalist-style governing forms which place wealth creation above all else (which is self defeating - but the capitalist urge is to unstoppable even though irrational), 6.planet warming, 7.eradication of the food supply - then 8."lights out, folks"

Radio signals created by civilizations appear and disappear in only an eye-blink of universal time. Our listening window is too short and the timing is off to catch these signals.

That may be the whole story of intelligent life in our universe.

Posted by: Sons on January 30, 2006 at 7:05 AM | PERMALINK

Well, the starting group of India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and the United States were heavily represented at the "Losers and Wannabes" World Economic Forum

Point being?

Kerry and Clinton were there too. They weren't at any of the Asian - Pacific partnership meetings and never will be. Bill loves these useless meetings. He gets to fly around in private jets and listen to liberal groupies coo over his every breath. My favorite was the Montreal speech where the Kyoto folk reached a watershed agreement. They're going to talk some more next year!!! Wow!!! We've saved!!!

Posted by: rdw on January 30, 2006 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

You didn't provide the links because there are no such links.

You're a liar, tool.

I provided links for you on a previous thread.

I learned my lesson that you aren't serious. You discount by ad hominem the testimony of people far, far more qualified than yourself to make intelligent judgements about global warming.

I called you a fool not to argue with you but simply to try to mark your & your inane comments for the garbage they are.

Posted by: obscure on January 30, 2006 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

obscure,
Here is the permalink to my reply to your links:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_01/008052.php#805682

To which your response was:

"tool,

You grasp at straws, and you argue by ad hominem.

Bye now."

-obscure

"Why do you think--even for one instant--that your "feelings" about McCain are relevant?" -obscure

Is McCain a climate scientist? Cause if he is, I will be happy to take him seriously in this debate, but since he is not, he can only be considered a secondary source, parroting what he has read in the newspapers. As such, his intelligence and motivations are fair game.

This is an "appeal to authority" on your part, where there is not even any authority. If I quoted Michael Chrichten, would it carry any weight with you?

Tell me who is not being serious.

To be truthful, Windhorse's response was pretty good. I hadn't been back to that thread. I will look at her links with an open mind.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 30, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

RSM wrote: Hey, don't keep us in the dark, point out in each of his ideas what is dishonest.

Don't be dense, Mike. I and others have been pointing out the frequent dishonesties in tbrosz' posts for a long time now. One of his favorite tactic is, of course, the straw man argument.

My point isn't that he's necessarily being dishonest in his postings on this thread. My point is that his long track record of dishonesty absolves him of any expectation to consider his arguments whether they're honest or not. He simply has no credibility.

That's too bad for tbrosz, of course, but no one's fault but his own. As I've said time and again, tbrosz has indeed demonstrated that he can debate honestly; it's just that most of the time he chooses not to. That there's precious little opportunity to defend the mendacity, incompetence and corrpution of the Bush regime is his problem, not ours. But tbrosz has made his choice to sacrifice his credibility in the name of carrying water for the party of tax cuts.

Posted by: Gregory on January 30, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

You give Tbrosz a hearty internet bitch-slap (which is of course totally harmless) for his comment about Alito, but have nothing to say to NealB's post where he wrote...

Step 0: Stop appointment of Alito to the Supreme Court: call a Senator and tell them to filibuster.

In a thread on global warming, the idea that we needed one more post (making 1,000,000 + 1 of them) on fillibustering Alito was just plain stupid. Give me a break. But his post is OK, because he agrees with you on stuff, and therefore his stupidity is tolerated.

Tbrosz in the mean time brings smart stuff here every day. The occasional swipe at dems? Lord, you guys ask for it, with your "fix global warming by fillibustering Alito" posts.

This is a great story on ethanol, by the way.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 30, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, for anyone coming in late:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/science/earth/29climate.html?ei=5065&en=01e494e7b7a009f5&ex=1139115600&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print

January 29, 2006
Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.
...

Posted by: Neil' on January 30, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

For anyone reviewing comments later, and thinking that "Objective Historian" had a point: the existence of a stimulis (say, to higher average temperatures) does not of course preclude up and down variations meanwhile of the sort that idiots think cast doubt on the basic principle. Good lord, does anyone doubt there is an underlying economic growth pressure for the stock market to grow, despite all the downturns and even crashes it has suffered?

Posted by: Neil' on January 30, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Ptate,

windy Minnesota could generate all its electricy using wind turbines

I've seen similar turbines in my drives around southern MN. My understanding is that the cost of wind power electricity today is still slightly higher (20%-40%?) than the existing coal/nuclear power we have.

The current wind power is subsidized by taxes, and also consumers may elect to pay the higher cost as well to support the wind power.

But there is a current fight to upgrade the DM&E rail line through southern MN so that it can better transport Wyoming coal to the East, and, umm, which politician is it that is from Wyoming?

To answer your question - we don't support wind because it competes with coal which is where the existing money and political support exists.

For the record I think wind turbines look just fine. They are really no more unsightly than water towers. Also, farmers are eager to allow them on their fields - they are generally quiet, they have a small footprint and they don't hurt the crops.

Posted by: Tripp on January 30, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

but have nothing to say to NealB's post where he wrote...his post is OK, because he agrees with you on stuff, and therefore his stupidity is tolerated.

That's just pathetic, Mike, and I expect better of you. The old "you don't condemn this-and-that statement" is one of the hoariest, feeblest dodges in the book. I'm not pretending you implicitly support, say, keiser/Alice/Patton's insane ramblings simply because you don't explicitly condemn him/her/it, so leave it out already.

Tbrosz in the mean time brings smart stuff here every day. The occasional swipe at dems? Lord, you guys ask for it

tbrosz brings, as I said, a constant stream of intellectual dishonesty, straw man arguments, mischaracterizations of his policial opponents (which you dismiss as "occasional" and deserved anyhow -- would that include the time he accused Bush's critics here of rooting for America's failure in Iraq, and then, when called on it, failed to point to a single post that could be described as such?), and a steadfast refusal to hold the Bush Administration accountable for anything -- indeed, he shows positive glee when they avoid accountability.

My point, and it has nothing whatever to do with Alito, is that tbrosz has so ruined his credibility as to absolve anyone here from any obligation to take him seriously. Yes, he occasionally posts some smart stuff. Yes, some are free to choose to address him when he chooses to leave his usual bullshit out. I've always acknowledged that he has shown he can debate honestly. But that's all the more condemnation of the fact that he so often chooses not to. Your feeble defense of him hardly refutes a word I've said. Could it be that he agrees with you on stuff, and therefore his dishonesty is tolerated?

Posted by: Gregory on January 30, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

"2005 warmest year in century, NASA says"

Who can object to the above headline? No-one, because that is a statment of a scientific finding. Which can be assessed on its own merits.

But then, who is it that says the next thing?

"He blamed a buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases."

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/01/25/2005_warmest_year_in_century_nasa_says/

So does NASA blame the build-up, or does Hansen? Why wouldn't NASA be concerned that Hansen is making policy statements on AGW? Hansen's job is to report the findings of NASA, not to preach his own politics under NASA's imprimateur. Just because you agree with Hansen does not make it right for him to use his position to preach his religion.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 30, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

It simply doesn't matter whether or not the threat of global warming is a serious one. The simple fact is that we have a world population of 6.5 billion built on the use of fossil fuels. These fuels will continue to be used until they are no longer economical. The energy use of the planet will increase over the next century in the absence of a collapse of civilization, and fossil fuels will take up some of this increase. We have taken the road to global warming, and there is no realistic way to go back. Any attempt to stop the increase in emissions in a 20-30 year time frame will condemn millions or billions to an earlier death or a deeper poverty than they live in today. It is a political non-starter.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 30, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

" the existence of a stimulis (say, to higher average temperatures) does not of course preclude up and down variations meanwhile of the sort that idiots think cast doubt on the basic principle. " -Niel

Talk about a straw man. What we are arguing about is the impact of the C02 forcing. It is calculated to be something on the order of 1 to 2 degrees C in the next century. I don't doubt it. It is the pro-Kyoto side of this debate that then adds all kinds of theoretically plausible, if unlikly or unknowable, knock-on effects to inflate that figure to 5 or six degrees C. Then they "prove" it with models crammed with assumptions. The Signal to Noise ratio in the climate record is higher than the effect that can be reliably assigned to CO2 (which, I repeat again, I do not deny).

You guys are the one building fantasy castles from climate noise, with Mankind as the villain, as always.

Anybody here know the scientific consensus of the date, barring catastophe, when Earth's population will peak and begin to decline? I doubt it.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 30, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

With greater distance from the event it becomes clearer that the hand of Satan himself was involved in the abomination that was the 2000 presidential election.

President Gore never sounded so good.

Oh what might have been.

As for all of Satan's earthly minions all I can say is repent and work to save America.

Posted by: Nemesis on January 30, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Another underutilized energy source is solar power. Everyone thinks of it in terms of the rather pathetic single-home frames, so it doesn't get taken seriously as a national or global energy source. But let's think outside the box for a change: what are we really doing with the state of Arizona? (Indian reservations aside.) Or the Gobi Desert, or dozens of equally hot spots throughout the world? Let's cover 'em end to end.

I don't know enough about the technology to know whether the maintenance costs of truly massive solar installations would be prohibitive, but I suspect there would be some potent economies of scale in building and maintenance, and steady improvements in the technology as we practice building. Seems to me that we just need a few hundred billion, if that, for start-up costs. If we can afford to conquer Iraq, can't we afford to pave the Sahara?

Posted by: trilobite on January 30, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse,

This link you provided:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/population/article3abstract.pdf

Appears pretty solid, and is the first such counterargument I have seen that has moved my knowledge of the subject forward.

I would just say that I believe that observed warming is less in North America in the ground based temperature records, which sort of minimizes the importance of the specific finding. But I can't find any links to back that up right now.

If the the study were replicated for other continents where more ground based warming has been seen, it would be a very strong argument.

FYI
The heat island argument has traditionally gone like this.

"The effect is least noticable in the US, where temperature equipment has been presumably best maintained, and most in areas of Africa and Asia where such data is more dubious."

This argument was made before your study, and so cannot be considered a reaction to it.

Thank you for a new line of inquiry into a subject in which I am genuinely interested.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 30, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK
Tbrosz -- your solutions are for keeping the economy going as we run out of oil. They will do nothing to stop or slow down global warming. The free market dictates that most of the oil in the world will get burned up unless a cheap (under $15 / barrel equivalent ) is found.

Well, no, that's not the case. First of all, the reason oil will get burned is because many of the costs are externalities. The way to stop that is to impose a cost on burning oil to internalize the externalities; eventually, that means countries that realize that environmental disaster is seriously undesirable are going to have to be willing to take* direct action to stop other, less forward-looking, countries from ruining the planet.

*n.b. -- by "willing to take" I mean just that; I don't mean direct action will, in fact, be necessary, but the credible threat of it almost certainly will be necessary to create a global management regime to prevent disaster. Unless everyone manages to wise up all at once. The time window is rapidly closing, so just hoping everyone figures it out is increasingly not viable as a realistic option.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 30, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks tool, I respect your open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity on the issue as well.

Just as an aside, I'm a guy, but I get that a lot. I think it may have something to do with trying to debate using as little invective as possible that's seem as feminine. Although I do dish it out now and then.

Maybe a name change is in order. Windstallion? Manlyhorse? I don't know.

Posted by: Windhorse on January 30, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK
Who can object to the above headline? No-one, because that is a statment of a scientific finding.

No, actually, its a statement of an observation on which a scientific finding is based.

Why wouldn't NASA be concerned that Hansen is making policy statements on AGW?

Attributing the problem to a source based on research is not a "policy statement". Its a scientific result.


Posted by: cmdicely on January 30, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK
The simple fact is that we have a world population of 6.5 billion built on the use of fossil fuels. These fuels will continue to be used until they are no longer economical.

Which is why, from Adam Smith on, intelligent supporters of market economics have recognized that, in order to be efficient, government intervention is required for the narrow purpose of internalizing externalities. The environmental effects of fossil fuels are one of the clearest examples of how an action can be "economical" -- in the sense that utility-maximizing actors will choose it given no external constraints -- despite being extraordinarily inefficient (producing more total disutility than utility) due to externalities that are not properly internalized.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 30, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Just as an aside, I'm a guy, but I get that a lot.

I'm just so glad that I've NEVER made that mistake.

I think you should go with Slaughterhorse 5

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 30, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

While I'm posting, I'd like to put one of rdw's canards to bed:

He often touts the Asian-Pacific Partnership as the "real" plan that will "replace Kyoto" and have "instant credibility" and "have X% of the world's GDP and population."

Well, the Asian-Pacific Partnership is...nothing.

It's nothing but a vision statement by a few countries that developing alternative and supplemental energy sources would be a good thing and promises research into cleaner coal.

That's it.

It's not a plan to reduce pollution, it's not a plan to curb greenhouse gases -- in fact, there is no plan -- except an agreement on paper that it would be nice if those countries could figure out a way to reduce oil dependency and find cleaner burning fuels.

I agree, that would be nice. But nice and a cup of coffee gets you nothing but continued oil dependency and growing emissions.

There's no there there.

There's so little there there that it's difficult to find much information about it on the web - unless you count conservative ideologues hailing it as the death of Kyoto.

In addition to not being a plan it's not binding, and wouldn't be binding even if there were any sort of plan. It's meant to be a loose and voluntary partnership between businesses and governments.

That always works.

Refer to cmdicely's post above on the necessity of government intervention to "internalize externalities" when it comes to matters like these.

So, there's no plan and it's non-binding. However, all six of the countries in the partnership are signatories to Kyoto and four have ratified it and do have binding obligations there. In fact, the spokesmen for the partner countries have made it abundantly clear that this partnership is meant to "supplement Kyoto not replace it."

So, beyond all his misstatements and outright fabrications about the nature of this endeavor, here is what rdw is hailing as the real solution to the critical challenges facing the planet:

A non-binding statement of wishful thinking about R&D useful as political cover for a number of countries and particularly the Bush administration.

Hydrogen cars on Mars anyone?

Posted by: Windhorse on January 30, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

The government can certainly intervene, but the cost advantage of fossil fuels is so large that it would necessitate a very large tax against fossil fuels to bring renewables into competition. A tax of this size will bring on a econcomic depression in the United States, unless it is phased in over decades. However, it is completely irrelevant. Such a tax will never be passed in the United States; you only have to observe how unpopular gasoline taxes are to understand this. If you want more renewables, you will have to largely subsidize them directly. And even if you do, the sheer amount of energy (and remember, energy consumption in the United States is always increasing, and a conservative estimate is that energy consumption in the US will double in the next 75 years) will cause the use of whatever fossil fuels are handy. For example, if we really are at a peak in North American natural gas production, then a lot of the newly built natural gas power plants will be forced to refit for the burning of coal. No amount of wishful thinking will change this reality.

I just think the reality is that most of the economically viable fossil fuels will eventually end up in the atmosphere as CO2. The most that can be accomplished is to stretch out this process, but it can not be stopped. We will simply have to deal with the consequences of global warming as they arise.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 30, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey,

I'm not totally convinced of your point. At the moment the fossil fuels we use are fairly 'clean.' The effect of CO2 is not immediately seen.

But as we switch to dirtier fossil fuels such as dirty coal or tar sands (not very air polluting per se but requires huge amounts of fresh water and strip mining) I think enough people will see enough of the externalities and will demand a switch.

Economics doesn't always win. Take slavery for example.

The switch will cost all of us, and as usual it will be the poor who suffer the greatest. Ironically it may be the poor in the developed countries that suffer more than their counterparts in third world countries. The US poor are much more dependent on fossil fuel that the third world poor.

Posted by: Tripp on January 30, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward: We will simply have to deal with the consequences of global warming as they arise.

How do you propose to "deal with" the complete evacuation of every coastal city in the USA when the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets raises sea levels 50 feet in a matter of decades, and simultaneously the North American agricultural regions turn into desert?

At the end of the last ice age, glaciers a mile thick over what is now New York State melted away completely within the span of a human lifetime. Global temperatures are now increasing fifty times faster than they did then.

You have no idea what you are talking about when you glibly say that we will "deal with the consequences".

Unless of course you're including extinction of the human species in your options for "dealing with the consequences of global warming." I guess in your mind, extinction is better than the completely unthinkable and unacceptable option of taking action to drastically reduce fossil fuel use.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 30, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

When discussing electrical generation we need to keep in mind one huge problem - there is no good way to store electrical energy. Huge batteries or other means such as using electricity to create hydrogen to burn later are not efficient enough.

Why do we need to store the energy? Because the electrical supply must very closely match the demand at all times or we will have big grid distribution problems - brownouts or blown circuits.

So we must have the capacity to generate a constant and predictable amount of electricity, raising or lowering the amount as needed as the load changes over time.

Both fossil fuel and nuclear energy are very easy to control with a very predictable output, but things like wind power or solar are not steady nor very predictable.

So if you really want to advocate the total replacement of fossil or nuclear fuels you better find a way to economically store electrical energy. Otherwise you will always need something like fossil to handle the fluctuations.

Posted by: Tripp on January 30, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

I don't think Yancey is being glib. I think he is (regrettably) speaking the truth.

Our entire "Western" way of life is dependant on fossil fuel. Even if we wanted to I think it is too late for us to switch. The human species will not switch until it is forced to by Mother Nature, who always wins.

Posted by: Tripp on January 30, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry,

WindHorse just sounds like a feminine handle. Has nothing to do with anything else, no offense intended.

I still think that you guys are inflating the costs of AGW in order to justify grand schemes of social and economic engineering based on worst-case scenarios pried out of climate models crammed with assumptions to cover probably hundreds or as yet unidentified forcings. That is your real sales problem.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 30, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist,
Do you have any solid support for this claim?

"Global temperatures are now increasing fifty times faster than they did [at the end of the last glaciation]."

It is the overblown hype, reminiscent of Y2K, Paul Erlich, etc that are drowning out the reasonable voices on the pro-Kyoto (for lack of a better term) side of this argument.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 30, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp,

If the alternative is to have the price of gasoline double, triple, quadruple, and the same applies to electricity, then they will say mine the coal, the tar sands, etc.

Just observe the reaction Americans have to the recent doubling in the price of gasoline and heating fuel. They want to hand the oil executives from the nearest tree. And, yet, the market for such fuels is quite inelastic- in other words, consumption hasn't dropped much at all. How do you think they will react to a tax increase on fossil fuel use that is large enough to make a significant dent in their consumption?

Look, I am in favor of taxing energy use in a gradual manner. We can make it more politically palatable by systematically using the revenues to reduce other, regressive taxes like the payroll and sales tax, however, given the energy consumption of today, the conservative extrapolations into the future, and our simple life and death reliance on fossil fuels today, I don't see that even this tax would cut emissions- only slow the increase.

By the way, thanks for your comment to Secular Animist. I am not being glib. I am just explaining the political reality. It does one no good to ignore it.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 30, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward: I am not being glib.

Fine. Then please explain how you propose to "deal with the consequences of global warming as they arise," which will at a minimum be astronomically more expensive to all concerned than even the most draconian imaginable government action to force a reduction in the burning of fossil fuels, and which in scenarios which are not even close to the worst case will lead to the collapse of civilization as we know it.

Or are you saying that the "political realities" of an American populace which has foolishly come to think of cheap, abundant fossil fuel energy as its eternal birthright makes the collapse of civilization inevitable, and that's just fine with you?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 30, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

tool of some sort wrote: Do you have any solid support for this claim?

Go look it up for yourself. In previous threads on this topic, you have demonstrated to me that you are a dishonest and willfully ignorant idiot, and I'm not wasting any time with you.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 30, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist,

It doesn't matter whether or not the cost of stopping fossil fuel use now is less than the cost of dealing with a warmer planet in the future, something neither you nor anyone else can actually prove. The problem is that the actual effects of a warmer planet will not be known until they occur. Without this information, you will not be able to garner the necessary political support to take the draconian action required to actually stop the CO2 from increasing now.

Or do you mean that force be used on the population to adopt the measures you advocate?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 30, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward: The problem is that the actual effects of a warmer planet will not be known until they occur.

The actual effects are known, because they are occurring now. I don't think you are paying attention to the numerous studies of the empirically observable effects of anthropogenic climate change that have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and then reported in the mainstream press over the last year. And it is beyond any question or doubt that anthopogenic global warming -- and its effects, including multiple self-reinforcing feedbacks -- are increasing, and accelerating, and that far, far worse is yet to come in the not too distant future.

I don't think any "force" needs to be "used on the population." I think that education needs to be "used on the population" to raise people out of their ignorant complacency. I also think it is appropriate for government to offer people incentives such as tax cuts to encourage the adoption of clean, renewable energy alternatives to off-set the sometimes high initial costs of installation (e.g. of rooftop photovoltaics).

On the other hand, I do think that "force" needs to be used on industry and agriculture (in conjunction with positive incentives), in the form of government regulations that compel them to shift to low- or no-carbon-emission technologies that already exist. For example, the technology exists now to make conventional internal combustion engine cars that get 50 miles per gallon. I know this technology exists, because I have such a car, a Ford Festiva that was built 15 years ago and which at 115,000 miles still gets 50 miles per gallon today. No US car manufacturer sells such a car today. Similarly, a few years back, Ford Motor Company purchased a Norwegian automobile manufacturer called "Th!nk" which produced a 100% electric battery powered zero-emission subcompact car called the Th!nkCity. Ford announced that they planned to sell this car in the US market. Not long after, they shut down the entire Th!nk company and closed the factory, giving as a reason "disappointing US sales" of the car. But the car had never been offered for sale in the US.

The technological means to reduce fossil fuel use by 70 to 90 percent already exists. Much of that technology is extremely basic demand-reduction stuff, like improved insulation in buildings and improved efficiency of existing machine technologies (e.g. cars and appliances). It can be, and must be, implemented on an urgent basis. Since I am not an adherent of the fundamentalist religious cult of so-called libertarian laissez-faire free marketism, I have no problem with government intervention to make this happen.

The move to a clean renewable energy economy is, fortunately, already well underway worldwide. Other countries including Germany, Japan and China (read recent columns by conservative globalization advocate Tom Friedman on "Green China") are positioning themselves to reap huge profits selling photovoltaics, advanced wind turbines, and electric vehicles all over the world. Meanwhile the USA is in the death grip of the fossil fuel industry and as a result is going to be left behind, a malignant technological backwater increasingly reviled by the world for its gross irresponsibility.

Don't imagine that current US federal government policy is anything like a "hands off" or "free market" approach to energy production, letting the "market" take its course. The current US federal government is under the control of the fossil fuel corporations, and its policies are highly interventionist, and are designed for their enrichment.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 30, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

tool,

I found a link to the statistic that Animist referenced. This is DR Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

Let me chime in here, as ice ages are my field of research. They are caused by regular changes in Earth's orbit, the so-called Milankovitch cycles. These cycles affect how much sun arrives on each part of the globe in each season. The last ice age ended because solar radiation in summer in northern continents increased strongly between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago - that melted the big ice sheets away. Since then, the climate has entered the 'Holocene' period and has been pretty stable (with possibly a slight long term cooling) and during which humans invented agriculture and civilization developed. More recently, we've entered another strong warming period, this time due to human influence: by our emissions we've increased the levels of carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse gas throughout Earth's history, to levels unprecedented for at least 650,000 years. So far we've only seen the feeble beginning of this warming: the planet has warmed 0.7 C since the beginning of the 20th Century. That's not much compared to the end of the last ice age, when the planet warmed by about 5 C. But those 5 C took about 5,000 years - that's only 0.1 C per century. If the steep rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues we have to expect 3, 4 or even 5 C warming during this century - as much again as at the end of the last ice age, but up to fifty times faster.

http://brentrasmussen.com/log/node/442


Posted by: Windhor -- er, Slaughterhorse 5 on January 30, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

So, there's no plan and it's non-binding. However, all six of the countries in the partnership are signatories to Kyoto and four have ratified it and do have binding obligations there. In fact, the spokesmen for the partner countries have made it abundantly clear that this partnership is meant to "supplement Kyoto not replace it."

Kyoto is non-binding to 90% of the countries who are part of it including China and India. 80% of the rest are going to miss their targets. The only countries to hit their targets will be places like Russia and Germany who've had a massive industrial collapse.

The Asian - Pacific partnership is just getting started. Everyone understands China, India, Brazil and the rest of the 3rd world will NEVER agree to any mandatory limits. Kyoto can never and will never work as it was designed. Tony Blair made two speeches in advance of the Montreal round of discussions telling everyone that mandatory limits are unworkable and the treaty will not survive past 2012 with them. They're very unhappy with Tony. He won't bring it up again becasue it'll never be his issue

11 of 13 original signees are over or substantially over their limits with no shot at making it. Canada, Spain and Denmark are especially high. Harper was just elected in Canada on a promise to revisit Kyoto. There is no chance Canada will pay ANY fines. Either they're waived which makes the agreement a joke or Canada drops out which makes the agreement a joke.

GWB designed the APP as a place holder. The politics have to settle out. A majority of Canadians now realize the pickle but not so much in other nations. In due time people will demand changes. Either Kyoto will morph into the APP or in 2012 countries will drop out and use the APP. For now it's just out there as an alternative. They're just getting started.

One thing I do know. The US Senate will NEVER ratify a Kyoto agreement.

Posted by: rdw on January 30, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

rdw, it's interesting to watch you rooting for the failure of the Kyoto Protocol, since you are actually rooting for the destruction of civilization and the extinction of the human species. But who cares about that, as long as Bush and the ultra-rich fossil fuel corporations that he answers to win, right?

In other words, you are a sociopathic goon.

Not that that's big news to anyone who has read any of your posts on any topic.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 30, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Secular,

It's because I want to reduce pollution I am against kyoto. Those twits initiated the biggest transfer of manufacturing capacity in history. From the 1st world to the 3rd. Now they pollute a lot more.

Kyoto is a disaster. No one wants to pollute. Give them a choice and they'll take clean.

Posted by: rdw on January 30, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

...
But then, who is it that says the next thing?

"He blamed a buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases."

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/01/25/2005_warmest_year_in_century_nasa_says/

So does NASA blame the build-up, or does Hansen? Why wouldn't NASA be concerned that Hansen is making policy statements on AGW? Hansen's job is to report the findings of NASA, not to preach his own politics under NASA's imprimateur. Just because you agree with Hansen does not make it right for him to use his position to preach his religion.

Posted by: tool of some sort on January 30, 2006 at 11:25 AM

That was idiotic trolletry. Saying you think that the *cause* of a change was build up of certain gases *is* a scientific opinion, not "politics." Politics means what you think we should *do about it* I guess the word "blame" threw the poor simple-minded boy into thinking the statement was "political." That was as gross as anything I'd expect from the Malloy phony-anti-junk-science crowd.

Posted by: Neil' on January 30, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

No one wants to pollute.

Least of all, George W. Bush.

Thank you for your wisdom, rdw.

*cough*

What's so reassuring is the thought that GWB didn't want to destroy Iraqi civil society either.

And GWB didn't want to let New Orleans suffer massive hurricane related devastation.

And GWB didn't want to expand federal spending.

And GWB didn't want to balloon the national debt.

And GWB didn't want to divide the nation.

Thank goodness we're in good hands.

Posted by: obscure on January 30, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

I still think that you guys are inflating the costs of AGW in order to justify grand schemes of social and economic engineering based on worst-case scenarios pried out of climate models crammed with assumptions to cover probably hundreds or as yet unidentified forcings. That is your real sales problem.

What amuses me, in a black-comedy sort of way, is the manner in which ideologues like 'tool of some sort' are unable to process this--and other--debate(s) except in grand ideological terms.

Us liberals can't just be concerned about the future of life on earth. We also have to harbor evil plans for destroying the 'American Way.'

So, IMO, our sales problem is much more a matter of the cultural ignorance propagated--primarily--by our profit-uber-alles news media.

An educated citizenry is the GOP's worst nightmare... but I repeat myself.

Posted by: obscure on January 30, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

obscure,

kyoto is DEAD. Deal with it.

Posted by: rdw on January 31, 2006 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist,

This will be my last comment on this thread. The effects of global warming are being predicted, they are not known. The planet's average temperature has not increased very much in the last century. It may increase dramatically more during the next century, but that is still just a prediction, not a fact. You are free to "educate" the public as much as you wish, but good luck convincing them that they need to completely redo the energy production systems in place today, and at enormous cost, based on these predictions. If the effects of global warming are dramatic and costly in the future, then, and only then, might you have the political consensus to make the changes you desire.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 31, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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