Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 18, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE END OF THE INHOFE ERA....I was going to link to this post from Grist's David Roberts (recommended by Bob Somerby), but when I got back from lunch I had an email from David asking me to link to two other posts of his. The first one is about the state of play of climate legislation in the Senate (now that climate wingnut extraordinaire James Inhofe is no longer in charge of the Environment and Public Works Committee) and the second one is about the state of play of climate legislation in the House. If you're interested in climate legislation -- and you should be -- read them both. They're short and informative.

Actually, read all three posts. I may come back to the first one later.

Kevin Drum 5:09 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (61)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Allah Be Praised!

Posted by: POed Lib on January 18, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

But, John Warner (R-VA) was unable to get Ranking Member on the committee, so Inhofe is still Ranking Member.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot on January 18, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, Drudge is running a photo from the most recent winter storm at the top of his page, along with the headline in italics that "Pelosi Announces 'Global Warming' Panel," apparently in an attempt to say "look - it's cold somewhere! See? So-called "global warming" is a hoax!" And sadly, there are people as stupid as Drudge who will buy it.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on January 18, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the link, Kevin.

If you're interested in the issues raised by the first post, you might want to check out a radio show I did with NYT reporter Andy Revkin on the alleged "new middle" in the climate debate, and whether hippie-bashing serves any good purpose. It's archived here:

http://blogsofbainbridge.typepad.com/ecotalkblog/2007/01/andy_revkin_vs_.html

Cheers,
DR

Posted by: David Roberts on January 18, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

And sadly, there are people as stupid as Drudge who will buy it.

What's funny about his "global warming" scare quotes skepticism is his condo in South Beach Miami will be the among the first to be reclaimed by the ocean.

Posted by: Old Hat on January 18, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats will do nothing to fix the environment. Unfortunately it took segregationist Governor Wallace to reveal the truth that "there's not a dime's worth of difference between" Republicans and Democrats. The Democrats willingly went along with the War in Iraq, suspension of Habeas Corpus, detaining protesters, opening mail, banning books like "America Deceived' from Amazon, stealing private lands (Kelo decision), warrant-less wiretapping and refusing to investigate 9/11 properly. They are both guilty of treason. Look at the bright side, when we have to vote the Democrats out, we'll have no choice but to vote for a Third Party.
Support indy media.
Last link (before Google Books bends to gov't Will and drops the title):
America Deceived (book)

Posted by: 5th of November on January 18, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

So David Roberts figured how media narratives are created, and that media narratives take on a sort of anti-life of their own - instead of life that's fragile and complex, these simplistic narratives won't die but for a stake through the heart. Well, that's great. I'm glad he understands the danger of the media narrative, and the particular consciousness that those outside the establishment need to take when making their argument. But it's all for not. The only way Pielke and Revkin could have ensured they wouldn't be misquoted is for a curious, critical, and open-minded readership of Young to go back and see if her portrayal (caricature) of Revkin and Pielke was indeed honest. But if her readership were curious, engaged, and open-minded, well, they probably wouldn't be her readership - that is to say, those who don't care to look past trite stereotypes.

To use the dirty hippies as an example of extremism is necessary, I think. To be credible, one must show that they're aware of problems even with their own ideology, or at least they're aware and address problems from their side. thus, to be credible, one must open their self up to dishonest media-narrative possibilities.

Posted by: A different matt on January 18, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, thank you for this post and the links to David Roberts' articles.

I would like to offer the strongest possible encouragement to you to cultivate an interest in climate change, the legislation being introduced to address it, the Bush administration's continuing resistance and obfuscation, and to write about this subject as often and with the same analytical insight that you bring to other important legislative issues, e.g. health care and social security.

Within a few years climate change is going to be, by far, the overriding issue facing society.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 18, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

5th of november: "Unfortunately it took segregationist Governor Wallace to reveal the truth that 'there's not a dime's worth of difference between' Republicans and Democrats."

Now THERE'S an unbiased source upon which to base your contention. Aftr all, it was the mainstream Democrats, led by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, who confronted the likes of Gov. Wallace in the mid-1960s. It was the Republicans (starting with Richard Nixon) who instituted the notoriously patronizing "Southern Strategy" to troll for votes among Wallace's disgruntled and racist neo-Confederate followers.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 18, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Yes.

Hippie Bashing DOES serve a purpose.

It discredits the Hippie Bashers as unhinged extremist wingnuts.

What's funny about his "global warming" scare quotes skepticism is his condo in South Beach Miami will be the among the first to be reclaimed by the ocean.
Posted by: Old Hat on January 18, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

I won't mourn the loss of Jeb's state.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 18, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Old Hat: " ... his condo in South Beach Miami will be the among the first to be reclaimed by the ocean."

Whereupon, people like him will just pack up and move to their condos in Vail, CO.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 18, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

I highly recommend another of David Roberts' articles, entitled "A Unified Green Agenda". It is in two parts, both at that link.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 18, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Back to climate change for a minute...I gor a lot of great information on environmental issues from World Resources Institute. If you aren't familiar with them, you should check out their website. Very informative and up-to-date.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 18, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

gor=get. Dunno what the hell happened there...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 18, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist: of course nothing can substitute for Kevin's analytical brilliance and rhetorical acumen (ahem), but if you're interested in climate change legislation, I encourage you to drop by Gristmill. We've got a climate scientist, a bunch of policy wonks, and some political obsessives, all blogging on the subject of climate science and legislation.

Toot toot! That's me, tooting our horn.

http://gristmill.grist.org/

Posted by: David Roberts on January 18, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

David Roberts wrote: "I encourage you to drop by Gristmill. We've got a climate scientist, a bunch of policy wonks, and some political obsessives, all blogging on the subject of climate science and legislation."

Actually, I was just reading your articles there that Kevin linked to, in which you summarize the current legislation being proposed in the Senate and House.

I will be contacting my two Senators (Cardin and Mikulski of Maryland) and urging them to support Vermont Senator Sanders' bill. It is the only one that comes close to what really needs to be done.

Also, I think your proposed "Unified Green Agenda" pretty much nails it with URGE2 (Use Renewably Generated Electricity, Efficiently). I will be circulating that article to everyone I know.

I'm looking to replace all the natural gas appliances in my house (furnace, water heater, washer, dryer, stove) with electric, and I already buy 100% wind-generated electricity through PEPCO, so I'm on the bus. The rooftop photovoltaics and the electric car will come later.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 18, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

I have all the research I did on tankless electric hot water sources, radiant floor heating, and wind power. When we inherited some undeveloped timber we built a small (1200 sq ft) weekend place into the side of a red clay hillside. We have no utility bills for that place, other than the phone, and rural water (the place had a cistern well).

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 18, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

From David Roberts:
This is how the far right colonizes the debate: they caricature a far-left strawman position, attribute it to "some" on the other side, and then cast their own position as the "center" between the far-right position and the mythical or marginalized far-left position. They've done this dozens of times, on a whole panoply of issues.

So what’s new? You cannot stop wing-nuts from doing this. This is the primary thing that makes them wing-nut in the first place.

They are ethnocentric people who will always divide each issue into at least two sides and fiercely resist (and fear) any information that contradicts their chosen side.

And they do not depend upon left-wingers for ammo. They pay much closer attention to their own side which will, all else failing, fabricate.

Education and open minds are our friends; ideology and ignorance are our enemies.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 18, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

I draw the line at stoves. I can't cook on an electric stove. It's gas, or nothin.

But hey, I commute on biodiesel so that's something.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 18, 2007 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

I practice what I preach. I took delivery of a hybrid on Jan. 15 of last year, and it has 3200 miles on it. My Cannondale, and the city bus, on the other hand, both carried me twice that far last year. The co-op unit we just bought is in a historic building that has been rehabbed with vinyl Argon-insulated windows, central steam heat, and high-efficiency appliances. Since we are on the top floor we have a skylight. Each unit has a tankless water heater. I looked for six months to find a place to buy that has a smaller footprint than where I live now. But that should always be the goal. every move is an opportunity to shrink your footprint a little bit more.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 18, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl: I'm pissed. I checked out a Honda Accord hybrid last year and the damn thing only got 37 mpg. That's not good enough.

My current 1992 Honda with 230K miles still gets 30 mpg. Shouldn't, after 15 years, we expect more progress than that?

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 18, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Jim: That's all?!?!?! My Escape gets 39, by driving the speed limit.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 18, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

I tremble for my country.

These new Democratic majorities are going to bring the high flying economy of Bush to a screeching, socialistic halt. Now some two bit beauracracy in Washington, staffed with 4 old geezers who do about 3 hours of work a day are going to tell me how much gas to use, how much electricity I can use to keep my family warm, etc, etc,.

Hopefully America will have soured on these liberals two years for now so we can get some sanity returned to Congress.

Posted by: egbert on January 18, 2007 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: These new Demo-crap majorities are going to bring the high flying economy of Bush to a screeching, socialistic halt.

Hmmm, the Clinton era was a Demo-crap economy, so I'm all for it!

Posted by: alex on January 18, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

little ole jim from red country wrote: "I checked out a Honda Accord hybrid last year and the damn thing only got 37 mpg. That's not good enough. My current 1992 Honda with 230K miles still gets 30 mpg. Shouldn't, after 15 years, we expect more progress than that?"

You are absolutely right.

I drive a 16 year old Ford Festiva (which is actually a Mazda design which Ford licensed and had built by Kia Motors of Korea) which I have had for 14 years. It has 121,000 miles on it. It gets 35 MPG or better in city driving, and 45-50 MPG on the highway, which is comparable to today's expensive and complicated hybrid cars. It cost $5200 used, including all the interest on the loan. I think it originally cost about $7000 new, which would be more in today's dollars. It has needed no major repairs in the 14 years that I've had it.

This is technology that was available 16 years ago.

I'm all in favor of electric and hybrid electric cars -- preferably plug-in hybrids that run as pure electric cars most of the time, and preferably not the overly complicated and overly expensive designs of today with their dual drive trains, but a much simpler and less expensive design which has pure electric drive, and the combustion engine is just a generator. And of course the combustion engines should run on renewable biofuels, either ethanol or biodiesel. Hopefully, such cars are coming soon.

But there is no question that the auto manufacturers already have, and have had for 16 years or more, the technology to build very high fuel efficiency conventional gasoline ICE cars, but they have chosen not to build them for the US market.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 18, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist on January 18, 2007 at 6:37 PM

The Roberts article is worth a read, but I think he is behind on ethanol developments. Two articles in the most recent Science (or next most recent, I forget) are most encouraging. First, some MIT/Whitehead scientists created a species of yeast that converts sugar to ethanol at about 1.5 times the rate of conventional yeast, and they tolerate a higher concentration of ethanol. Second, the optimal crop (now) for growing fuel turns out to be a mixture of 14 grasses and other plants: they require less input, grow on marginal soil, produce more alcohol, and sequester more CO2 in the ground; they are net fuel produces and net CO2 sequesterers. It would be a no-cost step forward just to subsidize ADM to grow this stuff instead of maize. I mention this last because Roberts' whole plan has no hope of being adopted, only small steps at a time in that direction.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 18, 2007 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

It may be the end of the Inhofe Era soon in more ways than one -- I think the SOB is beatable in 2008, even in a state as Neanderthal as Oklahoma. Survey USA gives him only a 46-41 approval rating there -- and Democratic Gov. Brad Henry (who originally got in by a fluke; an independent right-winger bled off 14% of the vote from the GOP candidate) is spectacularly popular and just won reelection with 67%. (There's also Rep. Daniel Boren.) The Dems should definitely NOT ignore Inhofe as a possible target while they're focusing on NH, Minnesota and Colorado.

For that matter, the loathsome Sen. Cornyn is about equally weak in Texas, although it's harder to think of a Democratic candidate capable of taking him out. But if it hadn't been for those two independent gubernatorial candidates in Texas last time, Gov. Perry would have been in a tossup fight with Democrat Chris Bell.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 18, 2007 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

David Roberts on January 18, 2007 at 6:41 PM

I responded to SecularAnimist too soon. I'll head directly to your gristmill. Welcome here.

My wife an I used to buy electricity from a renewable resource, but it went broke when Californians stopped paying their bills early in the electricity crisis. Now we don't have a choice (unless things changed, which I'll have to check.)

Posted by: calibantwo on January 18, 2007 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

I would have preferred to wait for the technology to get better, but had my hand forced when a bleach-blond with fake boobs chatting on her cell and driving an SUV creamed me one morning when I was on my way home from the hospital. My paid-for Ford Ranger was totaled, so I had my hand forced. Had I had to pay retail, no way. But my husband has an uncle who retired from Ford last summer, so we double-dipped: We got the family plan pricing, and and we took the tax credit.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 18, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

a bleach-blond with fake boobs

On a more serious note, how can you tell real blonde and boob from fakes?

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 18, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

"I tremble for my country"

Ain't your country, asshole. No one who is as eager as you and your ilk to shit on the Constitution gets to call it his country.

Posted by: CN on January 18, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

David Roberts: But nuclear's problems have gone nowhere. Each nuke plant is fantastically expensive, uninsurable, subsidized out the wazoo, vulnerable to terrorist attack or accident, and constantly generating waste that we still don't know what to do with.

I sometimes find it hard to accept that a society that permits alcohol, marijuana, other drugs, automobiles, tobacco and home cooking can not accept the much smaller risks from nuclear energy.

And yet, I have friends and family who will not buy the cheaper, energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs because the color does not match the color of the incandescent bulbs that they are used to. Now the big thing in lighting is white LEDs. We have some (even a solar powered one to light our driveway), but they are dim.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 18, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

calibantwo, believe me, I read all the time about promising research into new ways of creating ethanol -- grasses, agricultural waste, algae, etc. etc. I'm sure some of them will eventually pay dividends.

But every method of creating cellulosic ethanol, for now, is extremely expensive -- particularly when you factor in the fuel burned getting all the biomass to the refiner. Yields are low. Payoff is highly speculative.

In the meantime, we're funneling billions and billions of dollars to Big Corn and getting ready to build a huge corn ethanol infrastructure. That creates incredible inertia behind corn ethanol. To summarize: the promise of cellulosic is not a good argument for continuing corn ethanol subsidies.

Incidentally, a little while ago Grist did an extensive special series on Biofuels, which will tell you way more than you want to know about every aspect of the issue. Check it out:

http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2006/12/04/biofuels/

Posted by: David Roberts on January 18, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

calibantwo wrote: "I sometimes find it hard to accept that a society that permits alcohol, marijuana, other drugs, automobiles, tobacco and home cooking can not accept the much smaller risks from nuclear energy."

That's absurd. The risks from nuclear energy are enormous.

If the risks from nuclear energy were "small", then there would be no need for the Price-Anderson Act, through which the US taxpayers are responsible for all the costs of a nuclear power plant accident above a ridiculously low ceiling.

In reality, the risks are so great, that without the Price-Anderson Act, not one single commerical nuclear power plant would ever have been built or would be operating today, because the industry refuses to accept the risk.

And what the nuclear industry is lobbying for today, is not "permission" to build more nuclear power plants. They have been able to build all the nuclear power plants they want, all along. They haven't been building them, because nuclear power is not only enormously risky, but it is an economic failure. Nuclear power has received well over one hundred billion dollars in government subsidies since the 1950s, and it is still an economic failure. That's why the industry is now trying to get the Federal government (i.e. the US taxpayers) to pay all the costs of developing new power plant designs, to absorb all the risks, and -- get this -- to pay the energy companies if they have huge cost overruns because of safety problems with the new power plants.

Nuclear power is fundamentally a Soviet Stalinist era dinosaur that is utterly dependent on massive state subsidies and massive state security to operate. It has zero value for US energy independence and when the CO2 from plant construction and the entire nuclear fuel cycle from uranium mining to "waste disposal" (which doesn't exist) is taken into account, it has zero value in preventing global warming.

Its only value is in transferring money from the taxpayers to the coffers of big corporations.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 18, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

I've been reading David Robert's posts for a while now. Great stuff! They've also got Coby Beck over there who's done yeoman's work with the Global Warming Skeptics' Guide.

Just to update y'all, Chris Mooney wrote a reply to David's post:

http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2007/01/ripped_by_roberts.php

Posted by: JJ on January 18, 2007 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

David Roberts, I was reading you at the gristmill, and I thought that I would quote this:

I would prefer the Sanders bill, of course, but Dems need 60 votes to get past a filibuster, so they'll have to lure some Republicans -- not to mention intransigent Dems like West Virginia's Robert Byrd.
...
Note, as several reporters have, that one climate bill is sponsored by what may well turn out to be both parties' leading candidate for president in 2008. Action is happening in this area. The moment has finally arrived.

Those presidential candidates want to carry some of the farm states in the 2008 primaries: Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina, California (think of the rice!). You might as well accept that, tactically, the way forward is what crops to subsidize, not the abandonment of subsidies.

The subsidies can be withdrawn if the fuel factories are commercially successful.

I share your excitement that there are 4 bills in the senate, and even the weakest bill is a step forward. My reading of the biofuels lit is considerably more optimistic than yours; even that bit about biofuels contributing to the net sequestration of CO2 was news. The trucks that carry the mass to the fuel factory also carry the unused dry residues back to the farm, thus obviating the use of fuel-hungry manufactured fertilizer, and the necessity to transport it.

Not all big corporations oppose your strategy: think Siemens and GE in solar and wind, and the large combine that is putting up the windfarms in Texas. GE also makes the IGCC that you write good words about.

Anyhow, the gristmill is good. Keep it up.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 18, 2007 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

The risks from nuclear energy are enormous.

Alcohol and autos combine for about 20,000 deaths per year in auto accidents alone. There are an additional 20,000 deaths due to autos without alcohol. Alcohol kills hundreds of thousands more in cirrhosis, crime, heart disease, cancer. That's in addition to ruined lives.

The US will start rebuilding nuclear power stations after they see how well the new ones under construction in India and China work.

Those 20,000 figures are not exact, just easy to remember. The estimate is that about half of auto-accident related fatalaties are caused by drunk drivers.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 18, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

not a good argument for continuing corn ethanol subsidies.

just to be clear, that wasn't what I was recommending. In N. Cal. a lot of corn and rice are grown that are dependent on the state subsidy of water. It would be a step forward to subsidize biofuels instead, then withdraw the subsidy once the plants were up and running and profitable.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 18, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

calibantwo wrote: "The US will start rebuilding nuclear power stations after they see how well the new ones under construction in India and China work."

Tell you what. Let's repeal the Price-Anderson Act, and let the energy companies be fully responsible for the "small risks" of nuclear power plants. And let's reduce Federal subsidies for nuclear power plant construction by a factor of 20 or more, so they are comparable to the subsidies for wind and solar. Also, let's make the energy corporations pay for the full cost of nuclear waste disposal (whatever that eventually is, since no such thing exists at present).

Then let's see how many nuclear power plants the
"free market" is willing to build.

We already know the answer. It's the same number they've been willing to build in the last couple of decades.

Zero.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 18, 2007 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

The risks are small. The cost of a catastrophic failure, however, is not.

Posted by: Disputo on January 18, 2007 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

And let's reduce Federal subsidies for nuclear power plant construction by a factor of 20 or more, so they are comparable to the subsidies for wind and solar.

That's a good idea.

If it were up to me, they'd transport the spent fuel back to the uranium mines and bury it there. The transportation infrastructure is already in place, and there would be no net increase in radioactivity over the long run. However, they could leave it all out in the open inside the containment bldgs of the reactors and still not raise the risk of radiation-induced ill health to the levels caused by autos or alcohol. How many people in total, world-wide, have died from the system that we have now? How many deaths have resulted from the French Super Phenix breeder reactors? Even down-wind from Chernobyl, most cases of the diseases whose incidence was increased by the disaster were of natural causes, and even there more people have died in auto accidents and alcohol-related diseases.

One of the toxic ingredients in solar PV cells is selenium. The toxic waste from 1,000MW of solar generating capacity would exceed the toxic waste from a 1,000MW nuclear reactor, and it would be toxic forever, unless harvested. I did this computation during the electricity crisis; PV cells are better now, but not risk-free. A humor-minded physics professor at Colorado state predicted that more people would die installing PV panels than ever die from nuclear radiation. More people will die of cancer from cosmic ray exposure received while skiing than ever die of radiation poisoning. This can't be checked, but the basic point is: nothing is without risk, but the actual risks of many things exceed the actual risks of nuclear power accidents and nuclear fuel exposure.

And for what it's worth, burning coal releases a great deal of radioactivity into the atmosphere because of the contamination of coal with radium and uranium. I suppose that can be sequestered as well as mercury can, but it's something to think about.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 18, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

So a Honda Accord hybrid only gets 37 mpg? That's interesting.

I've been driving a Civic hybrid for 3 years, and I reliably get 41-42 mpg around town and 45-46 mpg on the highway. Not a single maintenance issue yet either.

Posted by: gemini on January 18, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Support biodiesel: eat meat.

Posted by: grumpy realist on January 19, 2007 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

My current 1992 Honda with 230K miles still gets 30 mpg. Shouldn't, after 15 years, we expect more progress than that?
Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 18, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

My 1972 VW Karmann Ghia (convertible) gets 36 mpg on the highway (with the top down).

Well - then it gets about 12 mpg driving round town. :( - I don't drive this car much.

sUpport biodiesel; eat meat.
pOsted by; grUmPy realIsT On JANuaRY !

I don't get it.

But it's French Fries that's the real Biodiesel booster. (my buddy at work modded his 84 mercedes to run on SVO - straight vegetable oil; then the biodiesel craze took hold, and now he can scarcely find the stuff).

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 19, 2007 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't be too long until the president comes right into line...unless we're going to let shit hit fan in this country for the next year...how silly would that be?

Win-win solutions for billions of folks are always the best.

Posted by: Jimm on January 19, 2007 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

calibantwo wrote: "The toxic waste from 1,000MW of solar generating capacity would exceed the toxic waste from a 1,000MW nuclear reactor"

That's rubbish.

See this US Department of Energy web page entitled "Implications of PV Manufacturing and Production" and the 1998 National Renewable Energy Laboratory paper it links to (PDF), "Environmentally Benign Silicon Solar Cell Manufacturing", for accurate information.

"A variety of chemicals are used to produce PV cells. Some PV systems use small amounts of toxic chemicals such as cadmium and selenium. Using these chemicals causes PV factories to generate a small amount of hazardous waste, which is disposed of in accordance with local, state, and federal environmental laws. In terms of safety and health, simple protective and administrative measures effectively protect those who work on PV. In terms of the environment, PV production produces small amounts of waste materials, but it is minimal relative to emissions from conventional energy sources."

-- US Department Of Energy

It is beyond belief that you think transporting hundreds of tons of high level radioactive waste all over the country is "low risk".

You are clearly ill-informed and irrational on the subject of nuclear power and its risks.

It's Groundhog Day at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
By David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists
September 27, 2006
MinuteManMedia.org

Excerpt:

A new report on [long-term shutdowns of nuclear power plants] shows nuclear power in the United States is more dangerous and more costly than necessary. Since the first commercial plant opened 40 years ago, reactor shutdowns of a year or longer have occurred a staggering 51 times at 41 different plants. Most of these were due to widespread safety problems that eventually could not be ignored. While these reactors shut down before they experienced a major accident, we cannot assume our luck will hold.

Some proponents of nuclear power have dismissed such safety concerns by arguing that no United States nuclear plant has experienced a meltdown since Three Mile Island's partial one in 1979. That's as fallacious as arguing that the levees protecting New Orleans were fully adequate prior to Hurricane Katrina because there were no similar disasters between 1980 and 2004.

The tremendous cost of these shutdowns -- a total of nearly $82 billion in lost revenue -- suggests how intently operators try to avoid them, and how serious shutdowns are when they occur. But nuclear reactors that are not operated as safely as possible are accidents waiting to happen.

[...]

Most of the shutdowns happened because safety margins at the plants were allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that reactor operations could not continue. Inadequate attention to safety by plant owners and operators, combined with poor oversight by the NRC, caused 36 of the 51 year-plus outages. There are 104 nuclear power reactors in the United States. Forty-one have experienced year-long outages. A 1-in-3 chance of incurring a year-plus outage was not part of the bargain when these plants were built and licensed.

Since 1973, long-term safety-related shutdowns have occurred, on average, once per year. Despite the continued need for these shutdowns, the NRC has not adequately improved its oversight of nuclear safety. The NRC should detect falling safety margins and intervene before it takes longer than a year to restore safety to acceptable levels [...] Nuclear power is clearly not safe enough when so many reactors have to shut down for so long to restore safety to acceptable levels.

The author of the above article, David Lochbaum, currently with the Union of Concerned Scientists, holds a degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee and worked for nearly 20 years in the nuclear power industry prior to joining UCS.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 19, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

What's amusing is when the global warming people scream, it was the hottest day on record in a hundred years! So, um, you're saying it used to be hotter.

Aren't they finding evidence of sheep farming from centuries ago in Greenland?

But of course it's not cyclical. The sky is falling.

Global warming alarmism = the new millenialism

Posted by: Dan on January 19, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Dan wrote: "Global warming alarmism = the new millenialism"

Your ignorance and stupidity = the same old, same old ignorance and stupidity

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 19, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Secular,

What do you say when people can point to evidence of warmer climates in the past? Like vineyards in England, things like that? Do you address this in your argument? If so, how?

And why, if someone like Al Gore is such a genius on the topic and is going around touring and promoting a movie, does he avoid a debate?

And, if it's such a cut-and-dry case, why are scientific proponents of global warming trying to silence critics rather than debate them?

Posted by: Dan on January 19, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Secular, it's an exercise in futility. Their position comes from a place of such abject ignorance that I can't dumb it down enough.

When they produce just one juried article that casts doubt, I might - might give them the time of day. Until then, they are whistling past the graveyard, and they know it too.

Dan is part of the 25% lost-cause contingent and I have educable people to talk to who won't waste my time.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 19, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

I point to ice core samples that indicate that the warming now is anthropogenic and I point out ppm CO2 concentrations.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 19, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

When you point out CO2 concentrations, do you ever consider the fact that its possible the climate effects of CO2 have been exaggerated?

Is it true that the upper layers of the world's oceans are actually becoming cooler?

Posted by: Dan on January 19, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I have access to the journals through the academic database. I have access to actual working scientists, being one and all.

You deniers have nothing but belief.

We have the fucking science.

I repeat. Find just one juried article. One. Juried. Article. Just one. Scientists are a contrarian lot - we aren't engaging in some vast conspiracy to silence anyone. The mere idea is laughable! You obviously don't know any scientists! We love to catch another scientist with their pants down. It's why scientific fraud always gets exposed, and usually quite quickly.

The deniers don't have science to back them up, they have petro-dollars and willing dupes.

C'mon back when you find that peer-reviewed peice that doesn't exist.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 19, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Dan, you are ignorant about global warming.

Sorry to be so blunt and harsh, but it is really as simple as that.

Your comments suggest that you have a bunch of disinformation and misinformation, originating from right-wing Republican propagandists to whom anything that Al Gore says must be a lie, and/or the fossil fuel industry, such as ExxonMobil which has spent millions of dollars funding fake "think tanks" to lie to the public about global warming so that no one will do anything to reduce oil consumption.

You need to educate yourself.

Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth is a great place to start, but you are probably incapable of listening to Al Gore without being blinded by hate.

Another source of good information on climate change is the website www.RealClimate.org, which is a blog run by actual climate scientists. Some of the information there is highly technical, but much of it is accessible to nonscientists as well. And you will find many of the denialist talking points that you have mentioned rebutted in detail there.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 19, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Two important articles:

The first discusses the soon-to-be-released Fourth Assessment Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Landmark UN Study Backs Climate Theory
by Peter Gorrie
January 19, 2007
The Toronto Star

Excerpt:

A major new United Nations report shows global scientists are more convinced than ever that human activity is causing climate change, the Toronto Star has learned.

The rate of warming between now and 2030 is likely to be twice that of the previous century, it says.

And it concludes that most of the global warming since the middle of the last century has been caused by man-made greenhouse gases.

The report, to be released in Paris Feb. 2, should all but end any debate on climate change and compel governments and industries to take urgent measures to deal with it, scientists say.

The second reports that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are increasing much faster than scientist had expected:

Surge in Carbon Levels Raises Fears of Runaway Warming
by David Adam
January 19, 2007
The Guardian / UK

Excerpt:

Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than scientists expected, raising fears that humankind may have less time to tackle climate change than previously thought.

New figures from dozens of measuring stations across the world reveal that concentrations of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, rose at record levels during 2006 - the fourth year in the last five to show a sharp increase. Experts are puzzled because the spike, which follows decades of more modest annual rises, does not appear to match the pattern of steady increases in human emissions.

At its most far reaching, the finding could indicate that global temperatures are making forests, soils and oceans less able to absorb carbon dioxide - a shift that would make it harder to tackle global warming. Such a shift would worsen even the gloomy predictions of the Stern Review which warned that we had little over a decade to tackle rising emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Also, yesterday (1/18) The New York Times had an article about the climate change legislation currently proposed in the Senate, with some nice charts comparing the projected effects on CO2 levels of the different proposals. And today (1/19) the Times has an article about a coalition of ten major corporations including "industry giants like General Electric, DuPont and Alcoa" that have "banded together with leading environmental groups to call for a firm nationwide limit on carbon dioxide emissions that would lead to reductions of 10 to 30 percent over the next 15 years."

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 19, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Secular,

You didn't answer the question. Are the upper layers of the oceans getting cooler? If so, why?

Posted by: Dan on January 19, 2007 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

The seas are not cooling.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 19, 2007 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

By the way - when you make an outrageous claim, it is incumbent upon you to back it up, not on someone else to debunk your bullshit statement.

I think you need to find a scientific source to cite, not just toss disinformation out there with demands that someone else do the heavy lifting of proof/disproof for you.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 19, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

At Grist, we have a detailed guide called "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic." It's a series of fairly short pieces addressing individual arguments like the old chestnuts Dan's digging up. If you ever want to arm yourself, this is the definitive place to go.

Posted by: David Roberts on January 20, 2007 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks David. I bookmarked that about a month ago, and visit your site frequently, although I don't think I have ever commented.

I have just lost patience with the shills like Dan. He isn't a skeptic, he's a moron. When he learns the difference between "Climate" and "Weather" and when he realizes that fluctuation is normal and el Nino and la Nina affect ocean temperatures, and how ocean temps affect weather...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 20, 2007 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist: "A variety of chemicals are used to produce PV cells. Some PV systems use small amounts of toxic chemicals such as cadmium and selenium. Using these chemicals causes PV factories to generate a small amount of hazardous waste, which is disposed of in accordance with local, state, and federal environmental laws. In terms of safety and health, simple protective and administrative measures effectively protect those who work on PV. In terms of the environment, PV production produces small amounts of waste materials, but it is minimal relative to emissions from conventional energy sources."
...
-- US Department Of Energy
...
It is beyond belief that you think transporting hundreds of tons of high level radioactive waste all over the country is "low risk".
...
You are clearly ill-informed and irrational on the subject of nuclear power and its risks.

1. I was referring to the polluting effects of 1000MW of generating capacity. Once they start manufacturing such large numbers of PV cells, the pollution will be considerable. I also was including the PV cells themselves to be pollutants once they wear out. If California ever manages to produce 25% of its electricity by PV cells, that will amount to something like 12,000MW, and at that scale there will considerable pollution.

Luckily, PV generating capacity can only be installed slowly, so by that time maybe there will be a solution.

2. What standard for "low" do you consider low? More people have died from the electricity generated by nuclear fueled plants (electrocutions, fires), than from the fuel in the time that they have been in operation. The biggest risk in transporting fuel is the risk of the motor vehicle accident itself, not from the released radioactivity. Aggregate statistics from deaths and dismemberment due to the transport of liquid fuel I do not have, but fuel transport is not risk free. There is a greater cancer risk from hiking at high altitude than from living downwind from a nuclear power plant; and there is greater risk of radiation exposure living downwind from a coal-fired plant than from a nuclear plant.

You are ignoring well-documented risks from actual use and considering hypothetical risks from counter-factual assumptions.

No fuel has all the costs included in the price. Coal produces costly pollution; gas and petroleum require the military to guarantee the sea lanes, police to guard the pipelines; and gas and petroleum result in fires and explosions in routine use; and there are deaths due to pollution where the pollutants accumulate. Power tools and driving cause accidents; installing PV cells on rooftops will cause accidents; coal mining causes accidents and black lung; mining and transporting gas causes accidents; when farmers start growing lots of fuel, then farming accidents (compared to most, farming is a dangerous occupation) will be one of the costs of biofuels. As I mentioned, even downwind from Chernobyl most leukemia and birth defects were from other causes.

Nuclear power is not "safe". Rather, the documented risks from the experience of the world in managing about 350 nuclear power reactors show that those risks are comparable to the risks of other electric power sources, and less than the societal risks of what the power is used for.

I am with you on the subsidies, however. I see no good reason to subsidize nuclear more than other fuel, but I do also think that the cost of the military and the air pollution, including CO2 accumulation, need to be considered in the cost of hydrocarbon fuels. To the degree that those costs are paid for by government, the subsidies to the nuclear industry are not too great.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 20, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly