A New Year's Resolution to reduce greenhouse gases? Palo Alto Issues, posted by Losing Sleep, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 10:30 am
Every day, I read new and more heart-breaking news about the effects of climate change around the world. Here, for instance, is today’s headline: Web Link
It strikes me that we Palo Altans are in a prime position to take a leadership role in showing people elsewhere in the country how to reduce our carbon emissions and start taking actions to reverse the trend of global warming. We are, for instance, an affluent, well-educated, liberal-minded community seated in the heart of a technology capital, and many of us have children who will inherit the planet that we adults leave behind – whatever shape it may be in.
What keeps us as individuals from doing more to prevent this (theoretically) preventable disaster from occurring? There are so many little things we all could be doing – not to mention the bigger actions we could take – but many of us still want to ignore the problem.
Word is that we have ten years to do an about face on our carbon-emitting lifestyles. When will we start? What keeps us from starting today? I am losing sleep over this, and I would like to hear others’ thoughts on this.
Posted by Hopeful, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 12:25 pm
We definitely have opportunities to make some changes in our lifestyles here in PA. I just picked up my mail and there was a thing from PaloAlto Green that lets you buy a $10 gift card in someone's honor to divert 500 pounds of greenhouse gases. I think that's a nice idea. I hope everyone takes advantage of it -- I sure will.
I heard that only about 20 percent of Palo Alto households are taking advantage of Palo Alto Green. That's a program that only costs a few extra bucks each month, and it makes a huge difference in the environment because it ensures that all a subscriber's electrical energy comes from clean, non-polluting sources.
Posted by Losing Sleep, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2006 at 12:48 pm
In response to Gary's comment, I say... maybe. I personally have great reservations about the safety of the nuclear power plant approach. More to the point, what's the viability of that idea? It seems about as likely to happen quickly as the Bush administration putting energy into alternative-fuel vehicles. And on that note, where does the nuclear power plant approach get us on transportation? Greenhouse gases from transportation remain a huge problem, right?
It seems increasingly obvious that we all need to start making little lifestyle changes. If we wait for these big changes, our window of opportunity is going to come and go.
I really believe we all have to attack this at the personal level -- because it's going to affect us all very personally if we don't.
Posted by Gary, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2006 at 1:30 pm
Losing Sleep, you will lose a whole lot of sleep if nuclear power does NOT go big time.
All the persoanls steps you are talking about are good for you and other than choose to take them. I have made such choices for years, and I think my use of energy is realtively low. However, when I need to send my kids to the hospital for an MRI, I could care less about energy consumption.
Nuclear power is the ONLY source of greenhouse-free-gas electricity to power electric or hydrogen cars. Nuclear is the base load. Solar doesn't work at night; wind is also unreliable. Nuclear is an almost infinite supply of energy. Nuclear wastes can be handled in a safe manner.
Posted by Phil, a resident of another community, on Dec 13, 2006 at 3:03 pm
I definitely agree that aggressive implementation of nuclear power with spent fuel reprocessing, as well as aggressive implementation of plug in hybrid auto technology has the best chance of solving a number of problems, including global warmaing and energy security. Renewables are great but they distract us from the real task at hand, replacing coal with nuclear for base load electricity.
Posted by Joanna, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2006 at 4:16 pm
Way to go, Trudy. That's fantastic! Acterra (our local environmental group) also has a really good carbon offset program, called Cool It! -- you can check it out here: Web Link
There's a good carbon calculator there, too.
Looking at the headline on this thread, I think Trudy's got a really good potential New Year's resolution: Offset more than you emit. Fortunately, given the benefits of computer networks and bike technology, I don't drive all that much these days, but I still have plenty of emissions to offset.
Posted by Carroll, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2006 at 9:13 pm
Brian Ward, City of Palo Alto Utilities, told me today that 16.3% or 4,040 residents, are signed up for PaloAltoGreen. They are aiming for 20%, but I would like to see a minimum of 50%. The City announced today that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the clean energy commitment made by our PaloAltoGreen members and the City of Palo Alto. The Palo Alto community qualifies as the first EPA-certified Green Power Community in California! Palo Alto is the first city in the state, and the fifth in the nation, to achieve this honorable distinction. If you only take one action before the end of the year, sign up for PaloAltoGreen! I am going to ask them to put a noticable link on its website.
The Mayor's Green Ribbon Task Force for Climate Protection will be discussing its recommendations at a City Council study session on Monday, 7 pm. The report will be available on the City's website tomorrow afternoon. Go to www.cityofpaloalto.org, then Agendas/Minutes/Reports, then City Council Agendas/Minutes, then December 18. I urge you to download the report and read it, because the Task Force is making important recommendations that will have policy and budget impliciations.
Also the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce is initiating its Palo Alto Business Goes Green program. Watch for more details on this!
Posted by green, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 7:05 am
how can we palo altans pretend to support the reduction of greenhouse gases, when most of us ignore a city ordinance that prohibits the use of gasoline powered leafblowers. disregarding the ordinance that was passed about a year and a half ago, possibly 80 percent of the gardeners have kept using those high pulluting machines with the passive and sometime direct support of the homeowners who hired them. all the rhetoric about reducing greenhouse gases is worthless if people behave selfishly when it comes to their own backyard.
Posted by Walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 9:38 am
While we are at it - how about air quality. I often walk out and about during the evening. The air quality on these still, cool evenings is very poor. Too many people insist that it is their right to pollute the atmosphere by burning wood in their fireplaces. England banned smoke pollution from fireplaces decades ago and the "London Fog" is no more. Please take time to think what damage your fireplace is doing to the rest of us.
Posted by Hopeful, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 10:31 am
Leaf blowers and fires are definitely problems. There are some bigger problems that are elements of that "incovenient truth" Al Gore was talking about. We all like to travel, Palo Alto is a particularly well-traveled community. But much travel involves flying, which is a huge contributor to global warming. (See Web Link)
How about this New Year's resolution: fly less, and if you have to fly, offset your emissions with carbon credits (see link from previous message, Web Link )
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 12:28 pm
There is quite a bit of misunderstanding and misinformation infused into this thread. The plain truth - inconvenient though it may be - is that if Al Gore and the other doomsayers are correct, it will take much more than the symbolic or mildly inconvenient life style changes most posters on this thread seem to be contemplating. Fluorescent light bulbs, signing up for green power and using electric leaf blowers - even if we all did these things - don't affect the prospects for climate change as predicted by the models even within the margin of error of the calculations. The same is true even of the more drastic reductions called for by Kyoto: even if every country - signatories and non-signatories alike lived up to the Kyoto accords, climate change models still would predict catastrophic warming in the next century.
Absent some unexpected technological advance, nothing less than wholesale elimination of private automobiles, severe restrictions on recreational air travel, mandated dietary changes (livestock account for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. US automobile travel accounts for 6%), wholesale nuclear power adoption, and other drastic lifestyle alterations and lowered living standards will solve the Global Warming problem.
As the failure of most signatories to live up even to the milder Kyoto restrictions indicate, this kind of change probably isn't possible in modern democratic countries.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are fine feel-good baubles for us liberal Palo Altans, but they have virtually nothing to do with the problems we fact if Al Gore is right.
Posted by Hopeful, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 3:31 pm
Dave, Al Gore is no doomsayer. If you've watched the movie (have you?), he puts out a message of hope: we can fix this if we get on it right now. Sadly, though, there are many doomsayers who take the tone you've taken in your message, which is, effectively, "We're past hope, so why bother?" Honestly, I think that's a very "convenient" rationalization for not doing anything. Many scientists agree that we can make a difference if we act swiftly. And what may seem to you like "symbolic" little lifestyle changes can actually make a huge difference when you scale them out to larger populations.
Let me ask you this: You have one vote on election day. Do you choose not to vote because your one vote is too small? I hope you do your part, Dave. I hope we all do, because I don't want to have to look my children in the eye 20 years from now and tell them we could have saved the planet for them, but we just liked driving around in our big cars too much.
Posted by Periwinkle, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 7:22 pm
Every school kid should be required to watch Al Gore's presentation. IN fact, he shuold do a "kid's version" of his Powerpoint presentation.
We're going to get cleaner, no doubt about it, but we have to do better than we've been doing.
Last, to all the nuclear proponents, I say "don't waste your time!" (pun intended). We have to do more on the conservation side, and look to fuels innovation to bring ourselves into balance. As a for instance, check this out. Web Link
Posted by Carroll, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 7:56 pm
I have just joined the Sustainable Schools Committee and went to my first meeting today. It has already accomplished a great deal in the PAUSD, and has plans for even more. There was an excellent Weekly cover story a few months ago and what the PAUSD is doing to "green" its buildings and curriculum. Will find the link and post it.
Posted by Joanna, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 8:50 am
Speaking of Al Gore and headlines, there's an eye-opening article on SFGate this morning about how Gore is imploring the scientific community to translate their findings into recommendations for policy solutions and to speak out against censorship and manipulation of research. Web Link
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 10:50 am
You misread my post completely. My point isn't "why bother?" My point is that the fix for this problem isn't the voluntary incrementalism you and others seem to think it is. Changes of the kind folks here are writing about, even when 'scaled', don't even move the needle on the climate change models. And they don't even begin to compensate for the increased GH emissions in China and India, let alone start us down the road to the huge reductions that the climate change models say we need to make a difference.
YOu want to save the earth? Then stop fiddling around with your light fixtures and support mandatory worldwide curbs on consumption. Anything else is just feel-good pablum.
Posted by Gary, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 11:24 am
"Last, to all the nuclear proponents, I say "don't waste your time!" (pun intended). We have to do more on the conservation side, and look to fuels innovation to bring ourselves into balance. As a for instance, check this out. Web Link"
Please tell us where the electrcity will come from (to produce hydrogen) as we move over to the hydrogen economy.
Posted by Jeff, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 1:24 pm
Gary is right. All these alternative energy proposals and conservation proposals cost money. There is a lot of wishful thinking on this board. There will be a lot of costs to us all as we battle global warming and we'll all have to curtail our wasteful lifestyles. Conversion to hydrogen, wind, solar.....won't come cheaply or easily.
Posted by Gary, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 2:35 pm
Cost is a factor, but not the ultimate deal killer. I want to know where and how the electricity will be generated for electolysis that converts water into hydrogen. It is a physics/engineering question, not, primarily, an economic question.
Hydrogen is not a source of energy. It is a means of transferring/transporting energy. How is the electricity going to be produced to produce the hydrogen? Coal? Oil? Natural gas? Solar? Wind? Hydro? Nuclear?
I will bet anyone on this thread that the only feasible source is nuclear.
Posted by Jeff, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 2:56 pm
No disagreements at all. Your point that hydrogen isn't itself an energy source - and that it takes electricity from other sources, all of which have the same problems when used to produce hydrogen as when consumed directly - is an apt one. We still need to solve the Greenhouse Gas problem related to these fuels. As you point out, nuclear is the only card on the table right now. There isn't enough non-nuclear green energy capacity or easily reachable potential to make much of a difference.
I disagree however that cost may not be a deal-killer once people find out the magnitude of what's required in the way of sacrifice. Even if the engineering issue you mention is solved, it will take huge infrastructure and other investments to convert our current energy consumption to one based largely on hydrogen. I wouldn't be surprised if it's 1x or 2xGDP. That will be real cost, real pain, and real reductions in living standards. Too many people on this board, and elsewhere, act like we can solve Global Warming on the cheap and without much personal sacrifice - thus all the commentary about Compact Fluorescents and leafblowers, etc. (I guess they think the oil companies will pay for it.) This simply isn't so. Would those on this board smugly thinking they're making their fair contribution to the solution be so sanguine if they found out that what's really required of them is a 30% or 40% decline (or even a 10% decline) in their living standards?
Posted by Gary, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 4:07 pm
10-20% efficiencies can probably be achieved. Even with life-style reductions (very problematic in terms of politics, but theoretically possible), these savings will be eaten up by increassed population.
Alternatives will make a contribution, as they should, but only nuclear will provide the necessary punch. I can't see any other way, even though I would truly like to believe that solar and wind and insulation, etc. could do it.
The way I see things, nuclear is the greenest way to go.
Posted by Bob Wenzlau, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 7:03 pm Bob Wenzlau is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Our Palo Alto company, Terradex, has been working to visualize global warming impact, and allow the impact to be contemplated at a local level. The global warming contributions from 28,000 US cities are displayed on Google Earth (or our the the Google Maps). Each city's impact has been projected based on their demographics, power mix, transportation and climate. The predictions reasonably align with government benchmarks. We are hoping to maintain (and improve) this information tool, thereby facilitating cities comparing their relative global warming contributions, and then publicizing their success. Within the map, as one clicks on a city's impact icon, a link introduces a global warming calculator customized for the city. With the calculator one can compare relative contributions from activities within the home. We are experimenting with this as an approach to introduce the topic to new audiences.
Similarly, we have generated a presentation of 200,000 polluted sites across the United States on Google Earth. Again, the chance to visualize the breadth of our impact, can only help facilitate understanding and action.
(While obviously this is a bit of self-promotion, I think the contributions that business should be introduced)
Posted by John, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 7:16 pm
Does your model resolve the conflict between satellite microwave troposphere temperature meaurements vs. suface level thermometer measurements? Thermometer measurements are subject to 'island' effects, as I am sure you are aware of.
Posted by Howard, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 12:46 am
Everyone within earshot of this post is three standard deviations above the mean (and that's an 800 on the college boards) insofar as green purity is concerned. That is true even if, like me, you pay no attention to lessening greenhouse gases or other such causes. The reason is that we live in this area. We have the good sense to live in a mild climate. You may barbeque, or use a wood fireplace and so on, but you are nonetheless better than 99.99% of the world on this issue. You seldom, if ever, turn on an air conditioner. In winter, it hardly ever even approaches freezing. Most anywhere else, at least in the US, the heaters or the coolers are going full blast for maybe 8 months out of the year, burning fuel directly or indirectly, at a breathtaking rate. Anyone in Palo Alto that lifts a finger to do anything at all to further save energy is being ridiculously altruistic, given how far ahead of the curve they are by just living here. Maybe some get some smug satisfacation for "setting an example", but leave me out of it. Don't regulate one bit of my life, until the rest of the world catches up to us.
Posted by SilverBullet, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 1:05 am
I'm inclined to agree with Howard. I think we should celebrate living in a place where people do feel like doing something good to heal the world. However, I think ultimately its just "living" that produces all these greenhouse gasses. Lets not forgot all the other toxic chemicals used that might not be "greenhouse" per se, but are still harmful - what about them? I mean, how many tons of toxic stuff was used to manufacture and print all the DVD's of "an inconvenient truth?" making conservation work would require us to pretty much stop living in the modern world. All these "pollution credits" and "carbon credits" are a fun idea, but ultimately its all voluntary and its all the honor system. So, do we want a completely statist solution where you can't buy anything new? Not me. I want a new Blu-Ray player. Do you think you are going to make some person in a rural part of China stop using their wood-burning stove during the winter when its freezing cold out? Are you going to make a village in Bangladesh stop manufacturing bricks with a giant oven? Its just not practical.
So, if you wish to pollute less, I encourage and celebrate that.
Posted by Losing Sleep, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 8:15 am
Howard and Silver Bullet,
An important point that you both are missing is that we can't push the problem onto the rest of the world by saying that we're not the culprits, because in fact we are.
We in the US are the world's largest energy consumer and biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, spewing about 25 percent of all global warming emissions. Yes -- one quarter of the world's emissions, right here. We are consumers -- we want our new Blu-Ray player -- and we consume like no other country in the world.
That's the national perspective. From the local perspective, as I mentioned in my original post, we here in Palo Alto are in a position to take a leadership role on this issue. We can begin to set standards and norms that can and will be picked up by other countries. Here in Silicon Valley we can help drive new technologies. We can demand political change -- as well as making lifestyle changes. I live here because I feel that this community has the strength of character to take that leadership role -- don't we?
And if we don't, who will take it on? Where will the leadership come from? Doesn't it frighten you to think of the very real consequences? That's what I really don't understand -- why more people are not concerned about the dire outcome of *not* acting now.
What I would like to hear from other people out there is what it would take to help them start the change process.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 8:43 am
Howard's post makes the point that it will be impossible to achieve anything near the reductions in GH hasses necessary to impact the impending warming crisis without some sort of dictatorial mandatory lifestyle limitations. As he quite honestly points out, we Palo Altan's are more aware of this issue than 99% of the world, and yet he says, "don't regulate one bit of my life." If he feels this way (an attitude which I would venture is shared by a majority of people around here), imagine what people in Texas will say when we tell them they should turn off their air conditioners - or stop driving their SUV's and pickpups.
(And you compact fluorescent mongers shouldn't feel so smug: when you're asked to start taking the bus instead of your Prius, set your winter thermostat to 60 degrees, and forgo your European vacation this year, are you going to meekly comply in the interests of the common good? Or are you going to come up with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about "taking leadership, setting standards and norms and driving new Silicon Valley technologies", while you think you can change to compact fluorescents and otherwise carry on with life as before?)
Handwringing and "Losing Sleep" isn't enough. It's time for steep mandatory restrictions on the profligate American lifestyle. And we need to take forceful international action to see that the rest of the world doesn't follow in our wasteful footsteps in its attempts to match our consumption levels.
Posted by Chris, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 8:51 am
This is a very interesting thread. Reading through it, it seems to me like SilverBullet and Dave both have analyzed the issues correctly: we aren't going anywhere on global warming without some sort of heavy government restrictions on our lives. It's a close call, but given the threat to freedom posed by the alternative, when SilverBullet and Dave are running for office in a few years, I'm voting for SilverBullet. I do kind of hope the gloomiest predictions of the Al Gores are wrong however.
Posted by Bob Wenzlau, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 10:47 am Bob Wenzlau is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
You wondered how we assembled our model. First, the model's purpose is to allow carbon (equivalent) emmisions to be predicted at a city or household level. It does not attempt to model the result of those emissions in the atmosphere. Rather we rely upon policy directives to set the goals, and we begin to offer a prediction of a household's or city's progress toward those goals.
That being said, our challenge was to extrapolate global warming gas based upon local data including the utility power mix, the transportation projection, the waste projection and the climate. We work from various government data sources, and run algorithms that extrapolate CO2 equivalent from various activities. The algortithm's result approach predictions.
I appreciate that my explanation is a bit general and light. We will work to publish a more in depth discussion of the source and algorithm. If the algorithm is vetted, then greater trust can be placed into the model and tool. I expect with that would come some suggestions to improve it.
Posted by SilverBullet, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 10:50 am
I don't think I'll be running for office anytime soon! I'm trying to imagine scenarios where the government could actually change our lives to be more green, and do so in a fair and practical way. Its just not possible.
So much manufacturing is done outside of the US, so I guess you could slap gigantic import fees on those goods. That would no doubt lead to a huge black market. To prevent that, maybe the soldiers could come home from Iraq and break down our doors to make sure we don't have any contraband.
Of course you could shut down must manufacturing here, which would lead to mass unemployment. Mabye that would be good - if those formerly self sufficient people are wards of the state, the governement can decide how much they consume.
How about driving? No gas - no driving. Ration gas so that an average person could drive no more than 100 miles per week. If you ration gas, there would be a huge demand for more gas, and therefore, a black market for gas. More soldiers.
Energy use: did you buy your florescent lights yet? Manufacturing all those lights probably isn't a "green" activity by the way. Prepare to open your homes again to inspectors to make sure you don't have any of those evil incandescant lights. Maybe you could swap them out for the inspection, but to prevent that, the inspections could come at any time, day or night, and maybe the soldiers could provide an extra incentive to keep your florescents in.
Also, no electricty, no power consumption, so perhaps your electric meter could be made to ration your power, which would of course lead to tampering, which would lead to arrests.
Livestock contributes to greenhouse gases, so cattle breeding would have to be restricted, which would put t
I seriously doubt that nightmare scenario will happen, but I think you should appreciate that short of making draconian laws and enforcing them with draconian measures, its all voluntary. As usual, we must reflect on how its pretty easy to buy a prius if you have the spare change, but for someone who is barely making ends meet, they will do whatever they have to do get by. Who are we to tell someone who works their fingers to the bone that they can't have a some enjoyment in their life - like a new TV or video game system?
There is a phrase that gets batted around alot, and I think it means different things to different people. The phrase is, "Freedom isn't free." Some people think that freedom's price is the spilled blood of the soldiers and patriots who created this country, and I think that is part of it. The other part of it is that if we want freedom, we can't have utopia. For instance, the police may find you with 2 tons of cocaine on your coffee table, but if they failed to get a warrant, you'll probably go free. Someone might committ a brutal murder, and it may be very likely that they did it, but if the jury has any reasonable doubt, they must not find that person guilty.
The environment is inevitably going to pay the price for our excesses. But who decides what is excessive? In a free country, you decide, within reason. Defining that reasonable area is difficult, but historically I think we give deference to an individual as long as they aren't directly hurting someone else. Now, it can be said that having a large "carbon footprint" hurts others, but the degree to which it does isn't known. I don't think its wise to restrict freedom based simply on computer models and scientific theories. Freedom is sometimes restricted for public health, but that's usually when the threat is absolutely real an imminent - such as an infectious epidemic.
I apologize for not having the time to organize these thoughts more. To sum up, massive governmental restrictions are impracticable. If we could send a human being to the moon and back, we can find technology to solve the global warming problem. If you can't stand the excessive consumption of others, I feel for you, but my advice is: get used to it. There are economic and human forces at work that are far to powerful to stop.
Posted by KC, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 11:01 am
I have a serious question; I am not merely trying to provoke. Do those who see impending warming as the most serious crisis facing our world believe that climate stasis is achievable? I'm reading Brian Fagan's book The Long Summer, How Climate Changed Civilization, and he makes a case for various changes in climate causing almost all of both the advances AND collapses of civilization, worldwide. He compares the archeological and historical records with tree ring and ice core data from 35,000 BC to the present day. I agree that we need to stop polluting our environment - of course. But if the goal is to keep temperatures, precipitation, ocean currents and ice caps from changing, we're going to have to do more than reduce consumption and emissions. We're going to have to figure out how to actively change the climate back to our "norm" when some outside factor kicks in; and/or develop strategies to reduce the impact of inevitable changes. According to Fagan, human strategies in the past included greater cooperation with neighbors, (flipside - war and conquest), consolidation in cities with organized farming (flipside - dispersal and nomadism); and technological advances. As ever, we have choices to make and brains to inform those choices. Hand-wringing, sleep-losing fear of the future is not productive.
Posted by SilverBullet, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 11:02 am
Finally, I assume someone will respond by saying that I should imagine the economic and human consequences of not preventing global warming. Its true that the predictions are scary. I just feel that overall, I will take the "maybe" of the impact of global warming over the relative certainty of the loss of freedom, economic depression and social unrest that could be caused by massive governmentally imposed restriction. Lets face it - they might impose it, then if no global catastrophe linked to global warming occurs, the politicians imposing the restrictions would be voted out, and really nothing would change...unless you feel that a permanent military dictatorship is a better idea???
Posted by Carroll, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 1:46 pm
I agree with KC that "hand-wringing, sleep-losing fear of the future is not productive."
I hope that you all have read Sue Dremann's excellent article in Friday's paper about the recommendations from the Green Ribbon Task Force for Climate Protection that will be discussed in a City Council study session Monday at 7 pm. Web Link
I urge you to also check out the City Manager's report about the City joining the
International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Web Link This international organization of local governments will enable us to act even more effectively in cooperation with other cities. They gave an excellent presentation at a Green Ribbon Task Force meeting.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 4:36 pm
So, Carroll says, "I hope you all have read Sue Dremann's excellent article in in Friday's paper about the recommendations of the Green Ribbon Task Force.."
I did read the article. For those of you who missed it, here's a summary: "Task forces, Alternative Fuels, International Councils, Green Buildings, Fuel Efficient Vehicles, Solar, Energy efficient appliances, A Fund For Energy Consultants, Resource Centers, Offsets, 2020 Goals blah, blah..." and finally, "The City Needs To Study What It Costs".
Pardon my cynicism, but is all this feel-good discussion a little like Nero Fiddling While Rome Burns? Al Gore and the British government say we have one decade for taking drastic action to curtail green house emissions and that then it'll be too late to do anything. Meanwhile, we're studying goals for 2020. Losing Sleep is right: we're doomed.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 7:49 am
A Skeptical challenge to the Faith of Global Warming
I am old enough to remember planning how to move closer to the Equator so I could survive the coming "Ice Age" we were all going to die from.
I challenge you believers to read all the following sites. It will calm you down. Remember, Global Warming is not a religion, it is a science, and must be treated as such. Gore's movie was an embarrassment to anyone who calls himself a scientist.
( I will have to post these sites over several posts, it won't let me do them all at once)
Not saying we shouldn't do our best to keep our earth clean. Just saying that
1)We are unlikely responsible for much of the warming that is occuring in some parts of the world, just like we are probably not responsible for the much of the cooling in the other parts.
2)Assuming we can actually do anything to slow warming, the question is really 2 part
a) What benefits would we prevent from occuring from warming?
b) Is it worth a trillion dollars to have a very slim chance of lowering the earth's temperature by 1-2 degrees F? Or wouldn't that trillion dollars be better spent saving millions of lives per year by vaccinations, DDT spraying to kill the mosquitos that bring malaria, teaching how to grow food and hygiene to the starving people, bringing bug resistant crops to lands that lose much of their crops etc?
3) Be sure to read the link about Kyoto - Note how we are doing better than most of the signers of the Kyoto Protocol. That was all feel good hype intended to make people "feel better". WE, the USA, don't sign something unless we are sure we can follow it. Not so for most other countries, who sign such documents to make a statement. Many, many examples of this. WE also know that regulation is not the answer, and usually makes things worse.
Global Warming – Challenge for Believers to read the Rest of the Story
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 8:01 am
Skeptic's Challenge Part Three- Sorry, couldn't link you to this link, it is for Wall Street Journal Subscribers only. So, I decided to post it, though it is long.
For the rest of the story on pretty much everything else, I challenge all of you to read the editorials in the WSJ for just 3 months, and you will start to see how much power the media has to shape our opinions by leaving out news that should be reported, or presenting what news they report in a distorted or judgemental way.
Always research the source of the stories you read. Always go to reputable sources and read "all sides". It is hard and time consuming, but on critical issues such as this that influence our politics and policies, we must be fully informed about all our decisions, including unintended consequences.
Ok, I will leave all of you with this.
Kyoto Canard ( Wall Street Journal)
December 14, 2006
Climate-change activists and Democrats on Capitol Hill
are gearing up to push the U.S. to limit so-called
greenhouse gases. In their telling, America must save
mankind from an eco-Apocalypse by adopting the
arbitrary targets popular with Europe and other Kyoto
Well, let's look at results in the real world, as
opposed to this Kyoto spin. Recent data show that
placing artificial limits on emissions not only fails
to make the world cleaner, it is also
counterproductive, even on the environmentalists' own
grounds. Contrary to caricature, the American approach
offers more promise than the European one.
As the nearby chart shows, CO2 emissions growth in the
U.S. far outpaced that of the 15 "old" members of the
European Union from 1990-95 and especially from
1995-2000, when Mr. Climate Change himself, Al Gore,
was the second-most powerful man in America. But, lo,
the U.S. has outperformed the EU-15 since 2000,
according to the latest U.N. data. America's rate of
growth in CO2 emissions from 2000-04 was eight
percentage points lower than from 1995-2000. By
comparison, the EU-15 saw an increase of 2.3 points.
As far as individual EU states go, only two, Britain
and Sweden, are on track to meet their Kyoto emissions
commitments by 2010. Six more might meet their targets
if they approve and implement new, as yet unspecified,
policies to restrict carbon output, while seven of the
15 will miss their goals.
Cynics play down America's improvement, noting that
its economy cooled from the earlier years to 2000-04.
True, but the EU-15 also had lower economic growth in
the latest period and still saw its emissions growth
rate double. What's more, the U.S. economy expanded
38% faster than the EU-15 in 2000-04, and its
population twice as fast. So the trend lines, for now,
are reversing. That may make the green lobby choke on
its alfalfa wrap, because its fund raising depends on
vilifying the U.S. But facts are facts, no matter how
underreported they are.
Europe's dismal record is explained by its approach to
reducing emissions. The centerpiece of the Continent's
plan is a carbon-trading scheme in which companies in
CO2-heavy industries receive tradable permits for a
certain amount of emissions. If they emit more CO2,
they must buy credits from firms that are under quota.
The idea is to force companies to emit less CO2 by
making it prohibitively expensive to keep the status
All this scheme has done so far is provide further
proof that government cannot replicate the wisdom of
markets. A red-faced European Commission recently
admitted that it allowed more permits than there were
emissions in 2005-07, keeping permit prices low and
undermining the entire system. When Brussels tried to
make amends by ordering several member states to cut
carbon permits by 7% more than expected for 2008-2012,
industry and national capitals squealed. The market
hadn't priced in such a dramatic reduction. With
carbon permits trading relatively cheaply, firms have
been able to get by with minimal changes to the way
they do business. That has minimized Kyoto's economic
Once the supply of permits is more in line with the
eurocrats' ambitious environmental goals, though,
expect European industry to take a big hit. The number
of firms moving manufacturing work to countries
without emissions caps, such as China and India, will
only grow. That might make Europe's emissions data
look good, but it will have zero net effect on world's
production of greenhouse gases.
Some companies may elect to purchase cleaner
equipment, but the rising cost of compliance -- i.e.,
buying more carbon permits at higher prices once the
supply is slashed -- will eat into the money available
for developing the next generation of clean
technology. In short, Europe offers no magic solution
for capping greenhouse gases.
America may even have a few things to teach the Old
World. The U.S. strategy has been to keep economic
growth strong and provide incentives for private
industry to develop cleaner technologies. For
instance, the Bush Administration has granted $1
billion in tax credits for nine new coal-fired power
plants that will double efficiency and reduce
pollution compared with older generations. China is
picking up on these tactics. This year it bought $58
million in machines from Caterpillar Inc. that trap
methane in coal mines and use it to power electric
If global-warming activists were as interested in
lowering air temperatures as they are in expanding the
role of the state, they'd understand that the key to
reducing emissions lies in unleashing the private
sector, not capping it. That's the real lesson from
the policies -- and the results -- in Europe and the
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 8:13 am
Draw the Line and the sources he links to are a major part of the urgent problem we face with respect to global warming. Global Warming Deniers like him obfuscate the need for immediate action and prevent us from taking vital steps we need to save the earth. Senators Rockefeller and Snow recognize that the time for debate is past, and have warned Exxon and other deniers to stop funding groups that attempt to debate the settled science on Global Warming. You can see the letter to Exxon here: Web Link.
Similarly we should forcefully prevent people like Draw the Line from hindering our efforts to reduce Greenhouse emissions though his misleading argument and misinformation. He has no place in the conversation on this issue. It's a matter of life and death.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 8:54 am
Last Installment of Skeptic..
I saw that this link didn't go through either. ( Wall Street Journal Online). The paragraphs are mine, not the authors, because it slipped into here in this way.
This is from a Climatologist at MIT
Click here: Web Link If that link doesn't work here is the article copied and pasted.
There Is No 'Consensus' On Global Warming By RICHARD S. LINDZEN June 26, 2006
According to Al Gore's new film "An Inconvenient Truth," we're in for "a planetary emergency": melting ice sheets, huge increases in sea levels, more and stronger hurricanes and invasions of tropical disease, among other cataclysms -- unless we change the way we live now. Bill Clinton has become the latest evangelist for Mr. Gore's gospel, proclaiming that current weather events show that he and Mr. Gore were right about global warming, and we are all suffering the consequences of President Bush's obtuseness on the matter. And why not? Mr. Gore assures us that "the debate in the scientific community is over." That statement, which Mr. Gore made in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, ought to have been followed by an asterisk.
What exactly is this debate that Mr. Gore is referring to? Is there really a scientific community that is debating all these issues and then somehow agreeing in unison? Far from such a thing being over, it has never been clear to me what this "debate" actually is in the first place. The media rarely help, of course. When Newsweek featured global warming in a 1988 issue, it was claimed that all scientists agreed. Periodically thereafter it was revealed that although there had been lingering doubts beforehand, now all scientists did indeed agree. Even Mr. Gore qualified his statement on ABC only a few minutes after he made it, clarifying things in an important way. When Mr. Stephanopoulos confronted Mr. Gore with the fact that the best estimates of rising sea levels are far less dire than he suggests in his movie, Mr. Gore defended his claims by noting that scientists "don't have any models that give them a high level of confidence" one way or the other and went on to claim -- in his defense -- that scientists "don't know… They just don't know." So, presumably, those scientists do not belong to the "consensus."
Yet their research is forced, whether the evidence supports it or not, into Mr. Gore's preferred global-warming template -- namely, shrill alarmism. To believe it requires that one ignore the truly inconvenient facts. To take the issue of rising sea levels, these include: that the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940; that icebergs have been known since time immemorial; that the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average. A likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the coastal perimeter of that country, which is depicted so ominously in Mr. Gore's movie.
In the absence of factual context, these images are perhaps dire or alarming. They are less so otherwise. Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why. * * *
The other elements of the global-warming scare scenario are predicated on similar oversights. Malaria, claimed as a byproduct of warming, was once common in Michigan and Siberia and remains common in Siberia -- mosquitoes don't require tropical warmth. Hurricanes, too, vary on multidecadal time scales; sea-surface temperature is likely to be an important factor. This temperature, itself, varies on multidecadal time scales.
However, questions concerning the origin of the relevant sea-surface temperatures and the nature of trends in hurricane intensity are being hotly argued within the profession. Even among those arguing, there is general agreement that we can't attribute any particular hurricane to global warming. To be sure, there is one exception, Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who argues that it must be global warming because he can't think of anything else. While arguments like these, based on lassitude, are becoming rather common in climate assessments, such claims, given the primitive state of weather and climate science, are hardly compelling.
A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external forcing.
To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse.
Regardless, these items are clearly not issues over which debate is ended -- at least not in terms of the actual science.
A clearer claim as to what debate has ended is provided by the environmental journalist Gregg Easterbrook. He concludes that the scientific community now agrees that significant warming is occurring, and that there is clear evidence of human influences on the climate system. This is still a most peculiar claim. At some level, it has never been widely contested. Most of the climate community has agreed since 1988 that global mean temperatures have increased on the order of one degree Fahrenheit over the past century, having risen significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940 and the early '70s, increased again until the '90s, and remaining essentially flat since 1998. There is also little disagreement that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 ppmv (parts per million by volume) in the 19th century to about 387 ppmv today. Finally, there has been no question whatsoever that carbon dioxide is an infrared absorber (i.e., a greenhouse gas -- albeit a minor one), and its increase should theoretically contribute to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in carbon dioxide should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed, assuming that the small observed increase was in fact due to increasing carbon dioxide rather than a natural fluctuation in the climate system.
Although no cause for alarm rests on this issue, there has been an intense effort to claim that the theoretically expected contribution from additional carbon dioxide has actually been detected. Given that we do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change, this task is currently impossible. Nevertheless there has been a persistent effort to suggest otherwise, and with surprising impact. Thus, although the conflicted state of the affair was accurately presented in the 1996 text of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the infamous "summary for policy makers" reported ambiguously that "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." This sufficed as the smoking gun for Kyoto.
The next IPCC report again described the problems surrounding what has become known as the attribution issue: that is, to explain what mechanisms are responsible for observed changes in climate. Some deployed the lassitude argument -- e.g., we can't think of an alternative -- to support human attribution. But the "summary for policy makers" claimed in a manner largely unrelated to the actual text of the report that "In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."
In a similar vein, the National Academy of Sciences issued a brief (15-page) report responding to questions from the White House. It again enumerated the difficulties with attribution, but again the report was preceded by a front end that ambiguously claimed that "The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability." This was sufficient for CNN's Michelle Mitchell to presciently declare that the report represented a "unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse and is due to man. There is no wiggle room."
Well, no. More recently, a study in the journal Science by the social scientist Nancy Oreskes claimed that a search of the ISI Web of Knowledge Database for the years 1993 to 2003 under the key words "global climate change" produced 928 articles, all of whose abstracts supported what she referred to as the consensus view. A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view. Several actually opposed it.
Even more recently, the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system." This, for Mr. Easterbrook, meant: "Case closed." What exactly was this evidence? The models imply that greenhouse warming should impact atmospheric temperatures more than surface temperatures, and yet satellite data showed no warming in the atmosphere since 1979. The report showed that selective corrections to the atmospheric data could lead to some warming, thus reducing the conflict between observations and models descriptions of what greenhouse warming should look like. That, to me, means the case is still very much open. * * *
So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at least three points.
First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists -- especially those outside the area of climate dynamics.
Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a "moral" crusade.
Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have farce -- if we're lucky. Mr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 8:59 am
Dave: "Forcefully prevent"??? - Good God, what country are you from? Do also subscribe to a religion that wants to "forcefully prevent" anyone else from disagreeing? Are you afraid of facts? Do you deny the right of the free expression of ideas, otherwise known as Free Speech? Do you honestly believe that Gore is the God of Global Warming? You are really scary.
And, nobody said anyone is trying to stop greenhouse emissions. You clearly didn't read one word of what I sent. However, I have found that most people don't want to be confused with the facts. Please read "Fear Factor"
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 9:27 am
Free speech is a fine ideal, but it must be used responsibly. One is not allowed to shout "Fire" in a crowded theater because of the harm it will likely cause.
Draw the Line attempts to hide behind the mantel of free speech while he obfuscates, confuses and delays - thus hindering urgently needed action on global warming. As the responsible US Senators Rockefeller and Snow make clear in the letter I linked to above, Global Warming Deniers like Draw the Line have no place in this discussion. They need to be shut down as soon as possible and by any means possible.
Will we talk and debate ourselves to death while the world perishes with us in it? If we permit those like Draw-the-Line and Exxon (which funds many of the groups linked to by DrawtheLine), who want to debate already settled science, to distract us much longer it will be too late.
Draw the Line should be ashamed of himself, and in solidarity with the Earth we all need to block those like him from delaying urgent mandatory greenhouse gas curbs.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 9:29 am
As for the letter to Exxon, please read it everyone, then ask yourself what it means to have elected officials THREATENING an organization, because it dares to fund research that may or may not agree with the State Religion. Can you imagine the response if anyone in government tried to threaten and intimidate away private research in ANY OTHER area?
Thankfully they strongly and completely refuted the whole concept.
It was like when elected officials and a former President by the name of Clinton THREATENED the networks with losing their license if they ran the "Path to 9/11" Docu-drama. What country is this? Thankfully they didn't fold.
People are so afraid of the truth nowadays. What is wrong with us? Intimidation runs amok.
I am really starting to fear for our country, and free speech. Reverse the scenario and imagine the Bush administration threatening any network if it showed a movie that shows Bush in a bad light....ok, now you can see what these intimidation tactics mean, and how our media would be jumping all over it.
Not since McArthyism has there been so much intimidation in our country.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 9:40 am
Dave: Think about your "need to be shut down as soon as possible and by any means possible" statement..do you really think that this is going to convince any responsible US citizen to believe anything else you say? Imagine someone saying we need to shut your views down before millions more die from diverting resources away from certain solutions to illness and starvation and to completely uncertain areas.
Oh, and last I checked, Exxon did not own MIT, or any of other links I gave. Please verify where I can find this connection, and I will disclose it next time I cite these people. Your sources are funded by????
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 9:40 am
As the Senators' letter makes clear, there is a consensus on Global Warming that has ended the debate. Responsible citizens of the world, whether professors of Climatology or not, need to recognize and accept this fact and support action (NOT more delaying discussion) to save the Earth.
Responsible government leaders like Rockefeller and Snow have done only their duty in stopping greedy, self-interested multinational oil companies from poisoning the atmosphere so that it it not conducive to taking immediate action.
Posted by Craig, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 9:56 am
Its pretty frightening when people advocate silencing particular viewpoints. Be careful what you wish for - that same justification could be used to silence anti-war voices for instance. There is no possible way that the scientific "debate" could be over. We do not have reliable data going back more that about 100-150 years. What was the temperature of the Pacific ocean on April 24th 1382? How about on any particular day in 450 BC? How can you make judgements about any warming trend based on at best 100 years of data on a 4.5 billion year old planet? That doesn't mean we shouldn't study it, but to take such drastic action, like silencing one side of the debate, based on an infintesimal amount of evidence seems like a bad idea to me.
I really appreciate what Draw the Line said a few posts back - consider that the planet has limited resources, and such huge needs - famine, poverty, war, disease, genocide. Should we ignore those to cut carbon emissions?
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 10:17 am
The Senators' letter cites Exxon's contributions to the (major Global Warming Denier) Competitive Enterprise Institute to which Draw the Line links. The extensive list of Denier organizations supported by Exxon is at Exxonsecrets.org, here Web Link. It's quite clear that Exxon attempts to muddy the well-settled question of climate warming for its own greedy purposes. Please cite this fact when you post their propaganda as you promised.
Draw the Line is carrying Exxon's water, and contributing to the ongoing destruction of the Earth thereby. No one is trying to shut down responsible debate. But the position Draw-the-Line takes is not responsible -- it confuses the citizenry, and harms us all in the process. This is why this kind of argument must be stopped. Read the letter: what I am saying is exactly what two responsible and respected US Senators say. And this is not a partisan position; one Senator is a Democrat and one is a Republican. How much more consensus do you want?
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 10:58 am
Thanks for your info Dave. I will look into it, and if it is true, start telling that part when I cite the sources. I absolutely support that we need to know who funds research, and that the research needs to be completely open to the public for peer review.
Who funds your groups?
If you want to have a battle of the Senators instead of a battle of the Science ( which I think is a bad idea..elected officials are no smarter or able to be informed than the rest of us, and are much more likely to be bought off, regardless of what position they take),go to the following link.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 11:10 am
I am late, but couldn't resist looking at the list. Wow..all those crooked organizations that get money from Exxon! Universities and Think tanks, all in the pocket of Exxon! Clearly bad company for CEI.
Sarcasm aside, I still agree we need to know who funds studies. But let's not be paranoid. I doubt Harvard or Stanford are on the side of destroying the earth.
I would like to see a complete list of donations from Exxon, period. It would be interesting to see what other crooked organizations it sends money to. Will look that up later.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 12:17 pm
I hope you take your time compiling your list. It will give the rest of us time and breathing room to start saving the Earth without the dilatory interference of you and the rest of the oil-company funded Climate Change Deniers. You may disrespect our elected leaders, but they are the ones who have the responsibility and duty to make sure something is done soon. As Al Gore clearly shows, the case for urgent action is unarguable. And yet you and others persist in arguing anyway - to the detriment of us all. This is why you must be stopped. Senators Rockefeller and Snow have been visionary and courageous in taking on the powerful selfish private interests who would have us delay taking action for their own monetary gain.
I don't mean to disrespect you: you probably believe some of the oil-funded propaganda you cite and you seem very earnest. But can't you see that those of us who know the truth of the matter can't allow the falsities you spread to get in the way of saving the Earth and us from ourselves?
Posted by KC, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 12:32 pm
Dave, seriously, is climate stasis the goal here? If you shut up all the "Climate Change Deniers" and enforce "mandatory worldwide curbs on consumption" and world temperatures still rise (or fall), or we have a huge El Nino event or glaciers change extent, what would be the next step?
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 12:40 pm
Right now, as the consensus of scientists cited by Al Gore, and by Senators Rockefeller and Snow unarguably show, the climate is warming to dangerous levels from human-made greenhouse gas emissions. This is the immediate severe urgent problem - the problem which must be addressed without further delay. Speculation about what might happen at some point in the future is irrelevant to the present certainty of human caused global warming, KC.
We have only a few years before it is too late, as the recently released British government study made quite clear. We can't afford time for more discussion about facts that are already settled by the scientific consensus. Can't you see that you are being mislead, if not duped, by oil-company funded propaganda?!
Posted by Gary, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 4:36 pm
If it is as dire as you say, why are you not also backing nuclear power?
I would also caution you take "consensus science" with a grain of salt. Science is science, and it does not require a consensus. Science just needs to be reporducible and statistically validated and peer reviewed...and stand the test of time. A concsensus can be compeltely wrong.
Posted by SilverBullet, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 7:14 pm
A "consensus" of scientists have been wrong countless times. I guess what the doomsday people are essentially saying is that if we are going to act, we must act now.
My belief is that certain groups are afraid to admit the lack of certainty in their work for fear that the masses will take that as permission to keep living the status quo. In other words, the doomsday people think we are all stupid, so they figure they have to say the sky is falling so we will cut our carbon emissions by .000000000001 percent.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 7:41 pm
Gary, I am agnostic on nuclear power. As long as it can be made verifiably safe, it might be part of the solution. But as you know, the lead time for nuclear is long: several decades at least for new plants. We don't have that long: we need action to reduce global warming gases NOW. That requires mandatory drastic reductions in consumption immediately, especially in sinfully profligate America. There is no time to argue further about the already established scientific consensus as you seem wont to do. This tactic of the Deniers only makes salvation of the Earth much less likely. If you haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth, you should. These points are made quite clear and convincing.
SilverBullet, I don't disagree with you about the masses: in fact I am much more pessimistic than you. I don't think they can be convinced to give up their energy hogging toys voluntarily at all, which is why I think it will take a strong leader who can stand up to the pressures of the special interests, and the political importuning of those who are addicted to their over-warmed and over cooled monster houses, their easy access to private automobiles, their profligate leisure travel and other wasteful overconsumption. That's why we need mandated reductions - not the piddling voluntary conversion to compact fluorescents and other laughably puny half-measures you see recommended here.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 7:56 pm
Dave: You really didn't read anything I posted did you? You still believe the biggest threat is "energy hogging toys", ( having completely missed all the information about slash and burn that even Gore referred to..very quickly...and China's and India's development, and the massive smoke cloud hanging over those countries ..etc) and you still insist the solution is government "mandate" ( having completely missed the data that the least regulated country ..ours...is doing better than most of the signers of the Kyoto Protocol. We are doing a better job. Regulation doesn't work, incentive and self interest do).
Oh well, it looks like others are reading, so that is fine. Maybe we won't have the tyranny of the ignorant quite yet.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 8:03 pm
By the way, I am NOT saying we shouldn't try to personally conserve..of course,...just trying to keep perspective. And, I am old enough to remember this same kind of hyperbole on the Ice Age, and on the dangers of Nuclear Energy..and neither were right. If we hadn't succumbed to Fear ( read Fear Factor) then, we, too, could right now have 70% of our electricity being supplied by Nuclear power..if we hadn't succumbed to fear, then we, too, could be completely independent of all oil from dictators by having our own oil pumps, which would have freed us from the tyranny of the cartel, and allowed us to devote more "energy" to coming up with cost-efficient ways of replacing our oil dependence.
There are always unintended consequences, esp. to emotion driven decisions.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 8:25 pm
Anyone who's looked at the matter including Al Gore knows that Kyoto, even if signed by all the countries in the world, and adhered to faithfully would do very little to slow the Global Warming as predicted by the consensus scientific models. The fact that the European countries that signed haven't lived up to their treaty obligations only points out how weak democracies are when it comes to imposing uncomfortable inconvenient truths on their citizens. All this only emphasizes the necessity of having a truly strong leader who can and will enforce the mandatory consumption curbs that are necessary to save the Earth. China and India need a dose of the same medicine. Ironically it will be easier in China which already has a somewhat stronger central government than the weaker more self-indulgent west.
I know - some of you will gasp about putting our cherished democratic freedoms at risk. But when the very future of mankind is at stake - per Al Gore - we can't afford not to think boldly and take whatever action is necessary to save the planet. We already have a good start in the responsible action taken by Senators Rockefeller and Snow. But it's only a small start compared to the draconian action that's needed.
Posted by Anna, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 8:36 pm
We're going to have to change our behavior, period. How much of a change will depend on a few things. First, how many incentives/disincentives will be created by government and business to coax consumers into a position of better coexistence with the environment. Second, how much pressure will citizens put on business and governement, to compel the latter to "get clean".
The more we know about the danger, followed by action, the better off we'll be.
btw, nuclear energy will not happen in any big way, anytime soon. It's not the answer. In fact, even Wall St. agrees with me; there are no serious investments being made iin nuclear power.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 8:46 pm
Thank you Anna. Finally there is someone else in this thread who can see the truth through the fog thrown up by all the Deniers and their supporters on this board. You'd have thought there were more enlightened people in Palo Alto than we've seen thus far. You are exactly right: it will be up to government to force (or coax) consumers into better coexistence with the environment. We must be serious about this: it is so urgent.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 8:08 am
You see the hostility in these most recent posts when the notion of making the necessary lifestlye sacrifices for the good of the Earth comes up. This is exactly why we will need strong and courageous leadership to confront the threat that we face. People [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] want to continue to think they can go on living as they always have while the Earth suffocates, the oceans rise and the first the poor, and then us all, die as a result. This simply can't be allowed to happen.
Bush and the oil companies have pulled the wool over your eyes, my friend, ten18. All this "guaranteed civil war" verbiage is of course nonsense. You will fall into line with everyone else once the magnitude of the threat becomes clear - and you too see the truth that many already already do. Read Anna's post above. The government will be able to coax the recalcitrant into line without resorting to force. Do you really need your gas guzzling car? (Have you even seen AN Inconvenient Truth, by the way? It's totally persuasive.)
I think we should keep the hostility level down. I always find people get angry when they know they've lost the argument already.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 8:24 am
SilverBullet, I'm not sure what measures will be necessary to get the kind of reductions in consumption that will be required to save the earth. I'm sure there will be a lot of ideas about how to do this when the time comes. I'm really more of a market-forces kind of guy, so personally, I'd like to see incentives rather than mandates. Of course we need an oil tax - maybe something in the nature of $10/gallon for gasoline. So maybe one way to reduce overall consumption would be to significantly raise tax rates on all but the very poor (obviously we need the revenue anyway after Bush's giveaway to the rich) - so that we'd have top rates up where they were before Reagan came in. Then we could give some credits for approved consumption items - so those living a responsible lifestyle would be rewarded.
I can imagine an objection to this will be that it would harm the economy. Of course that's the whole idea. Our over-consumption economy must be shrunk significantly for the sake of the future.
Posted by Gary, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 8:37 am
The federal government could simply mandate that each state put in 2 new nuclear power plants per for the next 4 years. Then we would have nearly 100% of our current electricy from nuclear. We currently get 20% of our electricity from about 100 plants. If we countinue for another 4 years, we would have the excess electricity necessary for all-electric cars. Conservation and solar-electric and wind would add to the mix.
I understand that this simple model is impractical, because small states(e.g. RI)would not need to do two nukes per year, while CA would need to do more than 2 plants per year - but on average it would be 100 new plants per year.
Dave, your "agnosticism" regarding nuclear power is amazing, considering your absolute belief that the world, as we know it, is coming to an end! Clearly, a crash program to build nukes is MUCH more realistic than your fascist approach.
If nuclear plants had not been stopped by environmental extremists in the past several decades, we would not be in our fix.
Posted by KC, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 10:16 am
There's a timely article in the WSJ today (subscripton only). "As the nearby chart shows, CO2 emissions growth in the U.S. far outpaced that of the 15 "old" members of the European Union from 1990-95 and especially from 1995-2000, when Mr. Climate Change himself, Al Gore, was the second-most powerful man in America. But, lo, the U.S. has outperformed the EU-15 since 2000, according to the latest U.N. data. America's rate of growth in CO2 emissions from 2000-04 was eight percentage points lower than from 1995-2000. By comparison, the EU-15 saw an increase of 2.3 points. Only two EU states, Britain and Sweden, are on track to meet their Kyoto emissions commitments by 2010. Six more might meet their targets if they approve and implement new, as yet unspecified, policies to restrict carbon output, while seven of the 15 will miss their goals. Cynics play down America's improvement, noting that its economy cooled from the earlier years to 2000-04. True, but the EU-15 also had lower economic growth in the latest period and still saw its emissions growth rate double. What's more, the U.S. economy expanded 38% faster than the EU-15 in 2000-04, and its population twice as fast. So the trend lines, for now, are reversing. That may frustrate the green lobby because so much of its fund raising depends on vilifying the U.S. But facts are facts, no matter how underreported they are." "If global-warming activists were as interested in lowering air temperatures as they are in expanding the role of the state, they'd understand that the key to reducing carbon emissions lies in unleashing the private sector, not capping it. That's the real lesson from the policies -- and the results -- in Europe and the U.S."
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 11:01 am
The data in the Wall Street Journal while interesting, hardly are on point in this discussion. The Kyoto targets, even if met by all the signatories and the US, would do almost nothing to affect the extent of warming as predicted by the consensus scientific models. To save the Earth, we need much greater reductions. As the European experience shows, modern democracies have great difficulty extracting sacrifices from their citizens. This is why we need a strong leader who can enforce even greater curbs on consumption than Kyoto calls for.
Ten18, your hostility is very telling. It appears that even though you haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth, you sense its fundamental message. You just don't want to admit it to yourself because you are so attached to your over-consumptive lifestyle. Yes, it will require shrinking the economy to save the Earth. And yes, we may require a stronger government to guide us in the proper direction to do this. Yes, you may have to do without some of the conveniences of modern life you mention. But when the fate of life on the planet itself is at stake, that's really a small price to pay in the long run. And either way, we must pay it or we are doomed. See the movie!
Whether nuclear energy thirty years ago would have saved us from part of what we are facing no is really beside the point. The point is, we didn't build any nuclear plants and they take decades to complete. We don't have decades so the only available alternative is drastic consumption cuts by the developed countries. And you should ask yourself whether the poor countries would be better off trying in vain to imitate our unsustainable lifestyles than they would perishing from the Earth's fever you so callously mock.
Posted by ten18, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 11:16 am
Of course we need to continue reducing our energy consumption, and push for new and innovative technology. However, staking the global economy and our standard of living on the theory that we might be able to forestall what is likely a natural climate cycle just doesn't make sense to me. I also think that the inevitable increase in energy usage in the developing world is a force that you will be unable to resist.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 11:29 am
ten18, I just don't get your point. If you think Global Warming is merely a part of a natural climate cycle, and not human-caused, why do we need to reduce our energy consumption or waste resources on coming up with innovative technology? Let's just get out there and consume!
But if, as your half-admission suggests, Global Warming is real and is human caused, we do need to do something. And anyway, as this thread proves, that debate is settled, as you would know if you'd seen the movie. It's time to move on with reductions in consumption and in finding other technologies that will further reduce our demands on the Earth's resources - just as you recommend! Welcome to the Truth!
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 12:49 pm
ten18, I'm sorry you feel compelled to continue to call names and otherwise offer ad hominem argumentation to support your fragile reasoning.
Increasing efficiency, for example, always has a cost, and thus if the gains from increasing efficiency are less than the costs we are worse off having paid too much for the efficiency gains. Implicit in the Global Warming debate is that there are unmeasured, yet highly desirable gains to be had (in the form of saving the Earth) by increasing efficiency and thus reducing energy consumption. Increasing efficiency has no economic meaning if you don't measure benefits and costs. Maybe in addition to seeing An Inconvenient Truth, you should also see if you can find a basic economics textbook.
When you are looking for your econ text, you might want to see if you can find one of Julian Simon's books, which (if you will read them) prove fairly conclusively that your 'common sense' approach to saving finite resources is anything but common sense. As long as all the inputs and costs are measured in the market price, there is no value in to 'saving' resources that can be profitably employed in the market. The only issue is whether the price properly reflects all the externalities. I would argue that for most resources, it does not - thus my support of taxes on resource extraction to make up the difference. I'm not sure what you're arguing since you apparently think 'finite resources' has some meaning independent of the economy as a whole.
Posted by ten18, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 1:11 pm
Dave - you're all over the map - first you want draconian reductions in consumption that will be overseen by an all-powerful green fascist government, and now you're citing economics as a counter to that position. I'm well aware that there are costs associated with increases in efficiency. I work in an industry that is subject to ever-tightening environmental regulations. Fine - let's extract all of the resources and use them up - then we'll all be happy. I know I will - they'll at least last for my lifetime. I'm really not concerned in the least about the Earth - if we've damaged it, it will heal itself, whether we're here or not. I'm sure you would prefer that we were not.
As well, the typical condescending attitude of environmental extremists (as exhibited above), gives me yet more reason not to listen to the environmental movement. You are obviously totally convinced in your position, and your extreme ideology will not convince me. You are doing damage to your own movement. I said I wasn't going to argue with you, and I should have listened to my instincts. I'm done, you're right, you win!!
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 1:41 pm
ten18, I'm sorry you've given up - and just when it appears you were beginning to understand the folly of your position.
Contrary to what you say, economics supports my position: the costs of Global Warming are quite real and it's only sensible to make sure those costs are reflected when we make decisions about consumption and energy use. What's so difficult to understand about that?
As for condescension, I only say facts are facts. Ignore them at your peril. I just want to make sure that those in the Global Warming Denier community can't continue to throw up a smoke screen in front of the truth. One last time: See the movie! You'll feel much less conflicted when you accept the truth fully.
Another site for learning how to think about this subject. Avowedly JUST on one component of the whole discussion, (greenhouse effect).
But, another site.
The questions continue to be - how much do we contribute, is it reversible if we DO contribute enough to make a difference, is there more harm than good in a degree rise if temperature, how do we reverse it if we decide we should do so ( dictatorship? Financial incentives?), and is the money spent reversing any contribution we are making worth it in POSSIBLE lives saved in the future versus definite current lives saved by eradicating malaria, dysentery, starvation etc...which we could easily do with the trillions of dollars we are starting to spend on this.
Again ..agreed we need to be careful and care for our earth..but perspective is critical.
Another site for learning how to think about this subject. Avowedly JUST on one component of the whole discussion, (greenhouse effect).
But, another site.
The questions continue to be - how much do we contribute, is it reversible if we DO contribute enough to make a difference, is there more harm than good in a degree rise if temperature, how do we reverse it if we decide we should do so ( dictatorship? Financial incentives?), and is the money spent reversing any contribution we are making worth it in POSSIBLE lives saved in the future versus definite current lives saved by eradicating malaria, dysentery, starvation etc...which we could easily do with the trillions of dollars we are starting to spend on this.
Again ..agreed we need to be careful and care for our earth..but perspective is critical.
We tend to be black and white and just jump into "belief systems" for policies instead of thinking clearly. We get scared by bad interpretations of "scientist consensus" and make very poor choices. Witness not building nuclear reactors. Witness the millions dead from malaria because the UN "forbid" ( and finally reversed) the use of DDT, the thousands and thousands dead from famine because of the fear of geneticaly engineered foods causing a "ban" in starving countries, though this is a FEAR only, with no science behind it, etc
I am hoping we are turning the corner in thinking. The UN lifting the ban on DDT finally gives me hope. But, as long as there is money and power to made from using fear, this poor thinking wil continue, I guess.
It is up to us, the free thinking citizens of countries with truly free press and full access to all information, to keep pushing for a better world.
This is a link to a letter in the Canada Free Press by Senator in the US Senate Environment and Public Works committee.
Will be misunderstood to be saying that it is all about the money..read it again. It is about severe costs for completely unknown value. If it were clear that the costs would actually do something..whole different story.
links to letters to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal Dec 13th.
Great ones, especially since you can compare the pro anthropogenic letters with the cons.
What is annoying is the constant confusion in the discussion between HUMAN-CAUSED warming, and naturally occurring warming. Big difference in talking about the subject with the addition of that hyphenated word.
Posted by pessimist, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jan 2, 2007 at 4:31 pm
Tackling emissions will only delay the inevitable unless we're willing to tackle the root cause - too many people. If kyoto actually targetted limiting population growth rather than or in addition to emission reduction it may have been more effective.
Posted by Lisa Hart, a resident of another community, on Jan 4, 2007 at 10:47 pm
I simply can't agree that nuclear power is "green" or safe. If you think an airliner can do a lot of damage in the hands of terrorists, consider what it will take to secure the spent fuel sites to ensure that nobody uses it for dirty bombs.
Also, as a former nuclear safety and licensing engineer, I can tell you that even when there is no malice involved, it only takes a few poorly trained or badly motivated people to screw up a reactor, and LOTS of little details need to be executed exactly right to keep a reactor safe.
Hydrogen on demand, such as Ecotality/JPL's Hydratus, or some of the stuff from any number of other small hydrogen companies, might just be our best bet. You avoid the potential for catastrophic explosions, and the only by-products are innocuous chemicals such as water.
We need a Marshall Plan for energy independence, and we need it NOW.
Posted by Donnie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jan 5, 2007 at 7:42 am
I don't know what you learned as a nuclear engineer, but somewhere along the line you must have had some basic science courses. If you will recall what you learned then, you might remember that hydrogen does not exist in elemental form on the earth in large quantities. It must be produced from other compounds - typically water, and this process takes large amounts of energy. This energy must be produced by the means we have now - fossil fuels, nuclear and the paltry renewable means in existence. "Hydrogen" doesn't solve the energy problem - it only is an alternative means of transporting and using the energy we produce otherwise.