November 3, 2005

humiliating kick in the crotch

11/3/05

There's a good roundup in Salon today about 28 disparate heroes who are battling global warming (oh, suck it up and watch the ad first) and while just mentioning anything about the environment makes even the best of us yawn, it seems pretty clear that we are messing with the future of humanity - and the future is coming way faster than anyone thought.

Those of us in our 30s are still young, but we still got three very fun decades in. We had a good run, perhaps, and if you don't plan on having kids, it's easy to not give half a shit. But I just went and looked at my sleeping Lucy, and I'm sorry to be a hackneyed cliché hound, but can you imagine dealing with the next 80+ years of global warming? Can you imagine what she might need to deal with? IT'S HARROWING.

Americans don't care about global warming for four reasons:
1) we are lulled into complacency by the enormity of our country
2) the news is so bad as to be incomprehensible
2) the only thing we believe in that we can't see... is Jesus who died on the cross for man's sins, apparently
3) we don't give a long-term shit about anyone else in the world.

It's so goddamn shameful how irresponsible the Bush administration has been to environmental - and worldly - concerns, choosing to give the finger to science again and again. Actually, we're really giving the finger to 96% of the world's population, because that's how much of the world is NOT US.

If things don't change - like, say, if another Republican with oil interests is elected in 2008 - it augurs very poorly for us, because the rest of the world is not going to sit around and let us get away with being climate-ruining assholes for the rest of the century. They are going to take matters into their own hands.

When their lakes dry up, the sea water topples their dikes, and their crops begin to fail, they will come after us. For the last four years it seems like religious extremism was going to be big problem, but I think we have a better shot at being fucked by something worse: environmental terrorism.

Some country will attack us, using whatever weapons they have, to shut down our economy and render our fleet of gas-guzzlers useless by the side of the road. Perhaps they'll destroy some oil platforms, radiate an entire chemical plant city, poison Detroit. And it won't be in the name of Allah, it will be in the name of an Asian country with half a billion people on the brink of starvation.

Even writing this makes feel like a wacko. But don't tell me that none of you feel like we have entered an era of... for lack of a better term, Unprecedentedness. If it weren't close to a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, I would pitch a book called "Everything is Unprecedented."

The news is terrible, and we've known it for a long time. I remember taking classes on global warming at UNC in 1989, and the best we could do was ban CFCs in our deodorant spray. My brother Steve believes it will take something unthinkable like a nuclear detonation on American soil to wake us up. Is there ANYTHING anyone can do to slap us out of our somnambulist stupor without that kind of horror?

WHY IS THIS FUCKING MONKEY IN CHARGE AT THIS CRUCIAL POINT IN HISTORY??? You'd think your God would have taken better care of us.


Posted by Ian Williams at November 3, 2005 11:18 PM
Comments
Posted by: dhh at November 4, 2005 2:38 AM

Ian, I must say that my initial reaction to today's column was slightly negative. I think you could have made all your points without the hysterics and mocking of religion. But, after some thought, my reaction is: Keep it up! Today's column is indicative of why the Deomcrats will not in in 2006 or 2008. Do you really think a swing voter is going to gravitate towards a political position that is nothing but anger and mockery of religion? If Democrats would actually devise a plan instead of always bitching, they might even get my vote. The Democrats find themselves in the precise same position is the Republicans in 1994 -- the Gingrich takeover of Congress only happened because the Republicans devised the Contract with America. Hey, even I dont agree with the all points of the Contract, but it tried to give an alternate vision to the voters instead of nothing but bitching and complaining. For example, what is the Democrats' position on global warming? What did Clinton do for global warming? Why hasn't Clinton endorsed the Kyoto plan? If you want my vote in 2006 or 2008, tell me how you're going to do things better instead of just bitching about the current state of affairs.

Posted by: meredith at November 4, 2005 4:16 AM

Your comments reminded me of a piece Robert Kaplan wrote for the Atlantic Monthly about 10 years ago now called The Coming Anarchy that scared the $hit out of me so much that I still remember the first time I read it vividly -- it was later republished in a collection of his essays by the same name so you can pick up a copy of it at a bookstore and read it yourself. But basically, he was writing in 1994 when most of our leaders were still in this blissed out, Fukuyama "End of History," new world order kind of mind-set, and he challenges their complacency with a well-reasoned look at the world's natural resource issues and, surprise, surprise, a lot of these are concentrated in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa, where we have primarily been concerned about more conventional threats such as ethnic unrest and terrorism. But Kaplan argues that an even more powerful source of tensions will arise from these environmentally stressed out areas, namely, competition for basic resources like food and water that will lead to massive conflicts in a quest for sheer survival. It's a pretty bleak picture, but one that I can only assume has deteriorated rather than improved in the last 10 plus years, and it ought to be mandatory reading for whoever we elect to lead our country in the next term. Ultimately, he argues that while the small percentage of the people living in the North and the Western parts of the planet (i.e. the truly developed world) will be able to adapt to their more superficial environmental issues (save a particular stretch of coastline or repopulate a forest), but what we should really be concerned about are the huge issues in the developing world, issues that we still affect with our behavior and for which we bear responsibility. It turns environmentalism from some bumper sticker slogan into a very real security issue, and personally, I think he's right. Kudos to you for reminding us of this troubling reality.

Posted by: joe q. at November 4, 2005 5:21 AM

You're really wound tight over this. Take a drink. Why not let the market handle it. When the price of natural resources goes up we'll use less.(Period) We do not need government to save us.

Posted by: Chris M at November 4, 2005 5:35 AM

I've been hearing predictions of future disasters since I was wee boy in the early 1970s. We all watched reruns of the 1950s-1960s show The Twilight Zone, a series of predictions of horrible occurrences regular schmucks could not invent for themselves. Thank goodness we had Rod Serling. Then came the 1970s -- the Decade of the Disaster Predicted (Incorrectly). People who are way smarter than you or me never stop thinking of new disaster scenarios to disseminate. Is it a coincidence that they sell magazines, newspapers, tv, movies, and policy? Maybe. Now they gets hits on blogs, too. What could be better than to tell stories for a living? Indeed.

The other part of the story is the ever-present "journalists", "experts", and scientists speaking in grave, high-minded tones comfirming our worst fears about the horrible disaster scenario -- that you can also see on tv (brought to you by Oldsmobile) or read about in TIME (or The Atlantic Monthly, for you sophisticates) -- is probably going to happen "in our lifetime". But then time goes by and the bad thing never happens. "Japan buys America!!" And after about the eight or ninth time, we figure out that we can just ignore (or enjoy watching) the next show about, say, African killer bees without really worrying that they are going to come to our town and sting us to death while we rake the leaves.

Posted by: Cris at November 4, 2005 5:54 AM

I often precede my comments on this board with the words, "as a scientist"... which is not intended to sound pretentious (though I recognize that it might). I just try to point out that I usually strive to approach topics involving science with a direct evaluation of the raw data. And when it comes to the environment and how little our government apparently does to protect it - I have to admit that I'm embarrassingly ignorant of the actual data. That's not for lack of interest... but I think my political energies get pretty strictly directed towards the single issue that I perceive to affect my life most directly: gay and lesbian civil rights.

Nevertheless, what I'd really like to say in response to today's topic is actually to pose a question to the people reading this who are better informed on environmental issues: are there ways in which our country could responsibly tap more of our own natural resources (i.e. oil in Alaska, natural gas in New Mexico, etc) to reduce our dependence on foreign products? And by "responsibly," I mean, without totally destroying local environments. It seems as though those two positions - protecting the environment vs. drilling for more oil (or gas, etc) - are always discussed as such extremes that allow for no middle ground. Is that really the case? I'm curious to hear thoughts from anyone well informed on the issue.

Posted by: Claudia at November 4, 2005 6:07 AM

If you don't start treating religion with just a SMIDGEN more respect, I am going to stop reading your blog. I don't need to start my day with bigotry and condescension.

I am your neighbor. You and I may someday work together on a PTA fundraiser. You are awfully big on keeping the world safe for your daughter. How about giving her a fighting chance of having a mutually respectful friendship with my (religious) kid? How about not creating a written record for her of your own intolerance? How dare you.

Posted by: caveman at November 4, 2005 6:14 AM

I love beer.

Posted by: Andrew at November 4, 2005 6:18 AM

Following up on Cris' comment and question, and hoping that I do not sound too stupid, what is the real raw data about global warming? Or, maybe the better question is: what data do the opposing views use as support.

Cris: In response to your question, I wonder whether the argument that new drilling in Alaska will destroy the environment is really true. Cannot say that I have ever been there, but has the current Alaskan Pipline DESTROYED that local environment? Sure, it may have changed it, but I doubt that "destroy" is the correct term. No expertise in the field on my end, but I doubt that new drilling will have the devastating effect that its opponents believe. There will be an effect, but not devastating and probably not enough to warrant not using the resources.

What we need is a person in the presidency who will have the balls to say that by some date certain, we as a country WILL use alternative fuels. Kennedy [and a whole lot of other people] put us on the moon by giving us a date certain that we would do it. Putting ethanol, hydrogen or whatever in a car and have it perform like my current car cannot be harder than going to the moon. Get the big three together, give them federal funds, and tell them they will create the vehicles. Tell the foreign manufacturers that they have to as well or we will not import. Give it a date certain.

The market will ultimately get us there, but why wait for the market.

Posted by: Scott M. at November 4, 2005 6:31 AM

dhh - As far as I know, Ian is not running for election and is also not running a campaign for anyone either. This blog reflects his opinions, so the fact that he writes angry columns that mock religion has no bearing on the Democrats position.
Not that I necessarily agree with the characterization that he is "mocking religion" in the first place - he's merely pointing out the ignorance of blindly accepting God on faith but denying things that have hard scientific factual evidence to support them - hey, sort of like intelligent design vs evolution! But if that comes across as mocking to some, then so be it.


Joe Q. - Relying on oil market pricing to regulate our usage is not a good idea. Compared to many countries in Europe (see hxxp://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/global_gasprices/), our gas prices are actually quite low, because most European governments actually try to curb usage by highly taxing gas to compensate for environmental effects, and to discourage excessive use. I think it also helps that they tend to have much more effective public transit options than all but our biggest cities (NY, DC, Chicago, etc.).
Rather than letting the oil companies decide how much profit they can make while destroying our environment, I would actually prefer our government to RAISE gas prices by taxing it more. Maybe that would get some of these damn SUVs and Hummers off the road and actually encourage people to care about consumption - buying hybrids, carpooling, etc. I would be okay with paying MORE for gas if I knew that the extra cost was going into efforts to reduce the environment impact that my consumption was causing.


Cris - I can't answer your question with any facts, but I suspect that the reason there is no middle ground on that issue is that environmentalists don't trust anyone going into the few remaining US natural environments to not f*ck them up on their way in or out. And the type of people who want to get those natural resources generally don't care one bit about the environment, so there is reason for that concern.


Now that I've given my 2 cents on the other posters, I'd just like to say that I liked Ian's post today, and I do wonder what it will take for the rest of the country to start caring about the environment, and well, the future of our world.

Sometimes it's hard for me to grasp how anyone could not believe in global warming, or not worry or care about it.
I just hope it doesn't take the kind of thing Ian suggested before the government finally addresses the problem in a reasonable way.

Posted by: Tanya at November 4, 2005 6:38 AM

Why can't we use our collective brainpower to find alternatives to coal and natural gas that are - and this is the key - both functional AND economical? If we can send a man to the moon and devise a pill that will give old fuckers hard-ons, surely we can come up with SOMETHING useful in this case.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2005 7:32 AM

Tanya - the short answer? Thermodynamics. There are very very few "unlimited" fuels that produce more energy than it takes to make them. In the case of hydrogen, there's the additional problem that the current fuel cell design requires a platinum catalyst, and there's not nearly enough platinum in the world to put some in everyone's car.

As to the evidence or lack thereof, I presented the paper at http://www.ipcc.ch/pub/spm22-01.pdf to my graduate course on environmental chemistry. While I personally find this to be far beyond compelling, a good third of my students were *more* unconvinced after reading it than they were before. The problem is with predicting into the future based on assumptions about what tens of billions of people are going to do, never mind the uncertainties in the chemical models themselves. It's those uncertainties that dissenters have latched on to - what does a 95% confidence interval mean to the general public?

I'll stop now :)

Posted by: Matt at November 4, 2005 7:33 AM

Some recommended reading: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0066214130/104-8802786-4651135?v=glance

Posted by: Claverack Weekender at November 4, 2005 7:37 AM

Good thing you are Mr. Responsible City Dweller: mass transit every day, efficient apartment living, walk to the food coop, and a 100 mile drive [each way] every weekend to your country house. Don't be such a hippocrite.

Posted by: Andy at November 4, 2005 7:47 AM

Not to say that an author of fiction books should be the one that we trust for hard facts in this debate, but Michael Crichton's book State of Fear is a pretty interesting read regarding the environment. He basically says that we need to scrutinize the data that global warming is based on before we believe the impending doom. He compares it to another widely held theory from the past - here's excerpt from the book:

http://www.crichton-official.com/fear/index.html
=====
Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.

This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high school classrooms.

I don't mean global warming. I'm talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.

Its supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill. It was approved by Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis, who ruled in its favor. The famous names who supported it included Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone; activist Margaret Sanger; botanist Luther Burbank; Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University; the novelist H. G. Wells; the playwright George Bernard Shaw; and hundreds of others. Nobel Prize winners gave support. Research was backed by the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. The Cold Springs Harbor Institute was built to carry out this research, but important work was also done at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Johns Hopkins. Legislation to address the crisis was passed in state from New York to California.

These efforts had the support of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council. It was said that if Jesus were alive, he would have supported this effort.

All in all, the research, legislation and molding of public opinion surrounding the theory went on for almost half a century. Those who opposed the theory were shouted down and called reactionary, blind to reality, or just plain ignorant. But in hindsight, what is surprising is that so few people objected.
=======

Without looking at the link, anyone want to guess what this theory was?

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2005 7:47 AM

Heh. Ok, Matt - you take your novelist, and I'll take my intergovernmental panel.

Posted by: Kevin from Philadelphia at November 4, 2005 7:53 AM

Claverack wrote: "Good thing you are Mr. Responsible City Dweller: mass transit every day, efficient apartment living, walk to the food coop, and a 100 mile drive [each way] every weekend to your country house. Don't be such a hippocrite."

I believe that Ian drives a Prius. Let's say 50 MPG, give or take . . .so Ian uses around 4 gallons of gas each week, assuming he does all of the other things that you mention. Don't you also have solar panels powering a large part of your farmhouse in upstate NY? Sounds pretty enviro-conscious to me. Kudos Ian.

Posted by: Warrior of the Woods at November 4, 2005 8:05 AM

Ian's right to stir up the mud.

Dealing with global climate change and the burgeoning global energy crunch requires 1) the best efforts of all our best minds; 2) the political will to make the right decisions, even if they aren't popular; and 3) sacrifice from all of us.

As usual, Wikipdedia offers a good introduction:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_climate_change

Read another while you're there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubbert_peak

I know you're busy, and that you want to skip them, but you need the knowledge to be part of an intelligent discussion. So read them now, please.

OK.

The era of cheap fossil fuel energy is over. Right now, even the best minds on earth haven't figured out how to supply enough energy to meet demand at *current* levels, much less supply enough energy to meet *growing* demands, a problem which will only get *much* worse as China and India (among many growing economies) continue to grow.

There are no easy solutions. In fact, there are no *known* solutions. Oil, natural gas and coal aren't going to remain economically viable much longer. All the nuclear fuel on earth could supply our current needs for about 25 years. Wind, solar and other renewables are not ready for prime time. Hydrogen is not a natural energy source, but a delivery method. Making hydrogen requires energy.

(It *is* a good idea for personal transport long-term, however, because it's safer than gasoline and burning it doesn't pollute; however, creating it by buring fossil fuels is counter-productive).

As energy demand gets further and further ahead of supply, conflict over increasingly valuable resources looms inevitably. When you consider other resources, both those affected by energy shortages and those affected by (potentially catastrophic) climate change, you have the recipe for a perfect storm of global proportions.

I hope I'm wrong, but I believe we're already starting to see these effects. And there are no easy solutions.

Right now, there are no KNOWN solutions.

So, if Ian doesn't have a solution, he's in good company.

But there are things we can do. Politically, we need policies that encourage/reward/require conservation and serious funding for sustainable energy research.

We need to realize we're all in this together. Rich nations like ours need to work together to make sure people in poorer countries have at least adequate food and water.

The number one thing each of us can do is to *conserve.* Use less energy. Drive less. If this is not practical, re-arrange your life so that it *is* practical.

If you're not willing to make changes/sacrifices, then please -- STFU and let the grownups work on the problem. Of which you are a part. In the words of Ted Turner: "Lead, follow -- or get out of the way."

Letting the market take care of things is usually a good idea, but anyone with open eyes and a brain should realize that these problems require more.

Joe and Jane American are not going to care about this until they are personally affected. As long as they have a roof over their heads, food on their table and mindless entertainment to occupy their minds there will be no revolution.

But it could happen, sooner than you think.

Posted by: Matt at November 4, 2005 8:11 AM

The science concerning made-made global warming isn't as one-sided as you may think, Tim. I'm not a climate expert, but I am an enviromental engineer with more than just a passing understanding of issue. The science behind global warming is real, of course, but whether the very small increase in average global temperatures is due to man or nature is not yet certain. For example, here's a take: http://www.canadafreepress.com/2004/milloy061804.htm

The Earth is filled with buffers (i.e. CO2 levels spur plant growth, which reduces them), it is not some fragile "system in the balance." I'm not saying we shouldn't concern ourselves with the human heath and the environment, but the doomsayers have been predicting an environmental Armageddon for decades and they've been wrong. There's a reason for that.

Posted by: Ian at November 4, 2005 8:16 AM

Man, every time I say anything about the environment, someone brings up "my country house" as if that negates pretty much everything I have to say. I have stated the ways in which we have tried to lessen our impact on the environment, but it'll bore the snot out of you.

We're in LA now, and believe me, we'd do ANYTHING not to spend the amount of time in the car we do - if there were realistic mass transit over the mountain, I'd be the first in line. Shit, I could finish all the Master and Commander books on the iPod rather than dodging road rage on the 405.

We can do what we like, but it's the mindset of large corporations and our government I was writing about. Why the fuck doesn't Bush drive a hybrid Ford SUV? Why isn't the White House solar-powered? Do you know how strong a message that would send on a personal level?

Claudia - you caught me. I wasn't going to discuss faith on the blog anymore, and I'm sorry it came out that way. I was simply wondering why it was so easy for Americans to believe various things in the Bible and yet not believe concrete evidence that something terrible is happening to our Arctic poles and we're going to pay a terrible price. I just think Christians - represented these days by Republicans, among others - would treat God's gift to us a little better, don't you?

As for the rest of you, why are you so resistant? The comparison with Eugenics doesn't bear out, because Eugenics didn't threaten to put coastal Europe under water. And I have to ask: if there is only a 20% chance global warming is coming, why the hell would you take that chance when the future of your grandkids depend on it? I'm sorry, I'd like Lucy's odds to be better than that, especially when ALL OF THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDABLE.

Whatever. I'm convinced nobody will change their minds unless something cataclysmic happens. I guess we just have to keep doing the best we can and fucking hope for the best. It's utterly demoralizing.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2005 8:17 AM

Matt, I didn't say it was one-sided. I have seen the evidence for both sides, and I have chosen which set of data I believe. Among the data I have chosen NOT to consider are the writings of popular novelists.

Posted by: Matt at November 4, 2005 8:24 AM

Fair enough, Tim. For the record, an excerpt from the link above:

"About 95 percent of the greenhouse effect — the atmospheric warming due to the trapping of solar energy that makes life possible on Earth — is due to water vapor, 99.999 percent of which is of natural origin.

"The other 5 percent of the greenhouse effect is due to carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other miscellaneous gases.

"Although carbon dioxide is the most dominant of these gases by volume, comprising about 99.4 percent, the other gases trap more heat. So the contribution of carbon dioxide to the 5 percent of the greenhouse effect not due to water vapor is much less than 99.4 percent — it's about 72 percent.

"Carbon dioxide, therefore, is responsible for roughly 3.6 percent of the greenhouse effect (5 percent, representing the percentage of the greenhouse effect not due to water vapor, multiplied by 72 percent, representing the percentage of that 5 percent due to carbon dioxide).

"But carbon dioxide is produced both naturally and by humans. About 97 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide is natural, in fact. Only about 3 percent is from human activity.

"That means that only about 0.11 percent of the greenhouse effect (that is, 3 percent of 3.6 percent) is due to human releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

"Put another way, about 99.89 percent of the greenhouse effect has nothing to do with carbon-dioxide emissions from human activity.

"Factoring in the other greenhouse gases, the total human contribution to the greenhouse effect is about 0.3 percent. In other words, about 99.7 percent of the greenhouse effect is due entirely to nature."

Posted by: badbob (real) at November 4, 2005 8:26 AM

re- "Even writing this makes feel like a wacko."

I agree.

Life is a risk. We just THINK we know too much. There is no free lunch. Hysterics don't help.

I'm a Republican and I'm seriously looking at buying a hybrid to replace my 15 year old, 22 MPG Isuzu. Economics vice Global Warming however..or was it this blog? LOL

B2

Posted by: Greg H at November 4, 2005 8:26 AM

I know I might sound like a broken record (or worse, gasp, a musician with an opinion on the environment!), but with alternative energy, the answers are already out there. Its just up to us to fully embrace them.

What about cars? Enthanol and biodiesel fuels are here. They are very clean burning compared to gasoline. Startup companies are already producing them here in the states. Existing vehicles can be easily adapted to these fuels.

Large scale power? Solar , wind, and biomass are inevitable. I posted about solar tower technology on an earlier Ian blog post... did anyone check those links out? 40 - 80 of these suckers could power Vegas or L.A., make money, and eliminate alot of pollution. It all comes down to the numbers... ultimately, alternative energy sources are simply a more efficient way of harvesting the sun's energy.

Alternative energy will be a winning issue for Dems, once they realize that it is *the* key progressive issue of our era. Repubs are too entrenched in Oil's best interests to make the move. Here are some interesting links for those asking "why don't we do something?" There are legions of folks out there already on the job and making it happen.
http://www.votesolar.com/
http://www.enviromission.com.au/
http://www.solarpower2004.com/
http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/rankings/rankindex.htm

Posted by: Chris M at November 4, 2005 8:33 AM

If someone is interested in installing solar power for their home, how much does it cost to do so? You would have to know both materials and installation.

What are solar panels and any necessary accesories that goes with them made of? What natural resources were extracted to make solar panels? Where did they come from? How much energy (fossil or otherwise) was used (burned) to fabricate all the materials used in a solar power system for a home?

Does solar work well in a home? How well? What are operational strengths and weaknesses?

With answers to above, you could then see if they applicable on a broad scale or not and why.

Anyone have the relevant facts and want to present them?

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2005 8:41 AM

I'm quitting this discussion after this, I promise, as bogging down in the details is not helpful and clearly intelligent people disagree on global warming. I'm not saying that to be a smartass - it's absolutely true. But among the reasons I call bullshit on the article you linked are statements like "About 97 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide is natural, in fact. Only about 3 percent is from human activity." This is a very interesting claim in light of the plots of atmospheric CO2 vs time. Is it coincidence, then, that CO2 levels began to rise exponentially immediately after the industrial revolution? CO2 has increased to 360 ppm from 280 ppm since the IR. I'm inclined to call that change man made, and it's certainly more than 5%. (22%, in fact) Methane has increased from 750 ppb to 1750 ppb in the same time. That's 57%. N2O has increased from 260 ppb to 310 ppb (16%). Ozone in the troposphere has increased by 35% or so. All of these molecules are greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are known to increase the temperature at the surface. All of these increases have arisen after humans began putting those molecules into the atmosphere. Decide for yourselves.

Posted by: Laurie from Manly Dorm at November 4, 2005 9:10 AM

Your country house! Your country house! Na na na na na na! Ian has a country house! He's a country squire!

Ha! Sorry, I couldn't help it. You made me laugh. Hey, at least your country house isn't a McMansion!

Look at it this way, you have made a small difference for me in your blog. My next car will definitely be a Prius. I never would have given it a thought had I not read about it on your blog.

Posted by: Matt at November 4, 2005 9:19 AM

I'll check his data, Tim. And I'm going to read your paper when I get time later this afternoon.

P.S. If I buy a Pruis can I put a Cheney/Rice '08 bumper sticker on it?

Posted by: Rebecca at November 4, 2005 9:27 AM

Ian, I have to agree that people won't change until they are directly affected. I live in tract housing in Orange County. Most of my neighbors, who are well-educated and well-paid, do not even recycle. Most of them also drive huge SUV's. If we can't get these people to even recycle, which is so easy here, we all have a huge bin that you don't even have to sort, then we are really screwed. It drives me crazy. I know that I personally can't do that much, but I recycle more than I throw away!

And by the way, I should point out that my nieghbors are about 50% immigrants, or the children of immigrants from various Asian countries. So it's not just white americans who don't do their part. And that surprises me even more. I would think these people would have a more global view than someone in say Kansas. (Which is where I was born.)

My parents live in Cabarrus County, NC. Their town stopped recycling several years ago, because it was too expensive, and most people weren't doing it. So now my parents can't even choose to recycle, unless they drive their papers to the landfill, where there is a big paper recycling bin. Unbelieveable.

Our country should be leading the world on global warming issues. We have the knowledge and resources to help change the world and yet it's clearly not been an issue for any administration. We can't blame this all on the Bushies. Why didn't Clinton change the W.H. to solar power? It's just not a national priority. YET. And when people get outraged enough to make the government do something, it may just be too late.

Demoralizing indeed.

Posted by: Andy at November 4, 2005 9:28 AM

Tim - where did you get those numbers? This is not a call-out. I'm just curious.

Posted by: noj at November 4, 2005 9:29 AM

to Tim: there are several fuel cell designs - only the phosphoric acid fuel cell requires a platinum catalyst. it IS the most common fuel cell...

Posted by: Beth at November 4, 2005 9:47 AM

Cheney for [the actual role of] president [instead of merely behind the scenes]? Now, there's a horrifying thought.

Posted by: Laurie from Manly Dorm at November 4, 2005 10:11 AM

Hey, Country Squire. I just took the time to read the Salon article. Did you read about Jim Ball and his "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign at the end of the article? Looks like Jesus would drive the same vehicle as our beloved Country Squire! Christians DO care about Mother Earth!!! Now, why'd you go and act like they don't?? All those Evangelicals are treating God's gift just fine.

Now, Rebecca's neighbors in OC, on the other hand, need to be smacked. Not even throwing their stuff in the recycling bins? Now, that is a damn shame.

Posted by: tregen at November 4, 2005 10:13 AM

We are all going to die. NO way around it. Global warming / cooling has occurred forever and appears to be a normal cyclic event. No? I do not doubt that man is contributing to the problem but I do doubt that any action taken, even on a global scale, will alter our course.

Posted by: LFMD at November 4, 2005 10:18 AM

http://www.whatwouldjesusdrive.org/tour/news.php

Praise the Lord!!!!!

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2005 10:33 AM

Ok, so I promised not to argue here any more, and I won't, but I will respond to questions :)

Matt - I've seen that 3% number a lot, too, but I'll be darned if I can find where it comes from. Obviously, we can't have both numbers be correct.

noj - yeah, I know there are other fuel cell designs, but I was under the impression that only the platinum-based one was far enough along to be a contender on the time scales we need. Is that not the case?

Andy - from the IPCC report that I linked to up top. Alas, it's a huge pdf file and not necessarily as accessible to non-scientists as it should be.

And I can't resist - yes, tregen, global temp cycles are real and inevitable. But again, if we know that we're putting in huge amounts of GHGs, and we know they increase the T, and we see an increase in T that almost perfectly matches our best models of what we would *expect* to see, maybe it's time to take our heads out of the sand. Global natural cycles DO happen... can we be so sure that this is one of them?

Posted by: Sarah at November 4, 2005 10:33 AM

The problem with recycling in Orange County is that there isn't any. I moved here about 3 months ago from Chapel Hill and have searched ALL over the web trying to find recycling. Supposedly, all trash is sorted for recyclable items. The only thing I've found is selective (it scans it before it's accepted) glass, aluminum cans, and plastic recycling at a local grocery store. No paper, magazine, cardboard, etc. that I was so used to in CH. I'm incredibly frustrated with it. Not to mention the huge waste of water that goes on on a regular basis.

As far as hybrid vehicles are concerned, I don't think people will start to buy hybrids until it's more financially attractive.

Posted by: meredith at November 4, 2005 11:00 AM

To the point that people will not drive more fuel-efficient cars (including hybrids) unless they are more financially attractive, I think this is precisely the point where we need the government to act responsibly and help make that happen by raising the taxes on gasoline to reflect the true costs (both environmental and frankly political since it is our dependence on foreign oil that is the real reason we're so concerned with what's going on the Middle East) so that people will start finding these options more attractive. Living in Europe, I have to laugh at all of the hysteria in the US when gas prices spiked after Katrina because our gas remains about double the cost of gas in the US even at its peak. And we're buying our gas from the same source, it costs the same per barrel over here, it's just there are much higher taxes. And guess what? People don't drive SUVs. People figure out how to get by with cars that many Americans might think of as glorified golf carts. People are incentivized to actually vote into office leaders who will make public transportation more effective. AND PEOPLE WALK OR RIDE BIKES MORE (and obesity rates are far lower over here than in the US -- any connection?). For those of you who cry foul at the suggestion of market intervention, just remember that we do it ALL THE TIME to further other social goals (any smokers out there notice how much the tax on cigarettes has increased over the past decade? Or what about tax-based incentives for drug research?) so why does the environment always get the shaft? Introduce the higher taxes on gasoline in a responsible way, phasing it in over time so that individuals and businesses have a reasonable time to react and adjust their behavior, and then use the proceeds to investigate ways of making alternative energy more efficient and productive. At the moment there are no market incentives for people to behave more responsibly or for scientists to invest in a more meaningful way in research into alternative energy sources because the market doesn't truly reflect the true costs of our current lifestyles -- that's where you need the government to step in and correc the imbalance. THEN the market can do its job.

Posted by: Matt at November 4, 2005 11:11 AM

"...we need the government to act responsibly and help make that happen by raising the taxes on gasoline..."

Not only would that tank our economy and be last thing we want to do, gasoline taxes are already too high.
http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2005/10/gas_taxes_excee.html

"Federal and state taxes on gasoline production and imports have been climbing steadily since the late 1970s and now total roughly $58.4 billion. Due in part to substantial hikes in the federal gasoline excise tax in 1983, 1990, and 1993, annual tax revenues have continued to grow. Since 1977, governments collected more than $1.34 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in gasoline tax revenues — more than twice the amount of domestic profits earned by major U.S. oil companies during the same period."

You read that right, the U.S. Government makes twice as much from gasoline sales than the oil companies. A cynic might suggest they have no incentive to reduce dependence on oil.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2005 11:24 AM

How are we defining "too high"?

Posted by: meredith at November 4, 2005 11:29 AM

Matt -- your data only shows that the US has raised taxes over time on gas, not that they are actually "too high." One might argue, as I do, that they are still not high enough if they are not covering the environmental costs of our gas usage. A further increase in gas taxes would not "tank the economy" if introduced in a responsible, transparent manner. Yes, people would probably use less gas and oil companies profits would fall in the short term, but that is the whole point -- to encourage less consumption and to incentivize energy companies to find new technologies and sources. Innovation is a GOOD thing -- the energy companies that are flexible will survive. Look what happened to Kodak when digital photography took off -- while film sales were hurt, they adapted their business model to focus more on developing and printing and other ways of leveraging digiral technology. Energy companies can do the same thing -- adapt, that is, and people will too if you make it worth their effort. It is the proper role of a responsible government to do just that.

Posted by: kaz at November 4, 2005 11:41 AM

so much to digest and respond to in here. i live in beverly hills (yes, the very bottom edge), and they just changed their recycling policy to the "all in one trash bin" method, with no call out for recycling. unbelievable, but they said it was more efficient to do it this way. who knows. i think what's most important is that, when there's a choice, we do EVERYTHING we can to make small changes. they add up. really.

the other thing i wanted to point out was an article in the times yesterday, pasted below, about how self-interest always seems to drive innovation. and china is going to kick our asses indeed. just as we import cars and electronic goods from japan because they invest and care about quality product, so will we be importing green technology from china. a more long-term world view would do us well. and the longest view includes doing irreversable damage to the globe...so, we have no excuse. i don't care if the scale is 10 years or 100 years, the trends speak for themselves.

sigh.

November 2, 2005
Op-Ed Columnist
China's Little Green Book

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
BEIJING

There are only about 60 gold-standard green buildings in the world - that is, buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as having been made with the materials and systems that best reduce waste, emissions and energy use. One of those buildings is in Beijing - China's Ministry of Science and Technology, at 55 Yuyuantan Nanlu Street.

I toured it the other day with Robert Watson from the Natural Resources Defense Council, who advised China in designing the building. What struck me most was how much stuff in China's greenest building was labeled "Made in China."

Get used to it. In China, conservation is not a "personal virtue," as Dick Cheney would say. Today it is a necessity. It was so polluted in Beijing the other day you could not make out buildings six blocks away. That's the bad news. Here's the good news: China's leaders and business community know it. They know that as China grows more prosperous, and more Chinese buy homes and cars, it must urgently adopt green technologies; otherwise, it will destroy its environment and its people. Green technology will decide whether China continues on its current growth path or chokes itself to death. So green innovation is starting to mushroom in China.

And what's the U.S. doing as green technology is emerging as the most important industry of the 21st century? Let's see: the Bush team is telling our manufacturers they don't have to improve auto mileage standards or appliance efficiency, is looking to ease regulations on oil refiners and is rejecting a gas tax that would help shift America to hybrid vehicles.

We should be doing just the opposite: creating more pressures and incentives so our companies will innovate and dominate the next great industry. You think China is cleaning our clock now with cheap clothing? Wait a decade, when we'll have to import our green technology from Beijing, just as we have to import hybrid motors today from Japan.

Green China will be much more challenging than Red China. Look around the nine-story Ministry of Science and Technology building. Yes, a lot of cool things here are from Europe, and some are from the U.S.

But what about the porous pavement bricks, made of fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion that allows storm water to flow through and be reabsorbed into the Beijing aquifer? Made in China. The photovoltaic panels that provide 10 percent of the building's electricity from sunlight? Made in China. The solar hot water system? Made in China. The soil substitute in the building's roof garden that is 75 percent lighter than regular dirt and holds three to four times more water per cubic foot? Made in China. The concrete building blocks filled with insulating foam that keeps you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer? Made in China, by a U.S.-owned company. The water-free urinals? Made for the China market by a U.S.-owned company.

Jack Perkowski, who runs Asimco Technologies, the huge China-based auto parts maker, told me where this is heading: "As China moves from the second-largest market to the first in autos ... the industry here will have to come up with transport that is more affordable, fuel-efficient and environmentally sound."

As green technologies get adopted here and gain scale - Mr. Perkowski cited a Chinese auto company now rushing to develop a green diesel engine for passenger cars - the Chinese will set the standards for the world.

"So they will become technology exporters rather than importers," he said. And because of the unique needs of China and the fact that it will become the biggest market for any product, the Chinese will "innovate at their affordability level." Once they come up with low-cost solutions that work inside China, they will take them global at China prices.

The China Daily reported that China's 11th five-year plan, which starts soon, includes a program to sharply reduce China's energy usage per unit of G.D.P. by 2010. "To hit the target, a huge business potential will be open to investors," Zhou Dadi, director of China's top energy research institute, told a forum held by the paper.

"China is growing three times as fast as we are," Mr. Watson said, "[so] a lot of innovation is going to happen here, and once it is introduced [on the low-cost China platform] it is going to spread a lot faster. ... We are not the only source of innovation on the planet. The Japanese and Europeans are here in a big way, and they are giving their stuff away. ...

"We deserve to lose. We are clutching our past with these tremulous hands, and everyone else is vigorously grasping the future."

Posted by: jodyk at November 4, 2005 11:43 AM

As a practicing geologist, it is difficult to not appear nihilist on the climate change topic. The geologic time scale is defined by extinctions and climate changes. The vast majority of these are global in scale and involve circumstances that were probably way beyond the scope of our greatest budgeted destruction movie to date. It is very hard to quantify the current climate change when you know that previous ones were so much more radical. An earthquake in China in the 1500's killed an estimated 500,000 people, back then (someone correct me on the date if that's not quite right, the estimate is correct). The sedimentary record of eastern North Carolina shows that the ocean has eaten the coastal plain many times. I don't know about the rest of the scientific community, but even with real global warming it is hard to justify recommending action steps when you don't know how far this will go or if it is simply out of our control, regardless. We fuck over our environment every second, generating toxic and nuclear scenarios that are bad enough on a regional scale, so we have every reason to attack these problems, but who can be the one person to stand up and declare a new paradigm? It's hard to fathom.
We could destroy half the human population and over the half the species and I would still say we haven't had the big one yet.
Much smaller situations generate incredible social unrest and upheaval. The day that something occurs which unites all Americans, even more than 9/11, will be the start of an extremely destructive and vicious period in history, but I agree with Ian that it is coming. To end this ramble, I have to comment that the majority of the destruction will be in the blue states and ask, what do you think of that paradox?

Posted by: Susan at November 4, 2005 11:54 AM

As for the hybrids, I would buy one tomorrow if they came in a minivan (I'm betting Toyota will be the first). I really need my van which is why I don't drive a smaller car, and believe me I used to. Also I feel safer when a hummer or some other monstrous SUV is coming at me. So I do the next best thing and limit my driving. A tank of gas will last me more than a month. Since my husband and I drive our cars into the ground we will be in the market for new cars in about 10 years or more (we have Toyotas) so hopefully by then they will have some hybrids that are financially accessible for most.

As for the recycling, it is a shame that every community doesn't have a system. I am happy that our city does have an excellent one. I recycle literally everything they accept curbside and for other stuff like cardboard or plastic grocery bags I drive a short distance to the drop off sites. It is too easy. My toddler son even "helps" by dropping things in our bin at home. If I can help it he won't turn out like Rebecca's neighbors.

Posted by: Scott at November 4, 2005 12:06 PM

Ian, I appreciate your blog today, because our society seems to act only after it's been beaten over the head or brought to its knees.

The current administration claims to be religious, and I am troubled at how many Christians rally behind President Bush simply because they think he's one of them. Our President is extremely politically savvy. He knows how to appear like a common working man, yet we all know there's nothing common about him. So why do we get so excited when he quotes biblical scriptures? Anyone can recite scriptures. I could stand on the street corner and shout John 3:16. But does that mean I necessarily believe those very words?

I judge people by actions, not words. You can tell me you're religious, but I'll dismiss it until I see you loving others the way Christ loves us. The same rules apply to our President. If he is as religious as he professes to be, then why doesn't he care more about this creation? And if he does care, then why isn't this reflected in his actions and the directives of his Administration?

I ask all those Christians who read this blog to pray for our President and pray hard. But don't be so easily fooled. Cue Ian's "Rhesus Monkey" blog now.

Posted by: Matt at November 4, 2005 12:15 PM

Meredith:

"A further increase in gas taxes would not "tank the economy" if introduced in a responsible, transparent manner."

I have no idea what you mean by that, but, yes, it would tank our economy. Oil companies aren't my concern. Rasing fuel cost raises transportation costs, which affects every industry in the country down to the local grocery store. The government is already reaping twice what the oil companies make and they don't do a damn thing but regulate.

"Innovation is a GOOD thing."

No one is saying it isn't.

"Energy companies can do the same thing -- adapt, that is, and people will too if you make it worth their effort. It is the proper role of a responsible government to do just that."

Encourage conservation new technology investments r whatever, but to hell with raising taxes more. And it's irresponsible to ruin our economy for practically zero benefit in global CO2 emmission.

Posted by: Bud at November 4, 2005 12:22 PM

Rebecca: "My parents live in Cabarrus County, NC. Their town stopped recycling several years ago, because it was too expensive, and most people weren't doing it. So now my parents can't even choose to recycle, unless they drive their papers to the landfill, where there is a big paper recycling bin. Unbelieveable."

I live in Iredell County. A few years ago, the county commission debated doing away with recycling because it was "unprofitable".

Fortunately, someone at the meeting had the presence of mind to ask how much the county made from garbage collection. The proposal was delayed, numbers were analyzed, it was discovered that recycling is WAY cheaper than waste disposal, and the recycling program was instead *expanded*.

The coolest part? I was the "someone at the meeting." :-)

Posted by: J.Boogie at November 4, 2005 12:24 PM

Wow, another day of Ian spewing DNC talking points with little evidence to back it up with, nothing new. As usual, the little left-wing tool throws in the usual liberal anti-Christian remarks, NPR and Salon and MoveOn.org have taught the little sheeple Ian well.

It was just this time last year that the sheeple Ian drove to Pennsylvania (using oil I would imagine) to have people vote for Kerry (the man with 6 mansions and a fleet of SUVs), and now the tool Ian is lecturing us about oil, what a tool Ian is. I also got a good laugh today when Ian mentioned a Ford hybrid SUV, hearing about a Ford SUV made me remember something. We are also almost on the 1-year anniversary (Nov. 7th, 2004) of a girl by the name of Anne Dean flipping her Ford Explorer on a Connecticut highway, the Ford Explorer was registered to her father, a man by the name of Howard Dean. Ian probably never read about that over at Salon or DailyKos or never heard it on NPR, the news there is so bad.

It's no wonder the left-wing stooges with the wool over their eyes like Ian aren't in power right now, the American voters see right through their talking points and see the hypocrisy behind the limousine-liberals that Ian is on his knees for, Ian is probably at the store right now buying a new iPod for himself, he pretty much has every model in the lineup now. I wonder if the trucks that delivers those iPods to the store use oil...,

Ian spoke about solar power, but he made sure not to discuss wind power. Ian knows the hypocrisy of his own party when it comes to wind power, when wind turbines were planned for Cape Cod, no person spoke AGAINST it louder than , Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose famous compound would have the view of the ocean marred by the turbines, which woud only appear as tiny blips out on the horizon. Ian, maybe you could drive cross-country again in your oil-using car and come back to the east coast and help your buds Kenndy and Kerry install solar-panels on their mansions and compounds. Although since you're out in Hollywood, maybe you could start with Ben Affleck's mansion, then swing over to Susan Sarandon's place, and Bill Maher's mansion, and Barbra Streisand's mansion... although that would be hard work for you - it's easier for you just to bash Jesus and Christians. And then you'll be on here again in November of 2008 wondering why your party has such problems with the Christian vote, idiot.

Posted by: Frequent FARKer at November 4, 2005 12:34 PM

[in re kaz's article:]

I for one welcome our new green Chinese overlords.

/obvious?

Posted by: Rebecca at November 4, 2005 12:36 PM

Susan: I just bought a new van, and I believe that the salesmen at both Toyota and Honda said they hoped to have Hybrid vans by 2008 or 09, and the Toyota guy said they plan to have a hybrid in all models by 2010.

So my NEXT van will be a hybrid.

Posted by: Rebecca at November 4, 2005 12:37 PM

PS - Bud, you're my hero for the day!

Posted by: Andy at November 4, 2005 12:39 PM

^^^^oh well. The sensible discussion was fun while it lasted....

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2005 12:46 PM

Andy - what if well pretend not to see his crap, and continue discussing sensibly?

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2005 12:47 PM

Err... sub "we all" for "well". Not sure how that happened.

Posted by: joe q. at November 4, 2005 1:55 PM

Scott M.-- I agree. Gas should be $10/gallon. I see road construction and parking lots as the environmental problem.

Posted by: michelle at November 4, 2005 2:23 PM

sigh. Ian, seriously, when Jboogie starts his infantile name-calling, can't you just block his comments? It doesn't add anything to the debate and it makes me sad. I realize I should just ignore him, but it's really confusing to me that he thinks it's a reasonable thing to do. It's one thing to bash someone's politics, another thing entirely to call someone an idiot, tool, and "sheeple". Although, at least, the last one is creative.

Posted by: Greg T. at November 4, 2005 3:16 PM

Here's an interesting read that is barely (not really) related. It's about how the "pro-business" Bush administration is actually hurting American business. Some of the points included are elevant to the oil price issue mentioned above.

http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2005/11/bad_business.html

Now J. Boogie can add Mother Jones to the list of liberal (note, not Democratic) sources being quoted.

Posted by: Laurie from Manly Dorm at November 4, 2005 4:14 PM

My brother works for BP-Amoco. Say what you will about oil companies, in my opinion BP is the only one with any kind of a genuine interest in protecting the environment. So, when you buy some gas, buy BP Amoco. Thank you.

This message was brought to you by LFMD.

http://www.bp.com/genericsection.do?categoryId=4445&contentId=7005392

Posted by: Claudia at November 4, 2005 4:39 PM

Ian--Thanks for the apology.

Posted by: Chris M at November 4, 2005 4:56 PM

Now tell us all what you paid for the solar system.

Posted by: Warrior of the Woods at November 4, 2005 4:56 PM

LFMD

If I can't find a Citgo, my second choice is BP. You're right, they are way better than most. I NEVER buy Exxon, only once since 1989. And that once was because I'd run out of gas (faulty gauge), I'd walked 3 miles and the next station was another 7 miles. So I bought one gallon (just under $1 at the time) -- but using a credit card, which almost certainly cost them more than they made.

My REAL first choice is my bicycle. The revolution will NOT be motorized. Power to the people, baby!

:-)

Posted by: Frequent Reader at November 4, 2005 5:03 PM

"Now tell us all what you paid for the solar system."

When he bought the Sun, they threw in the planets for free.

Posted by: LFMD at November 4, 2005 6:56 PM

Dear Bud/Warrior/Thornton:

Thanks for the plug for BP. In all honesty, I usually buy gas at Wawa (do you have those in NC?) Wawa gas is the cheapest around, and they have good coffee! And, I tend to be lazy. But, I will pledge my allegiance to BP from now on.

And, I think that Iredell County needs you for an elected office. . . County Commissioner perhaps?

Have you been hiking these days? I would imagine that the fall colors will be at their peak down in your neck of the woods pretty soon. . . .

Posted by: Matt at November 4, 2005 8:45 PM

Tim, this site -- http://www.clearlight.com/~mhieb/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html -- comes to the same number that I cited above. That is, about 0.3% of greenhouse gases (not 3%, as you mistakenly wrote above) is caused by human activity. It appears their numbers come from the U.S. Department of Energy. I've seen the 0.3% number elsewhere, too, but can't find the study right now. Anyway, it seems absurd to suggest that the Earth can't withstand a 0.3% fluctuation in GHGs, considering how little the human contribution actually is.

Posted by: Warrior of the Woods at November 4, 2005 10:00 PM

A lot of things "seem absurd" unless you know something about them:

http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/New_Data/

Posted by: Ian at November 4, 2005 10:49 PM

Our solar panel system cost too much, and was worth every penny.

Posted by: Matt at November 5, 2005 6:09 AM

I was wrong, WotW. It doesn't "seem" absurd, it is absurd. Naturally arising GHGs fluctuate more than 0.3% per year.

Posted by: Warrior of the Woods at November 5, 2005 8:02 AM

They fluctuate naturally more than 0.3% annually, and now we are adding a 0.3% positive offset due to human activity.

Do you seriously not understand why this is a problem?

Posted by: kevin from NC at November 5, 2005 8:15 AM

Be the rain!!!

Look in the mirror.. where can YOU make a difference.. even a small one?

This has been a good discussion Ian..thanks.

Posted by: Tim at November 5, 2005 8:23 AM

But Matt, there's something sketchy going on there, too. The DOE report mentions nothing about "natural additions" and "man-made additions" since the pre-industrial levels. So, when their table cites only the DOE report for all of that data, that's misleading at best and probably dishonest. I want someone explain to me how the world's CO2 concentrations were constant for 1000 years and then coincidentally began an exponential increase during the IR. I don't buy it. Same with the 150% increase in methane. You can't just claim that's "natural" without explaining how that's possible.

Posted by: kjf at November 5, 2005 9:12 AM

another vote for blocking jboogie. and thanks for the info on BPAmoco. i thought all those oil companies were equally bad.

Posted by: Matt at November 5, 2005 2:54 PM

Are you including water vapor, since we're talking percentages of all GHGs? CO2 has undoubtedly risen, but it's such a small part of GHGs on the whole. Exclude WV and the human factor gets exaggerated.

WotW, the earth is not some delicate system. If it's capable of handling a fluctuation of, say, 30-50% of naturally arising GHGs, which it is (think Mt. Pinatubo), its buffers can handle a 0.3% offset. Otherwise we might as well all move into caves.

Posted by: Warrior of the Woods at November 5, 2005 8:58 PM

Well, Matt, I fully agree that the Earth is robust. It was here long before humans existed, and it will be here long after we are gone.

How long we remain depends at least partly on our own actions. I doubt that the global climate change we are already seeing (and which we are at least partly causing) will bring the end of humanity -- but I do believe we are bringing a lot of unnecessary misery upon ourselves, and upon many, many other species as well.

Plenty of evidence supports this. It's not even particularly controversial in the mainstream scientific community anymore. He who has eyes to see, let him see.

Posted by: Tim at November 6, 2005 8:22 AM

Including water vapor in what? I can't include water vapor in the calculation of CO2 concentration. Also, one thing that's being ignored by your links is the relative efficiency of the different GHGs. Doubling the CO2 concentration has a more dramatic effect than slight fluctuations in H2O simply due to the particular wavelengths of light that it absorbs. And the bottom line remains: that second article you linked is flat out lying about what's in the DOE report, and provides no explanation of what could possibly be meant by a 50% "natural" increase in a gas since the IR.

Posted by: Matt at November 6, 2005 11:42 AM

Total GHGs, Tim. Water vapor accounts for about 95% of the greenhouse effect. CO2 traps more heat than H2O per molecule, but it's dwarfed in total volume.

WotW: "It's not even particularly controversial in the mainstream scientific community anymore."

Au contraire, humankind's role in global warming is controversial in the scientific community with each side calling the other kooks, either of the ostrich or doomsayer variety.

Posted by: Warrior of the Woods at November 6, 2005 4:25 PM

The vast majority of climate scientists endorse the view that 1) the Earth is warming; and 2) that human activity is a significant contributor to the warming:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

It's possible to make a list of respected and suitably knowledgeable scientists who disagree with either of these assertions, and it's not a very long list:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_global_warming_consensus

Perhaps you know of other skeptical climatologists Wiki left out? If so, perhaps you should contribute them to Wiki.

BTW, Matt: I disagree with you about a lot of things, but I want you to know I admire both the respectful way you handle these conflicts and your tenacity.

I think I would really enjoy working with you on something we both agreed on. Now if only we can find something to agree on....

Posted by: Matt at November 6, 2005 6:24 PM

Thanks, WotW. We'll find that something someday.

Posted by: david at November 8, 2005 1:51 PM

“JACQUES DURIEUX: For what we have known in the past, never have we had such big amount of gases, never.

NARRATOR: The satellite identifies the gas as sulfur dioxide, SO2, the primary cause of acid rain. And Nyiragongo is producing more than any place in the world, up to 50,000 tons per day. That's more than the amount produced by all power plants, factories and cars in the United States.”

— Jacques Durieux, Volcano Under the City, NOVA, PBS, Tuesday, November 1, 2005

“But right now, the biggest single source of air pollution in Washington isn't a power plant, pulp mill or anything else created by man.

It's a volcano.” — The Seattle Times, Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Posted by: david at November 8, 2005 2:07 PM

“AT THIS CRUCIAL POINT IN HISTORY???”

Since previous administrations have not done it, perhaps it was to supply $15 Billion for the treatment, care, study and prevention of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Who gives the finger to whom?

Any idea how many villages, in 96% of the world's population, could be fed for how long on a $15K standard (only in your mind) American Preppie Wedding? Wouldn’t that make it a day to remember?

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