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March 21, 2007

Comments

I tend to agree with Voltaire that Leibniz's justification for God's creation was not necessarily the most rigorous. But in most other things...

this kind of makes their "the scientists who think global warming is happening won't look at contrary views/data" complaint seem rather empty

makes their ... complaint seem rather empty

i struggle to think of one that doesn't seem empty - and self-serving, and 180 deg from the truth, and petty, and not complete projection.

Empty, 180 degrees from the truth, self-serving, complete projection -- that's practically the modern Republican Party platform, at least the version used by its current leaders.

"Mr. Cooney said his past work opposing restrictions on heat-trapping gases for the oil industry had had no bearing on his actions once he joined the White House. “When I came to the White House,” he testified, “my sole loyalties were to the president and his administration.” "

Funny, I was under the perception that "oil industry" and "president and his administration" were pretty much synonomous.

This could be an interesting thread. Unfortunately I don’t have time to duke it out today so I should abstain.

People DO remember George Deutsch do they not?

Ack. this might be a better reference.

C'mon, OCSteve, you at least are enjoyable to duke it out with. Forget work. What's the worst that can happen?

abstination is a bad strategy OCS. You'll unexpectedly find yourself unable to stop - and then you're unprepared.

Forget work. What's the worst that can happen?

Bad bad things :)

I’ll give you some material to work with – I just won’t be around much today to defend it.

I believe GW is real.

I do not believe it has been proven that mankind has the slightest influence on it. Solar cycles seem most likely these days.

I believe it has been politicized and hyped beyond any scientific basis. I believe that dissenters are in a bad position to be heard and the whole “denier” label and “debate over” meme are dangerous.

I believe some of those given much trust in the matter have some serious issues scientifically.

I think carbon offsets are a sham.

I think any mandated attempt at emission caps or markets would be dangerous for our economy and would not have the slightest impact on GW.

OTOH I am all for reducing our fossil fuel consumption for my own reasons – primarily reducing our dependence on the oil ticks.

Finally, my money is where my mouth is. My present, future, life savings, etc. are all fully invested in a barrier island. Nothing I have seen or read yet would give me the slightest reason to consider changing that.

Anyway – fuel for the fire. I may not get back until later or tomorrow to respond to anyone. Feel free to smack me around in my absence.

for the record, I don't trust OSC's scientific credentials. he's an advocate of intelligent design, for one.

(note that's OSC, not OCS)

I do not believe it has been proven that mankind has the slightest influence on it. Solar cycles seem most likely these days.

Feel free to argue the magnitude of human-caused warming, but the greenhouse effect from CO2 is easily proven by anyone. The fact that the poles are warming faster than the equator is also indicates against solar cycles, which would be the inverse.

As an aside, it amazes me the people are so blase about 270ppm of a toxin going to 500ppm+, irrespective of GW. Immediate toxic effects of CO2 start at around 1500ppm; no one knows what long-term exposure even to what we have now will do.

Who is John Doe and does he know Tom Maguire?

John Doe is on a one-man mission to prove that Carol Lam was the worstest USA evah.

Imagine you're a senator. Now when people tell you two different things, are you going to believe the nice men with the bags of cash, or your lying eyes?

There are lots of reasons that the climate varies on earth. One of the reasons is that humans have decided to burn a lot of fossil fuels. This has demonstrably increased the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere. No scientists that I am aware of are claiming that this is the only thing that is affecting our climate, but they are pointing out that carbon dioxide levels do affect temperature and the mechanism by which this happens. If there is a problem with the science, it is up to the critics to show where, not just blindly deny or claim that other things did it.

Of course if the Republicans had shown that they are unquestionably honest, their criticism of science wouldn't look like they were just bought and paid for shills, selling the lies told by the businesses that are most cheerfully polluting and making huge amounts of money while polluting.

If Republicans want to be taken seriously in this debate, it's up to them to show that they are serious. They have to address the questions of science and the data that has been gathered. I think there is a good argument to make about the best method of dealing with with man-made pollution, but I would rather see the imperfect ideas of Kyoto be followed up than the totally dishonest claims of rich businesses and their wholely owned Congressional shills.

OC Steve:

My two cents on something I have read a lot about:

I do not believe it has been proven that mankind has the slightest influence on it. Solar cycles seem most likely these days.

Proven? -- not to a reasonable doubt, but more likely than not. That's the significance of the high degree of consensus on the question in the scientific community.

"Solar cycles?" -- not sure exactly what you mean, but here are the possibilities. The most common solar cycle is the 11 year sun spot cycle, but it is not believed to have any impact. Variation in overall solar output could cause differences in warming, but there is no evidence to support this over the last few hundred years. This is a Wikipedia entry, but it is based on a Nature article summarized here (no net increase in solar brightness since the mid 1970s, and that changes in solar output within the past 400 years are unlikely to have played a major part in global warming.)

If you are referring to the long term climate variations associated with variations in earth's orbit/orientation in space (Milankovitch theory, the theory indicates that we should be approaching a cooling trend (though sometime in the next few thousand years -- a rather imprecise window). It does not support a warming trend.

I believe it has been politicized and hyped beyond any scientific basis. I believe that dissenters are in a bad position to be heard and the whole “denier” label and “debate over” meme are dangerous.

Politicized by the proponents? Please -- hilzoy's post is an example of the extent of the politicization by the deniers. Again, the scientific consensus is that human caused global warming is real -- climatologists around the world are not some political bunch.

I believe some of those given much trust in the matter have some serious issues scientifically.

Don't know what this references, except perhaps some sort of attack on climatologists -- those with trust problems are the anti-global warming scientists who accept money from businesses seeking to create doubt about global warming. There is no equivalent constituency handing out money to support pro-global warming scientists (except in Michael Crichton's fantasies).

The work is peer reviewed, and there is no reason to think that the whole discipline is some fad driven event.

I think carbon offsets are a sham.

I think any mandated attempt at emission caps or markets would be dangerous for our economy and would not have the slightest impact on GW.

The biggest uncertainties about global warming are the degree to which human causes are a factor and what effect various efforts to mitigate might have. No one can do a meaning cost-benefit analysis. This is the real ground of uncertainty which for the most part does not get debated since we are still grappling with powerful forces that seek to deny the problem outright.

In the meantime, we are taking part in a giant involuntary experiment as to just how much impact our CO2 activity will have on climate and the environment.

OC Steve calls the current scientific consensus hype and bullying. The problem with this approach is that you can say it about anything -- and those who say it can seldom explain why this particular consensus arose in the first place. Really, it's a misuse of the concept "hype." Media does hype up contrarian or alarmist views, as in the alar scare. But the whole scientific community rarely if ever shrieks a warning about a nonexistent problem. When there's a strong consensus among scientists, this is not "hype." It might be a mistake, but not hype.

Let's bear in mind that there is no vast windmill-construction industry pouring money into junk science grants. And scientists are just as fond of driving, Big Macs, and labor-saving devices as anyone else. So if they're saying, we have to stop this -- you might want to take that a little more seriously than when the oil company says, nope, no problem here!

I've heard a lot of nonsense about how scientists have a vested interest in getting grants to prove that a problem exists, not that a problem doesn't exist, so they find problems where none exist. But then, why aren't more scientists falling over themselves to take oil company money to prove that the problem doesn't exist? Why are even the oil companies agreeing the problem exists? When junk science gets lots of media attention, there are always scientists happy to get their own grants by debunking it. Here, not so much. There are a few, but fewer every day -- not what you'd expect if this really were junk science.

At some point, you need to accept the word of experts, no matter how inconvenient.

"I think any mandated attempt at emission caps or markets would be dangerous for our economy and would not have the slightest impact on GW."

Here's the issue. Pain now or much more pain later?

Undoubtedly, trying to get things under cntrol, even if not reversing the trend, would be costly. And it woudl probably have effects on economies throughout the world. Standards of living may decline to some degree, particularly where it tends to be the highest.

Doing nothing, however, may end up much more costly in the long run.

Since I don't believe all of the warming trend is human created, I don't think it can be totally reversed, but if it can be slowed down, or at least stopped, then we have a fighting chance to leave a better world to our children, grandchildren, etc.

What pricetag can you put on that?

Let's assume for a second it is all hype, and we spend a lot of money for nothing. Well, that would be a shame, but then I spend a lot of money on home insurance and will probably never utilize the benefits and never get any of that money back.

But there is a slight chance (much smaller than the chance of global warming having a significant impact on our world) that my house may burn down. Then my insurance premiums become money well spent.

Imagine what our descendants will think of us if we do nothing and even half of the outcomes predicted come to pass and they know we had a chance to do something to change it.

Let's assume for a second it is all hype, and we spend a lot of money for nothing.

it wouldn't be 'nothing' : at the minimum, we'd have cleaner air and less dependence on foreign oil.

cleek, you make an important point. There would be some return on any money that is spent, and for any sacrifices made. But sacrifice is something that is foreign to a lot of people or something only others should do.

It's the pricetag aspect of the GW skeptics that is so troubling to me. They want to wait for a mythic time when we can prove without a doubt that humans and fossil fuel consumption. Until then, God forbid we do anything that might damage our bottom line.

They remind me of people going to see the doctor. The doctor says they've got a 30% blockage in their heart and that they better change their diet. They see that as a 70% opening and that they should keep eating cheeseburgers until they feel some real pain.

Good stuff. I will try to respond tomorrow…

As for tonight – to the lawyers out there – is it technically illegal to push your boss out of a 30 story window even if you had to spend the entire day with him including 6 hours on a plane and 9 hours acting like he knows something in front of important clients? I mean that’s justified homicide right? Jury of my peers? Slam dunk…

Don’t answer, I might have to pay a retainer tonight…

As someone who followed Publius over here (read it appr. weekly before, daily now) but does not have time to engage the very active comment threads here, I just want to compliment all of the regulars for what is inevitably a great discussion in each thread. OCSteve, my hat is off especially to you for presenting what tends to be the minority viewpoint in a respectful, engaging way. Thanks to all.

OCSteve: I take human-caused global warming on faith. Not being a climate scientist, I don't seem to myself to have much choice. Plus, since I work with some scientists, I can ask around, and everyone I know who has any expertise takes it as a given.

Also, the hockey stick article (by OS Card), if true, would fly in the face of everything I know about science. Scientists, for one thing, are not easily led -- they like to disagree. Trying to get them to "agree" on a consensus that doesn't actually exist would be like herding cats.

For another, science is intensely competitive. If OSC's story were true -- and if the error wasn't just something minor, that no significant conclusions turned on, but the Very Important Thing OSC suggests that it is -- then the person who showed that it was wrong would get some pretty serious scientific glory (not to mention a lot of support from the oil industry.)

I mean, I have read some anti-global-warming stuff in the past, in which people have said things like: oh, those climate scientists, they all stick together, concealing one another's errors. But that's the antithesis of how science works. Pointing out one another's errors is one of the things scientists live for. It's like thinking that the Yankees are really very easy to beat, easy enough that any Little League team could do it, and the only reason it doesn't seem that way is that all those baseball players stick together and don't want to defeat one another's teams. Trying to beat each other's teams is what pro baseball players do. Likewise, trying to disprove an important result is part of what scientists do, and if they succeed, they get professional glory.

As I said, I am not a scientist, but even I spotted two mistakes in Card's essay. First, he said this: "Even the IPCC, which was so heavily biased in favor of Global Warming alarmism, could not get its pet scientists to agree that Global Warming in recent decades is even probably caused by human activity." Unless he's using a strange definition of "probably", that's wrong:

"An international panel of climate scientists said yesterday that there is an overwhelming probability that human activities are warming the planet at a dangerous rate, with consequences that could soon take decades or centuries to reverse.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, made up of hundreds of scientists from 113 countries, said that based on new research over the last six years, it is 90 percent certain that human-generated greenhouse gases account for most of the global rise in temperatures over the past half-century."

Also, he says this:

"If you pay close attention, you'll find that Global Warming alarmists are not actually saying "Global Warming" lately. No, nowadays it's "Climate Change." Do you know why?

Because for the past three years, global temperatures have been falling."

Here's NASA's data. It seems to go through 2005. It does not show that global temperature has been falling. Besides, what matters is the trend over a period of years, not the odd year or two here and there. (That's why it's not right to say, unless you're kidding, that an unusually warm winter shows something about global warming.) If he doesn't know this, then he doesn't understand this at all, not even to the (admittedly puny) extent that I do.

Personally, I have never seen why this is a political issue at all. I think it's straight science.

And Portia: I have taken off my hat for good, and retired it to a kitchen shelf. Otherwise, I'd be so busy taking it off to OCSteve that I'd never get anything done.

It's not easy to have a minority viewpoint that you're quite willing to express clearly and forcefully, and to argue, and yet be as consistently decent as OCSteve.

Hence my retired hat.

More details:

Global warming vs. Global climate change

The latter term has become more common because it is a more accurate description. Increase in overall warmth causes changes in climate patterns, which may increase or decrease temperatures locally. Northern Europe is expected to get colder if warming in the arctic slows or shuts down down the Gulf Stream and the conveyer thereby shutting down the delivery of warm water to the Northern Atlantic. This is a predicted effect of loss of ice in the Arctic Ocean.


Tim:

The fact that the poles are warming faster than the equator is also indicates against solar cycles, which would be the inverse.

Is there a link for this? It does not sound correct.

Antarctica is actually staying cold and not showing nearly as much warming as anywhere else on the planet. The arctic zones are warming more quickly because of local conditions -- the Arctic Ocean brings increased heat into the arctic environment very quickly, and there are huge feedback loops at work in the arctic. Open water and decreased snow cover (or earlier melting of snow cover) leads to more warming due to a lower albedo.

Antarctica is isolated from global climate patterns by circumpolar ocean and wind currents.

as to the cost of global warming, the Western states and many other parts of the world rely on the historic rate of snowpack melt to deliver water as needed during the summer months. Dams, reservoirs and pipes are all sized and located based on early 20th century data on melt rates.

now, it appears that climate change will have the greatest impact on the margin -- smaller Artic ice cap, less snow and warmer winters in the North, ... and changed rates of melt in the Western mountain ranges.

just how many billions is it to build a whole new water system for the West?

you'll find that Global Warming alarmists are not actually saying "Global Warming" lately. No, nowadays it's "Climate Change." Do you know why?

yes, i know why!

it's because every time the temperature gets colder than normal in Buttwart Utah, all the yokels scream "So Where's That Global Warming Now? HUH?!" when, the issue with GW isn't that it's suddenly going to be +20F higher everywhere, all the time, it's that on average, over time, the global temperature is higher.

Card's a tool

Popping in quick – I will try to address comments as quick as I can, Just not tonight. (Can I get a legal opinion on the boss thing?)

Remember – I pretty much said it was a drive-by, which I do not usually do…

dmbeaster: Good stuff – I have to cross check.

trilobite: Good stuff too. You distracted me with the Big Mac thing though (drool…).

john miller: Much too reasonable to argue with. Can’t you throw out some red meat?

cleek: Good point. I’m on board. Everyone for reduced restrictions on nuclear plants?

Portia: Having been involved in blogs for over 5 years now, I can say that this is one of the most civil places on the net for good conversation. The level of expertise on almost any subject is awesome, and it is a very welcoming community (trolls excepted).

Hilzoy: As always, I have to think about your response before responding. Your arguments are much too good to shrug off and much too level-headed to dismiss out of hand. (Damn, I hate that!) And thanks.

Can I get a legal opinion on the boss thing

There's always nullification. ;- )

The Real Climate blog has been pretty helpful for me. I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it.

In particular, OCSteve might want to look at: Myth vs. Fact Regarding the "Hockey Stick" (or any of the numerous other posts on the subject). I personally find that sort of post a lot more illuminating than Card's credulous ranting.

And there's a whole category on "Sun-earth connections".

It's generally a pretty good antidote to all those look-at-this-one-little-dataset- over-here-type arguments.

Everyone for reduced restrictions on nuclear plants?

Did you hear the former VP on this subject today? He was more positive about nuclear than you'd think just reading the NYT story.

OCSteve said:
cleek: Good point. I’m on board. Everyone for reduced restrictions on nuclear plants?


Um, no, I'm not. I haven't seen good evidence that there is enough accessible nuclear fuel on Earth to power the world at current consumption rates for more than a few years. The key word there is accessible: there is a lot of uraniam on Earth, but most of it requires more energy to extract and process than can ever be recovered.


And, no, I'm unwilling to take breeder reactors seriously. At least, not until someone, anyone, anywhere on earth, manages to successfully run a breeder reactor for several years while actually breeding meaningful quantities of nuclear fuel. Breeder reactors are really great in theory but are very hard to actually build and operate in practice.

In the 50s, our society seemed to make a god of nuclear power. We've learned a lot since then, but we seem unwilling to give up the worship of that idol.

Much of this is covered in this report, but I'd be delighted to see any contradictory reports.

This video of Gore, Inhofe and Boxer is priceless:

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/03/21/gore-boxer-inhofe/

I'm not for reduced restrictions on nuclear power without first a thorough investigation of the industry and an overhaul of its regulation. The nuke folks have screwed up so often in so many ways that they need to show the rest of us they've done something about it. (Comparison to the Republican Party is left as an exercise for the reader.) I would be strongly in favor for more use of nuclear power if it were reasonable to believe it'd be built and operated with reliable competence.

"Comparison to the Republican Party is left as an exercise for the reader."

The Republican party doesn't have the scientific community behind it or support from the environmental community.

Isn't the issue re: global warming more about resource allocation and effectiveness than it is about whether the earth is warming? My recollection of the expected return for the full implementation of Kyoto (at the cost of a many billions) is that it would delay the overall progress of GW by about 4 years, but would not reverse or prevent it. The billions might be better spent paying for mitigation of the effects, rather than delaying them.

Kyoto is imo just a minimum effort to buy some time (and even that is watered down).
Encouraging nuclear (fission) power is also(again imo) only viable as a delaying action (sandbags to stabilize the dyke temporarily in a storm surge). Not up to date about development in the fusion department (less hazardous waste* and no fuel shortage).
I think in the long term a global transition form the cheap-carbon based economy to something more based on renewable resources and increased total efficiency would be economically very sound, even if it diminishes the bottom line during the transition period (and I am not even sure that it actually would except for the worst offenders)

*shorter half-life, lower total radiactivity and nothing useful that could be extracted for "real" nukes

Good point. I’m on board. Everyone for reduced restrictions on nuclear plants?

the one ten miles from my house, providing power to the whole Raleigh area, seems to be working fine under existing regulations.

OCSteve, you might be the first person who has ever said I was too reasonable.

I'll save the red meat for other topics which have more philosophical underpinnings.

As far as nuclear power, as a layman who had trouble with anything beyopnd beginning chemistry, I don't have a knowledge based opinion. (at this point Gary would possibly say that it would eb a better idea not to express an opinion).

Anyway, I don't have a problem with increased use of nuclear power as long as there are extremely adequate safeguards.

A couple comments above talk about delaying tactics. I have no problem with delaying tactics, as long as there are plenty of other things being done to find solutions in th meantime. I don't look at Kyoto or nuclear power to be the end all solutions. In fact, for the next couple centuries it may be hoping to lessen the increase before we find something to start reversing the trend.

It's amazing how every single Republican was like "nuclear, nuclear, nuclear!" at yesterday's hearing. I wonder how many of their districts are eager to host a nuclear plant.

I wonder if they were surprised to learn that Gore doesn't really have a problem with nuclear, other than objecting to it being viewed as a cure-all. (They shouldn't be surprised, as he's had the same position for a long time.) Sometimes I wonder how many Republicans hype nuclear just because they've been trained to think that all liberals will oppose it.

L: We need to change our ways to stop global warming!
C: Ok, let's move from coal to nuclear power.
L: Oh no, we can't do that, because nuclear is eeeeeevil!
C: I knew it, you don't think global warming is such a big deal after all. Silly liberal.

That's kind of the imaginary dialogue I picture some of these guys having in their heads. It seems like there's a whole generation of Republicans who want nothing more than to shoot a spotted owl.

Thanks for the kind words, OCSteve. I, too, appreciate the civility standards on this blog. When I skim thru the comments sections on most other blogs, I shudder.

I basically agree w/ John Miller re nuclear power (i.e., I don't know enuf to have an opinion). I will add one thing: the risks of nuclear power are very real, especially in our modern terrorism-prone age. BUT, risks have to be weighed against other risks, and even a Chernobyl disaster looks like small potatoes compared w/ global warming. And who knows, maybe with enough practice, we can idiot-proof pre-fab nuclear plants.

But I think we underutilize solar energy. For instance, do we really need the state of Arizona? Or the Gobi Desert? We can't literally cover them with solar panels, the new albedo would change the local climate and eliminate the reason for building there in the first place. But even if we only covered, say, 10% of the ground with panels, we could generate a LOT of juice. And solar is CHEAP.

Or, if we can ever work out microwave power beaming, put a solar collector in orbit. Nothing too big, just the area of the moon or so...

I will add one thing: the risks of nuclear power are very real, especially in our modern terrorism-prone age.

This is a point Gore often makes with respect to the developing countries. I'm fairly confident in our ability to provide adequate security for a nuclear plant, but if you go heavy on nuclear, it's hard to dissuade other countries where terrorism is a much greater threat from doing the same.

"For instance, do we really need the state of Arizona?"

I think some people have been wondering about that for some time.

If it's hot enough or better the radiation intensity is high enough (not exactly the same), it is not even necessary to go photovoltaic (comparatively expensive) but using curved mirrors for solarthermal power plants.

Problems with nuclear fission power generation:
1. easily available fuel won't last very long
(=> maybe useful as transition technology, buying time)
2. rather inefficient (CHP would help but who wants the plant right next door?)
3. potentially dangerous even without outer interference (I have read a number of horror stories about US nuclear power plants concerning both the design and the people allowed to run them)
4. Production of large amounts of highly hazardous waste without a viable and secure method to deal with it yet.
5. Danger in case of man-made or natural catastrophes (terrorist attacks, earthquakes etc.).

I would agree with temporarily expanding the use of fission power provided the security is beefed up in every possible aspect and tightly controlled and enforced with ruinous penalties in case of violations.
Unfortunately, even Sweden seems to be unable to keep up the high standards.

"I believe GW is real.

"I do not believe it has been proven that mankind has the slightest influence on it."

"Solar cycles seem most likely these days."

Err, no. You really haven't been paying attention, or have been paying attention to the Wrong Authorities. cf. this recent review article in Nature:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v443/n7108/abs/nature05072.html

Money quote:
'Overall, we can find no evidence for solar luminosity variations of sufficient amplitude to drive significant climate variations on centennial, millennial and even million-year timescales.'

"I believe it has been politicized and hyped beyond any scientific basis. I believe that dissenters are in a bad position to be heard and the whole “denier” label and “debate over” meme are dangerous."

WTF? Christy and Spencer sit on the IPCC, as does Lindzen. Lindzen gets a WSJ Op-Ed whenever he wants, wheras Jim Hansen has a 25-year old GOP hack redacting his work. Deniers and skeptics of AGW are overrepresented in the popular press. If Lindzen's Infra-Red Iris hypothesis got shot down or Christy and Spencer's Heat Island hypothesis turned out to be a calibration artifact [albeit a complex one], well, that's tough for them.

"I think carbon offsets are a sham.

I think that the current situation with carbon offsets is underregulated, so there are problems with gaming. But carbon offsets are a step towards putting a price on CO2 emissions, and they're better than nothing. But not as good as a cap-and-trade system or a CO2 tax.

As for complaints that carbon offsets reward decisions that would still be made without said offsets, conservatives need to reread their Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall: Prices affect decisions at the margin.

"I think any mandated attempt at emission caps or markets would be dangerous for our economy and would not have the slightest impact on GW."

I spent the best part of a year doing a bottom-up estimation of the cost of capturing and sequestering CO2 from a gas turbine plant, and it was about $50-70/tonne, depending on the cost of natural gas. Better technology will lower this. And this is one of the more expensive options for CO2 removal. FYI, a charge of $50/tonne CO2 would be equivalent to about 50-60 cents/gallon gasoline. In case you haven't noticed, we've had gasoline go up more than that increment in the past few years without Civilization As We Know It Coming To An End.

Mitigating CO2 emissions has a big effect on the electrical generation infrastructure. No doubt about it, they'll experience some pain. Fortunately, not a lot of our economy is electrical generation. Number's I've seen from Hertzog out of MIT and others are in the 2% of GDP range. Or, in other words, we'll have to wait until 2105 to be four times as wealthy as we are now instead of reaching that point in 2100.

"OTOH I am all for reducing our fossil fuel consumption for my own reasons – primarily reducing our dependence on the oil ticks."

Yeah, but we don't have to ditch fossil fuels just yet. Sequestration is a transistion technology to ease the pain.

"Finally, my money is where my mouth is. My present, future, life savings, etc. are all fully invested in a barrier island. Nothing I have seen or read yet would give me the slightest reason to consider changing that."

Liquidate your position before nature does.

Still in a time crunch this week and there are too many comments for me to tackle each individually so I’m going to summarize/restate and throw out some more links while I chew on my delicious peanut butter sandwich. Split up because the blog thinks I’m spam with all the links.

Concerning the politics of the issue and consensus:

The IPCC seems to be more political than scientific IMO.

We keep hearing that there is a consensus. But there are accredited scientists who disagree, more than just Richard Lindzen.

Chris Landsea certainly seems to be well accredited:
“It is beyond me why my colleagues would utilize the media to push an unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity has been due to global warming.”

“I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound. As the IPCC leadership has seen no wrong in Dr. Trenberth’s actions and have retained him as a Lead Author for the AR4, I have decided to no longer participate in the IPCC AR4.”

Plenty of scientists disagree to one extent or another.

As to hype – even some proponents now think that it is being over-hyped.

On solar effects, besides the recent JPL article I linked, this Duke study (which does not discount the greenhouse effect) is interesting. (I read the Nature article – the JPL study is more recent.) Mars warming?

On the Hockey Stick – Given the weight of the study in this whole thing, if it is wrong for any reason the ramifications are staggering. There is still plenty of doubt.

Even if you discount Card, check out the books he was referencing.

The first chapter of “UNSTOPPABLE GLOBAL WARMING” is available here.

So there is climate change. I’ll agree that the general trend is currently towards warming (though you couldn’t prove that by me). I just think that how much influence man has on it is far from a settled question. My personal belief is very little – at least in comparison to the impact natural events can have. The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 91 actually cooled the planet by a degree almost immediately. Man’s impact on the climate seem pretty puny in comparison.

Even if I accept that man has a definite impact, most experts seem to agree that the small steps we seem to be willing to take would have almost no effect at all. When I hear that we’d have to reduce emissions by 60-70% to actually do something about it then I think well that isn’t ever going to happen. So what are we talking about here?

But I don’t have to believe in GW (rather man’s cause of) to agree with some (maybe all) of the steps those who do want to take. As has been noted, reducing emissions is a worthy goal in and of itself. I’m for that, as long as its not draconian (60-70%!!). Who doesn’t like clean air? I am all for speeding up research on alternate fuels and I would support a gas tax to do that. I’d love to see us do whatever we can to reduce oil consumption. I think that the only short term option would be to speed up the building of new nuclear plants (safety first yes).

Anyway, I don't have a problem with increased use of nuclear power as long as there are extremely adequate safeguards.

Illinois already has 80% electricity produced by nuclear plants. It works pretty good! If I want to see a smokestack, I'll drive up to Kenosha, where the cheeseheads burn the coal. If not, I can go over to Zion, and fish for one of those man eating salmon by the old reactor.

"The IPCC seems to be more political than scientific IMO."

The Executive Summary was affected by politics, but not in the direction you assume. There was an editorial in New Sciencist magazine last week pointing out that the conclusions of the scientists in the 4AR Exec Summary were watered down:

'The IPCC summary was notably guarded. We put that down to scientific caution and the desire to convey as much certainty as possible (New Scientist, 9 February, p 3), but this week we hear that an earlier version of the summary contained a number of explicit references to positive feedbacks and the dangers of accelerating climate change. A critique of the report now argues that the references were removed in a systematic fashion.'

'Ocean physicist Peter Wadhams of the University of Cambridge, who made the discovery that Arctic ice has thinned by 40 per cent over the past 25 years and also acted as a referee on the IPCC report, told New Scientist: "The public needs to know that the policy-makers' summary, presented as the united words of the IPCC, has actually been watered down in subtle but vital ways by governmental agents before the public was allowed to see it."'

"As to hype – even some proponents now think that it is being over-hyped."

Really. From the article you quoted:

'He [Gore] clearly has supporters among leading scientists, who commend his popularizations and call his science basically sound. In December, he spoke in San Francisco to the American Geophysical Union and got a reception fit for a rock star from thousands of attendees.

“He has credibility in this community,” said Tim Killeen, the group’s president and director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a top group studying climate change. “There’s no question he’s read a lot and is able to respond in a very effective way.” '
'Some backers concede minor inaccuracies but see them as reasonable for a politician. James E. Hansen, an environmental scientist, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a top adviser to Mr. Gore, said, “Al does an exceptionally good job of seeing the forest for the trees,” adding that Mr. Gore often did so “better than scientists.” '

I'll take Hansen's opinion over Pielke's anytime.

"Even if I accept that man has a definite impact, most experts seem to agree that the small steps we seem to be willing to take would have almost no effect at all. When I hear that we’d have to reduce emissions by 60-70% to actually do something about it then I think well that isn’t ever going to happen. So what are we talking about here?"

We're talking about you going straight from denial to despair without passing through 'let's do something about this problem'.

"Not up to date about development in the fusion department (less hazardous waste* and no fuel shortage)."

Last I heard the engineering challenges in just extracting power from a sustainable reaction (if we could make a useful one) are insuperable with known or planned technology. Maybe that'll change in a few generations, but we need to come up with solutions for the next fifty years.

M Simon is all excited about recent developments in fusion energy.

Picture of Eric S.and M. Simon here, throwing the switches.

DaveC: Cool stuff. If he was working for the Navy when he came up with this – why would he need start up $ now? Wouldn’t the Navy own it?

OCSteve,

Since you still seem to believe that fission reactors can solve our problems, do you believe that are is enough uranium on earth (that can be extracted at reasonable energy cost) to make that feasible?

OCS, I had a case some years back over whether a Navy doctor owned the patent to an invention (of a medical device) developed while he was in the Navy.

Yes.

It's my only cite ever in the USPQ.

I don't think Dr. Bussard would qualify, though.

Off-hand comment regarding hype, regardless of my opinions on global warming*:

Nothing happens in America without hype. Hype is the adrenaline drip feed that makes every transaction work, baby. It's the fire lit under the butt of you, me, and Mom to put down the home-cooked meal and head for the gruel at Applebee's. It's the babe draped over the hunk of sheet metal at the car show, young man. It's the hectic purring of the liar on the phone raising capital for that penny-stock scam involving cancer cures, the violation of the third law of thermodynamics, and the four-hour erection. It's that house with the heaving basement and the teaser subprime rates. It's the big hair on Jimmy Swaggert's head as he unhooks the bra of the pretty girl as she hands over half her paycheck for salvation.

Al Gore's just playing the game. Good for him. It's ha ha funny that the pathetic Republicans in Congress, who celebrate all other unregulated hype as the lifeblood of a free people, can't handle a little glitz in the name of maybe preventing a little damage to the human race.

Then we have James Inhofe, the balky, smarmy Puritan buyer, who should have stayed in England if he couldn't handle how American culture works. Well, someday Al Gore will notice a consensus of legitimate scientific opinion that an asteroid the size of Newark is headed for a bull's-eye with Earth. I think he should keep it to himself and gently position James Inhofe's forehead and his faithful constituents, luring them with the vague, virgin image of Ayn Rand's sillouette on a jelly donut, directly under the underfunded NOAA, mathematically-calculated impact zone.

Broadcast the catastrophe (a relative term)
on the Weather Channel. Put a sales tax on the tickets to the event. Pay off the deficit with the proceeds.

*I worked with weather scientists in an earlier incarnation. Maybe I'll come back and relate my experience if I can gather my thoughts, which is doubtful. ;)

Common Sense: Since you still seem to believe that fission reactors can solve our problems

First, I don’t believe we have a serious problem (beyond dependence on foreign oil, yada yada). Clean air – cool. Lose the oil ticks – cool.

If I believe the worst case scenario – nothing can solve it, we’re doomed.

If I stipulate that there is a problem and it is within our power to do anything about it – then bringing many new reactors online in the next 10 years could not hurt. The safety record is good. We can deal with the waste. Safety first.

If you believe there is a crisis then why would you not support nuclear energy? As a short term solution (50 years) – what else do you have to offer?

CharleyCarp: To clarify, are you saying that in your case the doctor owned it, but you don’t think so in the case of Bussard?

I would think so in my ignorance. He sure seems to think he has a fee hand to run with it though.

JT: It's the hectic purring of the liar on the phone raising capital for that penny-stock scam involving cancer cures, the violation of the third law of thermodynamics, and the four-hour erection.

Dude – sheer poetry. I wept…

If I believe the worst case scenario – nothing can solve it, we’re doomed.

How do you know that? How can you be so certain what sort of remediation technology we will have in 10 years? What happens if a bad-but-not-quite-worst-case scenario happens? Why would you only consider the absolute most catastrophic case in which nothing we do matters when things might turn out badly but not so bad as to make remediation impossible?

If I stipulate that there is a problem and it is within our power to do anything about it – then bringing many new reactors online in the next 10 years could not hurt.

Yes it could. See below for just such a scenario.

The safety record is good. We can deal with the waste. Safety first.

You keep saying this...Can you give a cite? What qualifies as good safety, the fact that we have not all died of radiation poisoning yet? My reading of the safety record suggests that it is pretty appalling. I'm an engineer who designs complex systems and our current nuclear plant designs really do seem extremely fragile.


If you believe there is a crisis then why would you not support nuclear energy? As a short term solution (50 years) – what else do you have to offer?

I might support nuclear energy if I saw good evidence that nuclear power would actually improve the situation. Let's say that, as some experts allege, there isn't enough easily extractable uranium to power global nuclear reactors. If we go ahead and build thousands of nuclear plants anyway, we'll be fine for the first few years. Once all the easily extractable uranium is used up, we're going to continue processing much lower density uranium because the massive capital investment needed to build thousands of nuclear plants demands it. At that point, we'll have to spend more energy to extract uranium than we get from it, and the only way to make up the deficit will be with fossil fuels. We'll be trapped by economics. Beyond that, we'll have wasted valuable time and money on a solution that makes the problem worse.

Look, given how incredibly well the republican strategy of "don't plan ahead or analyze anything, just do whatever the hell you want and hope for the best" has worked out in Iraq, I'd think you'd be more interested in careful analysis and planning BEFORE we do execute a plan.

You don't seem to care about the fact that wholesale adoption of nuclear power could seriously screw us over. Even if you don't believe in global warming at all, if we go all the way on nuclear power and then run out of fuel a few years in, it will bankrupt our society. This attitude genuinely confuses me.

"If I believe the worst-case scenario -- nothing can solve it, we're doomed."

I envision a party on barrier island, martinis in one hand and snorkels in another and at the last minute, just before I breathe sea water (god, I hope there are raw oysters seeking shelter on my palate), OCSteve removes his disguise (Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible style) to reveal himself as Hilzoy, and then she removes her mask to reveal herself as DaveC.

Confused, in death as in life, I choke my last breath and see the meaning of Obsidian Wings. Then Moe Lane bans me.

OCsteve,

I don't mean to pile up on you, but your comment about how "we can deal with the waste" rankles a bit.

We (in the US) have no idea how to deal with the waste. We have a lot more waste than can fit into Yucca mountain, and that facility won't go online for at least a decade.

We have been saying that we can deal with the waste for damn near half a century. At some point, we have to put up or shut up. As of right now, we have no place to store nuclear waste, so we just accumulate it in "short term" pools on site at nuclear plants across the country. That was never part of the plan or the design for those plants, since we always figured that we could find a way to deal with the waste later, we ended up in this ridiculous situation.

And now we, excuse me, you, are suggesting that we postpone the waste issue just a little longer. Again.

If you want to say, "I don't care about waste, let another generation deal with it" then just say so. I can respect that. But it is simply not true that we can deal with the waste we've got now, let alone the waste produced by many many additional plants.

Weather at the global level is an unbelievably complex system. There is no single cause for anything that happens.

I am aware of exactly one person who argues against human activity being the primary cause of climate change who is not obviously motivated by a fat paycheck or some political advantage. That's Joe D'Aleo, aka Dr Dewpoint. I used to work with Joe, he's a smart guy, and in his opinion solar activity is the more likely explanation.

So, that's one against hundreds or thousands.

Whatever the cause, something is going on, and we better gird up our loins and deal, because it's going to create some real problems. Everybody with a stake in this -- insurance companies, property management companies, et al -- are already on top of this. It's only public policy that is dragging its heels.

No credible voice -- including D'Aleo's -- thinks human activity is not a factor. The only question is a matter of degree.

The only reason this isn't being taken seriously is that it might cost us some money. That's not a good enough reason.

OCS, you say you've put your money where your mouth is and sunk all your dough into a barrier island. Good luck to you.

Thanks -

If you want to say, "I don't care about waste, let another generation deal with it" then just say so. I can respect that.

Not me.

One of the fundamental principles of system dynamics is that "there is no 'away'". In other words, if you think you're throwing something "away", you're not. You're just throwing it back in your own lap.

Carbon sequestration etc, all bogus. It's still there.

There is no "away".

There are so many simple, obvious, pragmatic things to do to mitigate this stuff that it's not funny. We piss away enough energy in a year to keep the underdeveloped world going for a century. We're just lazy.

We don't need to burn the amount of oil we do. We don't need to replace it with nukes. We just need to use less. It's not hard. We could probably make money doing it.

To be honest, and with no particular disrespect meant to OCS, this whole controversy isn't about science. It's about Americans being too freaking selfish and lazy to make even a minimal concession to the realities that present themselves.

When climate change, or any of a number of other issues, bite us in the butt in a really, really serious way, perhaps we'll accept the need to scale back our sense of privilege and entitlement.

At that point, it may actually be too late to make that much of a difference. There's a good chance that folks in the third world, who are already accustomed to living with the bare minimum, will have a much better perceived quality of life over the next 100 years than we will.

Some of them walk miles each day just to get water. The average American would consider it an incredible burden to walk a mile to buy groceries.

That's enough gloom and doom for one night, I'm going to grab a nightcap and join my wife in bed.

Thanks -

I don't mean to pile up on you, but your comment about how "we can deal with the waste" rankles a bit.

Pile on. I’m not an engineer or a physicist. I’m spouting my opinion on the inter-tubes. Yucca is what I had in mind mentioning waste. Safety? I admit I did not research it. By memory, it just seems that nukes have a better (less bad pub anyway) safety record over the last few years than alternatives.

In terms of care before executing a plan, and what I keep saying – I’m saying I don’t think anything is necessary, but I will sign on for goals that align with what I want anyway. I’m an opportunist that way. :)

You have expertise I do not – I respect your opinion on this, just like I respect CharleyCarp on legal matters. If you say that short term GW mediation via nuclear is not a good idea then I’m inclined to concede the point. I can tell in a few posts you know a lot more about it than I do – so why the hell would I attempt to argue?

But if you believe that manmade GW represents an imminent existential threat, then I think you have to decide between the devil we know and the one we do not, or come up with an alternate.

JT: It’s likely to be seaweed rather than oysters. Sorry man.

OCS, you say you've put your money where your mouth is and sunk all your dough into a barrier island. Good luck to you.

Thank you. It’s true and I have. One errant hurricane or a 2 inch rise in the ocean would put me on the street.

This isn’t addressed to you, but to reiterate – I have more skin in this game than most people. So don’t think that this is a “republican” stance on my part. I made a decision based on the evidence I see today. If I am wrong it won’t be just a matter of eating crow, I’m screwed. When all the alarmists start buying property in Colorado I may pay more attention…

To be honest, and with no particular disrespect meant to OCS, this whole controversy isn't about science. It's about Americans being too freaking selfish and lazy to make even a minimal concession to the realities that present themselves.

I agree about the selfish and lazy part. Well said. Enjoy the nightcap and sleep well.

If I am wrong it won’t be just a matter of eating crow, I’m screwed.

Diversification is always a good investment strategy, OCSteve.

It's about Americans being too freaking selfish and lazy to make even a minimal concession to the realities that present themselves.

So, the Republican party is on the right track after all.

If they can convert the USA to a third-world income structure, with a small group of super-rich people living in luxury, and a somewhat larger group of middle-class people scrambling to get by, and a whole lot of poor people who work hard for their daily bread, then we'll consume a lot less on average. that sense of entitlement will be gone except for the tiny fringe of rich people who simply don't have the numbers to waste large amounts.

Problem solved.

"When all the alarmists start buying property in Colorado, I'll start worrying."

OCSteve: You're welcome anytime. ;) Gary Farber will lend you his waterwings and the three of us can go check out the ski slope owners, who seem plenty worried. Not that they are scientists; they are too busy being businessmen and women and lobbying Congress for a little help from their friends.

What do I know?

CharleyCarp: To clarify, are you saying that in your case the doctor owned it, but you don’t think so in the case of Bussard?

Exactly (we won). The government may have changed the rules, though, to make it easier for people to profit from their government service.

When all the alarmists start buying property in Colorado I may pay more attention…

Or Tennessee, perhaps. Tennessee is awfully far inland...

If I am wrong it won’t be just a matter of eating crow, I’m screwed.

Crow tastes like whooping crane, which is to gamey for my taste. Sauteed dusky seaside sparrow and piping plover is much better.

By the way, part of the climate change is humidity. Who here has attributed global warming to water vapor? Isn't water vapor the major contributing greenhouse gas, not CO2? I personally can't live in a frigid arid environment. It makes my hair go crazy and I hate static shocks.

To be honest, and with no particular disrespect meant to OCS, this whole controversy isn't about science.

Exactly. Its about politicians blaming other politicians for the weather. Jane Byrne won the election that way. Karl Rove makes hurricanes. There is no god, and even old Sol doesn't count for much anymore, so weather must be the government's fault.

Tom Skilling is behind all this, I say.

Tom Skilling is behind all this, I say.

If he could have found a way to engineer it, he probably would be.

The idea that human behavior contributes to climate change did not originate with politicians. It's a highly plausible hypothesis for explaining observed phenomena.

By "highly plausible", I mean that the hypothesis is consistent with the facts. Human activity generates greenhouse gases, the ambient level of those gases is in fact rising, if you raise that level enough it's likely that ambient temperature will rise.

None of the above is controversial, that only question is the degree to which human activity contributes to observed changes in the climate, as compared to other factors.

Noone will ever know if human activity is the only, the primary, or even a significant factor in climate change. That's because (a) climate at a global scale is an incredibly complex system, and (b) there's no way to isolate or factor out the contribution of human activity in order to see what difference is. In other words, there's no little lab experiment we can run to see what happens if we take human activity out of the mix.

The hypothesis is consistent with the phenomena. In real-world natural science, that's a strong enough argument to merit consideration.

Every industry that has skin in the game takes this very, very seriously. Don't believe me, ask OCS if he's had a hard time getting insurance for his barrier island investment. So, the free market consensus among folks with real money on the table is that this is something worth worrying about.

The reason US public policy lags behind the rest of the world and private industry on this is because (a) folks with an interest in keeping our energy policies the way they are spend a lot of money to sponsor crappy pseudo-scientific arguments against the anthropocentric hypothesis, and (b) in the absence of clear leadership, people are too lazy to take initiative on their own. If "lazy" is too perjorative a word, substitute "inertia".

And, as it turns out, the generation of greenhouse gases is only one of many, many, many ways that industrial human culture perturbs and distorts the natural systems we live in.

Your comments above are clever but they do nothing to address the substance of the issue at all.

There is no away.

Thanks -

Chris Landsea certainly seems to be well accredited:
“It is beyond me why my colleagues would utilize the media to push an unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity has been due to global warming.”

We all understand the vast gap between this statement and a statement that global warming is not a manmade phenomenon, right?

Noone will ever know if human activity is the only, the primary, or even a significant factor in climate change. That's because (a) climate at a global scale is an incredibly complex system, and (b) there's no way to isolate or factor out the contribution of human activity in order to see what difference is. In other words, there's no little lab experiment we can run to see what happens if we take human activity out of the mix.

So if there is analysis that human activty contributes 0.28% to global warming, can we not at least examine whether that's a ballpark figure before we decide what if any action to take?

There is new red spot storm on jupiter that is as large as the earth. This has formed over the last few years, or decades. To me, this would be an one example of major climate change occurring without human interference.

When the Yellowstone Caldera erupts, the cooling effect on the weather will be well over an order of magnitude more than the warming effect of human activity over the last 3 centuries. The article cites the effects of the Mount Tambora explosion:

Ash blasted into the stratosphere circled the earth several times causing unusually beautiful sunsets in London early that summer. In 1816, mean temperatures in the northern hemisphere dropped by half to more than 1° E Farmers in Europe and America called this the year without a summer.

That was a more or less instantaneous event, and I'd say it qualifies as an Act of God.

DaveC, no one doubts that the earth's climate changes without human interference. The question is whether current changes are being pushed by the consequences of human interference. The answer is yes.

So, DaveC, are you suggesting that maybe we ought not worry about our own contribution to climate change, and count on the Yellowstone caldera, or some other volcano, to take care of it all for us?

Or is it all about the misdirection?

It may well be that a million years from now, some kind of catastrophic climatic change -- maybe from a meteor collision -- will wipe out all life on earth. That doesn't have any bearing on the question whether we're making it worse in the near (100 years) run, and whether we can stop making it worse.

DaveC has an interesting suggestion there.

So, if we find out that we're getting too much global warming for any reason, all we have to do is figure out how to trigger a big volcano, under reasonably controlled conditions, to counter it. Human interference with a vengeance.

Somehow I'm reminded of a children's song about the old woman who swallowed a fly....

Just some back-of-the-envelope calcs.


2005 Electric production from coal = 300MW

Cost of sequestering CO2 from coal plant ~ 30% investment adder.

Coal plant investment costs = $1800/KW

Investment for sequestering all existing coal plants = 300,000KW*($1800/KW)*(.30)=$162 billion.

There would be some additional operating costs that would add 10% to the cost of power.


So for half the cost of the Iraq war, we could have actually done something, and probably have created a sh*tpile of jobs in the process, since the construction would all be local.

Alternatively, $162 billion would buy 65GW of wind or 40GW of nuclear, again with a massive increase in U.S. jobs. We could do all sorts of things if the defense budget wasn't $700 billion.

Get thee to Hollywood, DaveC! This would be a great movie. Just move the volcano to some remote area of China or Russia to get some more tension in, and choose a two leads who would look good in sweat soaked t-shirts Remember, the volcano has to be in uninhabited tundra, so the Chinese/Russians are simply refusing because they don't understand science like we Americans do and are more interested in the national pride than saving the planet, so we can have some intense talk between the American president who is only concerned with the peoples of the world, and the oily Chinese/Russian ambassador who will stop at nothing to sabotage the mission of our two brave scientists who at first hate each other but then come to realize that they genuinely have the hots for one another. Obviously, lugging a nuke into China is a tough sell, so have the hero discover that there is a special zeta ray laser that can only target some special signalling device, but it can trigger the volcano. However, the satellite was made by some oily military types that was never revealed to the president, but our hero finds out and storms into the oval office to tell the president 'I think I've found a way, Mr President'

Mothra has already dealt with volcanoes.

Isn't water vapor the major contributing greenhouse gas, not CO2?

An individual water molecule is more effective at absorbing outgoing radiation than an individual carbon dioxide molecule. But the water molecule stays in the atmosphere for only a matter of days, what with evaporation and rain happening all the time. The carbon dioxide molecule stays up there for years. (This is from memory.)

CO2 has increased 20% at Mauna Loa since 1958. (Link has further links to graph and numerical data.) Have average H2O levels done the same? I would be shocked if so.

"There is new red spot storm on jupiter that is as large as the earth. This has formed over the last few years, or decades. To me, this would be an one example of major climate change occurring without human interference."

Personally, I think it was caused by one of our space probes.

"Its about politicians blaming other politicians for the weather. Jane Byrne won the election that way. Karl Rove makes hurricanes."

Ridiculous. Byrne didn't win by blaming the weather on Bilandic. She won because he oversaw a rather disatrous clean-up from a major storm. She capitalized on frustration. I don't know anyone who is blaming hurricanes on Karl Rove or even on GW. However, there is good reason to think that the increase in intenity of hurricanes may be related to GW.

DaveC, I am beginning to think you are saying things just to get reactions, and I fell for it.

DaveC, you remind me of me when I first read about nuclear winter--hell, I said , a large asteroid impact would be worse (certainly thousands of times more energy involved) and the biosphere has survived those. Of course I was also aware of the fact that in a nuclear war I would die and probably most of the people I knew would die and civilization would collapse--I was just annoyed by the claim that the biosphere was a fragile little thing that couldn't withstand a nuclear war.

One could say I was missing the point, but I knew that.

'"Carbon sequestration etc, all bogus. It's still there.

There is no "away".'

Jesus wept.

You pump the liquid CO2* into a oil/gas reservoir or a saline aquifer and Its. Out. Of. The. Biosphere. It goes into the gas phase, and then mineralizes over the next few centuries.

Statoil of Norway have been doing this for *years* now. CO2 has been used for tertiary oil recovery for decades.

This is *current* technology.

Another option, more expensive and trickier option is a liquid pool of CO2 at the bottom of the ocean, where the pressure is such that . Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute did some tests with this a few years back.


* Well, its a bit more complex than that 'cos of the formation of the CO2 hydrate, but anyway.

Tim wrote:

"Cost of sequestering CO2 from coal plant ~ 30% investment adder."

It's a bit more than that, unfortunately. A custom-built Gas-fired Combined Cycle plant with CO2 capture and sequestration is about 80%-add in capital cost. IGCC for a coal plant is a larger multiple. Retrofitting a pulverized coal plant for CO2 capture and sequestration would be technically difficult and possibily more expensive than constructing an IGCC plant from scratch.

Retrofitting a pulverized coal plant for CO2 capture and sequestration would be technically difficult and possibily more expensive than constructing an IGCC plant from scratch.

Can't see why. GE is touting their clean coal gasifier based process as only 25% more expensive. A scrubber retrofit and compression equipment for the exhaust gases shouldn't double the capital for a steam plant.

"So if there is analysis that human activty contributes 0.28% to global warming, can we not at least examine whether that's a ballpark figure before we decide what if any action to take?"

Well, there are several problems with the source you cite:

1. H2O has a residence time in the atmosphere of a few days: i.e. it does not accumulate in the atmosphere as does CO2, methane, etc. Instead, it comes out of the atmosphere in a process known as "raining". Water vapor acts as positive feedback for global warming (Lindzen, who believed that water vapor would have a negative feedback effect lost this argument about 4 years ago), but it's not a primary driver of global warming. CO2 has a residence time of 5-200 years, and so can accumulate and drive global climate.

2. The source you cite asserts than only 11 ppm of the increase in CO2 is anthropogenic. The DoE source he cites gives no support to this assertion.

3. There's no references more recent than 2002. Most are from the 1990s.

The following:
"2. The source you cite asserts than only 11 ppm of the increase in CO2 is anthropogenic. The DoE source he cites gives no support to this assertion."

Following on from this for DaveC"

http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/095.htm

indicates that ~50-60 ppm of the CO2 increase is from anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and ~30 ppm from land use changes.

Where your source got his numbers of 11 ppm of the current CO2 concentration as being anthropogenic from I don't know.

"Can't see why. GE is touting their clean coal gasifier based process as only 25% more expensive. A scrubber retrofit and compression equipment for the exhaust gases shouldn't double the capital for a steam plant."

It's a completely different process, that's why. Gasification of the coal converts it to syngas (CO + H2) for burning in a gas turbine. It's not just a scrubber retrofit.

And I'd be skeptical of GE claims, based on numbers for NGCC with capture I worked up.

Michael O'Hare has a good post on this here.

"Stuff-withdrawal". Never happen. The eastern coastline will just be written off first.

"Michael O'Hare has a good post on this here."

It would be, but he's dead wrong on carbon capture and sequestration: he thinks the technology ain't ready for primetime, is very expensive (it ain't cheap, but it's not prohibitively so), and is limited where it can be carried out (actually, saline aquifers are under about 70% of the CONUS). There's a reason Gore is so gung-ho on sequestration.

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