Saturday, November 18, 2006


A couple of pieces this last week on environmental matters make a fine addition to the environmental loony bin – the first reminding science what it is up against, the second providing a springboard to explain a paradox that’s long needed it…

First, this from Think Progress VIA Huffington Post:

“Inhofe: Don’t Worry About Global Warming Because ‘God’s Still Up There’”

The title says it all…

Senator Inhofe, the anti-Gore… The cure is worse than the disease…

Idiot. We got these fools out of the driver’s seat just in time. But at least he provides a sterling example of just why the State needs insulation and even protection from the church…

And then from the mad scientist file of the loony bin:

“Scientists: Pollution could combat global warming”

From the article:

“Air pollution may be just the thing to fight global warming, some scientists say.

Prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate, said a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere could act as a "shade" from the sun's rays and help cool the planet.

Reaction to the proposal here at the annual U.N. conference on climate change is a mix of caution, curiosity and some resignation to such "massive and drastic" operations, as the chief U.N. climatologist describes them.

The Nobel Prize-winning scientist who first made the proposal is himself "not enthusiastic about it."

"It was meant to startle the policymakers," said Paul J. Crutzen, of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. "If they don't take action much more strongly than they have in the past, then in the end we have to do experiments like this."

Serious people are taking Crutzen's idea seriously.”…

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Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma has recently became a defacto spokesman of sorts for a wide spectrum of opinion on global warming that ranges from those who believe the debate isn’t over to those that believe the whole thing is nonsense, and on over to those who believe it’s a socialist plot to destroy their inalienable right to drive a Hummer to work, through the forest, or down a clam beach at low tide… Realistically, the only shred of sanity these people hold onto is their assertion the debate isn’t over – we have a lot more to learn about climate dynamics before we can make the kind of projections we need to be able to make if we’re going to start spending real money on solutions, be they economic incentives or the kind of mad scientist shtick Dr. Crutzen suggested.

But a lot of the popular arguments against global warming stem from a failure to properly evaluate what we in fact already know. For example…

One of Senator Inhofe’s oft-quoted assertions is that the measured rise in temperatures posited to be due to man-generated greenhouse gasses has lagged the actual creation of those gasses by quite a long time. It is pointed out that while man has been pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere throughout recorded history and in vastly increasing volumes since the industrial revolution got going 300 years ago the rise in temperatures has only been noted very recently.


Pollution. Particulates seed clouds while forming reflective layers by themselves. Unburned hydrocarbons, acid-forming oxides and ozone form smogs that reflect still more sunlight.

Put together, the effect is significant. Consider natural examples:

When Krakatau catastrophically erupted in 1883, everything from anecdotal accounts to actual measurements over the next two years pointed to reduced crop yields and unseasonably cold temperatures worldwide. While there wasn’t really good global temperature tracking back then, there was 108 years later when nearby Mount Pinatubo did the same thing – and there were significant, albeit short-lived drops noted in global temperatures.

“Air pollution may be just the thing to fight global warming”…

Throughout the first 200 years of the industrial revolution, the fuel of industry was coal – the dirtiest fuel on the planet. During the 19th century, London and southern England were famous for their impenetrable fogs – fogs created by the smog from coal burning. As technology evolved, more and more of the fuel consumed came from oil – cleaner but still very dirty. And we all know the rest. By the latter half of the 20th century, particulates, unburned hydrocarbons, ad acid-forming oxides in the air had built up past being a nuisance, past being a problem, up to the point of being in many places a crisis, killing forests, animals, and people with poisonous smogs while the acid rains literally dissolved stone buildings and destroyed metal bridges.

Back then, a little carbon dioxide was the least of our worries…

But we the people had had enough, and beginning in the early ‘70’s, we forced ourselves to change. Now we have nice clean air, sunlight reflecting smogs are far les common – and most all the fuel we consume is converted into carbon dioxide and water vapor, the two greatest contributors to global warming.

I won’t belabor the obvious any further, except to point out that the one place on earth that is bucking the trend – and measurably suffering for it – is mainland China, where downwind industrial pollution in some areas is creating cold spots and ruining crops…

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It all comes down to the simplest of ideas: There is no such thing as a free lunch. The great fuel reserves of earth are like a huge bank account built up over millions of years. Now, if somebody suddenly dumped bales of cash into the economy that wasn’t based on current economic activity – cashed in a huge bank account, so to speak – what would happen? Would there be a significant change in the economy? Would there be inflation?

Think of global warming as natural inflation…

And just like economic inflation, there are and will be winners and losers. I think that’s why so many people don’t want to believe it’s real – they know that after acceptance comes check writing time. Tony Blair’s likely successor has already endorsed a carbon tax, and so have some Republicans… It’s raising the interest rate on global warming inflation. But if I’m the payor, who is the payee? I can’t write a check to Mother Nature…

So does my contribution go to a fund to build seawalls for threatened coasts? Maybe relocate people whose ancestral lands have been destroyed by desertification? Or retrain workers whose jobs are destroyed by the downturns created by Kyoto-style arrangements?

Are “they” going to take my money and give it to the mad scientists for building city-sized smog pots designed to cloud the sun? Hmmm… I like the sun…

Who administers this? Gas taxes should in theory go to building roads. In practice even this simple guideline is hard to follow, because governments treat revenue sources the way little boys treat five bucks from grandma. They always figure out a way to spend it quick…

And what about Kyoto? If we say yes, we commit economic suicide. If we insist the whole world participates, then two-thirds of mankind is left hobbled in their quest to achieve what we take for granted. If we say no, the problem???

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I’d be willing to settle for a little practical compromise. GWB needs a legacy – something really important to work on for the next two years. Not something impossible like nation building, but rather something that can easily be done today, but only by a great leader. I have a suggestion for the President: Become the Nuclear President.

I’ll happily pay a carbon tax if the money goes to building a nuclear solution to the two biggest challenges the industrialized world faces today: Fossil fuel dependence and climate change. Will anyone else?

It beats smog pots…

jGoing nuclear for the production of electricity is far and away the easiest way to reduce CO2 emmisions. The technology is in place and a carbon tax would be a sensible way to get from here to there.

Over 70% of our electricity comes from fossil fuels with coal coming in at 50% of the total and natural gas coming in at 18% of the total.

Lets not stop there. If we displace natural gas with nuclear energy and then liquify said natural gas. We have fuel for transportation which in turn can easily displace imported oil.

This is truly a matter of national security.
What do you plan to do with all the nuclear waste created? The waste is a danger for thousands of years. Just like most people, think of the front part but forget about the clean-up.

The nuclear waste issue is over-rated. First, most of the actual volume of waste generated is really low level - like on the order of radium watch dial low. Most of the high level stuff can and should be reprossessed into MOX fuel.

Yes, I know... I'm talking about breeder reactors. But the pragmatist must consider the options.

1) We will never choose to do with radically less - and neither will the developing world. That's the nature of the monkey. Conservation alone won't do. Every time we save a penny we spend two. What did high-mileage cars get us while they were popular? More miles driven.

2) Continuintg to rely on fossil fuels will become very expensive environmentally.

3) Security is a bitch, but it is feasable. We can make mega-plants secure.

4) We have a waste solution. It's not perfect, but it is adequate. This material came out of the earth in a less concentrated form. It can be entombed there again.

So, as a first step, we need to finish Yucca Mountain. As the first step toward that, we need to stuff Harry Reid down the deepest shaft yet drilled, followed by about a thousand gallons of hydrofluoric acid...

After that, the operation will go a lot smoother...
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