Democrats & Liberals Archives

Warnings about Warmings

Today’s Washington Post says that federally-employed scientists are complaining that the Bush administration has made it “hard for them to speak forthrightly to the public” about a scientificially uncontroversial but politically sensitive issue: global warming. These scientists say that since 2004, “there has been a change in how we’re expected to interact with the press” - leading, for instance, to removing terms like ‘global warming,’ ‘warming climate’ and ‘climate change’ from news releases and conference papers. Of course, I’ve never been a fan of this administration: but if you ask me, then if this is true, it’s a clearcut case of government waste.

As one of the scientists notes. "It used to be we could say [to the press], 'Okay, you're welcome to come in, let's talk' ". Now all meetings with the press include an official "minder" from Washington, and media requests have dropped (in half, by one estimate) because it takes so long to get clearance to talk.

The end effect of these surely well-paid "minders" is that Americans have less access to information about what government scientists have learned about climate change. As one scientist puts it: "American taxpayers are paying the bill, and they have a right to know what we're doing." I couldn't agree more.

Team Red will, however, be pleased to know that private enterprise is filling this gap, at least partially. Dick Cheney's favorite website,, has a recent article on the subject, Can You Prevent Global Warming?, concerning a recent ad, and notes:

The central message... is that " The most respected scientific organizations have stated unequivocally that global warming is happening , and people are causing it by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests." That is correct. Indeed, that conclusion is supported both by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the top science advisers of 11 leading industrial nations, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. [emphasis mine - WC]

Alas, the secondary message of the ad - that we can all help by minor changes like using more efficient light bulbs and putting a little more air in our tires - doesn't hold up so well. "It's not clear what this would accomplish, however, even if a majority of Americans began following such advice" FactCheck says. "Many scientists say far more drastic reductions in emissions are needed...The IPCC summary for policymakers urged nations to adopt a wide "portfolio" of painful and politically controversial actions, including taxes and regulations".

Which would of course require a government committed to actually solving the problem, rather than hiding the problem.

Posted by William Cohen at April 6, 2006 11:45 AM
Comment #138481

I will say it first ITS GEORGE BUSH’S FAULT.Global warming started the day george bush took office.Dick cheny started smoking cigar’s just to help george bush’s cause.Again wheres you congress rep.s and senator’s.

Posted by: justwondering at April 6, 2006 3:39 PM
Comment #138482



Isn’t that what communist countries do?


Posted by: womanmarine at April 6, 2006 3:41 PM
Comment #138484
I will say it first ITS GEORGE BUSH’S FAULT.Global warming started the day george bush took office.Dick cheny started smoking cigar’s just to help george bush’s cause.Again wheres you congress rep.s and senator’s.

Global warming is clearly not all W’s fault. But to summarize my post, neither has he done anything to address the problem in the last five years, other than deny its existence. I gather you agree with this statement, jw, since you don’t argue against it?

Posted by: William Cohen at April 6, 2006 3:52 PM
Comment #138486

Just exactly how does the leader’s of country’s tell thier people that the day’s of this planet are numbered?Does every thing have to be about money or conspericy?

Posted by: justwondering at April 6, 2006 3:54 PM
Comment #138490

“Just exactly how does the leader’s of country’s tell thier people that the day’s of this planet are numbered?Does every thing have to be about money or conspericy?”

JW, global warming will only be the end of the world if we make it so. The response we need to make is for industrialized countries “to reduce emissions by 15-30% below 1990 levels in 2020” - according to FactCheck, anyway. Which is completely doable, and might even be good for the economy (altho probably not good for oilmen like Bush and Cheney). It will however be harder and harder the longer we put things off.

Posted by: William Cohen at April 6, 2006 4:10 PM
Comment #138493

In the lower third of the WP article, where research shows fewer people will read:

“None of the scientists said political appointees had influenced their research on climate change or disciplined them for questioning the administration. Indeed, several researchers have received bigger budgets in recent years …”

Posted by: Jack at April 6, 2006 4:17 PM
Comment #138495

Global Doom!

Thirty years ago or so: ‘be worried’ scientests told us when I was just getting out of college.

That time, it was impending global COOLING.

Another ice age was right around the corner. Imagine, the Sahara iced over.

Now, in a spectacular admission of error, this time it’s … global WARMING.

So, Chicken Little told us, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling” …be worried…be very worried.

I’ll check with you again in another thirty years,
Little. What doom and gloom ‘sloppy science’ scenario will you have cooked up by then?

Posted by: kwikdraw at April 6, 2006 4:22 PM
Comment #138496

Jack: so, they can study anything they want, just not tell anyone (the public) the results?

Posted by: womanmarine at April 6, 2006 4:25 PM
Comment #138504


Government research along with the data is published for everyone to read. That doesn’t change. What changes are the sound bites delivered to the media and other audiences.

I don’t agree that the bosses should spin the headlines, but sometimes people go with the more enflamatory headlines and sound bites.

These guys are also not policy makers. I remember back in 1988 when Hanson spoke about the recall) about a .36 degree rise in a decade. By 1998 temperatures of the lower atmosphere measured by satellites and weather balloons actually declined by 0.24 degrees.

What he was doing was extrapolating a high estimate. He was not wrong, but the science was complicated and his statement had the effect of misleading the public.

His entire research was available. If people had read that instead of his just his sound bite, it would have been better.

Posted by: Jack at April 6, 2006 4:49 PM
Comment #138523

Good article, William. This isn’t the first time this has been in the news, but clearly it’s a real problem and an important discussion to have.

“I don’t agree that the bosses should spin the headlines,”

So, then it will no doubt upset you to know that 77 television stations around the country have been airing fake news reports without informing their viewers that they were sponsored PR releases.

Posted by: Adrienne at April 6, 2006 5:28 PM
Comment #138524

Climatology has made tremendous strides since the 1970’s, especially in the past 10 years. A lot has happened over the past 30 years. Come join us. It’s a remarkable world, very interesting, with lots to learn. So much is changing. Open the door, step outside, and look around. It really is fascinating. I understand you are very hurt that some people made a mistake about global cooling several decades ago- but isn’t it time to get past that?

For example, here is an article that came out today:

Posted by: phx8 at April 6, 2006 5:31 PM
Comment #138534

Jack says:

I don’t agree that the bosses should spin the headlines, but …

Then I’m glad you do agree with me - the main point of the article, Jack, is that “the bosses” are “spinning the headlines”, and furthermore are using our nickel to do it. And, they shouldn’t.

And as to the “but…”: Jack, none of the vague words about avoiding “enflamatory” statements or reminiscing about (much less well-supported) doomsday scenarios from the 70’s and 80’s is particularly relevant to the post. You said nothing that excuses the administration for either (a) suppressing or “spinning” politically inconvenient science or (b) pretending a politically inconvenient problem isn’t real.

Posted by: William Cohen at April 6, 2006 5:53 PM
Comment #138540


The 1988 prediction is a very famous one. It is what set off the current concern about warming. It was a hot summer in 1988.

While I do believe the world is getting warmer, I have to ask what we do about it. I have suggested in other posts more nuclear energy and higher energy prices. Talking about the goals without talking about probably means is meaningless.

But speaking about complicated science, I have been watching an experiment in NC where elevated CO2 levels are tested against forest growth. So far, the loblolly pines have grown faster, stronger and healthier with more CO2, not a surprise, since CO2 is helpful to plant growth. Today I read an an article about how elevated CO2 helps maple trees fight off leave fungus. Various types of fungus are detrimental to plant growth and cost the U.S $33 billion a year. If things like this are going to happen in the greenhouse world, we also should consider them. There are balancing factors.

Plants in an enriched CO2 environment require less water and grow faster.

Posted by: Jack at April 6, 2006 6:24 PM
Comment #138552

ever the optimist. yes, on the bright side, when global warming leads to the next ice age ( kwikdraw = yes that’s the predicted end product of global warming)… which wipes out the human race, at least we won’t have to listen to any more neocon bullsh!t !

now it’s official. bush outed plame. irony of ironies, BUSH IS THE TRAITOR… and must be dealt with as such.

Posted by: diogenes (i) at April 6, 2006 7:22 PM
Comment #138560

There is a solution: Nuclear power. It’s safe, it’s clean and it is a proven technology.

The following is a quote from W. Alex Gabbard of the Oakridge National Laboratories from an extensive study on coal-fired power plants.

“First, coal combustion produces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are suspected to cause climatic warming, and it is a source of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, which are harmful to human health and may be largely responsible for acid rain. Second, although not as well known, releases from coal combustion contain naturally occurring radioactive materials—mainly, uranium and thorium.”

The study found that coal-fired power plants throughout the world are THE major sources of radioactive materials released to the environment, not nuclear power plants.

“Coal combustion is more hazardous to health than nuclear power and it adds to the background radiation burden even more than does nuclear power. It also suggests that if radiation emissions from coal plants were regulated, their capital and operating costs would increase, making coal-fired power less economically competitive,” the study found.

If the environmentalists were really serious about cleaning up the air, they’d stop blocking the construction of new nuclear power plants and stop trying to shut down existing plants.

You can’t have it both ways, folks. You just can’t.

Posted by: slowthinker at April 6, 2006 8:06 PM
Comment #138561

Jack the optomist
The tip over point is when the permafrost melts releasing huge additional amounts of carbon. Ocean curents may change.They are driven by temperature gradients. Big trouble.On the partisan side most of the red states are likely to dry up and blow away.
National Geographic funded some research that pointed to increased logging as one way to reduce carbon. Seems mature forrest give off about as much carbon as they capture. They are in balance ,as one might expect. Growing forrest capture carbon. Logging and replanting while useing the lumber for building captures carbon. Talk about politically unpopular.

Posted by: BillS at April 6, 2006 8:07 PM
Comment #138580

The red states probably won’t be the same in forty years.

I studied previous ice ages and I am familiar with the theory that increased fresh water flows will provoke a new ice age. This, however, is pure speculation when referring to current conditions.

In any case, an ice age wouldn’t wipe out the human race. We evolved during the ice age. The need to adapt to the changed conditions is the reason for our big brains. I am unenthusiastic about rapid climate change, but it literally will not be the end of the world or even the human race.

You know that the earth was warmer in 1200 than it is today and the Roman Empire flourished during a climate optimum (i.e. warmer). Those warming periods were not man made. They also did not provoke an ice age.

But if we want to slow emissions of CO2 what do we do? Treaties and talk are not the answer. They may (or may not) be useful, but only to the extent they do something. Slowthinker is right and you need to recognize the consequences of cutting greenhouse gases.

The price of energy will have to rise. This will cut the living standards mostly for the poor. This will create conservation.

The only ways to reduce CO2 in the short and medium term is nuclear power. Anyone who doesn’t support nuclear power is not serious about global warming. And we have to share our nuclear power technologies with others. The Bush Administration agreement with India is a much better step than Kyoto ever was. We also cant hear any more talk about taking down dams and we have to talk about building more of them.

Posted by: jack at April 6, 2006 9:53 PM
Comment #138586


Nice to hear that the loblolly pine is doing well thanks to global warming. Here is the other side of the picture:

Do you expect these critters to stop when they get to the 49th Parallel? Regarding your statement that a new Ice Age would not wipe out the human race, you are probably right. There will probably be a billion or so of us left. Tough about the other 5 billion, but that’s life.

Posted by: Robert Benjamin at April 6, 2006 10:14 PM
Comment #138592

Do the mistakes of the past lend uncertainty to the science of the present? Not in this case.

The previous mistakes of those who predicted global cooling probably stemmed from a misunderstanding of the climate record (now much better known) sloppier methods for modelling and describing climate, awareness of fewer of the feedback effects, and massively weaker computing power. Science is never absolutely certain, but its not meant to be. The Climate scientists give plenty of caveats about the uncertainty of it. Suffice it to say, this is their best guess, and they’ve got some pretty convincing evidence about the direction the climate is going.

What gets me is the absolute certainty with which many conservatives regard their position on the science, even as they use the inherent uncertainty of the science to try and knock down the theory they don’t like. You can’t have it both ways. Either nobody has any idea, or there is greater certainty and one must demonstrate why the Right Wing position is better than the consensus.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 6, 2006 10:30 PM
Comment #138595


Actually the critters already didn’t stop when they got the the 49th parallel. They are not coming; they are going. Lodgepole pines and those beetles are common in our country. They are entering a system where they had not been common. This sort of thing happens with or without warming.

A lodgepole pine ecosystem, BTW is not persistent in any case. It is not the climax forest and in fact shows relative recent disturbance. The forest needs to be managed to minimize beetle damage.

New pests and invasive species are a big threat to all our systems. If there was any reason I would oppose globalization, that would be the reason.

Posted by: Jack at April 6, 2006 10:50 PM
Comment #138601

“New pests and invasive species are a big threat to all our systems. If there was any reason I would oppose globalization, that would be the reason.”

I admit defeat. I have no words to respond to logic like this.

Posted by: Robert Benjamin at April 6, 2006 11:11 PM
Comment #138609

Jack loves CO2…I think he’s either in love with it or hysterical…

Posted by: Marysdude at April 6, 2006 11:25 PM
Comment #138622

“The red states won’t be the same in forty years‘“Thank God

One of the more wrenching changes to the status quo about seriously reducing carbon pollution is the fact that many quite viable solutions are efficient on smaller scales thereby allowing individuals or small groups to become independant of major suppliers.e.g. Solar panels on the roof etc.This must not sit easy with the big boys. Nuclear power requires huge amounts of capital so it will proabaly be thrown in to the mix. You are most likely ready to dismiss it obvious problems but here goes nothing. It is not safe. Safety has improved but until humans can make a 100% fulproof system it will never be safe enough. The consequences of a catastrophic failure are just too great. Sooner or later more will occur. Murphy’s law applies. Also the spent fuel problem has never been resolved.
There are less dangerious alternatives that could come to grips with the problem already available. Implementation is all that is lacking.

Posted by: BillS at April 6, 2006 11:58 PM
Comment #138630


Absolutely right!! Nuclear power is NOT safe. Maybe those who think it is know something about the safety or spent fuel problem that we don’t know? I doubt it.

Posted by: womanmarine at April 7, 2006 12:41 AM
Comment #138636

“Plants in an enriched CO2 environment require less water and grow faster.”
That will be so comforting when the east coast is under water. Idiot.

“In any case, an ice age wouldn’t wipe out the human race. We evolved during the ice age.”
No, you’re right, we won’t be wiped out genetically speaking. Some descendents of some modern civilized humans will remain, huddling together for warmth and using broken pieces of Hummer H2’s to shelter themselves from the driving snow. Won’t that be nice. They’ll be so glad you were thinking of them. Go team.

The bottom line is this: we can’t expect to live here for extended periods when we’re radically out of equilibrium, environmentally speaking. We generate far more waste (CO2, garbage, hazardous, poisonous, radioactive) than we can handle. Just to clarify, the earth as a whole can handle whatever we do. It’s our civilization that will suffer when the equilibrium shifts.

Some people are interested in long-term viability. Some are interested in next quarter’s balance sheet. Who should be running the show?

Posted by: GreenGuy at April 7, 2006 1:07 AM
Comment #138706


It wasn’t meant to attack your position, just expand.

Invasive species are the biggest short term threat to our environment. Kudzu, leafy spurge or snakeheads might sound so dangerous, but they can destroy ecosystem. Think of an invader like Dutch elm disease or the even more destructive chestnut blight that destroyed the dominant forest type in the Appalachians.

Your pine beetle is problem too in that it is invasive (in a place where it previously was not). However, it is a native species and this is not the first time the problem has been manifest. Global warming changes the location of the problem, but not the problem.


I do not deny global warming. In fact, I have a text of a presentation I gave on the subject from 1985. What we are talking about is its probable effects and what to do about them.

You guys seem to think it can be solved by legislation. If only Bush would agree to Kyoto, etc. Kyoto won’t work. But even if it did, it is not the legislation that counts, it is the on the ground energy creation. You talk about small scale solar etc. Have you ever actually tried some of these things? If you spend $50,000, you may be able to generate enough electricity to power your house IF you get a lot of sun and don’t use much electricity. You just cannot produce the amount of energy needed to run our economy with solar and wind and you won’t be able to do that anytime soon. Some promising technologies are more a change of form of energy than an energy creator. Hydrogen is like that.

If you want to do more than make hot air, you have to realize that the future (in our lifetimes) is nuclear energy. You also have to stop attacking dams that make hydropower. These are the carbon free alternatives. Even if you could turn goat piss into gasoline, you have to recognize that there is not enough goat piss to run an industrial economy.

I am the only one being realistic here and trying to give real world alternatives. I get the feeling that you guys just want to take the moral high ground but not solve (or mitigate) the problem.

Posted by: Jack at April 7, 2006 10:36 AM
Comment #138712
I am the only one being realistic here and trying to give real world alternatives. I get the feeling that you guys just want to take the moral high ground but not solve (or mitigate) the problem.

Jack, for the record, I’m happy with more nuclear power (altho India’s free pass on nuclear weaponry is another subject), and I’m happy with higher energy prices. A carbon tax is a sensible approach to global warming - if you make the cost of energy reflect the true cost, including damage to the climate, then this leaves most of the responsibility for figuring out the CO2 problem to the market, where it belongs. And it doesn’t have to be hard on the poor if it’s coupled with appropriate policy - eg, a carbon tax could be balanced by tax breaks (even negative taxes) to lower- and middle-income brackets.

Unfortunately, Jack, the current US policy has not been about reasonable and realistic alternatives to Kyoto - it’s been about ignoring and even denying the problem. Head in the sand, leave if it to the next president to solve - that’s neither realistic nor reasonable.

Posted by: William Cohen at April 7, 2006 11:10 AM
Comment #138725

Don’t forget about beech bark disease (which has forced me to change my Ph.D. project), the balsam wooly agelid, cheetgrass, honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), purple loosestrife, garlic mustard…. Invasives are a huge problem, most of which are going to cost lots and lots of money and time to control (eradication is unrealistic for most—if not all—of them).

On global warming and energy matters, I would say that we’re going to need all alternative energy sources (wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear) to replace electricity generated with fossil fuels. Although nuclear is probably the best alternative for now, it is also a non-renewable resource. Eventually, we will be forced to power our economy with renewable resources. I’m not even going to guess where we will get enough raw materials for plastics and most of our chemicals we currently use. In case you’ve never thought of this, most of the plastics, nylon, industrial and household chemicals, etc. are generated using oil as the root stock.

As for global warming, even if we stopped producing all greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, etc.) today, our planet would still warm because of all the excess gases that have already been pumped in the atmosphere. Protocols (like Kyoto) only apply a band-aide to a gaping wound. Anyone ready for the sea level to rise and tropical diseases to spread into temperate areas?

Posted by: J. R. Milks at April 7, 2006 11:49 AM
Comment #138745
The bottom line is this: we can’t expect to live here for extended periods when we’re radically out of equilibrium, environmentally speaking. We generate far more waste (CO2, garbage, hazardous, poisonous, radioactive) than we can handle. Just to clarify, the earth as a whole can handle whatever we do. It’s our civilization that will suffer when the equilibrium shifts.
That’s why, although neocons portray environmentalists and the green party as a bunch of loonies, their underlying philosophy is really quite logical. We can’t live in an unsustainable manner forever, and the basic facts show we can detrimentally alter the environment. Unfortunately our species is greedy and interested only in short-term gains.

The problem with fixing global warming and other environmental problems is that it would require drastic changes that most americans (and other countries) wouldn’t be comfortable with. Many of us are just too addicted to our consumerist, SUV oriented lifestyle.

I noticed a very favorable review of a book called “The Republican War on Science.” I can’t comment on the contents since I haven’t read it, but the author has a blog and apparently the book talks about this very issue. In the neocon movement, both religous fundamentalists and greedy big businesses have combined to ignore and alter scientific data that they don’t like.

Ultimately there’s two issues with solving global warming and environmental problems. One-whether it’s physically possible. (Arguable, it most likely is). And Two- whether it’s politically possible (whether people and leaders have enough will and effort to do something about it). The first maybe possible, but I worry whether the second one is.

Posted by: john at April 7, 2006 12:22 PM
Comment #138747

Speaking of unsustainability, I read it would take 3 earths to support the whole word at an american-quality style of living.
(I don’t remember where, but I think it was from a scientific source, and I’m sure you can google it).

Of course, we should help third-world countries that desire it, to become more prosperous and of course to solve problems like disease. However, we need to stop thinking that the American, consumerist lifestyle is the holy grail of economic issues. No matter what, it’s not possible for all third-world countries to live like us, driving SUVs and trucks and buying tons of unnecessary new stuff at wal-mart and malls.

Posted by: john at April 7, 2006 12:27 PM
Comment #138752


At the national level, it is very difficult to gather the political will and effort to solve environmental problems. That is why I’ve been encouraged by activities and developments at the local and state levels (e.g. the northeastern states forming a CO2 trading market).

BTW, I know my previous post was a little doom-and-gloom. It’s hard to be in an optomistic mood after attending a conservation biology class. However, I believe that action at the individual, local, county, and state levels can make a difference. Otherwise, I would not have chosen to go into environmental sciences as a career.

Posted by: J. R. Milks at April 7, 2006 12:34 PM
Comment #138757

Go to They have a calculator (titled “Your Ecological Footpring) to figure out how many earths it would take if everyone lived at your standard of living.

Posted by: J. R. Milks at April 7, 2006 12:38 PM
Comment #138775

Good site, thanks!
Last week my family & I drove through the Everglades on the way to Key West. Astounding to think none of that will be there within the lifetimes of my children. Even if we coopertated internationally & stopped producing greenhouse gases, sea levels will rise 3 feet. While Methane will drop out of the atmosphere in a few years, C02 persists for roughly a century, so the 3 feet rise is a done deal. Amazing. Environmental Science? Good choice for a field of study-

Posted by: phx8 at April 7, 2006 1:13 PM
Comment #138785

I still perceive more morality than solution.

We get the perennial favorite whipping boys Wal-Mart and SUVs. If all the Wal-Marts in all the world closed tomorrow and everyone bought a hybrid instead of an SUV, it would not even cut down as much as one year’s growth of emissions from China and India.

It is just too easy to blame others. I own a hybrid and I don’t drive much, (so I always feel smug, talk with my eyes closed and think my farts don’t stink.) My hybrid gets about 45 miles to a gallon. An SUV gets maybe 15. But what if I like my hybrid so much I just drive three times as much. The SUV owner and me are then using the same amount of gas. We can’t simply demonize a particular thing and think we solve the problem. What we have seen in our society is that when we improve energy efficiency, people just use more energy on other things.

We can’t conserve our way to success and we can’t rely on cute alternatives in the short run. Pick up both ends of the stick. If you want to do something, you have to advocate nuclear energy, more dams and significantly higher prices for energy. You might also add to this mix biotechnology, which has the potential to make lower cost ethanol and methanol and may help us adapt crops to rapidly changing environments.

Posted by: Jack at April 7, 2006 1:33 PM
Comment #138816

>>We can’t conserve our way to success and we can’t rely on cute alternatives in the short run. Pick up both ends of the stick. If you want to do something, you have to advocate nuclear energy, more dams and significantly higher prices for energy.

Posted by: Jack at April 7, 2006 01:33 PM

Or, we could just wait until all the bad things happen and try something at that time.

Conservation would do one positive thing…wake people up. The problems with China, India, and third world won’t be solved by putting this thing off. The studies are done, and the findings are in.

And, nukes (the suicide bomb) are the answer if all else fails, but nuke power plant waste would accumulate at a horrible rate, and we don’t know how to handle the waste we have now.

Relieving the responsibility of current polluting corporations seems like a strange way to start an ecology program.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 7, 2006 2:36 PM
Comment #138832


You still don’t get it. We should do all these things. But recognize that it is more than legislation that we need. We need nuclear power, more dams and higher prices, which will lead to conservation and alternatives.

My approach is just tougher than yours. You want to legislate. I want to do something. You want to demand something be done. I want to do something.

You can’t “blame” a corporation. They pass everything on to the society. They cannot do otherwise. I am just trying to eliminate the middle man and the pointless blame game.

So this is what we do

Raise prices on energy to force conservation and help develop alternatives.

Build more nukes

Share clean nuclear power technologies with major countries (i.e. India)

Build more hydropower.

I would be willing to support legislation that would do these things. Everything else is just commentary and smoke.

These posts seem to say that it is just the fault of the stupid republicans/Ameicans/Bush/industry and if WE just make THEM pay all will be well. It won’t. The changes will require the things I mentioned above.

Yet we see on the same pages of the paper warnings of global warming and complaints about the high cost of gas or heating oil Warning about global warming and oppostition to nuclear power or dam building. You can’t have all these things at the same time.

Posted by: Jack at April 7, 2006 3:00 PM
Comment #138868
My approach is just tougher than yours. You want to legislate. I want to do something. You want to demand something be done. I want to do something.

Actually, it sounds like you want something to just magically happen, without anybody having to do anything - government or corporations. Blaming environmentalists for current energy policy is nonsensical, given that they aren’t making it.

The basic problem with energy prices as a solution, Jack, is that currently they only reflect part of the true cost - the cost of absorbing the CO2 that’s released is passed on to future generations. (Kindof like deficit spending.) These “external” costs aren’t captured by the market, and making energy prices reflect true cost requires intelligent, competent government action.

Posted by: William Cohen at April 7, 2006 5:53 PM
Comment #138917

Tax energy. I am for it. Let the price rise as high as it will go. I am for that too. Encourage nukes. Encouage biotech. Encourage dam building. I would and do advocate all these things with politicans.

You talk about legislation. I support it for the above things.

If we pass legislation, what do you think it will do? What do you want it to do? BTW - making the corporations pay is not an option. Corporations are just transfer points.

Posted by: Jack at April 7, 2006 8:23 PM
Comment #138939

A business’s only goal is to make as much money as possible for its owner(s). If it doesn’t do this well, it won’t last. There’s nothing magical about this, and business isn’t something to be worshipped or glamorized. It does provide useful products for society, but in capitalism this is only a side-effect not a goal.

I’ve come to realize most corporations (with perhaps very few exceptions) operate according to short-term greed. That is, they seek immediate profits and ways to make money, even if it’s detrimental to them in the future. One example is the american car companies. They decided to gut their R&D departments and invest primarily in gas guzzlers like SUVs. Now with crappy cars and rising gas prices, they’re paying for it. Another example is Sony. They put a ‘rootkit’ on their music CDs, to load spyware onto the users computers, in an attempt to stop people from copying music. Now they have a bunch of lawsuits and a loss of respect.

Anyways, if a company wants to combine short-term greed and stupidity in this manner, it’s their business. But it is a problem when this harms the rest of us. It’s all the same with Exxon and global warming. They want global warming denial so people will not hesitate to buy their products, even though we’re all screwed (including them) in the future. Same immediate selfishness and stupidity.

That’s why we need a government for the people (not the corporations or their lobbyists), that is willing to keep them in line if necessary.

The current GOP-run government’s tactic is the opposite, they’ve decided to favor corporations over the american people and to craft laws for whichever business can pay them enough i.e. bribery.

Posted by: mark at April 7, 2006 10:01 PM
Comment #138942

I remain very skeptical about the claims for “intrinsically safe nucler power plant design.” None of the proposals I have seen address the problem of nuclear waste as effectively as I think it needs to be addressed. But they do address the threat of meltdowns more effectively than current plants do.

Skeptical or not, I think the actual and growing impacts of global warming outweigh the potential risks from nuclear power.

I would not oppose a demonstration project for one more “intrinsically safe” nuclear plants to be built well offshore. I would also not oppose more reliance on hydro power. But, other than nuclear, I think that the benefits of a lot of small-scale generating systems close to the end-user far outweigh those of a few centralized plants requiring large-scale transmission grids.

In aggregate, the amount of energy that can be produced - and USED - through small-scale systems may be far greater, and far more dependable than the amount that we could get from centralized systems.

Hydro? Sure. But we don’t need a Hoover Dam on every river. Small-scale hydro generation is one possibility. There are still hundreds of retired small dams all over the country that could be reactivated with current turbine technology and produce enough power for neighboring farms and homes. In aggregate, a lot of power.

What about lining the medians on every interstate with windvanes? The slipstreams created by high-speed traffic can provide a huge power source for wind systems. The same goes for wind generated in subway tunnels.

How about creating incentives for micro-energy cooperatives - buildings with lots of exposed roof space and surface area to act as renewable power plants for their own use, and also for their immediate neighbors?

The safe and dependable energy supply from each of these would benefit only a few users, but, in AGGREGATE, they could benefit millions of users and eliminate the need for centralized systems.

Posted by: Robert Benjamin at April 7, 2006 10:09 PM
Comment #138969


I like all those ideas. But they will not be enough.


Do you invest? I am not trying to be snotty, but if you invest, you know that some firms last a long time and work for the long term.

Read Built to Last.

You are right that the free market is not a goal, but it is a means for efficient production distribution of goods. Nothing so far has worked better. Maybe you trust the government to do it. I don’t. I like the mix of rule of law, democracy and free markets.

Posted by: Jack at April 7, 2006 11:14 PM
Comment #139538

The global warming debate is also scientifically controversial. To imply that the scientific community is in complete agreement about this is not accurate.

The is geologic and archaelogical evidence that Greenland (southern) was being farmed in the 1300s to the 1500s. We don’t have data going back hundreds of years to prove that any warming is really occuring through controls, analysis, etc. And we can’t define global warming just by what is happening in the USA, if anything. Bill Nye was on CNN yesterday and hedged a lot about the global warming idea. While he says it is occurring, he wasn’t comfortable with being dogmatic about it. He even hinted the lack of historical data is problematic.

Posted by: LIndCon at April 10, 2006 10:39 AM
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