Democrats & Liberals Archives

Attacking Climate Change

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol did not lead to the reduction of world CO2 emissions as was hoped because each nation has been passing the buck to other nations. No nation, especially the U.S., has been serious about attacking the problem. Now a conference is beginning in Bali, Indonesia. All nations must work together to attack climate change.

It appears that we have been going backwards:

China's emissions grew 138% over that period, catching up to U.S. levels and setting a pace to double them in less than a decade...

Japan: Emissions up 13% since 1990

Canada: A 27% rise.

Spain: A 61% increase

Today, the United States is responsible for about a fifth of the world's annual carbon dioxide emissions. Its emissions jumped 20% between 1990 and 2005, according to U.N. figures.

The Kyoto treaty left developing nations off the hook. The developed nations complained about this. Why should they be responsible while the developing nations are not? Europe, Japan and a few other nations talked a good line but did not succeed in accomplishing anything.

The situation would be ridiculous if it were not so serious. Supposing a fire were approaching our neighborhood. I tell my neighbors that since they have more trees they are more responsible than I am and they should fight the fire. They, in turn, think I should do the fighting because my home is closer to the oncoming fire. While we are bickering the fire destroys all our homes.

Not only are nations bickering among themselves, here in the U.S. we are bickering among the states. Oil states are fighting coal states are fighting natural gas states are fighting corn-ethanol states. In this situation none of us will win. We must reduce our use of oil, coal, natural gas and ethanol. We must substitute renewable non-carbon energy, such as solar, hydropower, wind, batteries and geothermal.

We are confronted with a global problem. This means that every nation on the globe must do something to solve the climate change problem. This is impossible to do without leadership. U.S. must accept the leadership role.

The best way to lead is by example. U.S. must do more than any other nation to reduce its CO2 emissions if it expects other nations to follow its lead.

Solving the climate change problem requires more than reducing CO2 emissions worldwide. This would be a decent beginning but not enough. In order to be able to influence other nations, we would need to modify our economic and political relationships with other nations. We must relinquish zero-sum cutthroat business relationships with other nations and seek win-win business relationships. Similarly, we must forget about towering over nations and find ways to boost the power of other nations, especially developing nations. These new approaches would be needed to get all nations to work together for the common good: fighting climate change.

Are we up to it? Of course we are. We, the U.S., are ready to lead us, the world. Either we do it or we lose everything.

Posted by Paul Siegel at December 3, 2007 6:47 PM
Comment #239909

Advances in ethanol production will improve its carbon neutrality and price.. Ethanol does not belong on your list of energy sources we need to move away from. To the contrary we need to use more of it to replace fossil fuels.Corn production is only a small start.
The arguement developing countries made re. Kyoto was that because most of the excess manmade CO2 in the atmosphere was put there by developed countries it should fall upon them to accept more of the burden to clean it up. You are right that this does not help solveing the problem but it does have some logical merit. Those responsible for the problem should take responsibility for it.
America could ,as you say,take the lead in the effort but we will not. We will not because the ruling oligarchs will not let us.The entire hegomony that keeps them on top is based on fossil fuel. They are smart and ruthless. There is nothing they will not do to maintain control. As a small piece of evidence to that ,just watch how many coments you are about to get from those poor souls easily brainwashed by the well financed oil company propaganda machine.

Posted by: BillS at December 3, 2007 7:53 PM
Comment #239912

BillS, Ethanol is a carbon based fuel. We need it to reduce oil dependency but, it we need to move away from Ethanol as quickly as technologically possible as it too generates greenhouse gases in copious quanities to both make it and burn it, as I understand the chemistry, (which is not real well).

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 3, 2007 8:13 PM
Comment #239914
We must reduce our use of oil, coal, natural gas and ethanol. We must substitute renewable non-carbon energy, such as solar, hydropower, wind, batteries and geothermal.

I think we should choose batteries over all those alternatives—the others all have serious drawbacks. And batteries are a completely renewable source, especially if you get the rechargeable kind.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 3, 2007 8:29 PM
Comment #239915

Ethanol is carbon nuetral if produced properly. It is not a fossil fuel.That is one of the things wrong with the corn program. They use natural gas for the distillation process. NG tech to run large burners is extant and easy to get. What other heat source could be used? Gee,how about ethanol or even potentially solar or geothermal.
There is some very interesting research going on concerning the harnessing of direct photosynthisis. A ways off of course but we know it can be done. Plants do it. The result is sugar. If this tech comes on line(or is allowed to) the sugar will need to be converted to ethanol for energy use. Point is that rather condemn the fuel source should we not solve the problems associated with it.For example,ethanol tends to corrode iron pipes so its transport is by diesel burning tanker trucks and rail cars. It does not corrode glass lined pipes though. That means an infrastucture investment to eliminate the drawback. Trucks useing alternate fuels would also help with this.Are we investing in reseach for this?

Posted by: BillS at December 3, 2007 8:48 PM
Comment #239931

BillS, by carbon neutral, do you mean it doesn’t emit more carbon than fossil fuels coming out of the tail pipe?

As for the research, well, there are as many games to be played in that area as there kinds of card games. The problem with a free enterprise system for which the government remains neutral is vested interests in the status quo have dozens of different avenues to insure new technology is not brought onto the market, and that has been occurring.

The reason we are doing Ethanol is 2 fold. First, Brazil developed it outside of the oil and auto industries’ grasp, making it viable. Second was that the Farm Lobby standing to gain enormously from it, was able to mostly nullify oil and auto lobbies.

But electric cars were developed where I worked at the U. of Mi. Dearborn campus back in 1970-71. Patents were bought and that was the last we heard of them until the early 1990’s, when a new one was brought to test market, and quickly removed, not for lack of customer interest or flaw, but, for threat to the oil and auto industries.

100’s of billions over years stand to be lost by the Auto industry after market maintenance if electric vehicles replace combustion engines - far fewer moving and heat/friction warn parts, don’t you know. Planned obsolescence takes a huge hit.

Which is why the compromise was struck for hybrids. Better fuel economy, less emissions, and the auto industry continues to service combustion engines and a whole new electrical aspect.

You know something nefarious is underfoot when profitable companies like BP and Exxon start running advertising promoting their Environmental Consciousness. That kind of money spent on image when profits are enormous occurs only to cover up and defend against future information discoveries.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 4, 2007 1:51 AM
Comment #239932


I think we should choose batteries over all those alternatives—the others all have serious drawbacks. And batteries are a completely renewable source, especially if you get the rechargeable kind.

Batteries are not an energy *source*, but an energy storage device.

The main issue remains on finding renewable energy *sources*.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 4, 2007 4:55 AM
Comment #239941

But Philippe, Paul said that they were an energy source. Are you disagreeing with a Democrat? Never have I seen such a miracle.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 4, 2007 10:00 AM
Comment #239944

First I want to say to LO that I think he is disagreeing, as I will.

Secondly I would like to point out that while fuel economy is a great thing because it costs less at the pump CO2 isnt a bad thing. Nor is using Carbon chains as an engery source. Heres a clear cut example: a combustion engine uses combustion thats simple enough. Now what does combustion mean? Just this X + O2 = CO2 + H2O where X is a veriable meaning anything combustable. Now since we are only making CO2 from this reaction whats the harm? As far as I know CO2 plus plant life equals O2 which is needed for mammals to live. But you say that it is so high in the atmosphere that the plants cannot use it, right? Wrong, lets go back to the good old Periodic Table of Elements where we find that C (carbon) is 12g per mol (1 mol is equal to 6.022x10^23) and O2 (oxygen) is equal to 16g per mol. This means that 12+16+16=44g per mol(note theres 2 O’s). Now looking back to our handy dandy table we find that very, very few natural gasses have a molecular weight heigher than 44g per mol.

Posted by: Common Sense at December 4, 2007 11:24 AM
Comment #239946

I have disagree with you about batteries. Just think how many extra trips we would need to get to the 7-11 to pick up more.

Realisticaly better battery utilization could help considerably more cutting the use levels of carbon producing fuels. They are already doing so in hybrid vehicles for example. Has to do with the nature of energy. Fuels are simply a method of storage.Batteries are another. WE are not taking full advantage of them. I would like to see hybrids sold with grid chargable systems .Plug them in and charge them with the gas component as a range extender. Last I checked,after market chargeing systems are available but void the warranties. Of course the power has to come from somewhere. In many regions electricity is generated by dams ,nuclear plants and geothermal.More and more people are useing solar panels.Even coal or NG fired electric plants are more efficient than simply burning fossil fuels in an internal combustion engine. Better battery developement and utilization should go a long way in reducing co2 emmissions.

I am with you. I am profoundly pessimistic about the US ever doing all but token emmision improvments without major and unlikely changes in the power structure.I would like to see some changes in patent law,for example.Any patented device or method that improves fuel efficiency should have a five year window to enter production or become public domain.

Posted by: Bills at December 4, 2007 12:05 PM
Comment #239947

DR Carbon neutral. The amount of co2 realeased burning ethanol is offset by the amount of carbon captured by the plants used to produce it.That is theory,at any rate, and does not take into acount production,transport etc.Still better than fossil fuels. At least the carbon was sequestered in the same geological epoch.

Posted by: bills at December 4, 2007 12:19 PM
Comment #239953

Some of you should take this little quiz and see this changes the debate a bit. The Global Warming Test.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 4, 2007 1:14 PM
Comment #239969

Yes, under good conditions, ethanol is carbon neutral. This is the BEST you can say about ethanol. Using ethanol will not reduce CO2 in the air one iota.

We need to replace carbon fuels with non-carbon fuels in order to have any chance at reducing CO2 in the air. Batteries is a possibility to consider, together with all the others I mentioned.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at December 4, 2007 3:00 PM
Comment #239975

A fossil fuel is derived from plant material laid down eons ago and with time and pressure becomes coal or oil. Corn under the same circumstances will become fossil fuel given time and conditions. Using corn or any other plant matter for fuel grown today does not represent any gain over burning plant material living eons ago. That’s a fantasy.
Batteries are wonderful devices and are powered by energy from a source such as an electric grid or chemical reaction. From where does the electric grid generate its power…electric power plants burning fossil fuel, nuclear fuel or water flowing over turbines, wind turbines and solar cells. Of these, only nuclear has the capacity to replace fossil fuel in any significant amount. Lacking the political will to build more nuclear plants, it’s silly to keep arguing about other non-fossil fuel sources as it will be decades or longer before they can make a dent in the world’s appetite for energy. Many of the people writing here are living in a fantasy world and are guilty of magical thinking.

Posted by: Jim at December 4, 2007 3:52 PM
Comment #239976

None of this foolishness matters because CO2 concentration doesn’t drive climate.
What is happening isn’t climate change, either. It’s shifting weather patterns, which happen periodically. Nothing weather and climate related that has been observed is unprecedented. It has all happened before, many times. This is proven in the historical records. See the Nov. 2, 1922 article in the Washington Post, headlined “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt”.
This silly cult’s dogma depends on ignoring facts and repeating lies.

Posted by: traveller at December 4, 2007 3:54 PM
Comment #239984

Well,there you go .So far you have plenty of evidence of the crippling effect of industry propaganda on our country’s ability to come to grips with climate change. Sadly,I rest my case.

Burning plant matter from a different geological epoch places carbon from that epoch’s enviornment into this epoch’s enviornment.
The methods you mention are already replacing a good deal of fossil fuels. For example geothermal provides most of the electrical power where I live. In the Pacific Northwest most power comes from dams.This is not fantasy. This is not new stuff either and can be built upon.
I recall a few years ago when Right Wing talk radio was calling the proposed hybrid cars a fantasy. Perhaps you might want to turn it off and allow some reality to sink in.

Posted by: BillS at December 4, 2007 6:38 PM
Comment #240007

I wonder why nobody even envision the most obvious solution: stop *wasting* energy, first.
The amount of energy produced in the world that is plain and stupid wasted is huge.

When a resource becomes more precious, your first reaction should be to stop losing it like crazy, not starting to look for another one.

Reducing our energy *needs* is a more easy target than many think, and not based on the hope that we’ll find new cleaner and cheaper energy sources soon.

2 sample areas in which reducing energy waste are possible, easy, and efficient:

1) Lighting

How many incandescent light bulbs around the world today? Only 5% of energy it consumes goes to light. Cheap alternative bulb kinds exists with way higher energy efficiency. Let ban incandescent light bulbs worldwide, and we will see a some visibile drop.

Also, stop street lighting during the days!

2) House warming

Warming by its own definition is leaking thermal energy. Better isolate your house to keep it captured is the most effective way, and by far, to reduce your warming energy needs. Push people to do it (tax cut, free aerial thermal leaks analysis access) and warming energy part will drop a lot.

What is worse : pollute while producing energy or
pollute while producing wasted energy?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 5, 2007 4:50 AM
Comment #240008


But Philippe, Paul said that they were an energy source. Are you disagreeing with a Democrat? Never have I seen such a miracle.

I’m disagreeing that batteries are energy sources, period. Call it a miracle if you want, wrong is wrong, whatever political factor in it, it’s still wrong.

While I share many Paul worries about climate change, I disagree that it’s impossible to do without US leadership. I’ve changed my mind about this.

Because US leads by example since years already.
Just the wrong one. And everybody saw it.
Even Bush.

Talking about miracle…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 5, 2007 5:07 AM
Comment #240009


Some of you should take this little quiz and see this changes the debate a bit. The Global Warming Test.

Oh yeah, a 10 questions quiz from (Pr?) Monte Heib, the former chief engineer of West Virginia Office of Miner’s Safety.

No doubt, a coal mining geological expert is way more credible than any other climate scientists.

And I’m not even talking about the Quiz web host, The Heartland Institute, which has a corporate lobbying history so long that is not anymore funny…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 5, 2007 5:37 AM
Comment #240034

So, Phillip, are you going to challenge the actual facts they laid out, or are you going to continue with the partisan attacks? I believe some of the “alarmist” are partisan; however, I will dispute them by citing other sources and scientists (you know people that have more scientific background than I do) that disputes their claims. This was one of them and some of the answers were sourced; did you even bother to look them up?! Nope! Try debating the critic’s facts (or prove they are not facts if you feel that way) rather than (trying) to discount them b/c of partisan leans.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 5, 2007 12:50 PM
Comment #240109

The lemmings use ad hominem because that’s all they have. Their arguments have been proven to be full of hot air (pun intended) by observation and common sense, yet they cling to their religion with fanatical zeal. You can’t reason with the irrational.

Posted by: traveller at December 6, 2007 10:47 AM
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