It is Not Easy Being Pessimistically Green

The U.S. environment is better again, see the charts on the Index of Environmental Indicators. These are not speculations of future results, but indications of what HAS already happened. (We will get enough speculation in the comments.) The U.S. is also recycling more paper than ever before. Recycling jumped nearly 5% to 51.5% since 2000 after languishing during the 1990s. Price is the reason. It works faster than exhortations by celebrities.

The persistent bad news is that while we are decreasing almost all forms of pollution measured, CO2 continues to rise, which may lead to global warming. MIT recently updated a study on what happens to American agriculture in the probably greenhouse world. Those of you who expect a long life should plan your real estate investments accordingly.

The state by state breakdown is interesting. Sorry California. Good for you Pennsylvania and S. Dakota.

Posted by Jack at April 12, 2006 6:23 PM
Comments
Comment #140279

Recycling more paper than ever before??? Why isn’t this headline news??? O’Reilly is really going to nail the mainstream media on this coverup. I guess the Dems can’t say Bush hasn’t done anything good anymore. If it were Clinton the Dems would say this was incredible news, but since it’s Bush they will probably take all the credit and claim that recycling paper was never something Republicans even had on the agenda. Thanks Jack for highlighting this important improvement before the Dems cover it up - again. Just more proof that everything is going right and that Dems are just hysterical and there’s nothing to worry about. One thing though, Bush says there is no evidence of global warming so you should probably remove that part.

Posted by: Max at April 12, 2006 7:20 PM
Comment #140284

“CO2 levels continue to rise, which may lead to global warming.”

Sorry Jack but its time to cut out the maybe and probably about the global warming scenerio.

All of human history so far is merely a geologic event in terms of earth history. All human activity, has been instantanous on the geologic time scale.

All of the tons of carbon that have been pumped into the atmosphere don’t just vanish. My point is that what we have done is affect the equillibruim dramatically and instantly. It shows poor perspective to talk about it as “the bad news” beneath the recycling of paper.

It would really be in everyone’s interest to start thinking about climate change geologically. The only thing that can compare to industrial society’s emissions are volanic eruptions, which we know have altered climate.
I’m sorry about not having research or links on the topic, but I can say with condfidence that industrial nations are bound to have a greater impact on atmospheric conditions.

Life evolving on this planet has altered the atmosphere before. If you don’t believe me read up on how the Banded Iron Formations were created. What we are doing WILL dramatically alter the planet again.

Posted by: darren159 at April 12, 2006 7:46 PM
Comment #140285

Max, that may have been the best reply ever to Jack. I nearly split a gut laughing when I read it.

Posted by: ray at April 12, 2006 7:52 PM
Comment #140289

Max

I produce pulp. Pulp makes paper. These kinds of things are of more interest to me than to the average person, sorry.

But micro indicators like this are interesting in what they say about the bigger economy. Demand for our paper and pulp is higher because of demand from China. The fact that China so strongly influences the pile of papers on my curb is interesting to be. I am trying to figure out a way to make money on that (since I am a free market type).

The other indicators and charts, of course, are more interesting. They indicate that our efforts to clean our environment are working. We should figure out what is working and maybe do more of it and do less what doesn’t. We may be able to take some focus off some things in order to put more on others.

Posted by: Jack at April 12, 2006 8:25 PM
Comment #140292

Jack,

I think it indicates that people in general are more interested in saving our environment, not that any particular program of Bush’s is working. As far as what actually helps the environment, recycling is pretty far down the list and reducing CO2 emissions is pretty high. If you’re getting rich off this - that’s great - more power to you.

Posted by: Max at April 12, 2006 8:40 PM
Comment #140306

Max

TRYING to figure out. I still make more money in the supermarket if I get a good deal on Prego than I do in the stock market.

Re CO2 emissions. I am in favor of reducing and have laid out how. It is not legislation. We need more nuclear power and higher energy prices. The French already get 78% of their electric power from nuclear. We manage only around 20%. You saw what the price of gas did to demand last September. If legislation will do that, it is good. If not, it is useless. The thing is, we don’t need the legislation to do these things.

Posted by: Jack at April 12, 2006 9:33 PM
Comment #140348

Good post Jack, Informative.

I’ve often though of reiring in Kentucky, where my ancestors are from and most are buried. Funny how my Grandparents that stayed there, lived the longest. My Parents and their brothers, sisters and cousins who moved away all died much earlier. Maybe all that coal dust wasn’t as bad as denser population.

I was surprised a couple of years ago when an Indian friend described Houston (a Petrochem Hub) as so much cleaner than where he grew up (Bagalore).

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 13, 2006 1:20 AM
Comment #140356

Jack,
I agree with you on the Nuclear thing, People sadly still over react to the word Nuclear. I work in an industry that uses radioactive isotopes to measure soil parameters. Licensing requires a company renting an office space to inform the owner and obtain consent to the use of radioactive materials on his property. The sources we use are extremely small and double encapsulated in stainless steel. (this same technology is used to control paper pulp moisture and the distribution of raisins in Raisin Bran)

It is very difficult to convince landlords that you won’t turn their property into a radioactive Chernobyl. Now the readers here will be scared to eat Raisin Bran.

The price of gas is directly a result of the closure of refineries to “reduce the excess capacity” by the merged oil companies. That isn’t free market forces.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 13, 2006 1:39 AM
Comment #140365

It’s funny to hear the young’uns talking about global warming as if the trend has been going on since we industrialized. When I was a kid the fear, the REAL fear was global cooling. This was the late 60s and early 70s when we had seen several straight decades of global temperature decline and we were told that the science was pretty clear that we were heading for another mini-ice age if we didn’t act immediately.

We’re just in the infancy of being able to understand weather patterns and how global climates work. Solar activity is the greatest contributor to how warm or cool the planet it. So many on the ‘sky is falling’ bandwagon speak of temperature changes as if the warmth we get from the sun is static. It isn’t, the amount of heating we get from the sun changes constantly.

Should we be trying to conserve and keep our planet clean? Yes, of course. Should we be looking for alternative methods of fuel? Most definately. Should we be try to educate and make sure that we are aware of what our actions on this planet can do? Yup.

But, should we be shutting down our economy, creating legislation that will artificially increase prices and put the burden where it always ends up, on the middle class, just to trying doing things that may or may not have any impact on the situation at all because we just don’t know enough?

Hardly.

And the funny thing is, most of the people who are pushing for this type of action, who are using FEAR to attempt to get their political agendas passed are the same people who complain and scream (rightfully so) when the republicans use FEAR in the form of terrorism for precisely the same purposes.

Sorry, only education and increased scientific study is going to do anything beneficial in this area. Back in the 70s the country was dirty. Most lakes were filthy, the oceans were full of medical waste and littering was a national pastime. Anyone remember the crying American Indian commercials? I know I am a bit older than many here but we have come a LONG way to bettering our environment over the past 30 years.

Two good examples:

We are told constantly how much more enlightened Europe is when it comes to polution and recycling, etc. Several years ago McDonald’s had a sandwich that I LOVED called the McDLT. One day I am told that they can’t make it anymore because they aren’t using Styrofoam because of environmental reasons. Sadly I have yet to find a ‘fast food’ sandwich that I liked as well as that one. Funny thing is, in England they still sell the sandwich. Using the Styrofoam container. *shrug*

Then there are the Coke bottles. We are so concerned with recycling, what a better concept than reusing the glass bottles that our soda came in. No plastic being dumped into landfills or burned in incineration plants, we could just take back our bottles and they would be reused. But, we don’t have them anymore. The Reason? The delivery men unions (tied to the teamsters) said that they wouldn’t deliver them anymore because they were too heavy and causing too much strain on the delivery men. The only way to get a bottle of coke now? You have to go to a Mexican Supermarket (luckily there are more and more popping up all over) and purchase them there. And yes, there is a difference in the taste of the soda when it comes from a bottle.

But I digress. The United States has it’s collective head up it’s own ass when it comes to environmental issues that almost no one really knows what is up and what is down any more. And the Chicken Little crown is doing their best to create such hysteria over it in order to use it as a method of controlling potential voters.

Some of us recognize where their true concern lies…

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 13, 2006 2:47 AM
Comment #140368

Rhinehold,
You do not know understand this topic, and as a result, you are spreading ignorant disinformation which is harmful to every single one of us. What you’re grasping for is the concept of Malinkovitch cycles.

According to these astronomical cycles, the earth should be in a slight cooling trend. Unfortunately, humanity has introduced large amounts of greenhouse gases, especially C02, into the atmosphere, and that induces Global Warming.

You write: “We’re just in the infancy of being able to understand weather patterns and how global climates work.”

That is wrong. You could have made such a statement several decades ago, but today, it’s simply not true. In New Zealand, dendrochronology has provided a climate record going back 60,000 years. The Greenland Ice Sheet Project, ice core drillings in Antartica, sea floor drillings, and other sources have only been developed in the past decade. These records show us a detailed record of climate. And we now know, from these records, that changes in atmosphereic C02 concentrations closely mirror warming & cooling trends.

Do you know what the Keeling curve tells us?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeling_Curve

We are in a warming trend. It is indisputable. There is no ‘may’ to Global Warming. This is a scientific fact. It has nothing to do with politics, it is simply a matter of evidence.

Scientists are sceptics by nature. Some will demand certainty before they concede a point. For example, a few scientists were willing to agree with tobacco companies that smoking was not addictive, and that there was no indisputable link between cancer and smoking.

No doubt you were right in there with them.

Ever hear of the Montreal Accords? Thanks to international cooperation limited production of CFC’s. It was a very, very close thing. DuPont originally opposed government and international restrictions, just as Exxon does today. But thanks to the Montreal Accords, we prevented the destruction of the ozone layer. Even with the accords, rates of skin cancer and related problems have soared.

I’m pretty sure you’ll refuse to back up your original claims, because both you know & I know, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m prepared to back up everything I’ve said in great detail, and with links. I’m prepared to shoot down your arguments, and use considerable detail to leave them in flames. Are you up for it, or would you prefer to concede?

It’s not personal, Rhinehold. This isn’t a personal criticsm. It’s a critique of your message writ large; who knows, you might find this interesting. I’m learning more about this with each passing month, and willing to share what I’ve learned.

Posted by: phx8 at April 13, 2006 3:21 AM
Comment #140370

Phx8,

I never stated that we are not now in a warming trend. I dispute that we know exactly why.

2% of all C02 emissions are because of human beings. One has to wonder if moving that 2% around a hundreth of a degree is going to make a significant change.

I’m surprised that you start off with ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’, nothing in my original post was factually wrong. We can’t predict weather with any certainty. When we take the simulations we have now to show how our climate is going to progress and use them at a past date and move them forward, we find that they are completely wrong and innacurate every single time.

You say

Unfortunately, humanity has introduced large amounts of greenhouse gases, especially C02, into the atmosphere

Ok, how much? I imagine that humans have always introduced some CO2 into the air, we breath, right? So how much does our Industrialization effect it? Instead of 1.5% we now account for the 2%? You say that we are dumping huge amounts of CO2 into the air, but you fail to mention that it’s such a small amount compared to the other naturally occuring CO2 being created.

But, ignoring all of that, what is your proposal? What should we be doing now that we aren’t doing? This is what I’m really curious about. Do we wave a magic wand and invent ways of powering our societies that produce no pollution or do we just shut down our industries? What are our options here?

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 13, 2006 3:51 AM
Comment #140371

Btw, when I say 2%, I’ve seen numbers from 2 - 5%. It really depends upon what is being measured and if we are talking just CO2 or all greenhouse gasses.

One quote from a recent publication:

“Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and sub-surface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability.”

That was just a couple of years ago. We still can’t say if this is a natural trend, a result of the sun going through a warming cycle which results in an increase in CO2 levels as well or too many humans and their industrialization.

The simple fact that anyone telling you that they KNOW for sure to what extent humans are causing the increase in CO2 levels should be immediately dismissed, they can’t know and they don’t. They’re trying to sell you something.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 13, 2006 4:01 AM
Comment #140374

Rhinehold, you are wrong about one point. While you quite correct that we cannot predict specific weather for any specific date, we can very accurately predict many trends in weather using probability models, some with an accuracy as high as 95%.

Climatology is like sociology. Given certain social conditions it is not possible to predict how any individual will respond. But, one can with a very high degree of accuracy predict what most people will do under specific conditions, like yelling fire in a movie theater. Some will keep their heads and move away from the panicked crowd, but most will move with haste to the nearest exit placing them in more risk of being stampeded than burning to death. We see this many times each year around the world at soccer games, religious gatherings, and crowded burning buildings.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 13, 2006 4:22 AM
Comment #140386

Well, while I hate to agree with Rhinehold, he is correct that we do not know the significance of the warming trend. That is speculation.

His attitude seems to be that this is all bunk which I don’t believe. There are too many economic as well as enviromental reasons to reduce our carbon profiles. Stating that we are gutting the economy to take action is grossly overstating and mischaracterizing what anyone is suggesting.

I was around in the 60’s and 70’s. Most metropolitan areas were far less developed. There were 50 million or so fewer people in America. Nixon is the one who began a lot of the clean-up, after things like Love Canal and the kill off of fish in the Great Lakes, not to mention the dessimation of bird populations with DDT (which I think should be re-allowed in very strict uses). Acid rain from coal burning powerplants was killing entire forests. I guess all that was completely irrational.

I don’t remember McDLT’s being made of styrofoam. Didn’t that make them rather chewy? Seriously, why do you think styrofoam was the cause of their demise?

The coke bottle fable is simply that. Plastic was and still is simply cheaper than all the handling involved in retrieving and cleaning them, at least short term. Free-market forces, not Teamsters. (Remember what Mr.Robinson’s advice to Dustin Hoffman was? Plastics!) I used to make a killing as a kid returning bottles. They continued to raise the deposit as an incentive that was begun to get people to return them, because new bottles were expensive, too.


Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 13, 2006 7:33 AM
Comment #140393

The question about global warming is simpler than we like to admit. The world is getting warmer. We don’t know the extent to which human activity is the cause. But some good ideas, such as more nuclear energy and trying to diversify energy away from oil, should be pushed in any case.

When I talk about the environment improving, some people are surprised. It is a persistent and pernicious myth that things are only getting worse. The environment in the U.S. is much cleaner today than it was when I grew up in the 1960s and it is cleaner today than it was in 1996 and it will be cleaner in 2016 than it is today.

The reason some environmentalists hold so fast and passionately to human induced global warming is because it is their trump card. We have solved so many intractable environmental problems in recent decades that the scare tactics don’t work. We can no longer point to the dead lakes and the burning rivers. Factories belching black smoke are things of the past (or of foreign countries). Wildlife is more common than any time since before 1890. But it is possible to throw all this out if you can mention CO2 and global warming. And since CO2 is produced when you burn anything, you can attack any industrial or human process.

So what about global warming? First it has been warmer in relatively recent human history. During the medieval warm period, for example, the Vikings were able to successfully colonize Greenland and the Edinburgh then had a climate more like that of southern France today. The little ice age that commenced in the 14th century killed off the Vikings and send Europe into a downspin. It was also warmer during the height of the Roman Empire in the 1st and part of the 2nd centuries. Again, the cooler climate played a role in the decline and fall of the empire in the west. A cool, wet period drove people out of the Balkans and into the Mediterranean where they destroyed the Hittites, Mycenaean and Egyptian civilizations of the time. So this is not humanity’s first brush with climate change. It happens all the time.

The report I included in the original post talks about the effects of warming on U.S. agriculture. In the greenhouse world agriculture is more efficient and productive, but there are winners and losers. Somebody with a nice beachfront in Florida won’t be delighted by the changes.

The problem is that much of our current investment and infrastructures would be in the wrong places. If peaches start to thrive in Saskatchewan and not in Georgia, we have to move the canning factories from Atlanta to Saskatoon.

So global warming is a serious challenge. But to tackle it the solution is simple (nuclear, higher prices, development of alternatives) but not easy. We also have to give up the black/white idea that there are heroes and villains. We have met the enemy and they is us.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 9:01 AM
Comment #140398
I don’t remember McDLT’s being made of styrofoam. Didn’t that make them rather chewy? Seriously, why do you think styrofoam was the cause of their demise?

Because the Styrofoam is what was able to keep the ‘hot side hot’ and the ‘cold side cold’. When McDonald’s first made the switch away from Styrofoam they used just the plastic wrapper as it’s packaging. There was no way that they could sell the sandwich (and it make sense) without some mechanism for seperation. Even now with their cardboard packaging it would not be an easy task.

As for the ‘myth’ of the Coke bottles, it was one of the reasons my local bottler gave to me when I called them about my frustration. Coke let’s the individual bottlers determine what they bottle and what they don’t and the reason given to me that the bottles were no longer beind used was the trouble with the delivery men’s health.

It was not the cost of the deposit (the deposit that you paid for when you purchased the product, yes they raised the price of the soda…) that caused the change. Plastics cheaper? Maybe, maybe not, but cans are cheaper than plastics and they make more on cans than bottles, why not just sell only cans if that is the issue?

Posted by: rhinehold at April 13, 2006 10:10 AM
Comment #140401

“I was surprised a couple of years ago when an Indian friend described Houston (a Petrochem Hub) as so much cleaner than where he grew up (Bagalore).”

Yeah, it completely belies logic that a completely modern American city could possibly be cleaner than a vastly overcrowded, filthy, tropical, third world city.

Boggles the mind.

Posted by: Arr-squared at April 13, 2006 10:24 AM
Comment #140402

I’m glad recycling is going up,but the problem is really that recycled paper is not in high demand. We treat lumber as an endless resource (it isnt if you cut trees the way Kimberly-Clark does, clearcutting is a major problem), and as such the paper products from our logging industry are cheaper than recycled goods. Consumers have to make a conscious decision to purchase the product which is better for the planet overall. The problem is that consumers don’t think about the implications of what they buy. Adam Smith believed that people would purchase goods based more than just on price, but I think the success of Walmart really brings that stance in to question.

As well, there are many environmental problems you aren’t addressing. Overfishing is destroying ocean ecosystems, and while it means profits for the fishermen now, when they start damaging fish species beyond repair, their businesses will dry up. The oceans and riverways are so badly clogged with garbage that the very nature of our waterways is changing:
http://www.acfnewsource.org/environment/plastic_plankton.html
These areas of the ocean have more plastic than plankton, and the plankton actually eat the plastic molecules.

These problems have to do with how we handle waste as a society, and as a globe (though we produce a looooot of that plastic). We cannot fix these problems with simple government regulations (especially if those regulations are barely enforced, like the FDA and meat processing plants), people have to change as a society, but the impetus for change will not come until there is some kind of catastrophe.

Don’t get me wrong, we have to try, but its like trying to plug a dam with your thumb.

Posted by: iandanger at April 13, 2006 10:33 AM
Comment #140411

Iandanger

Lumber - at least in the U.S. based on our current and projected demands, IS and endless resource. Most American lumber (53% and growing) comes from southern pine plantations. These are not the old growth that environmentalist like to talk about, but the trees can be big. A southern pine can get to be 80-90 feet high in 40 years. People who don’t know any better think these are “old growth.” We can grow enough trees to supply the U.S. for as long as there is a U.S. and a demand for lumber.

All wood products can be recycled, composted or burned as fuel. While the trees are growing, they clear the air, protect watersheds and supply food and homes for wildlife. We quickly restore cut over areas. Within three years of a cut, the land is once again beautiful and wildlife populations are actually higher than in the forest. During the cut, we make roads with culverts to prevent erosion into streams and river. Natural forest is left untouched near the banks of rivers, streams and wetlands to protect water resources and wildlife.

Big paper companies, like you mention, are selling their holdings to smaller operators, who have an interest in the details and a love for the forests. They may cut their timber only three times in their lifetimes: once for the downpayment on their homes, a second time to send their kids to school and finally for retirement. Then the next generation starts again wiht this endlessly renewable resource. In the meantime, their families, camp, hunt and hike on their land.

The timber industry in the U.S. has changed completly in the last generation. Popular perceptions of it are just way behind the times and generally false.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 11:02 AM
Comment #140420

I have no problem with a responsible loggging system, but the fact of the matter remains, recycled paper wont be consumed at the rate it is produced until people start looking into what they are buying. Kleenex is made from 100% virigin canadian lumber, and is clear cut from old growth forrests. This sort of irresponsible usage (facial tissues are, after all, not even recyclable themselves) is a problem, and needs to be curtailed. I think that industries which start looking into the long term sustainability of their actions will see that responsible opperations are essential to having a lasting business model. Unfortunately not everyone looks forward, the fishermen are more concerned with putting food on their plates this year, and thus far Kleenex hasn’t changed to a source of paper which is from a renewable source.

Another thing that irks me is the prohibition of growing hemp, which contains a miniscule quanity of THC, a fiber from a plant that is so hardy it doesn’t require pesticides to grow, even though hemp is a more efficient source of paper pulp (and it makes quite comfy clothing as well).

I don’t disagree about responsible logging opperations, but I am less optimistic about the companies which still participate in clear cutting.

Posted by: iandanger at April 13, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #140423

I found this interesting:

Another Opinion

And it is from a European news source. I guess I am not such an alarmist about global warming and it seems that I have company. It is just not publicized as much as the alarmists. I don’t find a one degree warming over the last century to be, statiscally speaking, very significant.

Posted by: SWMichiganBill at April 13, 2006 12:11 PM
Comment #140425

Rhinehold,
How can human contributions to C02 affect climate?

Over 99% of the atmosphere consists of Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Argon. C02 is a trace gas. It occurs in such small amounts, it is measured in parts per million.

Before the Industrial Revolution, the atmosphere contained an average of 280 parts per million (ppm) of C02. This equals 645 gigatons (billion tons) of C02.

The amount of C02 in the atmosphere matches the history of climate change. It is not the only greenhouse gas, but it is the main one, and these relatively small changes in quantity are enough to change climate.

(Ozone exists in even smaller quantities in the atmosphere, yet the small amount in the Ozone layer blocks UV radiation. Without it, we would suffer terrible cancers and eye damage).

If you look at the Keeling curve, which I linked earlier, the atmospheric concentration of C02 today is @ 380 ppm, or 869 gigatons.

This gets a little complicated… if we limit future emissions to 660 gigatons, which is roughly where it is today, by 2100 half of that total would remain in the atmosphere. Some would drop out. The net amount would be 1210 gigatons, or 550 ppm.

So, we’re already committed to a substantial amount of warming. It’s human-induced. That cannot be changed. Too bad, so sad. But the previous estimate assumes we limit emissions to today’s numbers. In fact, the amount is increasing, and population is growing.

The Hadley model for climate is considered the best one. Jack, you might find this interesting. According to one of the Hadley models, called TRIFFID, the Amazon Rain Forest will collapse beginning roughly in 2040. Why?

The biggest greenhouse gas is water vapor. As C02 amounts increase, the plants in the Amazon jungle will reduce their stomata (their pores). The Amazon jungle climate is reliant upon transpiration- the exhalation of water vapor into the air by plants- to keep the rain falling. Increased C02 will mean plants with less stomata, which means less water vapor, which means less rain. It will hit a critical point in a few decades, and that means the Amazonian jungle will die. We’ll be left with a flat terrain of desert, and surface temperatures that will eventually increase by as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit, according to TRIFFID.

But hey, it’s just a model.

What to do? Solar energy & nuclear power will be necessary. Cutting back on cooking, heating, & energy will be critical. International cooperation, like with the Montreal Accords, will crucial.

Personally, I think we’re screwed.

It will take an awful shock to wake people up enough to actually change. That’s too bad, but I think it’s inevitable; something like a hurricane hitting New York City might have to happen before steps are taken, not just to reduce emissions, but to actually actively take C02 out of the atmosphere.

Posted by: phx8 at April 13, 2006 12:30 PM
Comment #140432

Max, your first reply was a thing of scathing brilliance.

Has anyone noticed that all of Jack’s info is from the Pacific Research Institute which is affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute? I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the environment, I don’t tend to believe anything a right-wing think tank has to say because all their interested in protecting is the corporate bottom line.

phx8 — this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed that your broad knowledge on this subject is impressive. Well done, sir.

Posted by: Adrienne at April 13, 2006 12:59 PM
Comment #140435

Phx8

If these things happen, we will be screwed. But the prediction business has not be very good.

You do touch on an interesting point, however, in your fatalism. If the dire models are correct, it is too late to do much of anything anyway. Maybe we should figure out how to adapt to the changes. I will be looking into property on Elesmere Island (always liked the name).

That is a flaw in the greenhouse hysteria strategy. If you are really right, nobody really cares. The die is cast. Nothing can be done. Wait for the change. More likely, we have a mixed result. I hope to still be alive in 2040. I don’t believe the rain forests will be gone by then. Life adapts.

And even if the forest slowed respiration, you would not have a desert. The trees require less water in a CO2 rich environment, precisely because they lose less from respiration. And the rain would not stop entirely anyway.

The question is always - SO what do we DO? International coopertion, if it works, we lead to more nuclear, higher prices for energy and work on alternatives. That is what we advocate. Skip the middle man.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 1:14 PM
Comment #140436

Even Bush’es EPA says Climate Change is the result of Human Activities;

There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. Human activities have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the buildup of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The heat-trapping property of these gases is undisputed

Adrienne,

No surprise about that, Jack’s data most always comes from right wing propoganda machines. I think that now that Eric’s been largely silenced, maybe they’re paying him to do their vetting:-)

Posted by: Dave at April 13, 2006 1:16 PM
Comment #140437

SWMichiganBill,
You link an article by Bob Carter, who is Australian. Carter’s scepticism is filled with inaccuracies. For example, Carter suggests:

” Marketed under the imprimatur of the IPCC, the bladder-trembling and now infamous hockey-stick diagram that shows accelerating warming during the 20th century - a statistical construct by scientist Michael Mann and co-workers from mostly tree ring records - has been a seminal image of the climate scaremongering campaign. Thanks to the work of a Canadian statistician, Stephen McIntyre, and others, this graph is now known to be deeply flawed.”

However, the ‘hockey-stick’ graph has been proven to be accurate, and the scepticism of people like Carter thoroughly refuted:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=11

Notice Carter accepts the idea that climate changes. What he cannot accept is the idea that humanity can affect climate.

What do you think? Do you think human beings can change the world’s climate. I’ll bet that, in a very very small way, you can personally change a tiny little climate today, Bill. Leave your car out in the sun with the windows rolled up… And you know where this is going. The ‘climate’ inside the car will be warmer than outside, and it will be a direct result of your actions.

That’s a little silly, but I guess it makes a point.

Adrienne,
Thanks! I’ve read several books lately. I guess fleeing New Orleans before Katrina kind of weirded me out…

Jack,
“Camelot!”
“Camelot!”
“Camelot!”
“It’s only a model.”
“Shh!”

Posted by: phx8 at April 13, 2006 1:25 PM
Comment #140439

Adrienne and Dave

Look at the sources of the underlying data.

Adrienne - these data are some of the same ones I got from the report you gave me. Most reports, left and right, contain similar numbers. The environment HAS improved. We argue about the reasons, future or the value system.

Let’s do a simple confirmation. Many people who read this live in big American cities. Check back on the number of code red days your city experienced now, five years ago,ten years ago and twenty years ago. I live in the Washington Metro. Last year we didn’t have ANY. Ten years ago, we would get a few every year where we could ride the Metro for free.

Anybody who grew up in a cold city during the 1960s remembers that snow would turn black within a few days. Now it doesn’t. It used to be a treat to see a deer or a wild turkey. Now they are common and a bit of a pest. You could not get near most urban rivers in 1970 without a gas mask. Now they are building fancy restaurants nearby.

Only two major things have gotten worse since we were young: urban sprawl and CO2. I am not saying these are not problems, but since everything else has gotten better, we may at least admit it.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 1:27 PM
Comment #140447

Jack: You have the makings of an excellent add for the pulp industry. You should work up a couple story boards and sell it.
Let me see if I have this correct,we will build all of our houses and furniture out of cheap, soft southern pine; and, we can clear cut the oak, maple, cherry and yellow pine every 15 years for paper pulp.

The more that humans put CO2 into the atmosphere, the more the atmosphere warms up. The more the atmosphere warms up, the more that naturally occuring CO2 is released into the atmosphere. The new domino effect.

Humans will just keep plodding along and we will try to adapt to a changing enviroment the best we can.

Posted by: jlw at April 13, 2006 2:18 PM
Comment #140453

phx8,

My view on it is just different than yours. I don’t think the sky is falling, you do. When it warms up one degree outside, I don’t notice. So if it warmed one degree C over the past one hundred years, I would notice less.
Look, I do what I can for the environment, I walk when I can, I don’t run my AC in my house unless it is really hot, I recycle, I drive newer cars that have fewer emissions than cars in the past have, I don’t dump my used oil in the ground, etc. Even the factory where I am an engineer has a device attached to exhaust system that removes 95% of the particulate matter from our exhaust products. What else can I do?
I guess I am not going to panic over a couple of degrees of warmth that I feel is a natural cyclical variation in the overall earth climate.
I will agree that we need to come up with new methods and technologies to reduce human impact on our environment, I just don’t think it is as urgent as it has been presented.

Posted by: SWMichiganBill at April 13, 2006 2:39 PM
Comment #140454

Jlw

INEXPENSIVE southern pine. Not cheap. Pine tends to be used for structural timber and can be used for fiber board and pulp.

You cannot successfully pulp maple, cherry etc every fifteen years nor could you clearcut them and expect a regeneration of similar species. Clearcut doesn’t work for those shade tolerant species and it not the way to go.

Yellow pine, BTW, is a term used for southern pine, which is loblolly, slash and longleaf pine.

I own a tract of forest. About 1/3 of it is never cut or not much because it protects water quality and wildlife. NOT using the land is a cost I incur every year. All forest owners do and most of us are happy to do it. The rest is in pine that grows wonderfully fast and can be harvested sustainably forever, or as long as there is a U.S. and a demand for timber. Forest lands can also be a way to dispose of farm wastes and biosolids in an environmentally friendly way.

My land supports a diversity of wildlife and I think it is very pretty. Some people do what is good for the environment; others talk about it.

As for CO2, let me repeat that we should reduce it. The only difference between my idea and those of others on this thread is that I actually advocate means to do it. Others want to blame Bush and think they can get rid of CO2 by signing treaties or making laws.

To repeat: to reduce CO2 you need to advocate more nuclear energy, higher energy prices (at least on fossil fuels) and higher prices will encourage alternatives. Which part of that don’t you like?

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 2:45 PM
Comment #140455

“To repeat: to reduce CO2 you need to advocate more nuclear energy, higher energy prices (at least on fossil fuels) and higher prices will encourage alternatives. Which part of that don’t you like?’

Higer prices!

Posted by: SWMichiganBill at April 13, 2006 2:57 PM
Comment #140456

I guess nobody likes higher prices, but the is the natural and inevitable price we will pay. I don’t think some people know that and others don’t want to admit it.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 3:03 PM
Comment #140461

Jack,

I for one am amazed that you would attribute any environmental progress to Bush. His policies have been massively regressive and to give his administartion credit for any continuing broad improvements is ludicrous.

As for nuclear power, I’m on record here as supporting it using a single, universally built, robust design. But first we need to take care of the nuclear waste problems. Higher prices will only cause an economic slow down with more profits concentrated into big oil.

Posted by: Dave at April 13, 2006 3:13 PM
Comment #140463

Very interesting discussion. What has not been mentioned is where did all the oil and coal come from? It didn’t fall from the sky. Millions of years ago dying and decaying vegatation accumulated in layers over parts of the earth. With enough time, pressure, heat, etc, the vegatation was changed into coal and with more time into oil.
Question; did locking up all this vegatation CO2 change the environment? Of course! Does releasing all this CO2 change the climate! Of course. Can man make any impact on this cycle! Of course not!
By the way, if all the tree-hugging psuedo-scientific types out there weren’t so blinded by their suspect motives, California wouldn’t burn every year. Intentionally burn a pile of brush and you will face the wrath of these folks. What is in short supply in the world today is common sense. The bambi mentality is a very good example of stinking thinking. Outlaw regulated harvesting of deer and the herd faces starvation. But all the bambi lovers apparently believe starvation is a natural occuring event and leagl hunting is perverse.

Posted by: Jim at April 13, 2006 3:28 PM
Comment #140467

Dave

I don’t attribute it TO Bush. It is a long standing trend. I just object to the empirically false idea that things have gotten worse.

You are not getting the point about countering global warming.

We do not have and probalby never will have a single robust design and we can’t solve the waste problem in the near term. You also WILL get higher prices if you want to do anything about CO2, since you will be cutting or emliminating some types of energy. If you can’t accept these things, you are not serious about stopping global warming. Getting us all to take the bus or walk to work will not do it.

Efforts to cut greenhouse emissions will cause pain and dislocation. They will require the use of nuclear energy.

It is much easier to want to do something for the environment or demand that something be done than to do something for the environment.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 3:31 PM
Comment #140477

Jim:
“By the way, if all the tree-hugging psuedo-scientific types out there weren’t so blinded by their suspect motives, California wouldn’t burn every year. Intentionally burn a pile of brush and you will face the wrath of these folks.”

The majority of environmentalists don’t have a problem with carefully controlled burns where needed. They do however, have a big problems with Bush’s “Healthy Forest Initiative” which was really nothing but a gift to the logging industry.

“What is in short supply in the world today is common sense.”

This is especially true of our leadership in the White House.

“The bambi mentality is a very good example of stinking thinking. Outlaw regulated harvesting of deer and the herd faces starvation. But all the bambi lovers apparently believe starvation is a natural occuring event and leagl hunting is perverse.”

I’m a tree hugger-type, but I don’t have a problem with legal hunting. Btw, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but there are a great many sportsman who are outraged by Bushco’s views on the environment, too.

From the article:

Rod and gun in hand, and backing the Second Amendment right to own firearms, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have won the hearts of America’s sportsmen. Yet the two men have failed to protect outdoor sports on the nation’s public lands. With deep ties to the oil and gas industry, Bush and Cheney have unleashed a national energy plan that has begun to destroy hunting and fishing on millions of federal acres throughout the West, setting back effective wildlife management for decades to come. The Invasion Begins In his second week in office, President Bush convened a National Energy Policy Development Group, chaired by Vice President Cheney. Meeting with representatives of the energy industry behind closed doors, it eventually released a National Energy Policy, the goal of which was to “expedite permits and coordinate federal, state, and local actions necessary for energy-related project approvals on a national basis.”

Put into practice through a series of executive orders, the policy has prioritized drilling over other uses on federal lands, while relegating long-standing conservation mandates from the 1960s and ’70s to the back burner.

Posted by: Adrienne at April 13, 2006 4:33 PM
Comment #140482

SWMichiganBill,
The sky isn’t falling. It already fell. We’re committed. Temperature will increase by 2 to 5 degrees by 2050, and by 5 to 10 degrees by 2100. C02 persists in the atmosphere for about 100 years, so it’s a done deal. Panic? Be depressed? Whatever. It just is what it is. That really isn’t the question. The question is if we’re going to continue down this road.

Jim,
You unintentionally undermine your own argument. Deer populations go through natural cycles of rising and falling populations, which include starvation. Predator populations also go through cycles based on the rising & falling deer populations.

Mankind interferes with legalized hunting, which I would argue is perverse when the hunting is done for sport. Killing for entertainment is perverse. However, when mankind removes the natural predators of the deer, the deer’s natural cycle is destroyed. The natural rises and falls become extreme booms and busts.

You write:
“Question; did locking up all this vegatation CO2 change the environment? Of course! Does releasing all this CO2 change the climate! Of course. Can man make any impact on this cycle! Of course not!”

I don’t undertand. If mankind releases the C02 by burning coal, that impacts the cycle. Burning coal is the single largest cause of increased C02 in the atmosphere.

Posted by: phx8 at April 13, 2006 4:47 PM
Comment #140487

Phx8

Hunting is natural. Hunters are among the closest people to nature. Few go out and blast away. A good hunter studies the signs and the forest and fields all year long. Hunters were the first conservationist and are still among the most committed.

I have hunters on my land and I am really glad I do. They do most of the real conservation and preservation work and they enjoy it.

The deer population is not in a just cyclical rise. It has risen as hunting has become less common and agricultural lands have reverted to forest. We could reintroduce big predators, but that has its own downsides. Many animal rights types would be upset when fluffy is killed by wolves and people don’t mix well with bears and cougars, except in the cougar’s stomach.

And there is nothing wrong with killing animals for sport, as long as you don’t kill too many or make a mess.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 5:14 PM
Comment #140489

phx8:
I agree with your reply to Jim, 100%.

You wrote:
“Mankind interferes with legalized hunting, which I would argue is perverse when the hunting is done for sport. Killing for entertainment is perverse.

Yes. Those who hunt only to hang a trophy, or who go shooting on game farms are clearly engaging in a morally wrong activity.

Posted by: Adrienne at April 13, 2006 5:22 PM
Comment #140491

Jack, where do you dig up this stuff? Wow, a think tank with partners called “Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley” and “Laissez Faire Books”. Why is it that all the good environmental news comes from organizations we’ve never heard of?

Meanwhile, those ardent tree-huggers from Field and Stream claim that “Bush and Cheney have unleashed a national energy plan that has begun to destroy hunting and fishing on millions of federal acres throughout the West, setting back effective wildlife management for decades to come.” Pessimists.

Posted by: William Cohen at April 13, 2006 5:23 PM
Comment #140501

As I wrote to somebody above, I am not saying Bush is responsible and I am not talking about the policies. I am only pointing out what HAS happened. The underlying data is not in question. I object to the hysteria that complains that everything is getting worse every year, when the opposite is true. Even in the worst case scenario, a president could slow improvement, not make it worse.

The mainstream environmentalists make their living from bad news. It is harder to fund raise if you say, “well things have improved, but they could get bettter still.”

I have also noticed - in this thread and other places - that many people don’t want to face the real challenge of the environment. There is alot of blame Bush, but that’s it. When I propose actual solutions to global warming, such as nuclear and higher energy prices, I get a lukewarm response.

This is the way it is. We have improved our environment in most ways, except in relation to sprawl and CO2. Working on both things require changes in YOUR lifestyle. You can’t expect to drive so much. YOu can expect to pay more for energy and you should expect to have more nuclear energy.

Bush is not always on the right side on these things, but when he is (nuclear and prices) support him. And stop complaining about high prices (they should be higher) and stop demanding we wait until every question about nuclear power is over.

And - BTW - tell Fat Teddy Kennedy to stop opposing wind power near his estate.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 5:53 PM
Comment #140509

Adrienne and phx8:

Hunters and hunting get a bad rap. Deer do suffer if man doesn’t replicate the effect of natural predators. Deer have the equivalent of kings, alpha deer if you prefer. The strongest, males most suited for survival in their environment rule. The alphas control harems of does and reproduce many times over thus replicating their superior genes. The younger, less kingly males, have fewer does to choose from and are excluded by royal decree from the best feeding areas.

When predators, and now hunters, kill the alphas, the lesser deer have a chance to compete for the widowed does and one lucky buck becomes King thus ensuring genetic diversity. It’s nature’s way and man is part of nature. Like the mountain lion, man is a predator and the futures of prey and predator are linked. Animals linked to mankind tend to have a better chance of survival as a species.

When there are no predators, famine and disease thin the deer. Unlike the hunter who by law and preference seeks the most, fit, impressive deer they can find thereby replicating nature’s pattern, disease and famine aren’t as selective and often change the demographics of the population making the herd less suited to reproduce and survive. No one who cares for animals would choose to manage the population that way.

Posted by: goodkingned at April 13, 2006 6:14 PM
Comment #140533

The Earth’s ecosystem has survived a great deal more than what we puny humans can throw at it.

But for those who are worried that we will destroy the planet, there is good news. Nature will take care of the human problem, as it has taken care of all life forms that no longer serve a purpose.

It’s called extinction.

It will start slowly, with a few million people here and there starving to death or dying of some exotic disease. As the climate changes, the process will speed up. The rain forest will start dying and the so-called bread baskets of the world will become dryer and hotter and water souces will begin to dry up.

That will accelerate the starvation, which will lead to tens of millions more dead bodies, which will lead to even more disease and pestilence.

Then we’ll start killing each other off as wars break out over the dwindling supplies of food and water.

After that, the end will come quickly. The whole prcess will probably take a couple of centuries to unfold.

At best, we may have three to four generations left and then it will all be over.

Of course, there may still be time to save ourselves, but only if we stop breeding like rabbits and stop polluting the air and water.

But, given homo sapien sapien’s track record, I’m putting my money on extinction!


Posted by: ulysses at April 13, 2006 8:33 PM
Comment #140540

Jack,

We are complaining that Bush’s policies are regressive and will make things worse. The indicators you quote are from historical activities. The damage done by your lord Bush are only now coming into effect.

re: nuclear power; the French use a very limited number of designs. These designs are well understood with long histories and, therefore, have their bugs worked out. They are cost efficient with interchangable parts and little/ or no research costs for their operation. That is what I mean by “robust” and “universal design”. We have to address the known problems up front or they will never be addressed.

Posted by: Dave at April 13, 2006 9:01 PM
Comment #140546

Too bad global warming isn’t caused by CO2. In fact, I’m not even sure global warming even exists. I learned so right here:

http://www.watchblog.com/republicans/archives/001336.html

And when gays can marry in 25 years, you can claim you were for gay rights the whole time too. Cause I’m sure no damage was done by Republicans denying the problem for 30 years.

Posted by: Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout at April 13, 2006 9:26 PM
Comment #140552

Dave

You can speculate about what “Lord Bush” is doing, but six years into his tenure, things are still improving. There is a lot of talk about the bad things, but no evidence of it. Maybe later.

So you accept the French designs. I suppose we can improve them occassionally. So let’s build those new plants and push the Greenpeace luddites to the side.

We also need to make sure the price of energy stays high enough to encourage alternatives. SO we agree.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 10:05 PM
Comment #140556

Jack, Dawn and whoever else writes topics on this blog, could you please write about Iran and what the consequences would be if they go nuclear? Please!!


I mean, the economy, the enviornment and (even) immigration doesn’t mean squat compared to the next hitler of our time. Don’t you think?

Posted by: rahdigly at April 13, 2006 10:39 PM
Comment #140574
Within three years of a cut, the land is once again beautiful and wildlife populations are actually higher than in the forest. During the cut, we make roads with culverts to prevent erosion into streams and river. Natural forest is left untouched near the banks of rivers, streams and wetlands to protect water resources and wildlife.

Jack, would that that were true everywhere. There are lumber companies clearcutting around where I live without regard to anything. They stole an acre of my trees (I only have 2) and some of all my neighbors, claiming someone made a mistake, and we had no recourse. Five years later it doesn’t look nice at all, and most of what they took (90%) was the hardwoods you indicated shouldn’t be clearcut. They are also protected in regards to protected wetlands, etc. They can cut right up to the edge, leaving ONE line of trees. By law, we the owners can’t do that (my property borders on protected wetlands).

So please remember that what you describe is not universal in the US.

Posted by: womanmarine at April 14, 2006 12:05 AM
Comment #140633

Clearcutting can be a valid way to harvest timber. For some types of trees it is the only way. In addition, you need to clearcut in sections generally. If you only take the big mature trees (selective cut) you will leave the runts and the genetically inferior stock.

You have a recourse if they took your trees. It is their responsibility to find the proper lines. It is called timber theft if they took yours. You are entitled to three times the value of the timber, plus damages to your property. If they were big trees, we may be talking $30-40,000. Look into it.

http://forestry.about.com/cs/loggingtimbering/a/new_theft.htm

It sounds like these loggers broke several laws and violated best practices. There are crooks, you know.

Posted by: Jack at April 14, 2006 10:24 AM
Comment #140818

Jack:

I already did. We were only entitled to twice the value of the timber. I even hired an independent forester to do an evaluation because I didn’t trust theirs, and got a little more than they offered. And no damages to property are included here. You get nothing for that.

According to the police, and the forest service here, they broke no laws.

As far as best practices, the logging being done here is leaving the place looking like a bomb hit. They do no cleanup. I have seen places after there has been a forest fire, it looks better than what they leave behind here.

Posted by: womanmarine at April 15, 2006 2:52 AM
Comment #140904

>>I don’t find a one degree warming over the last century to be, statiscally speaking, very significant.

Posted by: SWMichiganBill at April 13, 2006 12:11 PM

One half of one degree of warmer sea temps has killed about one third of the coral in our ocean reefs. That is especially true in the Great Barrier Reef. With the coral dying, the food chain suffers greatly, and we must reduce our reliance on seafoods to sustain us into the out years. How much more damage when the temp rises another degree?

Posted by: Marysdude at April 15, 2006 4:53 PM
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