How to drive gas prices ever higher

Yesterday marked the first time since September 2008 that the price of a barrel of crude oil topped $100 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. While the unrest in the Middle East has had some minimal effect on increasing prices, the most significant factor has been increased worldwide demand for both use as a fuel and as a replacement for currency. I explained the currency replacement in another post and will only concentrate on oil, the commodity used as fuel.

It was widely accepted, and anticipated, that the enormous growth of China and India was going to push oil prices higher. An enlightened US administration could have addressed increased oil demand by increasing domestic oil production.

Instead, what has the Obama administration done to be proactive for the benefit of our nation's energy needs?

White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “We are also, as you have seen over the past two-plus years, very focused on the need precisely to develop other energy sources so that we are not as dependent on foreign oil as we have been in the past.”

These "other energy sources" are...corn, wind, sun, and electric cars. How effective is that policy? Corn-based ethanol produces less energy per unit volume than gasoline, has caused an increase in food prices, and costs taxpayers $4 billion to produce a mere 2% of the total gasoline supply.

Government promotion and subsidizing of wind and solar has added a measly 1% to America's electricity generation and offers no relief from our gasoline consumption.

Has this administration done anything to increase our domestic oil and gas supplies? Nope! In fact, it has done just the opposite.

1) Interior Sec. Ken Salazar cancelled 77 leases for oil and gas drilling in Utah in his first month in office. The US dept of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management reports that there are 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. This is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

2) Last summer Obama proclaimed two outright drilling bans in the Gulf of Mexico. The Energy Information Administration estimates that these bans will cut domestic offshore oil production by 13% this year.

3) Last fall, Interior Sec Salazar announced that the eastern Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast will not be developed and ban drilling in those areas for the next seven years. That's at least another 19 billion barrels of easily recoverable oil.

4) Obama has failed to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil lying beneath a mere few thousand acres. That alone is equivalent to 16 years of imports from Saudi Arabia at the current rate.

The energy policy of this administration appears to have the same magical solution as their fiscal policy. With energy, they expect rising cost of oil to reduce demand which will magically bring alternative fuels online in such quantity to satisfy our needs without disruption of our economy. As China and India continue to gulp more oil Americans are expected to sip less and still compete. The magic renewable energy, sufficient for our needs, is somewhere on the distant horizon.

While keeping our valuable and much needed fossil fuels in the ground, we continue to see our importation of oil increase. Sending billions to Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East for a product we have readily available right here makes sense to Obama.

We can address the use of oil as a currency by speculators and dampen that effect. Combine that with increasing supplies to the benefit of every American. Unfortunately, we have no leadership in the White House. Obama is just a typical politician pandering to foreign oil interests, commodity exchanges, and special interest groups.

Posted by Royal Flush at March 3, 2011 3:15 PM
Comments
Comment #319506

Exploiting domestic oil is only a band-aid solution that only solves one of our two energy problems. Obama & Carney are right to say that the best solution is to implement alternate energy sources. Renewable energy is abundant; we just need to build the infrastructure to utilize it cheaply. The government already subsidizes a great deal of fossil fuel use, and I can’t stomach any more.

The USA’s remaining oil reserves are not like the resources we exploited in the past. These sources of oil are extremely difficult to extract and will not be obtained cheaply. There is no sound reason to waste them today for such trivial purposes. What we really need is a tax on greenhouse gas emissions in order to discourage using these fuels and put renewable sources on a level playing field.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 3, 2011 4:44 PM
Comment #319508

WR writes; “There is no sound reason to waste (oil reserves) them today for such trivial purposes.”

When is there a sound reason to waste? Trivial is perceived in the pen of the writer I guess.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 3, 2011 5:05 PM
Comment #319509

Even after we convert to a fully renewable economy, there will probably still be a few sectors that will require fossil fuels (the military is the most prominent example). We need to save our valuable domestic supply of oil in case we have a much more important use for them later. Also, keep in mind that oil is a useful lubricant without any equivalent replacement. It is foolish to think increasing exploitation of domestic oil resources is worth its irreparable long term impacts. Especially in light of the fact that renewable sources are plentiful and for the most part obtainable with current technologies.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 3, 2011 5:13 PM
Comment #319510

WW, I have heard you say the exact same things before and I have also noticed you are barely out of your teenage years; therefore I say, you don’t have any idea what you are talking about. When you have lived a few years, worked at a career for a lifetime, and paid hundreds of thosands of you hard earned tax dollars to politicians who think it is their money, then you can talk. You make statements about oil reserves, of which you know nothing. The only thing you know, is what has been pumped into your head by liberal professors and liberal writers. We have oil, we have natural gas, and we have coal; and obama and liberal democrats have done ALL within their power to SHUT DOWN all production and use of these fossle fuels. How long has it been since we built a nuclear power plant? How much electric comes from nuclear power in Europe? How much in the US?

I will tell you what I can’t stomach; I can’t stomach liberal politicians and tree huggers and panzies from the left who want to destroy America. Let me tell you something little man, Obama’s goal is to fundamentally change America and if we keep going in the direction we are going, that is exactly what is going to happen. But Americans won’t like what they become.

Posted by: 1776 at March 3, 2011 5:22 PM
Comment #319511

It is always easy to spot a liberal with a head full of mush by the words they use. Oil is being “exploited” while using food for fuel is wise.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 3, 2011 5:33 PM
Comment #319515

And I’ll tell you what I can’t stomach……an old fool with a big mouth attacking our future because he’s too narrow-minded to consider the wisdom he has just read.
Goes for you, too, flushed.

Posted by: jane doe at March 3, 2011 6:16 PM
Comment #319516

Many thanks to my friend Jane for her valuable and reasoned comments.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 3, 2011 6:18 PM
Comment #319518

1776,

When you have lived a few years, worked at a career for a lifetime, and paid hundreds of thosands of you hard earned tax dollars to politicians who think it is their money, then you can talk.

I’m going to be spending my entire lifetime working to pay off YOUR debt and you have the audacity to tell me that I am out of place? I got my first summer job back in 2005 and have been working and paying taxes ever since then, so I think my ideas have a great deal of validity here. You have no idea of what writers I read or how I base my political philosophy. You also have no idea what goes on at my school; don’t disparage it unless you have a specific complaint. Don’t rely on the silly stereotype of a university manufacturing leftists. Personally, I think my school is a much more diverse place politically than the suburb of Boston that I grew up in, which was even more liberal than the rest of Massachusetts.

But I’m going to return to the topic at hand, which is energy. Firstly, I’ll repeat that I support encouraging greater use of electricity produced from nuclear fission. Right now, it is next to impossible to construct a new fission power plant because private industry isn’t willing to pay the costs of insurance in case of a meltdown. Likely, the government will have to step in and subsidize nuclear power like the Europeans and Asians do. Fossil fuels already receive so many subsidies that it’ll be nearly impossible to eliminate them all, so subsidizing nuclear power may be a viable alternative.

Regarding your final remark, I think it’s worth mentioning that Conservative policies have been in destroying this country for the last few decades. We are extremely lucky that East Asia is willing to buy are debt cheaply; otherwise our debt situation would be far worse. In any case, fundamental change is exactly what America needs if we want to continue our prosperity throughout the rest of the century. For too long, our politicians have feasted on taxpayer dollars, but the notion that we can simply spend money like the conservatives have and expect anything other than calamity is simply false. The United States desperately needs to cut spending on entitlements and defense; it also needs to raise taxes in order to pay off its debt as well as invest in the infrastructure of a 21st century economy. No nation relying on fossil fuels for its economy will be prosperous in 2100. No global economy can thrive in 2100 or the 22nd century if we don’t solve the issue of Anthropogenic Global Warming in the next decade.

RF,
Never have I ever written that it would be wise to exploit corn ethanol as a fuel; I’m not a politician pandering for votes at next year’s Iowa caucus. If you remove the special interests of the agriculture lobby (and Iowa’s role as the first state to hold a presidential caucus) then there would never have been any support for such a fuel. Cellulose based ethanol could be viable, but I’d be unwilling to subsidize it. We currently don’t have the technology to cheaply convert cellulose into fuel, but a number of innovators are currently working on that problem. If they find a good solution, the free market will reward them handsomely.

Jane,
I think you’d garner more support for your comments if you didn’t malign Royal Flush for the name he chooses to use here.

I have a class from 6:50 to 9:40, so I probably won’t respond to any rebuttals in a timely manner.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 3, 2011 6:21 PM
Comment #319521

New technologies have made is possible for us to access clean natural gas right here in the U.S. Gas is significantly cleaner than coal or oil and it burns with much lower CO2 emission. This is a game changing development.

Gas is a natural partner for wind. Wind is becoming viable, but it is very unreliable. Gas fired plants can be switched on and off with relative easy, so they can complement the capricious winds.

With the help of natural gas, wind and more nuclear energy, we will be able to both reduce CO2 emissions and supply more of our own energy.

I don’t understand why more people are not more excited about this development. It is almost as if some don’t want to find solutions.

Posted by: C&J at March 3, 2011 6:26 PM
Comment #319525

I’m not getting too excited about natural gas until we have a carbon tax or other framework to make sure the natural gas industry isn’t offloading the external costs of CO2 emissions. We also need to rebuild our infrastructure if we want to deliver electricity from regions with good capacity for wind power to the nation’s population centers.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 3, 2011 6:41 PM
Comment #319530

Imagine the efficiency and productivity of solar power today if the oil barons and their political puppets hadn’t laughed at the concept during the 70s and done everything in their power to prevent any real innovation or development of solar cell technology for the past four decades.

Want a realistic, apples-to-apples comparison?

Think of where cellular telephone technology was in the late 1970s in contrast to where it is now. Size, range, battery life, efficiency, practical application — all thousands of percent better now than it was then.

The argument that “solar power doesn’t work” is only true because the oil-energy purveyors and their Washington protectorate have done everything in their power (pardon the pun) to ensure that, in 2011, we’re still looking at technology that began being obsolete four decades ago.

Nobody can give a viable explanation other than “it’s inefficient” for why states like Arizona, California and New Mexico aren’t operating on a *much* higher degree of solar energy.

If someone had figured out in 1977 how to make the solar energy profit margin equitable with refined oil, we’d likely all own personal solar power sources about the size of a sugar cube that could power the city of Chicago for a month.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 3, 2011 6:54 PM
Comment #319533

WR writes; “We are extremely lucky that East Asia is willing to buy are debt cheaply; otherwise our debt situation would be far worse.”

I wouldn’t call that lucky, but rather, a curse. Our debt situation would be much better if we could not have run it up because no one would finance it.

The government credit card is maxed out and it shouldn’t be long before asking for an increase in the credit limit will come with much higher interest rates.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 3, 2011 7:23 PM
Comment #319534

Warped

Gas produces much less pollution and much less CO2 than most other carbon fuels. We are seeing new gas plants being built to replace coal. American CO2 emissions are dropping. It is cause to celebrate. AND the gas comes from America. AND there is plenty of gas in other friendly places. That gas cartel that Putin talked about a couple years ago is done for good. Sorry Vlad.

Gary

The Germans poured money into solar. So did the Spanish. Is only American government money worth anything? Solar will be useful in the future, but its not there yet.

The reason we use lots of oil and gas is that they are cheaper than alternatives or easier to use. The future is unpredictable, especially by governments. Government money can lock us into technologies that end up dead ends, cf corn ethanol.

There will never be a solution to the energy problem. We use the mix we do today because it is cheap and easier compared to other sources.

Indeed IF someone had figured out in 1977 how to make efficient solar, we would be in a different place. It is the IF that counts.

It is also important to consider the deployment of tech. IF we had developed and deployed something in 1977, we would have a big investment in what would today be obsolete technology.

You complain about profit. Profit is the price of survival. Even if you can find people who work for nothing, they cannot afford to continue unless somebody makes a profit. What the anti-profit folks are really asking is that someone coerce money from someone who makes a profit to pay for those who lose money.

Even a state as powerful as the Soviet Union cannot long endure if it costs them more to do things than they get out of transactions.

Whether you tally up in money terms or not, everything living has to “make a profit”. Even animals need a rudimentary profit-loss calculation. The wolf doesn’t spend a whole day running down a rabbit because instinct tells him he burns more calories than he gets from eating the rabbit. Profit-loss.

Posted by: C&J at March 3, 2011 7:25 PM
Comment #319535

1776,

You don’t have to be middle aged to understand Warped’s point: Oil resources are finite; alternative energy sources need to be prioritized. That is not an illegitimate argument.

Contrary to your belief, the Obama administration has pushed for new nuclear plants. In the stimulus program over 8 billion was budgeted for loan guarantees for the nuclear power industry. In the Obama budget proposal for 2012 that has increased to over 36 billion.

It is also not true that the Obama administration has been hostile to fossil fuel development or its use in meeting our energy needs. In fact, Obama has proposed that only through a mix of energy sources, including coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, wind, hydroelectric and solar, can we meet our needs for the future. The following link summarizes his eclectic approach to energy. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41280794/ns/us_news-environment/

A brief update on the deep water drilling ban. It, of course, has expired. The first permit for deep water drilling since the lifting of the ban was just announced the other day with more to follow. The basic issue was the ability of applicants to demonstrate they had the ability to cap a blowout. It was not a petty obstructionistic requirement after the BP fiasco. It took some time for the industry to develop adequate technology. They responded. Good, now lets get on with drilling.

Posted by: Rich at March 3, 2011 7:47 PM
Comment #319536

Royal Flush,
No responsible government invests in commodoties or uses them as “currency replacement.” When it comes to money, governments deal in very large amounts. They already have enough, so growth is not a consideration. Their goal is to preserve capital and make interest without taking risk. No government is going to put its money into commodoties for investment purposes or “currency replacement,” since they manufacture the currency in the first place, and can move funds to a different currency if necessary. However, governments will put money into commodoties such as oil, and hedge those investments against risk, as a matter of national security.

When an investor or, say, a producer of a commodity, seeks to hedge against risk, they must find someone willing to take the other side of the transaction, and take on that risk. This is where speculators enter the picture. Markets do not function without some degree of speculation.

If you are relying upon the blogger with that Forbes article, I would highly encourage you to disregard that person’s advice. Those people have been wrong for so long it’s hard to keep track. They tend to have an apocalyptic view of financial markets and a distrust of government that crosses the line into paranoia.

Some see gold as a commodotity which could serve as a replacement currency; however, gold is a non-performing asset with limited industrial application. Gold’s day came and went a long time ago.

As Peak Oil and worldwide growth drives prices for oil higher, the markets will function normally and drive energy investments towards cheaper forms. Technological innovation and ecological sustainability will inevitably make alternative energies, whether natural gas or solar, an effective replacement.

We can wait for the markets to force the change, or we can use the tool of the government to make the change faster and with less disrpution.

We are faced with very powerful opposition to making this change. During the Bush administration, Exxon recorded quarters and a year as the most profitable corporation in the history of the world. Big Oil does not want to see change happen.

Posted by: phx8 at March 3, 2011 7:54 PM
Comment #319537

1776,
Using the technology of today Americans can produce more electricity than all the oil on the market and in the ground for free. So please don’t tell this Child of the 70’s that we have to drill for oil considering in the 1970’s it was proven America does not have the oil reserves to power the nation.

Now why Natural Gas is the favorite of Oil Barons like Mr. T. Boone Pickens. It seems that profits over free is driving that argument. For why I can see where he thinks Electric Semi Tractor and Trailers won’t work; however, I do believe that why grandma said we can’t have cars that fly. Nevertheless, having the technology to build a Zero Weight 100% Traction Elected Vehicles powered by man-made wind I do believe it is a matter of the Youth teaching the Old Folks a few new tricks.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 3, 2011 7:56 PM
Comment #319538

phx8

Peak oil is a meaningless term unless connected to a price. We reached and passed peak oil at $5 a barrel many years ago. We still have not reached peak oil at $500 a barrel.

Epistemologically there is some point where half of all oil is used up. But nobody knows where that is, since oil can be taken from many sources not used until the price goes up.

By the time we reach “true” peak oil, we will long have moved to a less expensive fuel.

Posted by: C&J at March 3, 2011 8:03 PM
Comment #319539

Henry…can you provide a source for studying “Zero Weight 100% Traction Elected Vehicles powered by man-made wind.” Thanks.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 3, 2011 8:04 PM
Comment #319540


Jimmy Carter was a narrow minded liberal bent on destroying America.

Ronald Reagan was the wisest man that ever lived. His wisdom exceeded that of Solomon’s and may have even surpassed God’s.

One side is trying to move America into the future while one side is so greedy they won’t budge.

No one has less concern for America’s future than the one screaming drill baby drill. They care only for the hear and now and their own comfort. They are determined to use up every drop of oil in their lifetime come hell or high water and they could care less about their great grandchildren.

What happened to those 200 nuclear power plants that Republicans were championing in 2007-08? How much have the taxpayers forked over for that industry? Not as much has they have forked over for the oil and gas industry.

Just the other day, the Administration issued a permit for a deep water well, owned primarily by BP. In the long run, the Obama administration will be considered nearly as friendly to outlaw corporations and felons as Republican presidents.

The thing about oil, gas and nuclear is that very few people can afford to do it on their own and therefor are forced into dependency on corporations. It is that dependency that must be preserved.

Posted by: jlw at March 3, 2011 8:06 PM
Comment #319541


By the way, nothing is going to stop the rise in gas prices, not drill baby drill, not nuclear, not alternative, nothing.

Posted by: jlw at March 3, 2011 8:10 PM
Comment #319542

jlw

I tend to agree with you about gas prices, but I do have the caution of remembering the 1970s, when gas was expected to keep rising. I remember too that in the middle of the 1990s, gas prices reached an all-time-low in real dollars.

We probably cannot find enough oil to keep the prices low, but we also need to account for substitute products. Natural gas, for example, may replace oil in some uses. As you know, substitute products weigh heavily on the demand and so the price of anything.

It is the same way the price of pork or chicken affects the price of beef. Even if we reach “peak beef” if the supply of chicken & pork increase, the price of beef may not rise.

Of course, a more diversified energy source would be a good thing. Higher prices of oil will lead to more diversification, which will lead to lower prices for oil. Markets adapt to changes very well.

Posted by: C&J at March 3, 2011 8:31 PM
Comment #319543

C&J,

Your points are well taken about the economics of energy. We use fossil fuels because they are more abundant and cheaper than present day alternatives.

However, we know that the principal fossil fuel, oil, is finite and that we are decidedly dependent upon foreign sources for it. It is therefore in our interests to promote public policy that reduces our dependence.

You criticize government efforts at seeking clean alternative sources, e.g., ethanol from corn, Carter’s liquefied coal, etc., as failures. That may be true. However, they moved us forward in the development of the knowledge base of alternative energy. Failures are important. Scaling up promising programs doesn’t always work out. Government funding is essential for development of alternative energy sources. As you point out, the economics favors fossil fuels today. The private sector is not going to devote the R&D resources necessary if there is not a clear economic gain.

We should be approaching this from the perspective of the Kennedy space program. The NASA space program produced one spectacular failure after another (rockets exploding on the launch pad}. But with generous public funding, the effort continued, culminating in the US winning the race to the moon. Much of our present day technology is owed to that government endeavor. It may not turn as successful as the space program, but it is a darn good model to emulate.


Posted by: Rich at March 3, 2011 8:32 PM
Comment #319545

C&J,
As we are all aware, there are hidden costs to using oil which are often not considered. A lot is spent on the military to ensure American access to oil. Burning fossil fuels has poured a large amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and the costs of that threaten to dwarf any war for oil.

Posted by: phx8 at March 3, 2011 9:27 PM
Comment #319546

WR, thanks for trying to convince me that a university in Mass can teach anything other than liberal mush.

Don’t talk to me about my debt. It is the spending policies of socialist liberals from the days of FDR until the present time that has put us in debt. I have never seen a tax or a liberal free government program a democrat didn’t like.

So you are in favor of nuclear power, but your party is not. You accuse the power companies of not wanting to pay for the insurance. Perhaps you should be honest and admit that liberal politicians and organizations have blocked approval of nuclear plants ever since 1979. That is 11 years before you were born. You are also against ethanol fuel, but you party is not.

“If they find a good solution, the free market will reward them handsomely.”

This is a great statement; the problem is liberal socialist politicians and their organizations block every attempt to find solutions. Even liberals like that useless, murdering, piece of crap Teddy Kennedy would not allow wind turbines to built in his back yard. With liberals it is always, “do what I say, not what I do”.

“I don’t understand why more people are not more excited about this development. It is almost as if some don’t want to find solutions.”
Posted by: C&J at March 3, 2011 06:26 PM

Bingo C&J, finally someone understands. The goal is to break America. Have the liberal democrats ever done anything to better the country; have they ever created a government run program that has not enslaved Americans?

We are facing huge problems at home and abroad, and what do the democrats want to do; spend more tax dollars.

“I’m not getting too excited about natural gas until we have a carbon tax or other framework to make sure the natural gas industry isn’t offloading the external costs of CO2 emissions. We also need to rebuild our infrastructure if we want to deliver electricity from regions with good capacity for wind power to the nation’s population centers.”
Posted by: Warped Reality at March 3, 2011 06:41 PM

Sure, why not, let’s pass cap and trade, built upon a fraud GW scenario. Is it possible for you liberals to ever think of anything except taxing? Who do you think will be paying these taxes, Oh that would be the American people?

Rich said,
“You don’t have to be middle aged to understand Warped’s point: Oil resources are finite; alternative energy sources need to be prioritized. That is not an illegitimate argument.”

I understand Warped’s point, I just disagree with it. He has no idea what he is talking about. And he tries to tell us he received a balanced education in one of the most liberal states in the country. He has a one sided education and with age he will either become a Michael Moore or he will come to his senses.

Yes, Obama budgeted 8 billion for nuclear power in 2009, and perhaps he wants another 36 billion in the 2012 budget. Would you care to tell me how many nuke plant permits have been granted and how many have been started since he was elected?

Re- coal; if you would google Obama’s statements on the use of coal, perhaps you could explain to us conservatives on WB, which is the real Obama? He said he was going to cause energy costs to skyrocket. He said if we can put a man on the moon, we can develop clean coal. Then he said this:

“”I was the first to call for a 100 percent auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter,” Obama continued. “That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Please rich, explain this, it you can?

Re- the drilling ban; now that we are in deep crap over the cost of energy, Obama allows a permit to be issued to whom? Oh yes, to BP allowing them to drill a well. Funny how he is now concerned about drilling for oil, especially when the price of fuel is going up every day. After a Federal judge said Obama could not shut down the drilling, but who cares, the laws are for everyone else, not King Obama.


“And I’ll tell you what I can’t stomach……an old fool with a big mouth attacking our future because he’s too narrow-minded to consider the wisdom he has just read.
Goes for you, too, flushed.”
Posted by: jane doe at March 3, 2011 06:16 PM

Perhaps Jane Doe could explain to us why she is on WB. I have NEVER seen an intelligent statement out of her. Is her purpose simply to flame bait and troll?

Posted by: 1776 at March 3, 2011 9:40 PM
Comment #319547

Rich

I think government should fund and encourage research, but should not try to pick winners or manage the process of innovation. Successful government programs provide the structure and basis but don’t manage results. Internet was like that, as were the NASA spin offs.

Government has an indispensable role, but should not step out of that role. We see what happens with things like ethanol or synfuels when we get over reach.

Fossil fuels are finite (how about the alliteration) but they are not really finite in the short term. We don’t need to worry very much about this aspect. As the resource gets rarer, the price goes up. We will not be using it at low prices until one day it is gone.

The best stimulus is price. We can do lots of things at the right price. Our government dilemma is that we demand low cost fuel while we are demanding the end of the low cost fuel.

j2t2

I favor a carbon tax. A clean, revenue neutral carbon tax, w/o special breaks for the more worthy or the poor. We are unlikely to get that, but alternatives and natural gas are coming on line.

Posted by: C&J at March 3, 2011 9:45 PM
Comment #319550

Perhaps C&J could explain to us where where these tax dollars, raised by carbon tax, will go. Do you honestly expect the Federal Government to use these tax dollars wisely? Can anyone say SS tax? And do you honestly expect the Federal Governemnt to not give special breaks for the more worthy or the poor? It is called re-distribution of wealth, and now we have the real goal. If so, I have some swamp land you will just love. Let me put it this way; bodily pick up a politician and throw him as far as you can. That is exactly how far you can trust him to keep his word. Either party…

Posted by: 1776 at March 3, 2011 10:16 PM
Comment #319551

“Successful government programs provide the structure and basis but don’t manage results. Internet was like that, as were the NASA spin offs.”

Of course it does. The spin offs were just that, spin offs. The principal objective of NASA in the early 60s was getting to the moon. It succeeded in that objective and along the way created a massive amount of technology that found application in our economy. The same for the internet. Government is not always incapable of achieving difficult technological tasks. You might want to also throw in the atom bomb as another example.

Posted by: Rich at March 3, 2011 10:27 PM
Comment #319554

1776

I really don’t expect it to happen at all. If it did happen, I would want it to be revenue neutral, i.e. used to cut other taxes.

IMO - a carbon tax is mostly theoretical.

Rich

Getting to the moon or building the bomb are very clear tasks. They may be complicated in execution, but everybody knows where we want to be.

Energy policy is not like that. Sure we all want clean and cheap power, but that is as far as the agreement goes. NASA didn’t have a dozen moons, each with its own lobbyists trying to get more attention.

I might also add that after NASA got us to the moon and its mission was less clear, it did less well.

Government MUST follow rules and regulations. Individual government employees can innovate ONLY within the task they are assigned. They cannot decide they don’t think the policy is working and change it. That would be usurping the power of elected leaders. Government also can stay committed to something long after it makes sense.

So if you can tell us exactly what fuel you want to develop, where you want to use it and who will get it, I bet the government could do that, although probably over budget. But dealing with unknowns is what government doesn’t do well.

Consider the big tech breakthrough for natural gas. Ten years ago, this was impossible. It could not have appeared in any government plans. Government experts predicted we would run out of natural gas soon. Jimmy Carter even put it off limits for power plants, which is how we got so much more coal.

re the spin offs - as you say, they were not planned by the government. BUT the government could allow them. In the case of energy, government activity would tend to chock off other options. Once again, look to ethanol.

re spin offs (2) - as much as I love space the final frontier, if you look at the results of NASA, the spin offs were the true value. Getting to the moon itself yielded some nice pictures and a few rocks. If the Soviets got there first, they would have those rocks and pictures but not much else would be different.

Re spin offs (3) - the biggest source of spin offs was/is the military. That is why we got the Internet, the Interstates and why we even got NASA. The military is also good at what it does, i.e. fight wars, but gets in trouble when it encounters mission creep.

Government sometimes can solve problems. Unfortunately, our energy mix is not a problem that can be solved. It is a series of choices about which options are best. And these choices must be made in conditions of uncertainty. This is not government’s strength.

One more consideration. President Obama is pushing high speed rail. This is popular, but a technology mostly not applicable to the U.S. We will look back on this like ethanol or maybe President Bush’s hydrogen economy.

Posted by: C&J at March 3, 2011 10:55 PM
Comment #319556

Royal Flush,
Yes considering I am the source. For with hovercraft technology we can lift tons off the ground, and as children we learned that drivinf down the road at 30-40 mph will cause a pinwheel to spin like mad. So hook a generator to the pinwheel and provide enough downforce to lift the vehicle to zero weight and the tires on moveable axles to provide traction and you have a zero weight 100% Traction Electric Vehile powered by man-made wind.

And if you want me to build one than just hand me all the toys in the world. Otherwise you’ll just have to wait for some Detroit Bad Boy to build you one. For why revolutionary in design, safety by the ability to break traction on impact will make it sellable even tp the insurance companies.

So why you don’t have to agree with me, ask those who study such subjects. For why I am still looking for someone to explain to me how much force is made by takening the air coming into a four foot grill and pushing it through a two inch hole. I am still looking for someone willing to put their hand in the two inch hole and tell me there is not enough power to do what I say can be done. Thus, do you want to try?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 3, 2011 10:58 PM
Comment #319564

RF,

WR writes; “We are extremely lucky that East Asia is willing to buy are debt cheaply; otherwise our debt situation would be far worse.”

I wouldn’t call that lucky, but rather, a curse. Our debt situation would be much better if we could not have run it up because no one would finance it.

The government credit card is maxed out and it shouldn’t be long before asking for an increase in the credit limit will come with much higher interest rates.

Fair enough. I hadn’t considered that high interest rates might’ve provided the impetus to cut spending long before it got out of hand.

C+J,

Gas produces much less pollution and much less CO2 than most other carbon fuels. We are seeing new gas plants being built to replace coal. American CO2 emissions are dropping. It is cause to celebrate. AND the gas comes from America. AND there is plenty of gas in other friendly places. That gas cartel that Putin talked about a couple years ago is done for good. Sorry Vlad.

I understand all of that. Under a carbon tax regime, natural gas should do very well until someone invents a new technology that displaces it. I just don’t think natural gas should retain the benefits of externalizing the costs of its CO2 emissions. It needs to compete on a fair playing field with other energy sources.

1776,

thanks for trying to convince me that a university in Mass can teach anything other than liberal mush.
You didn’t read what I wrote, did you? I go to school in New York, not Massachusetts. I grew up in Massachusetts in a community that was liberal even by Massachusetts standards. I did not receive a balanced education there. You should see some of the really naive things I wrote on Watchblog 5 years ago. Nowadays, I attend Stony Brook University on Long Island. Before I started attending college, I had little/no contact with Republicans or Libertarians. Now, I have several friends with those sort of political views. My roommate is a social conservative and one of friends has dragged me to a dozen meetings of our local chapter of “Young American’s for Liberty” (Ron Paul’s organization for college students). Another friend constantly pesters me with literature from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. My professor for my introductory economics course was a Republican (he was also the grandson of Calvin Coolidge’s VP); in fact he spent half of his course trying to justify the policies of his grandfather and Coolidge even though they contributed to the Great Depression.

Don’t talk to me about my debt.
Wow! That sounds just like my friends who rack up thousands of dollars of debt on their credit cards.
It is the spending policies of socialist liberals from the days of FDR until the present time that has put us in debt.
Wrong! Debt as a percent of GDP dropped from120% to 30% from 1946 to 1980. Then came conservatives and the Reagan revolution. Conservatives increased government spending and reduced revenues, making the debt situation worse. Except for a brief respite during Clinton’s Presidency, we have seen no improvement in the debt situation in spite of 30 years of conservative dominance in our government,
I have never seen a tax or a liberal free government program a democrat didn’t like.
I’m not a Democrat, but I still must say you are blind. Democrats have argued against spending on government military programs, subsidies for the agriculture and resource extraction industries. Democrats generally oppose propositions to impose a national sales tax as advocated by supporters of the so-called “fair-tax”.
built upon a fraud GW scenario.
What’s the fraud?

Is it the documented increase in temperatures during the past century during the era when daily records were kept?

Is it the documented increase in temperatures during the past few centuries documented in numerous proxies such as tree rings, coral reef growths, glacial ice cores, ocean sediments and lake deposits?

Is it the proxy climate record dating back hundreds of thousands of years which shows the huge variability of the Earth’s climate?
Is it the radiative and absorptive properties of CO2?

Is it the documented increase in CO2 levels over the past half century?

Is it the documented process of humankind’s industrial production, which is known to release CO2 into the atmosphere?

Is it the fact that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 represent a significant disturbance to the Earth’s carbon cycle?

Is it the fact that our entire economy is built upon certain climatic assumptions? Any disruption of these assumptions would be severely detrimental to economic output to the tune of 20% of global GDP. The costs of mitigating CO2 are thought to cost about 1%-2% of global GDP.

perhaps you could explain to us conservatives on WB, which is the real Obama?
Presumably, clean coal won’t have any CO2 emisions so the operator of a clean coal power plant wouldn’t have to worry about securing CO2 permits or paying a carbon tax, so clean coal prices would remain low while conventional coal prices would skyrocket to represent their true unsubsidized price. Posted by: Warped Reality at March 4, 2011 12:03 AM
Comment #319565

How long has this “fraud” been occurring?

Did it start with Svante Arrhenius?

Or was it John Tyndall?

Oh, I know, Joesph Fourier started the conspiracy. It always has to be a Frenchman’s fault, doesn’t it?

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 4, 2011 12:09 AM
Comment #319568


The Romans thought they were the greatest people on earth and that their empire was destined to rule the world forever.

The Romans spread their military far and wide, leaving their borders unprotected.

Their government became so corrupt that bribery was it’s primary interest.

Posted by: jlw at March 4, 2011 1:22 AM
Comment #319569


C&J, In 1975, one hour of work at the minimum wage would buy approximately 5 gallons of gas.

In 1995, one hour of work at the minimum wage would buy approximately 3.5 gallons of gas.

Today, one hour of work at the minimum will buy 2 gallons of gas with 25 cents left over.

How much would the minimum wage per hour have to be today to buy 5 gallons of gas?

Posted by: jlw at March 4, 2011 2:13 AM
Comment #319575

jlw

Please stay away from the generalizations about Romans history, which spanned nearly 2000 years. There is a lot you can say about it that it true, but little you can say that was always true.

The Empire consolidated its hold on the Mediterranean in 146 BC. They were indeed pretty arrogant, but that should be no surprise since they continued to dominate what for them was the world for another 600 years and the empire in the east hung on for 1000 years after that.

If you want to make the old and tired comparison with the U.S., our rise to domination is around 1945. If only we were like the Romans, that would give us until around 2545.

Whatever it is they did, worked for them.

re gas

I remember gas being around $1 in the 1990s. I looked it up. Nationwide gas was $.86 in 1995. Minimum wage was $4.25.

But the minimum wage is not a good marker, since most people do not make the minimum wage and other wages went up much more. As the leftists always tell us, minimum wage didn’t rise as fast as inflation.

Inflation adjusted gas prices in 1995 were lower than they were in 1975.

You see the adjustment from $.36 in 1975 to $.88 in 1995

http://www.westegg.com/inflation/infl.cgi

What cost $.36 in 1975 would cost $1.02 in 1995. Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 1995 and 1975,
they would cost you $.36 and $0.12 respectively.

BTW a gallon of gas in 1980 was $1.25. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $2.30 in 1995 and about 3.30 today, which, oddly enough, is about what it cost last time I filled my tank.

Adjust all three prices into 2009 dollars and you get gas prices

1980 - $3.21
1995 - $1.22
2011 (Jan) 2.67


The bottom line, however, is that gas prices do not always go up. You can see the inflation adjusted price of gas at this link - http://www.inflationdata.com/inflation/images/charts/Oil/Gasoline_inflation_chart.htm

Posted by: C&J at March 4, 2011 8:20 AM
Comment #319576

“Getting to the moon or building the bomb are very clear tasks. They may be complicated in execution, but everybody knows where we want to be.”

C&J,

They may have been clear objectives, but the means of achieving those objectives were not so clear at the time. It was not the case that government simply funded known means to achieve simple objectives. The Manhattan project was untested nuclear engineering and theoretical physics. The shock of Sputnik was the realization of a technological and scientific gap. After Sputnik, the US government invested significantly in basic science and engineering to develop the knowledge base necessary for space exploration and technological advancement. The internet owes its development to just such basic funding. We not only got to the moon, but we dramatically improved our nation’s scientific and technological capabilities.

Today, we are similarly challenged by dependence on oil. You are correct that clear solutions are not readily apparent. However, that doesn’t mean that there is no role for government. In fact, it argues for the government to take a lead role in funding the basic R&D needed to support the development of alternative energy sources. It is a national priority. Waiting for the cost of oil to push private sector alternatives is foolish. The cost increases are inevitable and we will have allowed the destruction of our economy in the interim.

What we lack today, is the political will to attack the problem on a long term basis. The fits and starts of US energy policy (synfuels, ethanol, off shore drilling controversies, etc.) reflect a crisis approach to energy policy. Oops, another oil spike, what untested, off the shelf, solution can we throw at the problem. What we need is a national goal of energy independence supported by sufficient R&D funding from the government. We need to get out in front of the technological and scientific challenges. If a country like Portugal can make such a commitment and demonstrate dramatic results toward energy independence in a few short years, so can the US.

Posted by: Rich at March 4, 2011 8:21 AM
Comment #319579

Not one person mentioned Hemp as an opportunity for an alternate energy source. Hemp can replace gasoline and many products made from oil like plastics, paints, epoxy and resines. Hemp is not Marijuana for those who don’t know about Hemp. Illegal in 1 country in the world, the US. Why you ask… because it challenges the petrol world and shows oil really isn’t worth crap. If Oil isn’t worth anything, then everything the US has done in the last 100 years was for nothing.

Oil is not a renewable resource, though Hemp is. Hemp also out produces Corn 4 to 1 in a season of growth. So with all this talk about Corn and Sugar Cane and Soy being used is bollocks.

Read your history people. Back in the day you could pay your taxes in Hemp crop. It has only been illegal since the early 1950’s to grow Hemp. In the 1940’s the US Military and Government begged farmers to change out their crops to Hemp. Then just a couple years after they banned it. Perhaps they knew they could make almost anything from the fiber and seed.

Posted by: The Yankee at March 4, 2011 8:45 AM
Comment #319589

My opinion is that looking for more oil is a waste of time. Even if we developed every resource we have, we’d still fall short of what we would need to become a net exporter of oil.

The Republican solution, as usual, benefits a special interest, without actually solving the problem. The problem is that our reliance on fossil fuels makes our economy highly vulnerable to oil price shocks. Worse yet, deregulation in the financial sector has allowed Wall Street to further compound those shocks with runaway speculation. Energy traders will look to find any excuse to inflate oil prices.

This system, I’ve concluded, does not safeguard our national interests, but hobbles them instead. The less gas we need, the less coal we must burn, the better off we are.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2011 12:19 PM
Comment #319592

Warped Reality writes; “I just don’t think natural gas should retain the benefits of externalizing the costs of its CO2 emissions. It needs to compete on a fair playing field with other energy sources.”

The big push for renewable energy sources for some is not so much to provide more energy at lower cost, but rather, to search for energy sources that don’t produce as much, or any, CO2.

They have defined the goal of our energy policy to be one of environmental concern rather than need and cost. To get to point B (renewable energy) one must swallow point A (we must reduce man-induced CO2 levels).

Far from being the settled science some would have us believe…unproven theories, flawed computer models, faked reports and studies and more are the justification for imposing more taxation to fund the solution to an unproven problem.

Then, the icing on the cake is added by claiming we will soon exhaust our world fossil fuel supplies. Never mind that some conservative estimates indicate a 100 to 200 year supply remains in provable resources alone.

By using this strategy, big government, big taxation proponents leverage their policies to achieve their goals. Some of the loudest voices for this scheme have been proven to be mere charlatans. ALGORE comes immediately to mind.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 4, 2011 12:54 PM
Comment #319599

Royal Flush,
What proof would be needed to make you believe that man made carbon is destorying our air? For if I put you in an inclosed building with X amount of trees and plants than start adding more carbon than the tres and plants can use. How long before you demand that I let you out?

And why one can believe we have enough fossil fuel to last 100 to 200 years (actually natural gas). How long before we reach peak production? For just as we have past the point of Peak Oil Supply a few years ago. Total resources don’t mean nothing when we could only be talking about 10-20 years lifetime for each well.

Now what makes better sense IMHO is that we take our organic trash and collect the natural gas through compost. For than we save on landfill space as well as produce warm moist air and nutrients for the soil at the same time. Additionally, we have what is left to burn in our steel mills.

And considering CO2 can be reduced, biomass material produced, and matural gas can be made endlessly why would we want to invest our limited resources into fossil fuel?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 4, 2011 2:43 PM
Comment #319604


C&J, I was just point out a few similarities, not predicting imminent collapse. Yes, the Roman empire lasted a long time, longer than those that followed.

The charts that I referred to gave a price of between $0.36 and $0.48 for 1975 ($0.42), $116.2 for 1995, and I used the local current price which was $3.499 yesterday, but $3.559 today.

The prices vary between sources. The 1995 figures range from $0.88 to $1.47 depending on the source. You chose the low source, I chose the middle.

Some people can buy a lot more gas today with what they earn, some can’t.

If we are going to discuss the price as adjusted for inflation we have to keep in mind that it not an accurate way to access the situation. Below inflation gas prices do not take into account the inflation that can be created in other sectors from increases in the price of oil, and when the price goes down there is seldom a similar reduction in prices in other sectors of the economy.

Posted by: jlw at March 4, 2011 4:09 PM
Comment #319605

Henry writes; “Now what makes better sense IMHO is that we take our organic trash and collect the natural gas through compost. For than we save on landfill space as well as produce warm moist air and nutrients for the soil at the same time. Additionally, we have what is left to burn in our steel mills.”

Henry, has your research on this topic revealed how long it would take to replace fossil fuels?

Henry asks; “What proof would be needed to make you believe that man made carbon is destorying our air?”

Scientific proof would be fine Henry.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 4, 2011 4:13 PM
Comment #319607
The big push for renewable energy sources for some is not so much to provide more energy at lower cost, but rather, to search for energy sources that don’t produce as much, or any, CO2.

This is a false dichotomy. One of the biggest costs associated with burning fossil fuels is the emission of CO2. However, those costs are currently externalized and not reflected in prices. However, those costs will eventually be paid. Most of them will be borne by the taxpayer and others will target individual citizens.

Never mind that some conservative estimates indicate a 100 to 200 year supply remains in provable resources alone.

Just because fossil fuels will continue to exist for the next few centuries doesn’t mean they will be easily extractable. We have already depleted oil that costs $5/barrel to extract, right now most of our oil costs $30/barrel-$60/barrel. If we continue the conservative prescription, we will probably be spending $100+ on extraction costs along. Never mind all the other costs associated with fossil fuels (CO2 emissions, military spending to secure foreign oil resources, ecological and environmental risks posed by oil spills, massive disruptions caused by mountaintop removal coal mining, etc)

Scientific proof would be fine Henry.
Huh? Mountain after mountain of scientific proof has already been published showing the dangers of continued emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. In a previous comment I posed a few questions to 1776 about his allegation that global warming is nothing more than a fraud. Which one of those statements do you feel is not supported by scientific evidence? CO2’s absorptive and radiative properties? The historical climate record? The anthropogenic origins of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2? The feedback factors that will exacerbate the small perturbation created by increased CO2? The costs of a warmer climate on the global economy?

The Yankee,
I don’t think we can displace our current food crops in order to mass-produce hemp bio-diesel. Just look what happened when we converted corn into ethanol. Other nations have fewer barriers to industrial hemp production, yet in none of them has a successful hemp bio-diesel market developed. There might be reasons to legalize industrial hemp agriculture, but solving our energy problems isn’t one of them.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 4, 2011 4:42 PM
Comment #319608


Stephen, C. sativa is the only member of the cannabis family suitable for industrial hemp. During the war, the government developed a low THC content sativa that would tie up the ships without turning on the troops.

Other countries have done this as well.

You can manipulate the plant to get higher or lower THC content. The problem is that you can’t tell the difference by looking at the plants. You can hide a few hundred high potency sativa plants among an acre of sativa hemp plants. Their value is much greater the the whole hemp crop, creating an incentive for cheating.

Perhaps the government can demand an early harvest before the bud.

Another obstacle is the man made fiber industry and lobby.

Posted by: jlw at March 4, 2011 4:53 PM
Comment #319611


I also agree with W.R. on hemp diesel.

When the average American sets down to dinner this evening, his meal will have traveled an average of 1400 miles to get to his plate. IMO, this is one the primary reason food prices are always escalating.

Oil and gas to make fertilizer, to transport the fertilizer, to plant, weed, fertilize, water and harvest the crop, to transport the crop, to process the crop and to transport the processed crop.

Posted by: jlw at March 4, 2011 5:13 PM
Comment #319612

Warped writes; “Mountain after mountain of scientific proof has already been published showing the dangers of continued emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.”

Mountains of computer generated paper (with results only as reliable as the ethics of the human doing the imputing) and highly suspect, and sometimes fraudulent work, does not equal scientific proof. Some read only the research that supports their opinion and call it proof.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 4, 2011 5:14 PM
Comment #319616

Personally, I’ve had a few qualms with some particular computer models, but the benefits of computer modeling have certainly provided us with an incredible tool for examining anthropogenic global warming. Although computer models have provided a great deal of supplementary evidence of anthropogenic global warming, they are not entirely necessary. It’s pretty simple for us to determine CO2’s absorptive and radiative properties as well as measure incoming radiation from the sun. We also have the fortune to have access to proxy-based temperature records going back half a million years. We can clearly see how the Earth’s climate has responded to perturbations in the past; sometimes with extreme results. We also have measured the increase in atmospheric CO2 over the same time period. Today’s concentration of atmospheric CO2 is significantly higher than anytime in the last half million years. As you can see, we have plenty of evidence supporting anthropogenic global warming theory, even without the computer models.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 4, 2011 5:42 PM
Comment #319618

Warped…do you honestly believe your link to “You Tube” is evidence of anything that I would consider serious research?

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 4, 2011 5:51 PM
Comment #319620

That video was originally produced by NOAA. Someone added a soundtrack that I felt went well with the video. You can see the original http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2mZyCblxS4&feature=related on the official YouTube channel of NOAA’s Earth System Laboratory’s Global Monitoring Division’s Carbon Tracker.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 4, 2011 6:02 PM
Comment #319626

Broken Link WR

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 4, 2011 6:37 PM
Comment #319639

I personally don’t think that anyone can deny that global warming is real. The real question that we need to ask is if there’s really anything we can do about it. I’m not saying to pollute the air and water with wild abandon, because we obviously shouldn’t, but as is far too common, people have difficulty separating cause and effect.

The fact is, most of the data that’s used to support the theory that man-made CO2 is the primary driver of climate change is just not accurate. This data (from both IPCC and NOAA) is cherry picked and manipulated to make it look more menacing than it really is. The most common example of this is that the scientists will exclude from their data the greenhouse gas that makes the single largest contribution to global warming (95% of the effective greenhouse gas). This particular greenhouse gas is…. wait for it…. water vapor (humidity, clouds, etc.).

If you exclude water vapor from the pretty graphs, then CO2 is by far the largest contributor, but even then, the vast majority of CO2 is naturally occuring, not man made. Of course, if this were more widely known, then the research grants that scientists receive to fund their programs would dry up and governments wouldn’t have a potential source of revenue from carbon taxes… Hmmm….

I’ve researched this a lot over the last few years and found more credible sources to support this than I can list, but this is probably the best (and shortest) example (this also provides some interesting information). Yes, it’s written by a conservative on his blog, but read it with an open mind and check his sources and you will find it difficult to dispute.

This simple fact is, if humans ceased to exist tomorrow, the impact on the climate would be negligible, at best. Once again, I’m not saying that we should pollute with wild abandon, but let’s put the “crisis” into perspective. Climate change does exist, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Posted by: Kevin Nye at March 4, 2011 7:29 PM
Comment #319652

jlw

the inflation index overstates its effects.

The gas prices do vary, but the general point is that gas prices can go down.

re some people able to buy - there will be poor always, at least in a relative sense. If we wait for everybody to be prosperous, we will never move at all. Equality of results is not something I strive for or would ever even desire.

I like inequality, since it reflects differences in effort and merit. I know this is a little off topic, but I think the idea that we all should have the same stuff is implicit in the analysis you included about the minimum wage.

Posted by: C&J at March 4, 2011 9:35 PM
Comment #319672

RF, I apologize for screwing up the html for my link, but you can still copy & paste it.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 5, 2011 2:39 AM
Comment #319682

Royal Flush,
Is it not a fact that when you chop down a tree all of the Co2 it holds is realeased? Is it not true that for every inch of land you remove trees and plants and replace with buildings subtract from the total ability of the Earth to reduce CO2? So shouldn’t we ne able to add up what all the CO2 trees and plants on Earth can use on a daily basis and subtract it from all the CO2 produced by Man and Industtry in the World?

Now add that to a fact a running car inside a closed building will kill a person in a matter of hours and we already know the NO2 and SO2 coming out of smoke stacks in industrial complexes. The question should be if Global Warming exists, but how with breathing problems already increasing in the world and the fact we can see decreased amounts of oxegen in air, should make one question how long at the present rate do you have the ability to breath.

So why it is a Scientific Fact that high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere does cause an increase in Earth tempatures, the question that no one is asking is how much longer does the Human Race have before we can no longer depend on Earths’ atmospgere providing us with the oxegen we take for granted. For that issue would cause real panic and demand government and society do something about it.

Kevin Nye,
By planting trees and plants in place of buildings and pavement, creationg algea farms, and requiring industry to collect and store CO2 in order to increase the resource needed to make dry ice are just a few waus Humans can reduce CO2. And add that to not cutting plants and trees, Mans’ activities can affect the CO2 level. So why I doubt if the political will or wisdom can ever admit that in the last 30 years the quality of air has fallen, I wonder what the data will say about the next 100 years if we keep increasing the CO2 level at the same rate. Considering any short term ideology puts the idea that we won’t have to worry about first. Isn’t it to bad those people won’t be alive a 100 years from now ro see what damage is done?

Posted by: Henry Scglatman at March 5, 2011 9:24 AM
Comment #319694

Kevin, thanks for the links. I agree that global warming and global cooling have happened naturally for as long as we can scientifically measure this natural occurrence.

Kevin, I will use a quote from one of your links to answer Henry’s question about CO2.

“The ocean is estimated to hold 98.5% of all CO2 in the atmosphere-ocean system . Further, the ocean actually consumes more CO2 than it releases . In short, CO2 readily dissolves in the ocean which covers three/fourths of our planet. CO2, like water, is in a constant cycle of production and consumption. There is no reason to believe that higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere would not be addressed by nature by consuming more. That assumption assumes CO2 increases while everything else on the planet remain constant—such an assumption makes no sense. Nothing on this planet is constant… and never has been.

We don’t know that CO2 will remain in the atmosphere for centuries since that is only true if the current CO2 consumers (“carbon sinks” in scientific terms) remain constant. But it is absurd to make that assumption. When the rat population increases, so does the snake population until it overpopulates and eats all the rats—at which point the snake population falls. This is the case in all natural cycles and there’s no reason to believe that the planet is incapable of dealing with increased CO2. In fact, CO2 levels during the Ordovician period (about 460 million years ago) reached 4400 to 7000 parts per million (about 10 to 20 times higher than today) completely naturally… and the CO2 level eventually came down, again, automatically as nature responded. Humans weren’t there to increase the CO2 and we weren’t there to reduce the CO2. Nature did both all by itself. Why would anyone assume that nature can’t deal with our current 370ppm of CO2 when it was able to deal with ten or twenty times that amount millions of years ago?”

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 5, 2011 1:36 PM
Comment #319729

I’m glad to see conservatives taking an interest in the carbon cycle, which is integral to a complete understanding of Earth’s climate. All of the Earth’s most abundant nonmetallic elements cycle through the biosphere, lithosphere, oceans and atmosphere, including carbon. There are several natural carbon sinks as well as several natural carbon sources. Over the millennia since the last large climatic event (the last ice age) all of these sources and sinks have developed a delicate equilibrium.

For example, over an entire year photosynthesis is nearly matched with respiration. This is why humans exhaling CO2 is not a problem. You can see the balance between respiration and photosynthesis quite clearly on the Keeling Curve, which shows the annual fall of atmospheric CO2 during the northern hemisphere’s growing season and the rise in CO2 during the dormant period. Because of the geography of the northern hemisphere, it has more exaggerated seasonal fluctuations in its photosynthetic carbon sink, while respiration is mostly constant year-round.

If we put photosynthesis and respiration aside, what other natural sources and sinks are there? Other natural sources include volcanic eruptions and naturally occurring forest fires. By far, the oceans are the most important sink. If we cut our emissions, it will be sequestration by the world’s oceans that will ultimately lower the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentrations back to the normal established over the past million years (~180ppm to ~280 ppm).

What the author of that conservative blog linked by KN does not address is how the oceans sequester carbon dioxide. First of all, like all atmospheric gases, a certain amount of CO2 will dissolve in water. The solubility of CO2 in water is temperature dependent (like it is for all atmospheric gases). However, one key fact complicates the situation of dissolved CO2. Dissolved CO2 is able to react with water to form a weak acid, carbonic acid. Carbonic acid formation is key to sequestering CO2, because it can interact with ions already dissolved in seawater and precipitate out of solution. The resulting carbonate minerals sink to the bottom of the ocean, where they are incorporated into ocean sediment and will not be liberated for millions of years. For more on these process, I suggestthis site.

Although we certainly benefit from the fact that CO2 dissolves in the worlds oceans in such large quantities, this also will pose a significant problem if we continue unabated emission of carbon dioxide. First of all, the formation of carbonic acid lowers ocean PH and causes the problem of ocean acidification, which is a severe detrimental impact of CO2 emissions unrelated to changes in climate. Secondly, because the solubility of CO2 is temperature dependent, warmer temperatures can/will cause the oceans to release vast quantities of dissolved CO2 in the atmosphere, leading to positive feedback to the climatic perturbation caused by anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, the majority of warming predicted by climatologists under a scenario without reducing CO2 emissions will come from these sorts of feedback relationships. The feedback between oceanic CO2 and atmospheric CO2 can be readily seen in the ice core record of the last 800000 years. Over this time period, the Earth’s long-term climate was dominated by alternating 100000 year cycles of glaciation with 10000 year “interglacial” periods in between. Each of these interglacial periods ended when small perturbations in the Earth’s orbit cooled the Earth’s climate slightly as determined by Milutin Milanković. The slightly cooler Earth dissolved vast quantities of CO2 which led to a smaller natural greenhouse effect and a cooler Earth. On the other hand, each interglacial period began with a slight warming due to a perturbation in Earth’s orbit, which led to the liberation of oceanic CO2.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 5, 2011 10:24 PM
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