1. They want to say something about themselves. This is the Leonardo DiCaprio buyer, using the electric car to pronounce that he cares about his carbon footprint. And it looks great parked next to his Gulfstream V.
2. There is no meter on the electric line you plug into the car. When you fill your car up with gas, you get to stand there watching the spinning money dial. There is no parallel experience for plugging in an electric car. The costs and fossil fuel use of an electric car are not necessarily less than the same size (e.g. subcompact) gasoline-engine car, they are just better hidden.
Owners of electric cars are not smarter about managing the energy costs of their driving, they are substantially more ignorant. I know exactly how many dollars of gas I have put in my car this month. How many electric car owners have the first idea how many dollars of electricity they put in theirs?
A reader sent this abstract of a Henrik Svensmark study with a one word caption: Wow! I agree. The notion that "local" (and by local, we mean unimaginably far away) supernova affecting the Earth's climate is certainly creative. Haven't even read the thing so certainly not buying it yet, but it certainly is an amazing hypothesis.
Observations of open star clusters in the solar neighbourhood are used to calculate local supernova (SN) rates for the past 510 Myr. Peaks in the SN rates match passages of the Sun through periods of locally increased cluster formation which could be caused by spiral arms of the Galaxy. A statistical analysis indicates that the Solar system has experienced many large short-term increases in the flux of Galactic cosmic rays (GCR) from nearby SNe. The hypothesis that a high GCR flux should coincide with cold conditions on the Earth is borne out by comparing the general geological record of climate over the past 510 Myr with the fluctuating local SN rates. Surprisingly, a simple combination of tectonics (long-term changes in sea level) and astrophysical activity (SN rates) largely accounts for the observed variations in marine biodiversity over the past 510 Myr. An inverse correspondence between SN rates and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels is discussed in terms of a possible drawdown of CO2 by enhanced bio-productivity in oceans that are better fertilized in cold conditions – a hypothesis that is not contradicted by data on the relative abundance of the heavy isotope of carbon, 13C.
I was initially very skeptical of Svensmark's work attempting to link cosmic rays to cloud formation, with that affect acting as an amplifier (in terms of warming and cooling effects) of changes in solar output. I must say that over time, that work has survived replication effects pretty well.
I have written a number of times on the silliness of food miles and the locavore movement (here and here and here). For some reason the energy and resource intensity of foods is being judged merely on one component - transportation of the end product - which actually is only a tiny competent of food costs (and thus their resource use). Is it really more environmentally sensitive for us Phoenicians to grow our corn in the Arizona desert, where soils are unproductive and water must be imported from hundreds of miles away, rather than have it grown in the fertile soils of Iowa and trucked in?
TWO brands of olive oil, one from Australia, the other shipped 16,000 kilometres from Italy, sit on a supermarket shelf.
Most eco-friendly shoppers would reach for the Australian oil. But despite burning less fossil fuel to get here, it may not be better for the planet.
Contrary to popular belief, ''food miles'', or the distance food has travelled before we buy it, is a poor indicator of our food's total greenhouse gas emissions, or ''carbon footprint''.
More important is the way our food is farmed and produced, and how far we drive to buy it....
It turns out that stuff like economies of scale really matter
''Local food can often have a higher carbon footprint than food from afar,'' says principal researcher Brad Ridoutt.
He says even home-grown vegetables, with ''zero food miles'', do not necessarily have a smaller carbon footprint than those bought in the supermarket.
''With my veggies, I drive to Bunnings to buy fertiliser, and I go away for the weekend and forget to water them, and in the end I only harvest a few things that I can actually eat.
''By contrast, big producers, who can invest in the latest energy-efficient, water-efficient technology, and make use of all the parts of food, can be much more efficient,'' he says.
Of course, transporting food from producer to retailer still burns fossil fuels that release greenhouse gas emissions, in turn accelerating global warming. But freight emissions are only a fraction of those released during production, meaning even imported food, sustainably produced, can have a smaller carbon footprint than local alternatives.
Even the most rudimentary reading of economics should have given greenies a clue. In commodity products like most foods, prices tend to be driven down to a point that they reflect resources (and their relative scarcity) that went into the product. The cheapest foods tend to be those that use the least, and least scarce, resources in production. So buying locally grown food, which often tends to carry a price premium, should have been a flashing red light that maybe this was not the least-resource-intensive choice.
Peter Gleick violated a principle rule of the global-warming debate: Climate scientists must be better than their opponents....
It’s very tempting for scientists and their allies to employ to tactics of their over-aggressive critics. Yet the global warming camp must make an affirmative case for ambitious action on carbon emissions. Critics need only poke holes in the scientists’ arguments, or, as is so often the case in global warming debates, merely insist they’ve done so. Manipulation and perfidy work much better for the deniers.
Whatever the misdeeds of those who attack climate research, however braindead the opposition to climate scientists appears to be, advocates degrade themselves when they allow their frustrations to get the better of their ethical responsibilities. They lend credence to the (wrong) impression that both sides of the debate are equally worthy of criticism, that global warming is another ideological war that both sides fight deceitfully. In that context, those who want to spend lots of money to green the economy lose, and those who want to do nothing win. As Rick Santorum tours the country accusing climate activists of treachery and conspiracy, this should be only more obvious.
In other words, shame on Gleick for stooping to the level of those corrupt and evil skeptics. A sentence or two of denunciation of Gleick for an actual crime, accompanied by 500 words of unsubstantiated ad hominem attacks on skeptics. Nice. I try to have a "let's play nice" response and this is what comes back in return? Very frustrating.
EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration...
EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.
Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.
For three years a group of government employees actually got paid to come to the conclusion that drinking water does not prevent dehydration. Congrats.
If you want an explanation, my guess is that this is part of the Left's war on bottled water. For some bizarre reason, bottled water has been singled out as one of the evils of modern technology that will drive us into a carbon dioxide-induced climate disaster. So I don't think the EU would have approved any label claim for water. Since this is such an absurdly obvious claim that most consumers would just chuckle at (yes, consumers can be trusted to parse product claims), I almost wonder if some water company didn't just float this to make the point that no claim could be approved in the EU system.
Now that the carbon tax has passed through [Australian] federal parliament, the government’s clean-up brigade is getting into the swing by trying to erase any dissent against the jobs-destroying legislation.
On cue comes the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which this week issued warnings to businesses that they will face whopping fines of up to $1.1m if they blame the carbon tax for price rises.
It says it has been “directed by the Australian government to undertake a compliance and enforcement role in relation to claims made about the impact of a carbon price.”
There will be 23 carbon cops roaming the streets doing snap audits of businesses that “choose to link your price increases to a carbon price”.
Instead, the ACCC suggests you tell customers you’ve raised prices because “the overall cost of running (your) business has increased”.
Addressing the press in Australia, where legislators passed a carbon tax earlier this month, Obama praised Prime Minister Julia Gillard for pursuing “a bold strategy” to trim industrial emissions that most scientists say are contributing to global warming.
"I think the answer is no," [MN representative Keith] Ellison said when asked if he believes regulations kill jobs. "And here is why: When we talked about increasing fuel efficiency standards, the industry responded, and they need engineers and designers and manufacturers, and they need actually more people to help respond to the new requirement."
"I believe if the government says, look, we have got to reduce our carbon footprint, you will kick into gear a whole number of people that know how to do that or have ideas about that, and that will be a job engine. I understand what you mean, because if anything adds a cost to a business, you could assume that that will diminish that business’s ability to hire. But I don’t think that’s actually right. I think what businesses want is customers and what — if they are selling product, if they have a product to sell they will do well even if they have some new regulations to meet," the Congressman said.
There is a lot about economics we still do not understand, but one thing we are pretty certain about is that shifting labor and investment from productive to unproductive activities destroys wealth and reduces economic growth. Of course, since much of the press is at least as ignorant on economic fundamentals, they just nod sagely.
The European Union is overestimating the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions achieved through reliance on biofuels as a result of a “serious accounting error,” according to a draft opinion by an influential committee of 19 scientists and academics.
The European Environment Agency Scientific Committee writes that the role of energy from crops like biofuels in curbing warming gases should be measured by how much additional carbon dioxide such crops absorb beyond what would have been absorbed anyway by existing fields, forests and grasslands.
Instead, the European Union has been “double counting” some of the savings, according to the draft opinion, which was prepared by the committee in May and viewed this week by The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times.
“The potential consequences of this bioenergy accounting error are immense since it assumes that all burning of biomass does not add carbon to the air,” the committee wrote.
Duh. This has been a known fact to about everyone else, as most independent studies not done by a corn-state university have found ethanol to have, at best, zero utility in reducing atmospheric CO2.
It is worth noting that the EU would likely have never made this admission had it solely been under the pressure of skeptics, for whom this is just one of a long list of fairly obvious errors in climate-related science. But several years ago, environmental groups jumped on the skeptic bandwagon opposing ethanol, both for its lack of efficacy in reducing emissions as well as the impact of increasing ethanol product on land use and food prices.
Coke has a billboard covered in some kind of plants that it claims absorbs 46,800 pounds of CO2 a year. Forgetting for a moment whether we should care about CO2 abatement, I have a question for Coke: What are you going to do with the plants after you take down the billboard and/or after they die? Are you going to shrink-wrap them and bury them deep? Because otherwise, when they die, they are just going to give up the carbon back to the atmosphere as they decompose. If you really want to abate carbon with plant growth, go build some wood-frame houses.
Update: Incredibly, as the 13th commenter on the linked post, I was the very first who did not think this was an awesome step for the environment.
This has gotten a fair amount of play around the Internet, but it's crazy enough to re-link in case you have not seen it. A proposal in Australia to earn carbon credits by shooting wild camels. Because when living, breathing creatures are dead, the environment is protected. Take that to its logical conclusion. All that time those folks were clubbing harp seals, they were saving Mother Nature!
Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.
The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.
“It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all”, said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. “It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration.”
Hmmm. There is a big gap between thoughtful conservation and fetishism for the primitive.
Update: By the way, the article says this is being driven by climate change already experienced in Bolivia. I suppose it is possible that rainfall has changed, I don't have the numbers for Bolivia, but temperatures in the tropics have shown no trend up or down for decades. Most of the warming the Earth has seen over the last 50 years (whatever the cause) has been in the Northern Hemisphere and in fact in the upper portions of the Northern Hemisphere. Here are the temps for the tropics. The spikes in 1998 and 2010 are El Ninos years.
The California Air Resources Board violated state environmental law in 2008 when it adopted a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases and again last year when it passed cap-and-trade regulations, a San Francisco Superior Court judge has ruled in a tentative decision.
If the decision is made final, California would be barred from implementing its ambitious plan to combat global warming until it complies with portions of the California Environmental Quality Act, though it is not yet clear what the air board would have to do to be in compliance. The state’s plan, which implements AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, would reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
We have all heard environmentalists and other American intellectual snobs lamenting that we just are not as smart as Europeans because we have so much less passenger rail. But because freight and high-speed passenger rail service does not coexist well on the same tracks, urging more passenger rail on the US rail net is effectively asking for more freight to be dumped onto the highways.
Moving freight by rail rather than by truck is an enormous carbon saving; one locomotive can haul as much as hundreds of trucks. It also reduces highway congestion. Unfortunately, it's hard for passengers and freight to share tracks. In part, it's difficult simply because it's expensive to upgrade track to handle passenger speeds, but also because freight moves much more slowly, and on an irregular schedule.
I might well argue that if we were simply trying to maximize environmental benefit, we'd ignore passenger rail, and focus on upgrading our freight systems, which sorely need it. Moreover, these upgrades could largely be made without the massive procedural obstacles that block new high speed rail lines.
But freight rail is not sexy. It does not excite donors, and it does not excite most of the voters who are motivated by high speed rail. Politicians win votes by delivering (or at least promising) highly visible improvements; not by silently enhancing the movement of goods from port to Wal-Mart.
See the percentage of goods moved by freight, which is dramatically higher for the US. The end result is we have a LOT less freight on our roads than the EU or Japan, and might have even less if US maritime laws had not done so much to kill coastal shipping.
This is the great unseen in all these "sophisticated" conversations about Europe. These Euro-philes are so much smarter than the rest of us that they manage to ignore the most important part of the equation (largely because it is unseen and not sexy). In fact, the US has the best rail system in the world, and in fact the governments of Europe and Japan have likely sub-optimized their rail systems by forcing their focus towards passengers rather than freight. I will leave the last word to the Anti-Planner:
Europe has decided to run its rail system primarily for passengers, while America's system is run mainly for freight. Europe's rail system has about 6 percent of the passenger travel market, while autos have about 78 percent. Meanwhile, 75 percent of European freight goes by highway. Here in the U.S., highway's share of freight travel is only 29 percent, while the auto's share of passenger travel is about 82 percent. So trains get 4 percent of potential auto users in Europe out of their cars, but leave almost three times as much freight on the highway.
From the Thin Green Line, a reliable source for any absurd science that supports environmental alarmism:
Sending and receiving email makes up a full percent of a relatively green person's annual carbon emissions, the equivalent of driving 200 miles.
Dealing with spam, however, accounts for more than a fifth of the average account holder's electricity use. Spam makes up a shocking 80 percent of all emails sent, but most people get rid of them as fast as you can say "delete."
So how does email stack up to snail mail? The per-message carbon cost of email is just 1/60th of the old-fashioned letter's. But think about it "” you probably send at least 60 times as many emails a year than you ever did letters.
One way to go greener then is to avoid sending a bunch of short emails and instead build a longer message before you send it.
This is simply hilarious, and reminds me of the things the engineers would fool the pointy-haired boss with in Dilbert. Here was my response:
This is exactly the kind of garbage analysis that is making the environmental movement a laughing stock.
In computing the carbon footprint of email, the vast majority of the energy in the study was taking the amount of energy used by a PC during email use (ie checking, deleting, sending, organizing) and dividing it by the number of emails sent or processed. The number of emails is virtually irrelevant -- it is the time spent on the computer that matters. So futzing around trying to craft one longer email from many shorter emails does nothing, and probably consumers more energy if it takes longer to write than the five short emails.
This is exactly the kind of peril that results from a) reacting to the press release of a study without understanding its methodology (or the underlying science) and b) focusing improvement efforts on the wrong metrics.
The way to save power is to use your computer less, and to shut it down when not in use rather than leaving it on standby.
If one wants to argue that the energy is from actually firing the bits over the web, this is absurd. Even if this had a measurable energy impact, given the very few bytes in an email, reducing your web surfing by one page a day would keep more bytes from moving than completely giving up email.
By the way, the suggestion for an email charge in the linked article is one I have made for years, though the amount is too high. A charge of even 1/100 cent per email would cost each of us about a penny per day but would cost a 10 million mail spammer $1000, probably higher than his or her expected yield from the spam.
I suppose one cold say that climate alarmism jumped the shark years ago. But they have certainly moved to a new level, one for which there is not even a term, in this video. This video has everything - the government school teacher politically indoctrinating the kids, followed by bloody gory death dealt out to the kids who refuse to toe the government line. I am not kidding.
When I first saw it, I was sure it was a skeptic satire, ala Jonathon Swift's 'A Modest Proposal,' and I am still afraid that this may be some elaborate put-on because the video and its message -- that skeptics need to be killed -- is so obscene. But apparently, according to this article at the Guardian, it is totally for real and includes contributions from some fairly prominent artists, as well as funding from the UK government and the 10:10 program (a plea to reduce carbon emissions by 10% per year, eerily with a name probably purposely similar to 9-11).
Had a look? Well, I'm certain you'll agree that detonating school kids, footballers and movie stars into gory pulp for ignoring their carbon footprints is attention-grabbing. It's also got a decent sprinkling of stardust "“ Peter Crouch, Gillian Anderson, Radiohead and others. But it's pretty edgy, given 10:10's aim of asking people, businesses and organisations to take positive action against global warming by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by 10% in a year, and thereby pressuring governments to act.
"Doing nothing about climate change is still a fairly common affliction, even in this day and age. What to do with those people, who are together threatening everybody's existence on this planet? Clearly we don't really think they should be blown up, that's just a joke for the mini-movie, but maybe a little amputating would be a good place to start?" jokes 10:10 founder and Age of Stupid film maker Franny Armstrong.
But why take such a risk of upsetting or alienating people, I ask her: "Because we have got about four years to stabilise global emissions and we are not anywhere near doing that. All our lives are at threat and if that's not worth jumping up and down about, I don't know what is."
The latter claim is hilarious. Over the next four years, CO2 levels will likely increase, if they stay on trend, from .0392% of the atmosphere to .0400% of the atmosphere. I would love to see these so-called science-based folks demonstrate how the next .0008% shift in atmospheric concentration triggers the point-of-no return tipping point. In actual fact, the have just latched onto the round number of 400ppm and declared, absolutely without evidence, that this number (which the Earth has crossed many times in the past) will somehow lead to a runaway chain reaction.
Anyway, I have teased it long enough, here is the video. Beware -- there is gore (no pun intended) here worthy of a zombie movie.
Wow, its sure good that the world has decided that skeptics are the mindless, thuggish, anti-science side of this debate, because if that had not already been made clear, we might think that key climate alarmism groups had lost their freaking minds. It will be interesting to see if this gets any play in the US media -- my guess is it will not. Magazines are happy to spend twenty pages dissecting the motives of the Koch family in funding skeptic and libertarian causes, but environmentalists get a free pass, even with stuff like this.
Lubos Motl is all over this, and has mirror sites for the video if (or more likely when) the video gets taken down. This is one of those propaganda offers that are the product of an echo chamber, with a group of like-minded people all patting themselves on the back only to be surprised at the inevitable public backlash.
I have mirrored the video here in case it gets a youtube takedown.
Update: As a reminder, this is not satire. It is made by a group of true believers. It was funded and approved and released by a climate alarmism group, which paid top dollar (including UK taxpayer funds) for a large professional team of actors, writers, and directors. All interviewed participants, including the first little actor blown up, have stated how proud they were of the film and its contribution to educating people on the need for immediate action on global warming.
For the last hour, I have sat and tried to think if, as a skeptic, I had wanted to make a satire critiquing the excesses of global warming alarmism, could I have made a better video. The only thing that might have made it better would have been if the final button-pusher was someone famous like James Cameron or Bono, who after then pushed the button climbed on their Gulfstream jet to fly home. But that's just a quibble. I have changed my opinion. This may be the greatest skeptic video ever, and the Koch family didn't even have to pay a dime for it. Thanks 10:10.
Update #2: This movie reminds me of nothing so much as Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards. It is clearly not reality, but the author's fantasy. Tarantino fantasizes about a group of jews kicking ass on the Nazi high command and ending the war early. 10:10 fantasizes about blowing up skeptics, in a video that, amazingly, is more blood-spattered than Tarantino's.
Update #3: The group pulls the video with a classic "I'm sorry you guys are so easily offended" apology.
Update #4: Unsurprisingly, Joe Romm (in the italics in this post) goes to the kindergarten argument of "he started it," arguing that the video is just the flip side of the stuff skeptics are doing all the time. In making his pitch, he shows the mindset that allowed this stupid film to get made.
I am not sure exactly what comparable films skeptics have produced that are similar, and the only example he can cite is Anthony Watt's blog post comments on the shooting of an eco-terrorist. I did not even go back and look at Watt's comments, but I generally think that lots of people are too gleeful when suspected criminals, who are innocent before the law, are gunned down by police.
Never-the-less, its seems a stretch to equate the offhand comments in real time of an independent blogger with a film involving probably a hundred people (including those who commissioned it in the 10:10 organization), commissioned in an official and thoughtful act (after all this had to be months in the works), and funded in part by the British government. He takes the opportunity of his team's screw-up to launch this broadside on people like me (in bold no less).
None of this excuses that disgusting video. But the difference is that those who are trying to preserve a livable climate and hence the health and well-being of our children and billions of people this century quickly denounce the few offensive over-reaches of those who claim to share our goals "” but those trying to destroy a livable climate, well, for them lies and hate speech are the modus operandi, so such behavior is not only tolerated, but encouraged.
Is anyone else getting tired of this working definition that "hate speech" is any speech by people who disagree with me, because I have the best interest of humanity in mind so clearly those who oppose me hate the human race?
Note you can see this right in his statement -- "for those trying to destroy a livable climate." That's absurd. Does he really think anyone is trying to destroy a livable climate? I could say that through CO2 controls he is trying to impoverish billions of poor people in lesser developed countries by halting development, but I don't think that is really his motive. I think that is an outcome of what he advocates, just as he thinks an unlivable climate is an outcome of what I advocate, but I can distinguish between motives and assumptions, but he apparently cannot. This attitude is EXACTLY what causes this kind of unfortunate video to be made -- it is only a small step from believing, as he says he does, that skeptics are "trying to destroy a liveable climate" to making a movie that jokes about killing them all (or, to be frank, to feeling justified in acts of eco-terrorism).
I encourage you to watch my climate video and decide if folks like me are trying to thoughtfully decipher nature or are engaging in hate speech.
Update #6: I guess this was inevitable, but all the rats in the 10:10 ship are claiming that they had no idea what the video would be like and were appalled when they saw it. Right. An organization funds a major film production, including any number of high profile participants, and no one asked to see a script, screened the video before release, or even asked for some kind of written treatment of the concept? Yeah, right. No one in the 10:10 organization or who funded the video even peeked at it before it was released to the entire planet? This is so utterly lame but will probably be enough of a fig leaf for most of the media to hide behind and allow them not to follow up on a video whose basic premises they likely agree with.
My column for Forbes is up this week, and yet again I address issues related to the stimulus. This time, rather than questioning the Keynesian multiplier, I observe that Congress has passed several pieces of legislation which act as "anti-stimulus" whose magnitudes dwarf that of any fiscal stimulus programs, even at multipliers greater than one.
Larger corporations are going to face different economics, but they too seem to be anticipating higher future costs from this legislation. For example, while they may not face the penalty for having no health care plan, they will face higher Medicare taxes, taxes on overly rich plans, and increases in health care premiums. If the average business is anticipating a 5% increase in payroll-related expenses, and given that total private payrolls in the U.S. are around $6 trillion, this implies that businesses may be planning for $3 trillion of health care anti-stimulus over the next 10 years.
Similar scale numbers can be found for the overall effects of cap-and-trade. Perhaps the best estimate we have is the CBO scoring of the Kerry-Lieberman bill, which estimated that payments for carbon allowances over the first ten years would total $751 billion. Assuming that the costs of most of these allowances are passed on to consumers, then this bill represents another three quarters of a trillion in anti-stimulus. In addition, expiration of the Bush tax cuts, card check, and a number of new regulatory initiatives all will drive this anti-stimulus expectation higher. Is it any wonder, then, that the private sector yawns when the Congress rushes back from vacation to pass a $26 billion jobs bill?
I have written before about carbon offset scams -- even well intentioned programs are unlikely to achieve their promised benefits because
The projects they fund are typically not incremental -- many likely would have proceeded without the offset funds, so that the benefits are effectively double counted.
I have never seen any of these programs submit themselves to 3rd party offset of their supposed CO2 reductions. In most cases, these are faith-based programs where it is impolite to ask if the promised reductions actually occur.
Randal O'Toole has a good example of a program that makes all these mistakes, and compounds them with absurdly high administrative costs. One is left to wonder whether the Oregon state-run program is actually reducing CO2 or simply making sure a number of government salaries get paid.
In 2006, Climate Trust spent about two-thirds of its funds on carbon offsets, while most of the rest went for payroll and professional fees. In 2007, the share going to carbon offsets declined to 64 percent. By 2008, as near as I can tell, none of Climate Trust's money went for carbon offsets. Instead, 73 percent of its $1.65 million budget went for salaries, fees, and other compensation. It also spent more than $120,000 on travel and conferences and $95,000 on rent and office expenses. In 2008, Climate Trust paid its executive director $154,000, not counting health insurance and other fringe benefits. At least one other staff member whose title was "director of offset programs" was paid more than $100,000 and a third one received $88,000.
Undertakers in Belgium plan to eschew traditional burials and cremations and start dissolving corpses instead.
The move is intended to tackle a lack of burial space and environmental concerns as 573lbs of carbon dioxide are released by each cremated corpse.
Under the process, known as resomation, bodies are treated in a steel chamber with potassium hydroxide at high pressure and a temperature of 180c (350f).
The raised pressure and temperature means the body reaches a similar end point as in standard cremation "” just bones left to be crushed up "” in two to three hours.
My first thought on reading this was "Soylent Green is People!"
My second is to wonder how a torched body creates 573 pounds of CO2. 12 pounds of carbon combusts to 44 pounds (approx) of Co2. This means that to combust to 573 pounds of Co2, the human body must have 156 pounds of carbon. WTF? But carbon in 18% of human body weight, which means that to produce 573 pounds of CO2, the human body would have to weigh 867 pounds. One might be able to get this number by including the cremation fuel in the equation (though this is a generous interpretation since this is not how the article is written), but since it is usually gas used for cremation it would take a hell of a lot of gas given its low carbon content.
My third thought is what does any of this have to do with CO2 reduction
The process occurs at 350F. You mean no fossil fuels are used to get the chamber up to 350F. What, are they using solar mirrors?
The process occurs at high pressure. This takes energy
The end product is a carb0n rich soup that they pour down the drain or pour on their garden. I have a clue for you, all oxidation is not combustion. That carbon dumped in your garden or in your compost heap will still become CO2 even without seeing aflame.
Currently pregnant women are asked if they smoke by midwives and GPs but the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) wants this to go further.
The organisation has recommended that all pregnant women should have their breath measured for carbon monoxide levels when they book in with a midwife.
This would establish which women smoke and provide an added incentive for them to quit, the guidance said.
I am sure all the women's organizations whose principled stand against abortion restrictions were based on protecting the privacy of one's body from the heavy hand of government will now rise up in protest. Not.
As it turns out, and as I have writtenbefore, most women's groups seem to favor total intrusion of government into every facet of individual health care decision-making EXCEPT abortion. The privacy and libertarian-sounding abortion arguments were really just slights of hand, rolled out to prevent government bans on one particular procedure, and then tucked away when the government proposes to control every other procedure.
In the 1970's, during the Arab oil embargo, oil company presidents were dragged to Washington to defend themselves from charges that they were holding tankers offshore to drive up prices and all kinds of crazy BS. Since that time, in every oil price spike, oil companies were vilified by the Left for destroying the American economy by driving up oil prices (artificially, I suppose).
Now, however, is seems that this was all wrong. The fossil fuel price increases and artificial supply shortages needed to cut our CO2 emissions by 50% are enormous. The Europeans have $9 gas and they are not near these targets, in fact in many countries their fossil fuel use has gone up. We have been in a substantial economic slowdown, but even at these lower output and consumption levels we are far short of a 50% target.
But there's another reason it was disappointing that Obama didn't mention carbon pricing: his own EPA had handed him a perfect excuse just one day before. In a detailed analysis of John Kerry's American Power Act, the EPA provided estimates of how it would affect carbon emissions and how much it would cost the average American. The results were remarkably reassuring.
On the emissions front, the APA would have a dramatic effect: US emissions would be cut nearly in half by 2030 compared to doing nothing. That's an enormous impact.
But how much would it cost? The answer is: almost nothing. According to EPA's models, if we do nothing, consumption of goods and services in the United States will increase 74.1% by 2030. If APA is passed, consumption will increase 73.4%.That's it. We can cut carbon emissions nearly in half, and the net cost will be a decrease in consumption of 0.7% in 2030. EPA figures this comes to an average annual cost of $146 per household. That's 40 cents a day per family.
And everyone on the Left is credulously lining up to say that this sounds about right to them. Well, now you tell us. And if this is true, why have you been hammering on the oil companies for 40 years if oil price increases are virtually irrelevant to the economy.
Look, the is is utter BS. I have a wild optimism about the power of free minds to innovate and handle about anything if they are allowed, but even so there is no way that an energy price increase (or artificial shortage, take you pick of mechanisms) large enough to cut output by 50% in 20 years will have a negligible impact on the economy. No way.
Update: I am skimming the EPA power point presentation. I am looking at one chart that shows a shows coal with CO2 capture around 5% of US energy production about 12% of electricity production by 2030. Absolutely no freaking way. They are on drugs. CO2 capture is never going to happen except when exorbitantly subsidized by the government.
And they show natural gas going way down. Why? Replacing coal-produced electricity with natural gas produced electricity is probably the most effective single CO2 reduction step that exists after certain conservation approaches. But despite huge availability in the US, they show gas consumption going down by half. If so, those are some pretty screwed up incentives in the bill.
Update #2: I found the price chart. Apparently they project they will get all this fossil fuel reduction with an increase of electricity prices from 11 cents per Kwh in 2030 without the law to 14 cents with the law. Gasoline prices with the law will be increased by about 25 cents a gallon in 2030 by the law. So we are going to get a government imposed 50% reduction in CO2 output in 20 years with a price increase that is within the natural variation over a couple of months in the gasoline market? Yeah, right. We all will be riding unicorns to work instead.
I have to tell one of my favorite stories of chutzpah. In the 1940's and 1950's, railroads were making the transition from steam engines to diesel engines. One of the changes was that a diesel engine only needed a driver, it did not need a fireman as steam engines did to shovel coal and keep the boiler running well. The unions of course saw this coming. So what did they do? They preemptively made the demand that diesel engines should have to have TWO fireman. Railroads spent so much time fighting this insane proposal that it took them years to get the firemen per locomotive to the correct number (ie zero).
I am reminded of this story when I think of how the Obama administration has handled the issue of CO2 abatement. Reasonable people understand that CO2 abatement will be horrifically expensive - it just will not be cheap in terms of cost or lost economic output and lost personal liberties to take the country back to a CO2 per capita it last had in the 19th century. But rather than taking this on, the Obama administration preemtively attacked, saying that in fact Co2 abatement would lead to economic growth and job creation. This was the broken windows fallacy on steroids, but the usual progressive illiterates and consumers of party talking points have run with it.
We are finally getting folks to start to address the true costs of CO2 abatement, and they are enormous. People who push the precautionary principle try to say that even a small risk of climate catastrophe outweighs some minor abatement costs. But does a small change of manmade warming outweigh a near certainty of enormous economic costs?
I have said for years that to really get to an 80% reduction target, gas prices would have to rise over $20 a gallon (they are at $10 already in Europe and they are no where near the targets). Some researchers looked at the gas price implications of more modest CO2 targets:
To meet the Obama administration's targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, some researchers say, Americans may have to experience a sobering reality: gas at $7 a gallon.
To reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the cost of driving must simply increase, according to a forthcoming report by researchers at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
And this is with a straight tax, probably the most efficient way to hit the targets. The study agreed that other intervenist approaches didn't seem to work as well as a straight tax:
In the modeling, it turned out that issuing tax credits could backfire, while taxes on fuel proved beneficial.
This was the trick behind cap-and-trade: Politicians know that the only real way to reduce energy usage is to raise its price much higher. They also know that doing so would lose them their jobs, so instead of passing a simple carbon tax, they created a cap-and-trade system that would force private companies to be the bad guys. They then try to hide this basic fact with a lot of distracting arm-waving about green jobs and wind power.
The new Obama health proposal, which looks a heck of a lot like the old Obama health proposal (same basic features, same lack of detail) plays a similar game. Do you remember all that Obama talk about mysterious brilliant ways to reduce health care costs? Where did they all go? It turns out that the only real idea they had for reducing health care costs was to deny people care. They just try to hide this with a lot of distracting arm-waving about gold-plated insurance and electronic medical records.
This denial of service is unpopular. In fact, it is a great (and sad) irony that Obama is trying to harness anger at insurance companies that is caused mainly by denial of coverage for certain procedures with a system that will deny coverage for even more procedures. Just like carbon taxes, Obama has fixed on a scheme where once again he sets up private enterprises to be the bad guys to give himself some sort of quasi-plausible deniability. Obama is proposing artificial price caps on insurance premiums. The inevitable result:
For example, as I have written elsewhere, artificially limiting premium growth allows the government to curtail spending while leaving the dirty work of withholding medical care to private insurers: "Premium caps, which Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is currently threatening to impose, force private insurers to manage care more tightly "” i.e., to deny coverage for more services." No doubt the Obama administration would lay the blame for coverage denials on private insurers and claim that such denials demonstrate the need for a so-called "public option."
Like the Senate bill, Obama's proposal doesn't include a strict employer mandate, but it does penalize businesses who do not offer insurance to workers who then get their insurance through the exchange. The Obama proposal provides more subsidies to small businesses, and helps mid-sized businesses by exempting the first 30 workers when calculating the tax, but large employers who do not offer coverage would face higher penalties under the Obama proposal. In the end, the tax will make it more expensive for large employers to hire lower income workers (who qualify for government subsidies), and thus exacerbate unemployment.
My read is that this all takes a hodge-podge mess and, uh, makes it even hodgier-podgier.
By the way, my take is that there is only one health care cost reduction proposal worth talking about, and that is making individuals more responsible for their own health care costs, not less, thus creating incentives to do the thing we do for every other purchase we make: shop around.
James Hansen wrote an editorial supporting a revenue-neutral carbon tax, and while I don't really agree with all of his justifications or economics, I do agree with his ultimate conclusion --that such a tax would be fairer, more efficient, less growth-killing, and ultimately more effective than the Frankenstein mess of parts that makes up the current cap-and-trade bill.
To be fair, I have been on this point for a while, having advocated a carbon tax offset by a payroll tax reduction to make it revenue neutral for some time, including in my most recent film. I don't think I have to tell my readers that I am not big on taxes nor am I of the belief that any strong action on CO2 emissions is necessary.
However, I am largely indifferent between a sales tax on fuel and an equal sized sales tax on labor (which is effectively what payroll taxes are). There is no doubt that a reduction in payroll taxes would be a helpful step in this recession, and if folks would sleep better at night with less carbon emissions, I can tolerate trading one for another.
Jonathon Adler has more, including Paul Krugman's negative reaction to the plan (did this guy really once win the Nobel Price in economics?)
From a press release from the Environmental News Network that landed in my inbox:
It's Time to Re-think Economic Growth for Advanced Nations
LONDON - In Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, published by Earthscan this week, Professor Tim Jackson raises fundamental questions about the economics needed to tackle climate change. Jackson argues that, faced with the limits imposed by carbon sinks and the scale of "˜de-carbonization' of the world's economy required to stay within them, continued economic growth in the already affluent world does not offer the solution; it represents the problem....
there is a strong case for the developed nations to make room for growth in poorer countries. It is in these poorer countries that growth really does make a difference. In richer countries the returns on further growth appear much more limited; for example subjective well-being diminishes rapidly at higher income levels."
Assuming that such thinking is not just a crass excuse for totalitarian control, it represents an enormous failure of imagination. The author cannot imagine what benefits increased wealth would provide, so he assumes those benefits to be zero. There is absolutely no reason that this same exact thinking could not have been applied in 1300 or 1750 or 1900. Fortunately it was not.
Wonder where the communists went when their philosophy was shown to be bankrupt? Wonder where the anti-globalization folks went after they looted in Seattle. Look no further than the global warming movement. The author suggests, among other things:
support for "˜ecological' enterprise "“ resource efficient, community-based activities that offer meaningful employment and deliver low-carbon goods and services
clear restraints on unbridled consumerism
the protection of public spaces and a renewed vision of social goods
investment in the capabilities for people have to participate in society in less materialistic ways
An executive has won the right to sue his employer on the basis that he was unfairly dismissed for his green views after a judge ruled that environmentalism had the same weight in law as religious and philosophical beliefs.
In a landmark ruling, Mr Justice Michael Burton said that "a belief in man-made climate change "¦ is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations".
The ruling could open the door for employees to sue their companies for failing to account for their green lifestyles, such as providing recycling facilities or offering low-carbon travel.
John Bowers QC, representing Grainger, had argued that adherence to climate change theory was "a scientific view rather than a philosophical one", because "philosophy deals with matters that are not capable of scientific proof."
That argument has now been dismissed by Mr Justice Burton, who last year ruled that the environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore was political and partisan.
The decision allows the tribunal to go ahead, but more importantly sets a precedent for how environmental beliefs are regarded in English law.
Wow! Its a religion, not a scientific position. I probably should be laughing, but I'm not.