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Climate Hustle

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #40

Posted on 6 October 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week.

Editor's Pick

The Nihilism of Trump’s Climate Policy

The administration cites the likelihood of catastrophic global temperature rise to justify gutting fuel-efficiency standards. Yes, you read that correctly.

Wildfire Shasta Trinity National Forest CA Sep 2018

A firefighter works to control the Delta Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California, in September 2018. Noah Berger/AP

The Washington Post dove deep into a draft statement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week and found buried within it a startling admission.

Planet Earth, the agency’s analysts observed, is currently on track to warm by approximately 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. But that’s not the startling thing I’m referring to. This is: The statement’s authors were passing along this bit of news in order to lend support to the administration’s decision to weaken fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020.

That’s right: The United States government is basically making the argument that reducing carbon pollution from cars can’t save us—so why bother?

This is, to put it mildly, a twist on the usual rules of engagement between those who advocate for climate action and those who don’t. We’re used to fighting skepticism. But outright nihilism? That’s a new one. 

The Nihilism of Trump’s Climate Policy by Jeff Turrentine, On Earth, NRDC, Oct 5, 2018 


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Comments

Comments 1 to 9:

  1. Perhaps the reason for complacency in the Trump Administration over climate change is the corporate sector have convinced them that geo engineering or direct carbon capture would fix the problem, (probably with the costs dumped on the population, and the profits going to the corporate sector). The costs and risks of such schemes are huge, and its a disastrous solution especially as we will run out of fossil fuels anyway.

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  2. My first reaction is, why are we suddenly taking climate information from the NHTSA as gospel? 4 degrees C by 2100 is a little high for most current "official" estimates I believe. And because one agency makes a statement like that, how is this suddenly the official position of the entire administration? But, as I will point out again, we already know that enough feedbacks have kicked in that it is likely pointless to mitigate what we are doing, it doesn't matter anymore. Not that we are trying anyway! I'm afraid 4 degrees C by 2100 is still too optimistic. Here in Concord NH it has averaged 4-5 degrees F above average since at least July, and it going to stay way above average for at least a few more weeks. At what point do we recognize that Abrupt Climate Change is here? (just wondering)

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  3. Nigelj: With all due respect, I believe that you are grasping at straws. The corporate sector has not convinced the Pretend President and his minions that geo-engineering is the solution to man-made climate change. The Trumpies reject climate science on political and/or religious ideological grounds. Whoever ginned-up the draft EIS for the NHSTA is probably in deep dodo. If they are not, they certainly should be.   

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  4. Sunspot: At this juncture, we do not know who was responsible for ginning up the draft EIS for the NHSTA.  I suspect it was not a qualified climate scientist.

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  5. They are actually correct about one thing: CAFE is a poor way of reducing fossil fuel use. Two of its major effects were

    a1) Making very efficient small and medium cars cheap and common, which lead to  a2) building subdivisions further out from employment centers. You have to drive -everywhere- in those exurbs, not just to work, and it's all single family houses.   

    b) making passenger cars more complex and shrink-wrapped around the mechanicals, so people in the US fled from them.   Leading to b2) a plauge of crossovers (that's most vehicles now marketed as SUVs), which are basically the old station wagon but taller and less efficient than they simply squaring/stretching a car into wagon form. 

    Another effect is that there are no more small pickups. Today you can have huge or almost huge pickups but there's no CAFE category that fits small or medium trucklets.   

    It would be better to trash CAFE and have a carbon tax, but that's not going to happen. 

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  6. DrivingBy:

    CAFE standards did not cause and accelerate urban sprawl in the US. There is no factual basis for this assertion.

    For factual information about CAFE standards in the US, see:

    A Brief History of U.S. Fuel Efficiency Standards, Union of Concerned Scientists, Last revised date: December 6, 2017

    For factual information about urban sprawl in the US, see:

    The Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences of Sprawling Development Patterns in the United States by  Samuel Brody (Director, Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities, Texas A&M University) © 2013 Nature Education

    Citation: Brody, S. (2013) The Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences of Sprawling Development Patterns in the United States. Nature Education Knowledge 4(5):2

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  7. DrivingBy:

    Your assertion that CAFE standards caused the shift in the US auto/light truck market to shift from small fuel efficient vehicles to SUVs and larger pickup trucks is patently absurd.  If that were the case, the motor vehicle manufacturers would be pounding on the door demanding even stricter CAFE standards. In reality, they are doing just the opposite.

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  8. DrivingBy: You wrote:

    It would be better to trash CAFE and have a carbon tax, but that's not going to happen.

    CAFE standards and a carbon tax are not mutual exclusive mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions. There is absolutely no need to pit one against the other. Neither one is a silver bullet. Both are silver buckshot.  

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  9. Driving By

    "making passenger cars more complex and shrink-wrapped around the mechanicals, so people in the US fled from them. Leading to b2) a plauge of crossovers (that's most vehicles now marketed as SUVs), which are basically the old station wagon but taller and less efficient than they simply squaring/stretching a car into wagon form."

    I would think the popularity of SUV's is more likely to be caused by a sense that these larger cars are safer, good visibility, interior space, and off road appeal and they have bcome status symbols.

    I have a small car shrink wrapped about complex mechanicals that are somewhat baffling to look at, but its japanese and never breaks down. I doubt that the complexity issue worries most buyers. SUV's are now packed with electronic complexity anyway.

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