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Republicans to Repeal Laws of Physics

Posted on 13 March 2011 by dana1981

Republicans have decided that they can repeal the laws of physics with the laws of the USA.

First a bit of background.  In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the U.S. EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, if they meet the definition of "air pollutants".  In order to qualify as "air pollutants", the emissions must "reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare".  In 2009, the EPA issued an endangerment finding which referenced numerous scientific assessments including the IPCC report, and concluded that "greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare".  This conclusion is strongly supported by the body of scientific evidence.

As a consequence of this endangerment finding, the EPA established a timeline to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions, starting with the largest sources such as power plants and oil refineries in 2011.  There are now two ways to prevent the EPA's greenhouse gas regulations:

  1. Congress can pass legislation which establishes a different system to control greenhouse gas emissions, thus superceeding the EPA.
  2. The EPA endangerment finding can be overturned if it's determined that greenhouse gas emissions no longer endanger public health or welfare.

From an economic standpoint, it would be preferable if Congress implemented this first option, because systems which allow the free market to control greenhouse gas emissions, such as a carbon tax or cap and trade system, have less economic impact than government regulations.  In fact, studies have shown that carbon pricing mechanisms have little economic impact, and their benefits outweigh their costs several times over.  For this reason, cap and trade was originally a Republican proposal as an alternative to EPA regulation of sulfur dioxide in response to acid rain (also under the Clean Air Act).  That's right, as hard as it is to believe now, cap and trade was first proposed by Republicans.

U.S. Congress has attempted to pass climate legislation which includes a carbon pricing mechanism (cap and trade system) several times thus far, but such proposals have rarely gotten more than a couple of Republican votes, and have always failed.  Most recently in 2009, the House of Representatives managed to pass a climate bill.  Unfortunately we were reminded that the USA is a republic, not a democracy, as Republicans exploited archaic Senate rules and their 41% minority to filibuster (obstruct) similar legislation which was supported by the majority, and it never even made it to a vote in the Senate.

In short, Republicans aren't willing to implement a carbon pricing mechanism, but they also don't want the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  So they're now pursuing the second option discussed above.  To accomplish this, Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced H.R. 910, inaccurately named the "Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011".   H.R. 910 has two main components:

  1. It overturns the EPA's greenhouse gas endangerment finding.
  2. It prohibits the EPA from regulating or otherwise taking action regarding greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change.

In other words, we have politicians attempting to overturn a scientific finding whose purpose is to protect public health and welfare, for purely political reasons.  This is a rather disturbing turn of events from a scientific standpoint.  We cannot disregard a scientific finding, particularly one which has major consequences for public health and welfare, just because we don't want to believe it, or because doing so would be politically advantageous.

The House Republicans (and to be fair, there are a few Democrats from fossil fuel dependent regions which also support this bill) put very little effort into justifying this legislation.  They called two climate scientist "skeptics" to testify before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, and in a sign of the meaninglessness of the hearing, they also called on Donald Roberts to rant about DDT regulations.  The "skeptics'" testimony was little more than a litany of long-debunked climate myths, but the Congressmen in the hearing didn't seem very interested in hearing what the scientists had to say anyway.  At the end of the hearing, Democrat Congressman Markey wittily summed up the proceedings:

"Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to a bill that overturns the scientific finding that pollution is harming our people and our planet.

However, I won’t physically rise, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating about the room..."

Markey's full comments are well worth reading.  Soon thereafter, the subcommittee passed the bill by voice vote, and the measure will next be sent to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Fortunately, as Congressman Markey noted, even if the bill is passed by the House of Representatives, it has little chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and if it were to pass there, President Obama would almost certainly veto this legislation.

Nevertheless, the mere existence of the bill is an ominous sign of the Republican war on climate science, in which they believe they can overturn scientific evidence based on nothing more than the ignorant opinions of a few politicians.  Similarly, Republicans in the Montana state legislature recently introduced a bill which stated, among other scientific falsehoods,

"global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it."

It seems as though Republicans think that politics can dictate science.  Unfortunately, passing legislation saying that humans are not causing global warming, or that greenhouse gas emissions do not pose a threat to public health and welfare, does not change the physical reality that these statements are simply wrong.

The climate operates based on the laws of physics, not the laws of Montana or the United States of America.  Republicans may have declared war on science, but it's a war they cannot win.  By pretending that we can dictate how the climate will behave with a few simple words on a piece of paper, all we can accomplish is to bury our heads in the sand and doom ourselves to the catastrophic fate that awaits us in a business-as-usual scenario.  These politicians need to be reminded that they are supposed to be looking out for the American public's welfare and best interests, not prohibiting the EPA from doing just that.

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Comments 101 to 150 out of 182:

  1. It's John's site and he can do what he likes with it. But it's of immense value to me and if this post heralds a change of direction towards discussing the politics of one nation - any nation - then I feel that its value will be reduced. The comments on this post, including my own, reinforce that feeling. Climate is a global matter. Politics is not. The political discussion in my country is just as brain-dead as the discussion in the US, but it's not the same discussion. I have a small chance of influencing the policy of my own government. I have none at all of influencing that of the US. This is one out of hundreds of posts. I sympathise with its content but to me as a regular reader and frequent referrer to Skeptical Science it really does seem out of place. I hope it's useful for you, meaning John and mods, to know that. Many thanks and best wishes.
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    Moderator Response: [Daniel Bailey] Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion, as opinions matter and can make a difference. But there is a method to our madness. :) More science is coming, with yet more in the pipeline.
  2. "beginning immediately WW2 ended?" Hardly. Very little about US foreign policy before the 'fall' of the USSR had to do with exporting democracy. More to the point was a series of proxy wars. But what does this have to do with the topic of this thread, which is mired in the politics of here and now?
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  3. Nothing like a political post to get the juices flowing....I posted on here at #2 and then 24 hours later it's over 100. Seems we have a lot of political steam to vent. While I can see the reason to do this occasionally on this website, I have to agree with others on here that I hope this is not going to be the norm for this site. I love this website and continue to view it daily and hope it doesn't turn into a RC clone. I've learned more on this website about Climate Science than all the others put together and I applaud those who make this site possible. There was a question from my post that I hope to clarify here. #15 - MattJ "Your idealized picture of the American personality is quite false. Why, now I have to play the part of the man from Missouri and ask YOu for the evidence for your stance: don't tell me, show me that such is the attitude of the majority of Americans." This article seems to imply that if only Republicans were removed from office then Cap and Trade legislation would pass. But in 2009 and 2010, Democrats had a 'super majority' in both the House and the Senate and also occupied the Executive branch. They had 2 years to push through any legislation they deemed relevant and there wasn't anything Republicans could have done to stop them. Why did they not pass Cap and Trade? Because they knew the majority of people didn't feel it was necessary and this included many Democrats. If the country wanted this, then the politicians would have felt secure in passing it. They didn't.
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  4. Considering that many of us here appear to be enduring ruling bodies suffering cranial-rectal inversions, here's a simple question: Why not just ignore them? Can we not affect immense change from the ground up? Spare me the discussion of how individual households represent only a miniscule part of the carbon emission equation - I get that. But members of these same households are those who work in industry and who have the mouths that require much agriculture and consequent transportation. Can we not push for reform/minimizing carbon footprints at our work? Can we not forsake cars and use public transport or nonmotorized means? Can we not consume only locally grown food, plant trees, minimize our consumer purchases? And so on - in say, a million different ways? Or are we dependent on the governing bodies above to come around and approve meaningful action? The bumperstickers "Think Globally, Act Locally" and "If enough people lead, the leaders will follow" have at least a kernel of truth.
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  5. PS: Here's a good article as to why Cap-and-Trade is a Bad Idea by a US Congressional Representative (Peter deFazio, Democrat out of Oregon).
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  6. garythompson:
    This article seems to imply that if only Republicans were removed from office then Cap and Trade legislation would pass. But in 2009 and 2010, Democrats had a 'super majority' in both the House and the Senate and also occupied the Executive branch. They had 2 years to push through any legislation they deemed relevant and there wasn't anything Republicans could have done to stop them. Why did they not pass Cap and Trade?
    Fillibuster in the Senate. Obama put health care reform first, and since there are always a couple of Dems from coal-producing states, getting 60 votes on cloture was problematic from the beginning. Your claim that "they had 2 years to push through any legislation they deemed relevant" is false regarding cap and trade, because of those Dems from coal-producing states. With MA voting in a Republican, even the dream of getting 60 votes disappeared. Yes, if there had been no Republicans in the Senate, cap and trade would've been passed (actually, more likely, a straight carbon tax). The same would've been true if the Senate followed the more democratic rules of the House. But the combination of the fillibuster and a very small number (<5) of Dems who are beholden to the fossil fuel industry ... there was no chance.
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  7. Spare me the discussion of how individual households represent only a miniscule part of the carbon emission equation - I get that. But members of these same households are those who work in industry and who have the mouths that require much agriculture and consequent transportation. Can we not push for reform/minimizing carbon footprints at our work?
    Etc ... Actually many states and municipalities have been taking action, for many years. It's patchwork, and not as effective as federal actions, and obviously those states with tards as governor (Wisconsin ...) aren't playing, but progress is being made. The really huge problem on the horizon will be the Right fighting States' Rights to do pollution control, with the Federal government forbidding such action. This fight's been going on for a couple of decades, at least, with the "States Rights über alles" extreme right insisting that it only applies to states that walk away from federal regulations on business, pollution, etc ... if states exceed federal law/regulation, "States Rights" flies right out the window for these people.
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  8. Here's a good article as to why Cap-and-Trade is a Bad Idea by a US Congressional Representative (Peter deFazio, Democrat out of Oregon).
    I'm from Oregon, and I like DeFazio, but the problem is that he's wrong in the sense that doing *nothing* is definitely worse than Cap and Trade. And he has never offered an alternative that has had any chance of passing. His idealism also led to him voting against the health care reform law. Sorry, Peter, extending coverage to more people is better than sitting on our ass and being disappointed that the law didn't legislate Nirvana (it's an easier argument for him because the Oregon Health Care plan already provides basic coverage for everyone in the state, not as good as [say] Costa Rica, but better than any state other than perhaps MA (but we passed our law years earlier). So his stance wasn't hurting oregonians, necessarily - just red state poor people.
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  9. dhogaza I agree the grassroots effort thus far is a patchwork thus far. But I also think there is a potential for sweeping change at the municipal and possibly the state level. You make a good point about State's rights. There's always federal-state tension, but I agree that the strength of the bonds are going to be tested to new degrees soon. While I hear your frustration with nothing getting done, I am not sure that nothing is worse than passing cap-and-trade. deFazio's observations make it seem that cap-and-trade might simply give an illusion of progress where none has been made. It might be better to know nothing has been done. I also have a powerful skepticism as to using the same free-market/profiteering mechanisms that tanked the U.S. economy - and contributed mightily to the current climate change plight - for resolving the situation. I favor a carbon tax, preferrably an increasingly punitive one over time, where the proceeds go to renewable energy and efficiency efforts. Of course, the word "tax" is considered a death knell to any proposition - but I think that that paradigm is worth challenging. At least you have progressively idealistic representatives in Oregon. Here in Alaska our politicians would drill through their grandmother's graves to get a drop of oil.
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  10. sorry a whole bunch has disappeared after the "smaller than" sign. [snipped]
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    Moderator Response: Once again discussion of the Greenhouse Effect should be discussed on The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics
  11. To: dana1981 I wrote, "...yet, how many people would still be alive, say, one year after a complete ban on fossil fuel consumption? " ...to which you wrote (dana1981 at 07:35 AM on 14 March, 2011 ), "RSVP - nobody is suggesting a complete ban on fossil fuel consumption. No strawmen please" ...OK, not a complete ban, so is it also a strawman to assume climate science has determined that there will be less human suffering on the whole if the big oil valve in the sky gets cranked to the right, (precisely at a historical point when world oil consumption is on the increase), and that the amount of this adjustment has been adequately determined? Here I am not questioning the effects of GHGs. I am only saying that there is no free lunch at this point. The world food supply depends on oil in a huge way, and any reduction in oil is going to affect world hunger, which means lives. I am comparing apples with apples, no strawman. If anything is a strawman, its your trite reply.
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  12. So RSVP, what do you think is going to happen to food supply when the oil actually runs out for good-as its expected to do sometime this century? The reality is that this is *exactly* the reason we need to start using *less* oil in areas where we don't need to use it (you know, like burning 20% of our petrol just to stand still in long queues of traffic?) We should be saving *every* drop of oil for those areas where there is still no suitable replacement, whilst simultaneously looking for ways to replace oil in those areas too. Unfortunately your mates (& you, judging from your prior arguments) seem to think we should continue wasting oil doing things in the most inefficient way possible and/or by using oil where genuine alternatives exist. For example, why does the US need to use so much oil to heat homes, when methane from a landfill or sewerage treatment would do just as well? Why drive one person to a car, in the height of peak hour, when you should be able to catch a bus or-better yet-work from home using our information superhighway? Indeed, why do so many people still insist on driving gas-guzzlers when they can get around in an electric vehicle for less than a quarter of the running costs of a diesel or petrol powered vehicle? Or is your famine argument just another straw-man argument designed to defend the all-powerful oil industry's profits?
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  13. Marcus, help, I'm lost. You just convinced me that oil and other fossil fuels weren't necessary after all, and now you're saying that it is of primordial importance to spare them as much as possible? Why spare a useless, unnecessary resource ?
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  14. Yeah right Gilles, you've always sounded beyond convincing of anything outside of your narrow, pro-fossil fuel opinions (which reads as "Fossil Fuels GOOD. Renewable Energy BAD"-sound familiar?) There are still clearly things-like agriculture & plastics-for which suitable replacements for oil either do not yet exist, or do not exist in sufficient quantity to replace oil altogether, though in time even for these uses oil will become completely obsolete. Even then, its always good to have these resources in reserve, just in case we need it for some kind of emergency. Contrary to your straw-man arguments, I've never argued for the overnight abolition of the use of oil-or any other fossil fuel-but a transition away from a fossil fuel free economy over a space of several decades. Of course, if we keep *wasting* the oil on pointless things-like sitting around in peak hour traffic, each burning around 2L-3L/100km of petrol, then its not even going to last that long. Yet people like you & RSVP seem to think we should just keep using it recklessly until we're forced into a rapid transition by the complete depletion of the resource, a scenario which will almost certainly result in the wars, poverty & famine which you & RSVP keep telling us you want to avoid.
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  15. Oh, & just to alleviate your confusion, I do believe that coal is a completely useless & obsolete resource-but again it doesn't hurt to have some in reserve just in case we need it. All the same, it is already possible to generate base-load & Peak-load power *without* needing to resort to coal or nuclear power. That still doesn't mean that I'm advocating an overnight switch from coal to renewable energy. As I said previously, in spite of your frequent straw-man arguments, even the anti-fossil fuel people here on this site recognize that a transition to a fossil fuel free economy is *not* going to occur overnight-but that doesn't mean we can't *start* that transition right now. People like you, however, would have us hold off any action until *after* the horse has bolted.
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  16. I'd like to thank the mods, Tom Curtis and others for defending our imperfect form of government, and correct a trivial error by dhogaza: there were six Democrats (not five) voting against EPA oversight of GHG (see http://community.adn.com/node/151996) Also AFAIK, the amendment last summer marked the last time that either body of Congress could stop the EPA without the President's signature (they have a 60 day window to do that although there are technicalities involved and Republican may try to stop funding instead). BTW, Markey is a Representative, not a Senator.
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  17. >NoFreeWind, Instead of whining about your perceptions of what modern is, I suggest you just get on with the job and change. Sure let's wreck our civilization to bring down 2100 temperatures by .006 to .0015 degrees, at a cost of 1900 trillion dollars. Then the world will see how smart we are and follow us, that's the theory right. Maybe, if your models are right, we could bring down 2100 temps by .1 if the world world participates. "In rulemaking documents from April 2010, the EPA writes, “Based on the reanalysis the results for projected atmospheric CO2 concentrations are estimated to be reduced by an average of 2.9 ppm [parts per million] (previously 3.0 ppm), global mean temperature is estimated to by reduced by 0.006 to 0.0015 ˚C by 2100.” http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/epa-s-own-estimates-say-greenhouse-gas-r
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  18. nofreewind @117, Would that not be better than a 3 deg C increase which is the direction we are headed?
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  19. Just to clarify my previous post at 118, the 3C I'm talking about is from pre industrial CO2 doubling, not that much increase between 2011 and 2100.
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  20. nofreewind @117, the EPA regulations, or the proposed Carbon Tax in Australia do not, and are not intended to solve the problem of global warming. They are designed to be the first step in that solution. Granted that if we do not take the following steps, that first step would have been pointless. But it is no argument against starting a journey that the first step does not get you to the destination; and that is the essence of your argument. If we do take the following steps, however, as many studies have shown, the cost of the entire journey will be less than the cost of the damages if we do not take it. Of course, those studies are seriously flawed. For instance, they typically do not include as costs the likely loss of such important ecosystems as the Amazon Jungle or the Great Barrier Reef. Nor do they include any reduction in growth in GDP due to climate change driven natural disasters. In fact, on every step they tend to radically underestimate the costs of global warming. So, if we step outside of the economists flawed models, the case for substantive action on global warming becomes stronger.
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  21. Marcus, I am not pro-ANYTHING. I have no vested interest in anything. I know that all energy sources have drawbacks. Fossil fuels pollute (not only with CO2) and are finite, hydro- and geothermal electricity require specific geographical configurations, wind and solar are intermittent, nuclear produces dangerous wastes and can explode. That's unfortunate, but that's life, you know : nobody's perfect. So I'm JUST looking at reality. When I say that no industrial country can exist without fossil fuels, it's just what I'm observing. Are there industrial countries without nuclear? yes. Without hydroelectricity ? yes. Without windmills, solar panel?yes, yes. Without fossil fuels? no. Even those that are totally deprived of them. That's just facts, man. And even the currently growing economies like China and India, despite they've access to all modern technologies (actually they built almost everything we use for all industrial processes, including alternative energy, don't they ?) can't help increasing their FF consumption. Maybe a "a transition to a fossil fuel free economy is *not* going to occur overnight", but you should first ask why fossil fuel economies are just being settled in countries that had very few before, and that they obviously refuse to curtail their emissions - they just accept to reduce their energy intensity, which is a rather obvious thing to do anyway. I am not defending anything, I'm just looking at facts. Now you can believe very strongly that you could do it differently. I'm just observing that nobody in the world can achieve an industrial society without FF, that's all.
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  22. Gilles... If no industrial country can exist without fossil fuels then we have a much larger problem on our hands. By that thinking there is no way industrial civilization can exist for even 100 more years regardless of climate change. In fact, it's even worse than that. Basically the collapse of industrial civilization has begun already as energy supplies fall behind demand. There are those of us who don't see things that way. There are those who say, "Yes, we have a massive task ahead of us but we must transition to new forms of energy, and we can." Seems like there is a pessimist side and an optimist side. Funny how the optimists are also labeled as the "alarmists."
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  23. nofreewind #117 - I don't know what you're referring to, but no piece of legislation ever proposed would cost $1.9 quadrillion. Please, let's remain grounded in reality here. Rob #122 - good point that those of us who are optimistic that we can make the transition away from fossil fuels without destroying civilization are the ones being labeled "alarmists". Ironic. As a general note, this post is not a "change of direction" for Skeptical Science. A few months back we noted that we would start addressing climate solutions in addition to the fundamental science. We haven't done a whole lot of solutions posts, and the site will remain focused primarily on the science. This is just one of those infrequent solutions posts, as Republican politicians are effectively blocking all large-scale climate solutions in the USA.
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  24. The title of this thread is: "Republicans to Repeal Laws of Physics" Can we please try and focus on the fact that most Republicans either think that they know more than science and the scientists, or that they dismiss the science and the science. There are other threads (and sites) dealing with the expected costs of reducing GHGs, targets, pros and cons renewable options et cetera. Gilles, nofreewind, RSVP and other "skeptics" defending the Republicans on this thread: 1) Do you or do you not support the anti-science agenda of the Republicans? 2) Did you even listen to the circus last week and the nonsensical and ideological claims that almost all of the Republican senators were making? The EPA has already addressed the concerns brought forward by the public on this issue. This thread is a perfect example of a few stubborn souls standing in the way of science and progress, and of argumentum ad absurdum by "skeptics". Seems that the "skeptics" have quite a bit in common with the discredited Republican representatives when it comes to science. Go figure.
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  25. Marcus 112, 114, 115 I actually concur. There is nothing sacred about oil, and if its combustion is messing up the atmosphere, a replacemente needs to be found and quick, but if the replacement isnt par to support the existing output, some group, somewhere is going to suffer. In other words, just because you are able to control global warming doesnt mean you have saved the world from some kind of disaster.
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  26. Dana, "Republican politicians are effectively blocking all large-scale climate solutions in the USA." It is worse than that Dana-- because of NAFTA they are essentially blocking reductions of GHG emissions in Canada and Mexico too. Worse yet, if they do not move, the "BASIC" bloc countries - Brazil, South Africa, India and China, won't budge. The USA needs to enter into an agreement with the BASIC bloc. Anyhow, I would rather speak to the Republican's contempt for science. I need to keep reminding myself that the USA put men on the moon...
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  27. RSVP #125: "There is nothing sacred about oil," Actually there are petrochemical derivatives in many products. You should say 'There is nothing sacred about oil as a fuel source.' Albatross #126: "I would rather speak to the Republican's contempt for science" Hope you are prepared to give a long speech. This goes to the core beliefs of the hard right turn that swept the US, starting with the '94 Newt 'revolution.' They're tightly organized, have co-opted fear as a motivator and depend on the kind of party loyalty that precludes freedom of thought. Lincoln wouldn't recognize this crowd.
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  28. Rob, I totally agree with your views. I am not an optimist - I am a realist. And because I am a realist, I am an alarmist. I'm just saying that the worse problems won't be the climatic ones, but the energetic ones, that SRES scenarios are unduly optimistic about our capacities to produce so much FF that we could exceed 500 ppm or so, and that advocates of alternative energy are unduly optimistic about our capacities to replace them. Yes of course, I'm an alarmist, probably much worse that all climate alarmists. I am saying that the depletion of fossil fuel is not threatening some poor people along low coastlines - it is threatening the whole industrial civilisation. It will not cost 20% of GDP. It will eventually cost 99 % of GDP- because after the exhaustion of FF , it is unlikely that the Earth support more than 1billion people , and that their standard of living exceeds 1/10 of ours. And yes, I do think it is about to begin - actually I think that the current crisis IS the beginning.
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  29. Albatross : I am NOT defending Republicans, I don't care about republicans, and they probably wouldn't share my view on the destiny of industrial civilization. From a political point of view, I am a social-democrat and I think that the market will be unable to find a solution -actually that there isn't any real solution, but that the states should insure the protection of poorest people and a minimum of equity facing the unescapable crisis. Is my political position clearer ?
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  30. Gilles, Thanks-- I do not care what you political leanings are, there are in fact some very open-minded conservatives such as Markey out there. As I keep trying to emphasize-- my interest lies primarily with the abuse and contempt of science by right-wing ideologues such as the GOP and the Tea Party (and conservatives in Canada too incidentally). It is very telling that so-called "skeptics" are not willing to stand up for science when it is under assault, but as evidenced on this thread put forward any reason under the sun to essentially justify the GOP's desire to cripple the EPA, to go against the scientific guidance it has been presented and to ignore the need to regulate and reduce GHG emissions (not ban or eliminate as some GOP senators claimed (and lied) last week). How a nation who put men on the moon can now choose to adopt such a defeatist attitude is beyond me. republicans may think that the USA is the centre of the universe, it ain't, we all share this planet and they do not live in a bubble. And Gilles, the world continues to consume about 78 million barrels of oil a day, and CO2 continues to increase at the upper range of the SRES scenarios (surely you do not deny that reality). Regarding the myth that we cannot increase CO2 to 560 ppm, you and those making that claim are sadly wrong and out of touch with reality. There are mountains of coal for us to burn through, under BAU we will reach 560 ppm and then some. If you are concerned about declining FFs and the devastation of "industrial civilization", then you should be first in line encouraging the regulation and reduction of GHG emissions, energy conservation and efficiency etc.. Your position here makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I've come to expect contradictory and incoherent reasoning from "skeptics" and contrarians.
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Indeed. As Romm notes, the MIT study projects "a median projection for the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2095 is a jaw-dropping 866 ppm."

  31. Albatross, Markey is a Democrat.
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  32. RSVP wrote : "The world food supply depends on oil in a huge way, and any reduction in oil is going to affect world hunger, which means lives." I reckon (without any facts or figures at hand, admittedly) that the majority (probably ?) of the world would get their food locally, which would also be produced without much in the way of mechanical help - if only because they would grow it themselves or can't afford to get it from anywhere further than half a day's walk/cycle/horse-ride away. So, I don't think things are as simplistic as you suggest, especially as many people in what is called the 'developed world' are already actually trying to reduce their 'food miles'.
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  33. Dana @131, Thanks-- blush. Sorry!
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  34. "I'd like to thank the mods, Tom Curtis and others for defending our imperfect form of government..." Defending it is one thing, mischaracterizing it as a "democracy" rather than "representative republic" is simply wrong. Note that I do defend it, including the non-democratic Senate - as I pointed out, I come from a state with 1/10th the population of California, and am glad we have the same number of Senators as California does.
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  35. Albatross, "How a nation who put men on the moon can now choose to adopt such a defeatist attitude is beyond me. republicans may think that the USA is the centre of the universe, it ain't ... they do not live in a bubble." We could do an Apollo program because we were scared of the Soviets ... and because there were moderately intelligent folks in charge at the time ... and we weren't broke. Now we lack all those ingredients, except we should be scared, but the folks in charge are so unintelligent that they think they do live in a bubble. The bad news is that even if we have a 'best and brightest,' they don't go into public service: they go to work for Goldman Sachs.
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  36. There are wildly varying definitions of the terms 'democracy' and 'republic' in this thread... particularly as they apply to the United States. U.S. Supreme Court rulings have established that the term 'republic' as used in the Constitution is basically synonymous with 'representational democracy'... in that a republic is defined as a system of government in which all citizens are given equal representation (U.S. v Cruikshank 1875) and are allowed to choose their government (In re Duncan 1891). In recent decades it has become popular in some Republican (meaning the political party) groups to argue that the United States was not meant to be a democracy but rather a 'republic' (alternate definition) wherein only an 'enlightened few' ran the country. This WAS the preference of some founders, but was NOT the final result adopted by the nation. Conversely, in some liberal groups it have become popular to argue that the United States is de facto NOT a democracy, but rather an oligarchy wherein elected representatives work on behalf of rich campaign contributors rather than voters. While this has certainly become closer to 'truth' over time, politicians ARE still beholden to large voter blocs as well. The United States is a republic... and a democracy. Just not a very good example of either at the moment.
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  37. You guys are absolutely right about one thing. This cap n' trade and alternative energy is all about politics. Because without politics there is hardly one single person that would ever consider paying for alternative energy, nor would they ever worry about global warming. Can you imagine someone building their own solar farm when the electricity is creates will cost 50 cents per kilowatt hour? Wind is much cheaper than that, but is only built because politics demand that it will be built. Who would ever consider wind when it takes almost 10,000 turbines to match the output of a 2500 MW nuclear plant or even 4,000 turbines to match a teeny tiny 1GW nat gas plant. And the funny thing is that you have to build the nuclear plant or nat gas anyway. Same goes for electric cars. Even with the Gov't deciding to let out kids worry about paying for about 1/6th of a 42K Volt, there will be very, very takers. The Laws of Physics, which you appear to be so well versed in regarding ACC (we have to switch to AnthroClCh so everything fits, right?), apply to alternative energy too, so do Laws of Economics!
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  38. nofreewind -
    "without politics there is hardly one single person that would...ever worry about global warming"
    That's quite obviously demonstrably false.
    "Can you imagine someone building their own solar farm when the electricity is creates will cost 50 cents per kilowatt hour?"
    That's kind of an irrelevant question, since solar PV costs about half that much. Personally I'm leasing solar panels for my home, and the net cost will be approximately the same as if I bought all my energy from the local utility. So yes, I would do it regardless of politics.
    "Who would ever consider wind"
    All those bleeding heart liberals in Texas, apparently.
    "Same goes for electric cars"
    I guess that's why there's over 50,000 people on the Nissan Leaf waiting list, huh?
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  39. nofreewind @ 137... Regarding your comment about the laws of economics... That depends on how you add up all the economic costs. The laws of economics are, very clearly, not a fixed equation (ask any economist). The whole point to cap & trade or a carbon tax is that there are external costs to burning carbon which are currently not being captured in the overall economic equation. It's the story of "you can pay me now, or you can pay me later... but you're going to have to pay me." Once you build in the external costs of carbon alternative energy generation becomes more cost effective.
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  40. RH 139 "Once you build in the external costs of carbon alternative energy generation becomes more cost effective." ...until you start tracking the "external costs" of these, or are they completely free of "external costs"?
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  41. RSVP #140 - by "external costs", Rob is referring to their impacts on the climate (and other impacts on public and environmental health). Most alternative energy sources do not have these external costs. There are no emissions from wind, solar, geothermal, etc. energy production (other than with their construction).
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  42. Albatross : as a scientist, I cannot support any attitude of contempt of science. My criticisms about climate science are precisely issued when I find that it becomes less scientific - mixing up probabilities and certitudes, underestimating uncertainties, doing undue extrapolation, cherry picking data without a global view of realities, confusing numerical simulations and experimental evidence - all these things aren't for me good science. "And Gilles, the world continues to consume about 78 million barrels of oil a day, and CO2 continues to increase at the upper range of the SRES scenarios (surely you do not deny that reality)." maybe, but it doesn't mean anything sensible. SRES scenario have no predictive power, they are not based on known and validated laws, they have no associated probability - it is just some set of possible histories, which may all be quite unlikely. So actually you compare reality with nothing like a model. Most SRES scenarios were already wrong when they were published, because the fuel consumption in the 90's was already greater than their prediction. Now, does the fact that production exceeds NOW a scenario mean that it will ever exceed it? certainly not. Local growth at the beginning of the century doesn't mean anything about the date of the peak production, and the subsequent decrease, nor the integral of FF burnt in the century. So it doesn't mean than the ultimate amount of FF will reach that of most scenarios. " Regarding the myth that we cannot increase CO2 to 560 ppm, you and those making that claim are sadly wrong and out of touch with reality. There are mountains of coal for us to burn through, under BAU we will reach 560 ppm and then some. " actually 560 may be reachable in the far future - I don't think that it will be a catastrophe either. " If you are concerned about declining FFs and the devastation of "industrial civilization", then you should be first in line encouraging the regulation and reduction of GHG emissions, energy conservation and efficiency etc.. Your position here makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I've come to expect contradictory and incoherent reasoning from "skeptics" and contrarians."" where did you see that my position was that we shouldn't encourage the reduction of FF consumption, and better energy conservation and efficiency ?
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  43. Come on Rob, we all know nofreewind is just spreading anti-renewable propaganda. I actually checked his claims about wind farm size, & its just plain wrong. According to specs I've seen, a single turbine has a rated output of 7MW & a capacity factor of 36%-which means a *real* output of about 2.5MW per turbine. This means you'd only need 1,000 turbines to replace a 2500MW nuclear power station. Also, unlike a nuclear power station, the land occupied by those 1,000 turbines can still be used for other purposes-something the anti-renewable crowd usually choose to forget. Also, if the wind-farms were built with storage mechanisms in place (like a Vanadium Redox Battery), you'd practically *double* the capacity factor (close to 70%), which means you'd only 500 turbines to replace his 2500MW nuclear reactor-& without the waste & safety issues. As to current cost of renewable energy & electric vehicles, nofreewind seems to be deliberately ignorant of the fact that *all* new technologies come at a heightened cost, but that cost comes down with increased uptake & economies of scale. He might be surprised to learn that the first commercial coal power stations produced power at a price of around $3/kw-h-in today's money-hardly a bargain price. Also, the very first petrol-powered cars were far from cheap in today's money, & were really only owned by the rich. Of course, nofreewind's comments deliberately ignore the fact that the *lifetime* cost of electric vehicles is significantly less than petrol-powered vehicles, due to lower fuel & maintenance costs. Still, I'm very impressed by how many misrepresentations he manages to squeeze into a single post.
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  44. "Albatross : as a scientist, I cannot support any attitude of contempt of science. My criticisms about climate science are precisely issued when I find that it becomes less scientific - mixing up probabilities and certitudes, underestimating uncertainties, doing undue extrapolation, cherry picking data without a global view of realities, confusing numerical simulations and experimental evidence - all these things aren't for me good science." Well as a scientist myself, Gilles, I've yet to see any evidence that climate scientists have ever been guilty of the things you accuse them of-in spite of numerous attempts by contrarians to impugn their reputation. The Contrarians, by contrast, have a long history of misrepresenting the science to advance their own political agenda. Sorry, Gilles, but your attempts to pass yourself off as neutral on this issue just aren't backed up by your comments to date.
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  45. dana1981 "Most alternative energy sources do not have these external costs." Is nuclear power considered an alternative energy source? Just wondering... and you might want to also clarify if it is considered "renewable". Part two: Hydroelectric, and you might want to add a comment or two about salmon runs and other environmental effects. Then there is windpower, which I guess has no appreciable cost to the environment, although as its efficiency goes up, it cant possibly be any cooler in downwind vicinities. Generally speaking, if so called "alternatives" were so attractive, they wouldnt be alternatives.
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  46. "Generally speaking, if so called "alternatives" were so attractive, they wouldn't be alternatives" Wow, good to see you hopping on nofreewind's propaganda bandwagon RSVP. Maybe the reason they're "alternatives" is because the extraction & sale of non-renewable fuels (oil, coal & uranium) is still so lucrative to those that lobby our political representatives-especially when tax-payers continue to subsidize the costs of these enterprises.
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  47. "Then there is windpower, which I guess has no appreciable cost to the environment, although as its efficiency goes up, it cant possibly be any cooler in downwind vicinities." Wow, what a load of pseudo-scientific codswollop! Are you *honestly* trying to tell us that the enormous environmental degradation caused by the mining, washing &, in the case of uranium, enrichment of non-renewable fuels is a better environmental & health option than a wind turbine, hydroelectric dam or solar plant? Or what about the toxic emissions from the average coal power station-things like mercury, cadmium, radon & particulate emissions? We all *know* that all energy generation options have some negative environmental impacts, but there is clearly some energy generation options that have far worse impacts than renewable energy technologies.
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  48. Gilles @142, Nice try to reframe the argument, but I can only assume that those practices to which you refer (cherry-picking etc.) are those which have been engaged in by "skeptics" and contrarians, including those who have testified to Congress on behalf of the Republicans. So yes, I hope that you will join us in condemning the misinformation and distortion presented by the likes of Lindzen, Christy, Michaels, Pielke Snr and Monckton (their misinformation has been well documented here at SkS and elsewhere) to the US Congress and people of the USA. And that is before we have dealt with the so-called "post-normal science" crowd, whose scientific misconduct has been well documented and is the subject of at least one investigation. "SRES scenario have no predictive power, they are not based on known and validated laws, they have no associated probability - it is just some set of possible histories, which may all be quite unlikely." Wow, if you wish to have any credibility, at least try and back up your beliefs with some substance, citations, and science. This kind of vacuous arm waving serves no purpose. And yet you somehow feel free to accuse others of not quantifying the probability?.... How do you reconcile this statement made by you: "Most SRES scenarios were already wrong when they were published, because the fuel consumption in the 90's was already greater than their prediction" With your claim that "560 may be reachable in the far future - I don't think that it will be a catastrophe either." You are contradicting yourself, not to mention arm waving again. No supporting evidence, just opinion and unsubstantiated assertions. That is not convincing and is most certainly not scientific. And with that in mind, I am confident that most people here are likely to care what you may or may not think/believe. "where did you see that my position was that we shouldn't encourage the reduction of FF consumption" Well, it is difficult to keep track of your position on this amongst all the arm waving. OK, so we agree that the EPA should be permitted to regulate GHG emissions which will reduce FF consumption and pollution.
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  49. RSVP #145:
    "Is nuclear power considered an alternative energy source?"
    Depends on your definition. In terms of external costs, nuclear power is pretty good, as long as waste and decommissioning costs are taken into account.
    "Generally speaking, if so called "alternatives" were so attractive, they wouldnt be alternatives."
    No, that's wrong. They're alternatives because they're relatively new technologies compared to fossil fuels. Alternative just means not traditional.
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  50. as the conversation has drifted to Nuclear - probably for some very unfortunate reasons... "alternative" isn't an end in it's self... low environmental impact / MWh is. A quick heads up for a recent an interesting: Real Climate Economics post which includes a broad range of environmental cost comparisons, including CO2 emisions:
    The same literature review reported estimates of life-cycle emissions from renewable electricity generation ranging from 9 to 41 mT CO2-e per MWh, with wind and hydropower at 9 to10, and photovoltaics at 32. Fossil fuel-burning plants, in contrast, ranged from about 440 mT CO2-e per MWh for natural gas combined cycle turbines, up to 1,050 for some coal plants. Thus nuclear power [66 mT CO2-e per MWh] has much lower life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels, but higher than leading renewable technologies.
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