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Carbon Taxation of Airplanes

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Last week, the European Union decided to delay carbon emissions taxation on airplanes operating into the EU from outside its borders, which brought a cheer from NBAA and other aviation groups. And well it should, since the EU's so-called Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is a toweringly bad idea. But anyone who thinks this is the end of aircraft being targeted as carbon polluters is either ill-informed or naïve. The EU's climate commissioner merely said the decision was delayed a year to give the world aviation community time to figure out an alternative.

Basically, the ETS slaps on a levy to pay for carbon emissions for aircraft operating in the EU and the plan had been to extend this to aircraft operating into Europe from outside its borders. This has obviously raised the ire of other countries as a violation of sovereignty to the extent that the U.S. House of Representatives voted to bar U.S. airlines from paying such levies. If that had the weight of law—and I doubt that it could have—U.S. airlines operating into Europe could find themselves in an Alice in Wonderland of conflicting international law.

This profound silliness shows how absurd and utterly polarized the discourse over carbon emissions and climate change has become. In Europe, the member countries of the EU are taking atmospheric carbon load seriously enough to actually legislate to control it and even if the current law doesn't stick, something eventually will. In the U.S., we haven't yet gotten past the stage of shrill anti-science deniers more or less controlling the conversation. In my view, two events will change that: One is Hurricane Sandy, the other the recent election. Not that blame for Sandy can be traced directly to carbon emissions, but the extensive damage it caused to major northeastern cities puts a data point on the climatologists' predictions that higher carbon dioxide concentration and its associated warming would cause ever more extreme weather events. Noted.

It's still fashionable in this country to rail against the carbon and climate connection being a huge hoax. If you'd like rail yourself, be my guest; the comment section can be your personal playground. Increasingly, however, the views of the hoaxers—even if they're right in principle if not fact—aren't going to carry much weight. Credible or not, markets are adapting to a warmer world where 100-year storms will come every five or even two years. Insurers have been and will continue to structure their—and our—premiums accordingly. It won't matter if you deny anthropogenic global warming, you'll be paying for it nonetheless.

Airplanes are especially juicy targets in these skirmishes because they burn a lot of fuel and, in the case of jet transports, exhaust CO2 into the upper levels of the atmosphere. And given how willing the EU is to carbon-tax airplanes, you can't help but wonder if the burghers in Brussels believe that aircraft are actually nothing but discretionary luxuries. States outside the EU—such as developing countries like China and India—have been heard to complain that the EU's ETS is discriminatory and lines the union's pockets without doing much to reduce carbon emissions.

I think they're right, but for the wrong reasons. In theory, taxation can change behavior in a way that favors the public good. For example, higher fuel taxes encourage markets to offer more economical vehicles and/or encourage development of public transit. There's an upside to it. But all the carbon tax does is penalize. There's no upside because the argument that lower emissions from airplanes will impact climate outcome is utterly unconvincing, in my view. Yes, it might spur jet engine makers to develop more efficient products, but they are already under immense pressure from their customers—the airlines—to improve fuel efficiency. In the aggregate, all additional carbon taxation will do is dent the global economy with no discernible benefit. So why pursue these dead ends?

Personally, I've read the data and understand the theories. I've accepted the AGW reality. But like many (if not most) people on the planet, I'm not doing a thing to reduce my carbon footprint, which already makes a Sasquatch paw look like a ballerina. My Prius-driving neighbor, in the guise of feel-good environmentalism, is doing little more that's meaningful. If you happen to own and fly your own airplane burning, say, 1500 gallons of fuel a year, you're even worse. How to come to terms with this? Will burning 1400 or 1200 gallons make a difference in the outcome of climate change? Does this sound like a compelling argument to you? It doesn't to me.

In that context, pilots who consider themselves environmentalists have some thinking to do. While it's laudable to avoid being a profligate spewer of carbon where practical, the real choice is much more practical, it seems to me. And that's to accept that these efforts will have minimal effect, if any, on the overall climate outcome and to simply prepare for living in a warmer world. If all those houses washed away during Sandy are rebuilt in the same places to the same code and structural standards, you'll witness insanity expressed in concrete block and 8-foot studs.

My guess is they won't be. We're already seeing a trend toward more stringent and realistic code standards that reflect climate reality, forced by the insurance companies. Even new hangars in Florida have more steel than they did a decade ago, when flimsy was fine. I suspect vulnerable infrastructure like roads, tunnels and even airport runways will be rebuilt and hardened with future flooding in mind.

That makes more sense to me than a completely arbitrary tax on aircraft emissions. But then again, maybe I'm as loony as those commissioners in the EU.

Comments (98)

While the popular media picture of climate change is that it is purely a human-driven phenomenon that can be reduced to a simple choice between gasoline powered SUVs or electric (i.e. mostly coal-powered) Leafs, it is really a much more nuanced problem.

Throughout most of the Earth’s history the planet has been considerably warmer than today and for the most part ice-free even at high latitudes. Our current state where ice covers the polar regions, Greenland, etc., can be considered “abnormal” in the long historic view. The more recent & well documented periodic ice/glacier advances & retreats during the past 900,000 or so years that we typically refer to as “ice ages” are really considered to be just cyclic variations in the latest multi-million year ice age, even though they have been dramatic by human standards, with ice sheets at cold minimums dropping the sea levels 300 feet or more below their current level and tropical vegetation flourishing in what is now the high arctic during the warmer maximums. (continued)

Posted by: John Wilson | November 18, 2012 11:17 PM    Report this comment

(long post cont.) So contrary to the media version of global warming, the effects produced by human CO2 production are only an overlay on the natural cyclic variation, cycles which are initiated and arrested by…..well gosh, we don’t actually know. So in spite of all the learned pontifications and computer models, no one really knows precisely what the ultimate effect of human CO2 loading is going to be, and even less do we know how much even drastic measures to reduce it will alter that final result. Oh, there are plenty of people out there TELLING you they know beyond any shadow of doubt, but they really don’t. And plenty more who say the impact of a warmer climate is going to be so incredibly devastating to the planet’s life that cost cannot be a consideration in CO2 reduction, even when the reduction would be vanishingly small in the overall scheme of things.

My personal impression is that whatever the level of “damage” human CO2 is going to cause, it is to a great extent already a done deal. We can’t turn back the clock on the last 200 years of fossil fuel use, which all the “experts” assure us will inevitably result in God-awful everything no matter what we do now. This being the case I would rather see the money & effort go toward reducing our fossil fuel use in the most cost-effective areas such as bulk stationary power production first. Ineffective campaigns against minor CO2 sources like airplanes make good media but poor policy.

Posted by: John Wilson | November 18, 2012 11:19 PM    Report this comment

Paul, Hurricanes hitting the New York Area existed before New York... Just recently: On September 7 1869, three ships observed hurricane force winds over the western Atlantic Ocean, between the Bahamas and Bermuda. The storm moved northward, impacting several other ships as it paralleled the east coast of the United States; one of them reported a pressure of 956 mbar (28.24 inHg), which indicated the system was an intense hurricane. Late on September 8, it reached a peak intensity of 115 mph (185 km/h) with a pressure of 950 mbar (28.05 inHg). After brushing Long Island, the hurricane weakened slightly and made landfall on southwestern Rhode Island at peak intensity. It was one of four hurricanes, along with the 1938 New England hurricane, the 1944 Great Atlantic hurricane, and Hurricane Carol in 1954, to strike New England as a major hurricane, or Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale. All before significant amounts of Zee Oh Too were released by humans burning hydrocarbons.

Posted by: Robert Ziegler | November 19, 2012 2:00 AM    Report this comment

Obviously it matters a lot whether one accepts the argument that lower emissions from airplanes will impact climate outcome. I take it for granted that the European policy makers accept that premise. If so, then a carbon tax on airplanes makes good sense. You missed another effect of such a tax: it might persuade some travellers to skip the flight, and find an alternative way to hold the meeting or take a vacation. That should add up to less carbon emitted.

It also matters what happens with the money from the carbon tax. If it goes to reduce carbon emissions elsewhere, then that's another plus.

Of course, I'd be happier with an across-the-board carbon tax, rather than per-industry carbon countermeasures. That would let the market find the most efficient carbon reductions. But carbon taxes are a hard sell right now. The right-wing government in my home province of British Columbia introduced a revenue neutral carbon tax six years ago, and the left-wing eco-friendly opposition clobbered them for it. (No, I don't get how they ended up on those sides either.) The national centrist party tried making their central environmental plank a carbon tax, and got creamed, though this might have had more to do with the right-wing government party being better street fighters.

So until a carbon tax is politically possible, per-industry carbon measures, aviation included, seem reasonable -- to those of us who accept anthropogenic climate change and the need to change course.

Posted by: James DeLaHunt | November 19, 2012 2:06 AM    Report this comment

America emits 18.3% of the worlds CO2. Per capita compared to Britain (that is equally blase about CO2 emission)this emission is more than double. The evidence may not be scientific, a little like the early naysayers of smoking and its effects on cancer. We have to agree that there is some room for concern and America in particular needs to be more responsible about this issue. The "get used to living in a warmer climate" line is not well considered in my opinion. You are writing "cheques" with a bank account that belongs to future generations.

Posted by: Dennis Parker | November 19, 2012 4:56 AM    Report this comment

The idea of adapting to a warmer world is a good concept - it is already happening now and we have to make changes in how we live as a result. That said doing nothing about emissions is not an option either. The recent World Bank report points to a 4C rise in temperature this century, over the 0.8C we have already seen, if no action is taken to curb fossil fuel consumption. That may result in a world with so little food production available that humans may not survive these changes.

The Sydney Morning Herald report: www.smh.com.au/environment/degrees-of-devastation-major-report-warns-of-drastically-hotter-planet-20121119-29l3c.html

Posted by: Adam Hunt | November 19, 2012 4:57 AM    Report this comment

Europeans for the most part refuse to consider the mountain of evidence that man-made global warming is a cruel hoax perpetrated by socialists and their crony capitalist friends. The hilarious irony of this all is that Europeans are obsessed with warmth and sunshine, as evidenced by the high priority they place on long vacations and countless cheap airlines whose destinations are any place where sunshine and high temperatures are guaranteed. To show to their nosy neighbors that 'they care' they are happy to pay the Green surcharge on every aspect of their lives, a flock of sheep being led to slaughter. In English, this is called 'hypocrisy'. I lived there for a decade and ran a business with German employees, I know what I'm talking about. Couldn't wait to get back to the USA in 1996.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 19, 2012 7:02 AM    Report this comment

I know this forum is supposed to be about aircraft not automobiles, but here's a link everybody here should read:


I'd like to quote a part of the above:

"Downsized and driving less: UK motorists cut back

One in ten people have downsized their car to smaller engined-model to save money of running costs, according to new research from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

In a survey of some 2,000 UK motorists, drivers also revealed how they are cutting down on their car use with two thirds (65 per cent) indicating that they have changed their motoring habits in light of the recession and nearly a third (30 per cent) reporting that they only use the car for essential trips now. "

We should note that people in the UK are not cutting back on motoring for altruistic reasons. They are doing so for economic reasons. So I believe its in the long-term best interests of everybody, for there to be carbon taxes on fossil fuels to encourage ingenuity in finding ways to reduce consumption of same, and hence reduce CO2 emissions.

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | November 19, 2012 7:09 AM    Report this comment

Climate change is one of many areas where politics cloaks religion, and carbon taxes function as plenary indulgences. It's easy for tiny urban Europe to lecture vast rural America. But how practical is it? Even if we essentially abandon physical travel in favor of Skype encounters, have you looked at the collective carbon footbrint of the Internet lately? Pardon my heresy.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | November 19, 2012 7:13 AM    Report this comment

I know of a way to fly for hours using only a cup or two of MoGas. It's called Soaring. If you want to fly for fun, use the least amount of expesive Avgas as possible, fly without headphones, and enjoy the thrill of unpowered flight, then contact your local glider club and experience an afternoon of soaring. My club, here in the South Carolina upstate, uses a Ford V-8 powered winch to launch gliders to 1500 to 2100 ft AGL in 40 seconds using only a cup or two of gas. Once launched, pilots generally can fly for hours, until they are tired, hungry, or have to pee. The whole day of flying costs about $7.50 for the launch (for club members). You can't beat that kind of efficiency!

Posted by: Scott Thomason | November 19, 2012 7:14 AM    Report this comment

Whoooppps I forgot that URL links are censored to prevent spam. Here's how to get to the on-line article mentioned above:

First, do http://www. thegreencarwebsite. co. uk

Then do blog, index.php, 2012/11/19/, and finally look for this: downsized-and-driving-less-uk-motorists-cut-back/

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | November 19, 2012 7:14 AM    Report this comment

Here's how to get to the article I mentioned above: The basic web site is thegreencarwebsite, with the usual dub-dub-dub before and .co.uk after it. Then go to blog, then index.php, then /2012/11/19/, and finally look for the article downsized-and-driving-less-uk-motorists-cut-back/

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | November 19, 2012 7:17 AM    Report this comment

How much disturbance to "the environment" should a human being be allowed to make? If everything we do impacts the environment, then shouldn't our very existence be outlawed in order to serve the higher goal of preserving the planet?

Under such reasoning (that is quite popular today) there can be no concept of freedom, for there is no ability to do anything without negatively impacting the environment from the way it is declared to currently exist.

Posted by: A Richie | November 19, 2012 9:13 AM    Report this comment

Hurricanes, bad weather hotter weather melting ice caps etc “End of the world is Nigh”. Well I've lived through most the hyped up excuses to frighten people including Y2K. We are still in the process of changing from the ice age to the hot age the earth has that cycle going from hot to cold and back again.

James please tell me of a government who spends their taxes on what they say they would. Road tax in UK is increasing because of carbon based usage but little is returned to the roads departments for use by them to fix roads or used to reduce carbon foot prints. Oh sorry the money is being used to reduce the residential speed limits across the country from 30MPH to 20MPH.

What would have happened if the EU decided to go ahead against the USA lawmakers and forced the tax through. Will the US go to war against Europe? Don't think so, all this is just noise, about the same as those hitting on about the human carbon problem. And the biggest noises came from, and still does, the USA and the EU decided to act on it. Silly of them wasn't it

Posted by: Bruce Savage | November 19, 2012 11:09 AM    Report this comment

The planet was here long before humans came about, and it will continue to be here long after humans are gone. We can either play it smart, or play it recklessly. Seems like most people rather play it recklessly because theories are just too hard for the commoners to comprehend and act on.

Posted by: Amy Zucco | November 19, 2012 2:13 PM    Report this comment

While not taking issue with the fact that the climate IS going to get hotter and we'd better deal with it, I would point out that when attempting to change behavior, rewards do not work as well as penalties. That is, taxes have far fewer unintended consequences than incentive programs. The latter almost always wind up encouraging unexpected behaviors that frequently are worse than the original problem. As an example, subsidizing alternative transport often results in MORE travel than you started with; taxing gas results in people using their cars less, and only making the trip when it's really necessary. So if we're going to try and cut down on carbon emissions, taxing the emissions makes sense. Unfortunately, carbon credits generally don't result in any real decrease in emissions--forests are still cut, just different forests, and usually in places with the least environmental controls. Note that carbon credits are a perfect example of "bad incentives," whereas merely taxing the heck out of airplane fuels actually does result in less flying and emission. But it's less popular because you don't actually get to fly cross country for your grandkids birthdays.

Posted by: David Chuljian | November 19, 2012 3:17 PM    Report this comment

'In that context, pilots who consider themselves environmentalists have some thinking to do.'

I, for one, am on it, boss. But it won't take me long, because I'm not a purist on these things. I can fly and recycle in the same day without confusion or guilt. But for those who need to develop the ability to discriminate, I can't see how it could hurt.

Maybe the climate scientists and naysayers both should give everything they have on the subject to Nate Silver, and he can run the numbers and reveal fact from folly. It really made watching the election stress-free and fun!

Posted by: Dave Miller | November 19, 2012 4:09 PM    Report this comment

A Richie said: "If everything we do impacts the environment, then shouldn't our very existence be outlawed in order to serve the higher goal of preserving the planet?"

We don't need to preserve the planet. The planet is a big chunk of rock. The things we do here do not imperil that big chunk of rock, but they do imperil its ability to support human life. Amy Zucco has it right - the planet will still be here long after we are gone. We just seem to be intent on speeding up that process.

Posted by: Adam Hunt | November 19, 2012 5:17 PM    Report this comment

Paul: What is "AGM reality" I cannot find a definition in your missive.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 19, 2012 6:47 PM    Report this comment

Ooops, sorry. Changed that to what it should have been: AGW for anthropogenic global warming. I've been editing an article on absorbed glass mat batteries, hence AGM.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 20, 2012 5:29 AM    Report this comment

Yeah, well...I still see the contradiction for the ages for pilots. On the plus side, U.S. oil consumption per capita is trending sharply downward. It's now under 1000 gallons per person/year. (That's not oil equivalent, but actual oil.) If you fly the aforementioned 100 hours a year, you double that consumption individually.

If you're a hoaxer or a denier/skeptic, that factoid has no meaning in your life. If you're an AGW adherent of some sort, how do you square it? Driving to the airport in a Prius strikes me as absurd.

I guess I can't and don't even attempt to square it. Hence my plan for up armored roofing and enhanced seawalls.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 20, 2012 6:09 AM    Report this comment

The amount of carbon dioxide from airplanes is miniscule compared to the amount exhausted by the billions of human beings every second on this planet. Instead of thinking that the burning of fossil fuels being lessened by some small percentage will end the increasing of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere how about we look at the real problem? There are too many people. We are stripping vegetation from land to build cities, burning rain forests ( a double whammy for CO2)and increasing energy production from all manner of fuels. This is also coupled with natural sources from volcanos and other natural phenonemon that spew tons of CO2 at every event. Yet somehow it is all put down to our cars and planes. What good does it do for europe and north america to be concerned about carbon emmissions when china and other countries pour pollutants out at huge rates? We need to reduce the population of the planet (not likely I know) plant trees and plants to create more carbon sinks for natural elimination of carbon and also determine the biggest polluters and limit them. One does have to wonder though how, in just 1 hundred years humans are to blame for this supposedly massive increase in CO2 concentration. I think many times we give ourselves more credit than is due for global warming. This planet is huge and we are talking about concentrations of 100ppm on a global scale. Think about how much that is, it is almost unimaginable.

Posted by: Rodney Hall | November 20, 2012 7:44 AM    Report this comment

Anyone concerened with the environment shouldn't be driving a Prius anyway. The materials and processes used to manufacture the Prius are far more toxic and hazardous to the envirnment than the hydrocarbon emissions of a conventional automobile.

Posted by: Richard Montague | November 20, 2012 8:10 AM    Report this comment

How much carbon dioxide should each human be allowed to produce? No one seems to have an answer to that question. If the number is eventually established, then what do we do? One thing is certain; flying 100 hrs or even 20 hrs a year in a powered aircraft is going to far exceed anyone's allocated share.

Posted by: A Richie | November 20, 2012 9:02 AM    Report this comment

Please fly your airplanes some more. It's cold here now and we didn't have a very warm summer either. In fact, I think I'll take the plane out today and try to warm them up a little (the planet and the plane). I know it's getting warmer though, because my house sits on a glacial till that used to have 600 ft of ice above it 20,000 years ago; just before Ford started producing Model T's.

Posted by: Stephen Phoenix | November 20, 2012 10:52 AM    Report this comment

Rodney give yourself 10 points and a Marie biscuit. I would venture to go one further and state that we did cause most of the problems due to the massive oil spillage in the seas over the years. The sea produces about (or used to) two thirds of the oxygen from plankton. Whenever there is an ecological disaster at sea (the Shell deep drilled oil wells comes to mind) little is said about how that impacts us humans because our oxygen supply is disturbed.

I get so angry when people have the audacity to point fingers and say “This is caused by man” Al Gore comes to mind. My answer is “Reduce the population”. The number of time someone wanted to lynch me is unreal but then they after thinking it through realize that that is the only answer.

Methinks we humans better get ready to vacate this rock

Posted by: Bruce Savage | November 20, 2012 11:10 AM    Report this comment

No worries folks. The super duper winglets that high school kids invented for today's Avweb headline will reduce 737 emissions so much that even Steve P flying WOT and full rich won't be able to warm up the NW.

Posted by: Doug Eatman | November 20, 2012 11:48 AM    Report this comment

I'm still worried about the ice age that a similar (maybe the same) group of experts warned us was coming within a few years due to the jet trails which blocked the sun.

Oh, I forgot...that was yesterday, and like in Orwell's 1984, we must embrace "doublethink", right?

Posted by: John Wilson | November 20, 2012 3:06 PM    Report this comment

'I'm still worried about the ice age that a similar (maybe the same) group of experts warned us was coming within a few years due to the jet trails which blocked the sun.'

And physicians used to prescribe smoking cigarettes to lose weight too. Should we ignore their new science that says we could get cancer from these same weight loss methods?

Those with data, science that would enlighten NASA and every other well-meaning group of their folly, please let them know. It's the right thing to do.

'Driving to the airport in a Prius strikes me as absurd.'

Funny, every time I see someone driving to their light-sport hangar in a 6000lb, 8mpg Suv I think the same thing. 350+ horses to propel a 190lb man down a road has to fit in the single-digit IQ category, no?

Bruce, we have nowhere to go. And I have a different viewpoint of earth than you do. Though it seems hard for some to recognize, earth actually is quite the amazing living organism if examined in depth. So, how can we be superior to something we depend on for life? Now, do I get any points or a Marie biscuit?

Posted by: Dave Miller | November 20, 2012 6:18 PM    Report this comment

Seems there are a lot of bad ideas coming out of the EU lately.

Posted by: Matthew Lee | November 20, 2012 10:09 PM    Report this comment

Think of the waste in using a Prius to drive to the airport when you could get there on a MoPed which gets 80+ MPG or a horse.

I have read several sources that human reproduction is presently on a downward curve and that indicates population will peak within a few decades then start a slow dwindling trend. Anyone who feels this is too slow a process is free to remove themselves from the gene pool at any time.

One problem is that economies are based on an ever increasing population to consume SUVs and iThings. Shifting to a shrinking population is going to require a massive rethink. For instance, how many workers are going to be contributing to my Social Security check in twenty years?

Personally I am quite willing to walk to the airport as long as I can have A 450HP Stearman to convert hydrocarbons to noise.

Posted by: Richard Montague | November 21, 2012 8:24 AM    Report this comment

Over 90% of climate scientists agree that the rise in global temperatures is caused by man. The numbers are staggering on the side of AGW. The small but very vocal group of deniers are well funded by companies who either emit or produce products that emit millions of tons of CO2.

We can all do our small part to reduce carbon emissions while still enjoying flying. This is what my wife and I have done: We installed a net-metering solar system on our house. This month marks the first full year it has been in operation. Just our one house has generated 6 megawatts of electricity which has given us 199 days of free electricity,and offset over 4 TONS of CO2. We sold our gas guzzling SUV's and bought 40 MPG cars. We recycle about 80% of our trash that we generate. If our small household can do this much, think of what a large office building can save in carbon. This type of approach makes much more sense than a carbon tax on aircraft emissions and was not painful to implement.

Posted by: Ric Lee | November 21, 2012 10:31 AM    Report this comment

Ric Lee: Are those 90% climate scientists who believe AGW is real also get federal grants for their research? What about the dissenting 10%: Are they also getting federal grants?

if 10% disagree, and if they are independent of federal and IPCC grants, should we be writing social policy and tax code based on what is apparently a show of hands by biased men and women?

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 21, 2012 11:12 AM    Report this comment

Ric: Precisely what numbers 'are staggering?" Is it the percent of believers, or some other thing?

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 21, 2012 11:20 AM    Report this comment

If AGW is real, it means we humans need to change our behavior and make some sacrifices for future generations. If it isn't real, it means we *can* carry on doing what we want, with no regard to the environment (because it doesn't make much of an impact either way).

Climate scientists are taking historical observations (which may not all have the same quality of data), using what we currently know about climate science, and making projects far enough into the future that they will never know with 100% certainty if their predictions were accurate. Only later climate scientists will be able to determine if the past predictions were correct.

The fact that there is such heated (pardon the pun) controversy over the matter, to me says that there's at least some truth to both sides of the argument. If there are simple things I can do to reduce my environmental impact, I'll do what I can. But I don't see any clear evidence saying I MUST reduce my impact at all costs.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | November 21, 2012 11:57 AM    Report this comment

Thomas Conner, when I say staggering, I'm talking about thousands of scientists in agreement with AGW. The deniers numbers are barely in the hundreds.

So we can either choose to be preventative in our actions to minimize the effects on the planet without harm to the economy, or blithely ignore the science and face a much warmer planet with dire consequences. Your choice.

Posted by: Ric Lee | November 21, 2012 12:10 PM    Report this comment

BTW, I also agree with other commentators on the world population being far too high for a sustainable earth. With a low enough population we would not have to worry about emissions.

Posted by: Ric Lee | November 21, 2012 12:16 PM    Report this comment

First, let’s be clear that scientific “consensus” is not the same as scientific “fact”!! Throughout history every field of science is replete with theories and beliefs that have been widely embraced, and then subsequently discarded. As scientific research and knowledge has accelerated over the last 100 years the dynamic hasn’t changed. Today there is wide ranging disagreement in many fields of science regarding competing theories and beliefs, many of which are quite bitter and acrimonious.

It is true that today, in raw numbers, scientific opinion favors the AGW theory. But support in raw numbers doesn’t make a theory correct. If it did, Columbus would have sailed off of the edge of the earth! Projections and computer modeling by AGW believers paint dire consequences, but in fact, so far their projections for things like temperature and sea level rise have simply been wrong. I can’t resist noting that today’s best science/technology can’t predict the weather more than 10 days in advance with useful statistical reliability…but AGW advocates tell us what will happen in 100 years?

John Wilson (the first two comments in this thread) presented the most factual assessment so far. The forces that have and continue to affect large climate changes on this planet are not thoroughly understood, and the hubris of the AGW crowd in their convictions would be humorous if not for their desire through the political process to force their beliefs on everyone else!

Posted by: William McClain | November 21, 2012 1:04 PM    Report this comment

I am a regular reader of Science News for the last 50 years. With regard to climate change, there have been hundreds of studies published in quality, peer-reviewed journals such as Nature and Science. You can put me into the “I’m not certain we know yet” category.

Here, for example, are two abstracts in last Friday’s issue.

The first suggests that algorithms used for computer modeling are not yet “definitive”. It is good that the background assumptions are always being reviewed, and someday we may know enough to make claims with “certainty”, but not yet.

----Global drought may have changed less than thought Droughts shrivel crops, threaten communities, and wither ecosystems. Studies claim global warming is increasing drought worldwide, and may already have done so. But the standard method of assessing drought has exaggerated drying trends over the past 60 years, scientists report in the Nov. 14 Nature. 11.14.12

Posted by: Edd Weninger | November 21, 2012 2:30 PM    Report this comment

(continued) The second suggests we don’t know enough about our climate, and what may affect it. The climate change events described are well before the Industrial Revolution. The Anastazi people are believed to have suffered a similar issue, but in a different time frame. We don’t know why.

----An ancient civilization's wet ascent, dry demise Newly documented climate shifts helped shape Classic Maya destiny Classic Maya civilization rose and fell with the rains.

This once-majestic society, known for massive pyramids and hieroglyphic writing, expanded during an unusually rainy time and declined as the sky’s spigots dried up and periodic droughts arrived, a new study suggests.

A 2,000-year climate record, gleaned from a stalagmite inside a Belize cave, highlights a central role for climate shifts in the ancient civilization’s fortunes, say anthropologist Douglas Kennett of Penn State University and his colleagues. A bounty of rain nurtured Maya agriculture and city building from the years 440 to 660, Kennett’s team reports in the Nov. 9 Science. A drying trend and occasional droughts after 660 were accompanied by declining crop yields.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | November 21, 2012 2:33 PM    Report this comment

And here is an extract from an EU report released today:

"I think what the European Commission and other parts of the world are finding is that whilst it is important to understand what is happening at the global level, it is what is happening at the regional and local levels that will really determine how economies will weather the storm," she said.

The report said the cost of damage caused by extreme weather events had increased from 9bn euros (£7bn) in the 1980s to 13bn euros in the 2000s.

One of the report's authors, Andre Jol, head of the EEA's vulnerability and adaptation group, added: "We know that the main increase in damage costs from natural disasters has not been from climate change, as such, but more as a result of an increase in wealth, people and infrastructure in risk areas.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | November 21, 2012 2:37 PM    Report this comment

As for me, I own about 5 acres of land with an estimated 500 trees. If the statement below is correct (from the CA government), and I use 25 mpg as an average car mileage, I’m sequestering more CO2 than I burn per year.

“One acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people every day. One acre of trees absorbs enough carbon dioxide per year to match that emitted by driving a car 26,000 miles.”

Posted by: Edd Weninger | November 21, 2012 2:48 PM    Report this comment

Let us take another view of this matter. Suppose the climate scientists are correct about AGW and we do nothing about it for years until we have absolute, certain proof. Now suppose we are past the tipping point of where we can either halt or reverse the damage.

Or we can proceed on the basis of AGW being correct and apply preventive measures now, and if the theory is proven wrong, no harm has been done.

Which is the better choice for the future?

Posted by: Ric Lee | November 21, 2012 5:03 PM    Report this comment

Ric - I suggest you google the precautionary principle - pretty much an environmentalists invention. PP was created for arguing from a position of ignorance - asking policy makers to act in a certain way when information is imperfect, contradictory or non-existent, and it ignores the consequences of those actions. You'll find that PP is the law in the European Union, which explains what got Paul Bertorelli off the couch to begin with. In reality we all operate with imperfect data, but only at expense to ourselves.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 21, 2012 6:48 PM    Report this comment

Global warming may or may not be occurring. If it is, distilling the source of the warming, whether natural or man made is even more difficult to pinpoint.

To burden the economic system with a new tax, with no defined purpose for the rivers of money generated by this new tax make the AGW theory sound more like a con than prudent public policy.

Posted by: Ray Damijonaitis | November 21, 2012 7:00 PM    Report this comment

I'm afraid as a scientist myself I find it difficult to reconcile the rubbish that gets pumped out to the general public by the science community. For example: 90% of Scientist accepted and supported the new Ice Age concept apparently upon us in the 1960. 50 years on and we are still waiting for that happening.

70's into the 80's the ozone hole over the South Pole was growing bigger and it was caused by our use of CFC. CFC was eliminate in our lives and we find out (because someone let the cat out of the bag :)) that the hole has a natural growth and contraction.

I could go on but I would rather say


and the weather is never constant it is and always will be changing. One more issue when Mother Earth has had enough of us humans it will simply remove us (whether we like it or not) as she did with (more advanced) past civilisations

Do yourself a favour go and fly and look out at the Earth from God's point of view and see how beautiful it really is.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | November 22, 2012 6:33 AM    Report this comment

As Thomas notes, the problem with applying precautionary measures when information is either preliminary or indefinite is that those measures tend not to be benign. They have real cost. In the case of EU's ETS,the cost is punitive taxation on aircraft ops with no data to confirm or even barely suggest this will have any effect on final outcome.

I'm always amazed at how ideological this discussion can become. Or at least polarized. Anyone who looks honestly at the data would not conclude it's rubbish, although there's certainly room for healthy skepticism on the long term outcome. By data, I mean the calculated CO2 load, not necessarily its theoretical impact. Just do a little research on what oceanographers are finding about dissolved levels of CO2 and trends. This and other historical data tends to shoot down the notion that humankind is too puny to affect the planet. So does the historical record on microclimate outcomes--London during the 1950s, Los Angles during the 1980s.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 22, 2012 8:55 AM    Report this comment

I certainly agree with your statement Paul. When you look at the data from the beginning of the industrial revolution, the rapid rise in CO2 output is pretty convincing.

Posted by: Ric Lee | November 22, 2012 9:10 AM    Report this comment

I would also suggest this video from the National Academy of Sciences: Climate Change: Lines of Evidence on youtube if this link does not come through. youtube . com/ watch?v=gIUN5ziSfNc&feature = player_embedded

Posted by: Ric Lee | November 22, 2012 9:26 AM    Report this comment

Paul owns a couch? He has always seemed too busy to me for such leisure...

Many years ago when I was training for my Lifeguard certificate to work on the shores of Lake Michigan for a summer job, we had to learn how to rescue a drowning person. First, quickly swim out to them, then, stop short about 10 feet, dive deep underwater, grab their ankles and walk hand over hand up the legs, twisting if necessary the torso around so to come up behind them. When at the surface, throw a hip up under their rear end and in the same motion headlock them under the chin, then sidestroke to shore. No exceptions.

This bashing by pilots, people who depend on and spend so much time in the outdoor environment, of sincere people who want to do the best they can with the best information they have available for a healthy planet for all, reminds me of that exercise. When you get close to them and their ideas, they'll try and push your head under through mockery and ridicule so their ideas can be the only ones visible and floating.

It's a form of desperation, but I can't figure out why so many are so filled with this hate and intolerance for those trying to stay in front of potential problems like climate change. Tree-huggers like me get it all the time from the neanderthals and the uneducated, though we're used to it, but from pilots? That keeps me perplexed. No one wants climate change to be a hoax more than I do - I live in Phoenix.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Posted by: Dave Miller | November 22, 2012 11:24 AM    Report this comment

I'm not sure you included me in the group of 'uneducated Neandertals', but I'm neither mocking, nor intolerant of other opinions. I believe the climate is warming. I believe the CO2 is increasing. What I'm not sure of is what needs to be done about it. What is your solution?

Paul's example above regards a 'carbon' tax. The tax itself will not reduce the CO2 emissions from commercial flights. The same aircraft flying now will continue to be flown until their economic value is fully depreciated. One might think the tax could add some impetus for more efficiency, but the impetus for efficiency is probably being driven at the fastest rate possible by the industry itself, market-driven, profit-driven cost savings.

The tax money collected will do what? Enable the growth of more EU bureaucracy, or fund R&D to achieve a better result? I don’t see any proposals for the latter. If you can, please point some out.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | November 22, 2012 2:57 PM    Report this comment

Is this helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tax. Seems to me the goal is to promote better thinking around cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. Encourage work being undertaken in research / experimental mode at CAFE and other organisations and bring these to the mainstream.

Posted by: Dennis Parker | November 22, 2012 3:31 PM    Report this comment

Previous comment meant to include a link to the definition of Carbon tax at Wikipedia which I hope is helpful in this discussion. (The link was edited out when I posted)

Posted by: Dennis Parker | November 22, 2012 3:33 PM    Report this comment

If you don't know whether or not you were considered for a position in the group or not, Edd, then I don't either. I'm not going to make it easy for you.

What is my solution? First, to not take sides. That's where the freedom to learn and explore comes from. Second, to trust myself. I know whether a person, scientist or study is biased or not based on my own powers of perception. Third, to always employ the law of Economy in my life. It ranges from the largest use of energy to the very smallest, as in employing solar panels to the friction of dragging my feet when walking.

The rest will be what it will be. Seppuku doesn't come to mind when I consider if a tax might force social behavior for the better. I don't feel superior to the Europeans, they have some great ideas, so do we. Who made it a competition?

My point is simply to try and show how self-defeating and obtuse this present-day constant criticism of another person's values is - hell, we might enter another recession if these politicians don't grow a pair and compromise. So flame away if one must. I'll use some of it to burn some juniper and enjoy the fire.

Posted by: Dave Miller | November 22, 2012 6:20 PM    Report this comment


I watched your video from the NAC. Please watch mine: youtube*com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=52Mx0_8YEtg&NR=1

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 22, 2012 7:52 PM    Report this comment

People need to be taxed (robbed) by politicians; because only politicians know the truth of the universe, that liquid hydrocarbons are the disgusting, despicable, creation of easy fuel for humanity to use. Therefore, greed must take precedence, above creation, and the powerful must benefit, while the masses must suffer the sins of creation.

I hope you understand that I'm not going off-topic, global warming, isn't really in the hands of any pilot.

Perhaps, we should reprimand God, for the vast quantities of petroleum in the universe? Saturn's moon Titan, for example?

I'm guilty of more than denial, I spew a sigh of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, every time I hear the robbers have another angle to take money.

I fear not the big, bad wolf, of global warming, in fact, I could use a nice warm sweater, about now.

Posted by: Ron Brown | November 23, 2012 1:32 AM    Report this comment

Ric says: '. . .rapid rise in CO2 output is pretty convincing.' As it should. I believe that is what we call data. The missing link is the relationship between a measured rise in CO2 and claimed ill effects - the dread 'cause and effect' relationship between that rise in CO2 and global temps. So while you are being staggered by the data, could you stagger me with some evidence that it means anything? I'll be waiting right here.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 23, 2012 11:12 AM    Report this comment

Certainly Thomas. The ice core samples show the exact same effect going back thousands of years. When CO2 levels in our atmosphere rise, so do the temps.

Posted by: Ric Lee | November 23, 2012 11:24 AM    Report this comment

Dave Miller: Your analogy as a lifeguard and hence we all need saving is the view of the anointed: If I didn't know I needed your help, what then? Are you still going to force me to accept your point of view that I need to be saved, especially a sneak attack from behind?

In times of trouble and confusion over politically motivated science I turn to my bible: Junk Science Judo. Author Steven Milloy - a bio-statistician by trade - strongly recommends the reader follow what Descartes might have said when faced with the arguments of true believers: "I think, therefore I doubt."

The scientific method is doubt structured into five easy steps from observation to hypothesis to testing, attempts to disprove and refinement. The burden of proof is always on the presenter, not the recipient, and it isn't a popularity contest: It's the search for the truth, no matter how much it screws with your world view.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 23, 2012 11:34 AM    Report this comment

Ric says: "The ice core samples show the exact same effect going back thousands of years. When CO2 levels in our atmosphere rise, so do the temps."

Which happened first: Gas levels rose, or temps rose?

Your ball . . .

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 23, 2012 11:42 AM    Report this comment

Thomas, we can play this game indefinitely. No matter which points I raise you will counter. Let's just agree to disagree.

I do not support the idea of taxes to address what I perceive to be a serious environmental threat. I outlined what my wife and I have done to help with CO2 emissions earlier in this discussion and we feel we are part of the solution.

You obviously do not think you have enough data to conclude there is a problem and you are entitled to that opinion. Our solar system contributed to green jobs, put money into the economy and reduced our carbon footprint. I feel this is the correct path to take rather than debate.

Blue skies and tailwinds.

Posted by: Ric Lee | November 23, 2012 12:10 PM    Report this comment

Ric: I disagree: Debate is how science is done. Al gore wanted to end the debate too. I wonder why?

Cause and effect are the crux of the argument about AGW. I was hoping you had some data to support your beliefs and would end the discussion. I'd really like to find a cause and effect that supports AGW. So far its a no-show.

And for the record: I've lived off the grid while waiting for fuel cells to arrive. They never did. I spent five years using lanterns for light, snowbanks and spring water for refrigeration and wood for heat. Batteries, windmills and solar panels crept in so we could have a radio, and a gas refrigerator was a welcome addition. The ladies objected to traipsing thru the snow to the outhouse so a composting toilet moved in with us. From Sept to sometimes June the only way in or out was snowmobile, skis or snowshoes. The cost far exceeded living on the grid, tho all that wood cutting kept me in really swell shape, which is a pre-requisite for living that way. So I'll raise you a carbon credit and a well-loved chainsaw for an electrical outlet.

Imagine not having the option of an electrical outlet. That's how the AGW crowd want others to live. It's a fun way to live for a while, but most want to escape it with time.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 23, 2012 1:15 PM    Report this comment

I feel the real problem with the AGW debate is when people argue for one extreme or the other. If AGW is not real but we take extreme steps to avert it, then our economies and quality of life suffer needlessly. If it is real and we take no steps to avert it, our ecosystem, quality of life, and life expectations suffer.

Those are the two extremist actions. But suppose we take reasonable, affordable steps to avert the results. If AGW isn't real, we still win because reasonable steps to conserve resource usage and reduce emissions means more savings to use. And if it is real, then we've already taken steps to reduce its impact, and can further ramp up our mitigation steps as needed.

The problem with carbon (and other) taxation schemes is that they tend to hurt those who have the least means to afford the taxes and change their behaviors. It might be cheaper in the long run to own a fuel-efficient vehicle, but it does no good if you can't afford to trade in your inefficient one for a newer one.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | November 23, 2012 1:31 PM    Report this comment

Gary: I agree, but I think the middle ground is business as usual. The efficiency conundrum is an interesting one. If one considers the energy cost of building, operating and maintaining a so-called 'efficient' vehicle, it often far exceeds the cost of a piston clanking energy hog. On one extreme are electric vehicles, where the 'M' in NiMH is a rear earth, that require 220v charging systems so you can drive it twice the same day; The coal burned to run the charger, and how to dispose of NiMH when the time comes. The same problem with ethanol, which one man wisely called the inefficient conversion of diesel fuel and natural gas into alcohol.

I recall the mad dash to insulate homes during the first energy efficiency fad in the 70s. Insulators 'wrapped' homes in snug vapor proof insulation from the outside. Mold, rot and illness resulted because the moisture found its dewpoint in the walls. Today we are more enlightened with focus on moisture control. One has to wonder how much damage resulted from that rush to 'do something.'

I also agree that taxing carbon to force efficiency is folly. Giving rivers of money to government never ends well. Finally,'environmentalism' as practiced by the general population (as opposed to farmers) is a form of self actualization. The poor aren't concerned about the environment: they are concerned about the lower end of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Someone out of work doesn't care about what he drives, but that it runs.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 23, 2012 2:56 PM    Report this comment

In response to the hurricane claims reguarding global warming. While our Dad was stationed with the Air Force in Okinawa my brother was born on Sept 11, 1961. There was a typhoon there at that time. Typhoon Nancy was reported to have winds of 215 mph. Yes you can look it up. Also CO2 is a very very very very small fraction of the atmosphere and if it were not there all life on this planet would die.

Posted by: gary schwarzrock | November 25, 2012 9:06 PM    Report this comment

So, where does the "carbon tax" money actually go? How is it actually spent? What is the return on investment?

If they are asking people to PAY for something, I assume that the entity we give the money to can SHOW what we are getting for our money, right?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 26, 2012 7:44 AM    Report this comment

Sorry Mark wrong: In Europe all taxes go to a central bank (Reserve Bank) similar to the Feds or Bank of England and then the money is dished out according to "He who shouts loudest". Margret Thatcher a British Prime Minister who paid a large sum of money and gave much support to the environmentalist so that she could push through nuclear power in UK. At that stage there was no real environmental issues and to maintain the income from the government they founded information, some true some not true. Every Action Has Consequences, Margret Thatcher's move of course back fired and this is the consequent.

Whilst on the subject can anyone tell me about HAARP (other than what is on the net). I know that to push out lots of power into the atmosphere/ionosphere will have a reaction but what are the consequences?

Posted by: Bruce Savage | November 26, 2012 8:40 AM    Report this comment

Bruce, I know that carbon taxes are a scam; I just wish people were not so gullible as to hand over money for "something" and never care if they get anything for it. I guess if you actually ask for a return on investment(ROI statement) then you're somehow misinformed, evil, a denier, or worse.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 26, 2012 11:05 AM    Report this comment

Regarding the Scientific method: It is supposed to find the truth. Here are observations of another scientist from a different field that is not eligible for AGW grants. I lifted it from "how to talk to a climate sketic, and consider them good questions. scienceblogs dot com/illconsidered/2008/07/how-to-talk-to-a-sceptic/

1) What about positivity bias: the well-known effect that negative results are less likely to be published? Would researchers whose results did not predict global warming or support other aspects of the “consensus” be less likely to pass peer review?

2) What about self-censorship bias? Notoriously, early measurements of the speed of light tended to cluster around the most recent measurement by a “great scientist”, and this lack of objectivity delayed convergence on the now-accepted value. Climate change modellers whose results diverged from the “consensus” might similarly be less likely to report, especially as the field has so much political as well as scientific pressure in it.

3) What about funding-induced bias? There is now a huge amount of funding available for research into global warming. Professorships, entire research departments, and even global institutions depend on it. How much funding and job security is available for research that attacks the “consensus”? This is important, because a theory is only as good as the strength of the attacks it has withstood.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | November 26, 2012 12:50 PM    Report this comment

Global warming is intrinsically ridiculous, move from the poles to the equator, and you can vary 120 degrees, yet humanity lives in both places.

The issue at stake is the horrible monetary theft of the greedy.

Posted by: Ron Brown | November 27, 2012 3:00 PM    Report this comment

Oh Paul, I used to think you were a smart guy, but your snarky and ignorant comments about the global warming hoax have just dropped you down to Katie Couric status. The science is too complex to get into here and now, and you obviously need to immerse yourself in it, but it is a shame to see a smart guy embarrass himself by such boldly and confidently stated error and such contempt for those who disagree. Trust me, as one who has some knowledge of the field beyond ABC news specials, there is no such thing as anthropogenic global warming. Stick to what you know about Paul, you cover it beautifully. About climate science, you're a little less than informed. Jonathan Fuller

Posted by: Jonathan Fuller | December 1, 2012 10:41 PM    Report this comment

With new data and studies coming out on a regular basis you might think some shred of doubt might arise in the minds of those who believe AGW is a hoax. Here are two new reports from very different sources: www.munichreamerica.com/ks_severe_weather_na.shtml this is from Munich Reinsurance America and studies the cost of weather related incidents. The other is a new study of Arctic ice: www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6111/1183 from Science Magazine. Try to keep an open mind and not insult those who differ in opinions from reading the data.

Posted by: Ric Lee | December 2, 2012 12:22 PM    Report this comment

Ric - Thanks for sharing the links. The Munich Re is interesting. If anyone has a grasp of loss and risk, it's the inscos. Too bad I have to be a customer to get the full report. The glancing blow they made with the reality I know from living in Fort Walton Beach FL is that before Hugo in all inscos were happy to insure anyone, no matter where they built. Sadly, when inscos refused coverage, FEMA made homeowners whole, so they rebuilt. The inscos took the premiums and the taxpayers took it in the shorts, and that is Paul's main point. The AAAS summary is too brief to say much more than "summer came, it warmed up and some ice melted.' Imagine that. Looking at the ice and fossil record, geologists, paleontologists and some climatologists call the era we live in the 'interglacial,' which might mean something to some, but apparently nothing to others.

Posted by: tom connor | December 2, 2012 1:38 PM    Report this comment

Rising seas: Sea level is more than the water's edge. The Garmin web site has a wonderful discussion on what sea level is, what causes variation and why GPS uses a perfect spheroid as a 'zero' place. Factors affecting sea level include the moon, wind, gravitational variations, subsidence, plate tectonics, ocean currents and wind. The great lakes region is still rising from the burden of a few miles of ice that melted a while ago. If the earth rises in one place it subsides in another. One has to wonder at the possibility that NY NY has subsided, causing the apparent SL to rise.

Before GPS there were measuring sticks to show sea level. Most rot with time and are replaced, sometimes not very accurately. Any of the above offer an alternative hypothesis to local and regional variations in sea level vs the AGW hypothesis about rising seas.

Before hurricane Sandy hit the weathermen were predicting it would have a strong storm surge because of the Lunar phase, wind direction and tides. It was all a matter of timing, not temp. The talking heads have long since forgotten those discussion it seems.

Posted by: tom connor | December 2, 2012 1:51 PM    Report this comment

At the core of the scientific method is shared data and debate. Climate Gate resulted from refusal to share public temp data that was later 'obtained' and found wanting in quality, and simply didn't support the conclusions. Last year's data that NCAR used to scare the public included temp readings from Sept twice - once in place Nov, skewing the average annual temp. 'Oops, my bad' said James Hanson at NCAR. Oddly, he got caught doing the same thing the year before. Both times the error changed calculations from 'warmer than average' to 'just average.' Imagine that.

Posted by: tom connor | December 2, 2012 1:52 PM    Report this comment

Ric - Here's an article referencing a paper published by the NAS that diminishes the effect of Greenland ice melts and subsequent sea level rise. Not proof of anything really. It's only evidence that the debate is not over, the tea leaves and crystal balls might not be very accurate because the input data is suspect. www dot theregister dot co.uk/2012/11/28/sea_levels_new_science_climate_change/

Posted by: tom connor | December 2, 2012 5:56 PM    Report this comment

Another good link discusses how Germany is reducing it's carbon emissions yet they maintain the strongest economy in EU. www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/26/german-renewable-energy-emission-co2

Posted by: Ric Lee | December 2, 2012 7:30 PM    Report this comment

Ric - Interesting reading. Reduced carbon emissions - which you don't care to show has any bearing on anything - result from reduced production. Whoda thunk! Bloomberg says the German economy grew 0.2% compared to the EUs minus 0.1%. But wait! The german economy dropped from 0.5% in the previous quarter. So if production declined 0.3% shouldn't energy consumption also decline, maybe about 2.4%?

Just a hypothesis. I have others.

The thing I take away from the Guardian article is that homeowners are subsidizing renewables twice: Once thru taxes and again in higher energy bills and their resistance to funding a guilt-driven industry. More coming up!

Posted by: tom connor | December 2, 2012 10:19 PM    Report this comment

Gee Tom, I'm beginning to think if I posted a study saying the sun will rise tomorrow you will have evidence to refute it. ;)

Posted by: Ric Lee | December 2, 2012 10:56 PM    Report this comment

I belong to a rural electric Co-op that had long term contracts with BPA - Bonneville Power Administration, BPA runs the hydropower dams on the Columbia basin and other drainages.

About ten years ago certain states passed laws mandating a portfolio of renewable energy sources and non-renewables. I don't know all the details, but we lost, and BPA terminated their contracts with rural co-ops, forcing us to band together and build coal fired power plants. The Sierra club hates coal with a passion and sued us into submission. We relented by agreeing to build a natural gas plant instead. The plant is built but we are bankrupt. Along the way, management found a long term hydropower contract when an aluminum plant bailed out of the USA. The cost is 4x/MWH price we paid in 2009 but hey, its reliable and we don't have to run that damn gas power plant. Much jubilation.

But wait, 'We're from the government, and we're here to help . . .

Posted by: tom connor | December 2, 2012 11:09 PM    Report this comment

More like kicked a sick dog, the feds re-defined hydro-power as a non-renewable energy source, forcing us to buy power from windmills and sewer gas plants - a forced customer for a boutique source that was subsidized to build but only gets a production subsidy when they sell power. It costs 3x what the new hydro contract costs, and if congress cuts wind production subsidy we will pay 4x. Oh, and we have to build a tie-line from those stranded wind farms to a trunk line to access the nearest wind farm, which isn't very near. Meanwhile, we have to find a buyer for those excess hydro-power contracts while there is a glut of power contracts for sale. We cannot win. If only there was an Enron in our hip pocket to push back. Predicting power cost has become a crap shoot. Taxpayers and rate-payers are just the dead-end kid for the plans of elitist dreamers and schemers.

Posted by: tom connor | December 2, 2012 11:10 PM    Report this comment

Gee Tom, I'm beginning to think if I posted a study saying the sun will rise tomorrow you will have evidence to refute it. ;)

Hardly. But if you post an article that says the sun has nothing to do with the earth's temp it might inspire me.

Posted by: tom connor | December 2, 2012 11:12 PM    Report this comment

Gee Tom, I'm beginning to think if I posted a study saying the sun will rise tomorrow you will have evidence to refute it. ;)

Hardly. But if you post an article that says the sun has nothing to do with the earth's temp it might inspire me.

Posted by: tom connor | December 2, 2012 11:12 PM    Report this comment

Hint: The climate stasis is unnatural. Taxing climate change only benefits those who collect the taxes.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2012 10:24 AM    Report this comment

Mark: Excellent point. Years ago Jim Hanson and his followers at NCAR/Nasa-Giss claimed that AGW would first be noted in the mid and upper latitudes. They later pointed at Katrina and Hugo as the signs they were right. Hurricanes don't wander into mid to upper lattitudes much, but close enough.

In aviation weather we learned about the global circulation model. The GCM model describes in a general way how warm air rises at the equator, rides the upper atmosphere to the mid-lattitudes and poles where it sinks and cools. Cooler air slides along the ground back to the equator. Add uneven heating, the earth's rotation, Coriolis effect and stuff in the way like mountains and oceans to give a little spice to the ride and we get weather events like the Oklahoma-Kansas dry line that dukes it out with warm wet air from the Gulf, spawning some of the nastiest weather in the USA. In the winter that fight moves north as the Earth cools. The greater the difference in moisture, temp and pressure the stronger the weather events.

If, as Hanson says, evidence of AGW is warmer polar and mid-lattitude temps, wouldn't that mean weaker, not stronger temp and pressure differences? Doesn't that mean milder, not wilder weather events? If so, could it be Hugo, Katrina and Sandy are proof of nothing other than - as Mark said - 'stasis is unnatural?'

Posted by: tom connor | December 3, 2012 12:02 PM    Report this comment

Tom Conner said: "[c]ould it be Hugo, Katrina and Sandy are proof of nothing other than - as Mark said - 'stasis is unnatural?' Or we could take the other hypothesis that these are once in 100 year storms that are now coming together suddenly. What type of change could cause that? Look at the patterns of rainfall/drought combined with the melting of polar ice fields and glaciers world wide plus warming of the oceans and you get some change of a very large scale, no?

Posted by: Ric Lee | December 3, 2012 12:19 PM    Report this comment

Ric, all of the "changes" are not really changes or even outside of the historical recorded norms. What's different are people's reaction to them. You can tax people, but you can't tax nature. Nature is responsible for 97+% of released CO2.

A "carbon tax" is wrong on 2 accounts. 1) that it taxes the smallest contributor of CO2 and 2)that collecting the tax won't change the weather.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2012 12:57 PM    Report this comment

Mark, You must not have been reading all of my posts. From the very first one I stated I am anti tax.

Posted by: Ric Lee | December 3, 2012 1:01 PM    Report this comment

Ric, I'm glad that we can agree that the 2-3% man emitted CO2 is not catastrophic or even particularly noteworthy.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2012 1:18 PM    Report this comment

Ric said: "Or we could take the other hypothesis that these are once in 100 year storms that are now coming together suddenly.

Ric - if that's a hypothesis lets start over with an observation. And define 'suddenly.' If its an observation how about specifics, aka data that I can look up and confirm so we aren't dealing with speculation Ok? And while you are at it, compare your data to prior recorded big events - like the afore mentioned 1961 typhoon with 215 mph winds, or the dust bowl of the 30s. You get the idea: Biggest and baddest in memory isn't biggest and baddest ever. And tie it to the last 50 years - when CO2 levels rose; compared to prior to rapidly rising co2 levels to see if it makes a difference.

Posted by: tom connor | December 3, 2012 1:32 PM    Report this comment

Ric said: "What type of change could cause that? Look at the patterns of rainfall/drought combined with the melting of polar ice fields and glaciers world wide plus warming of the oceans and you get some change of a very large scale, no?"

First I need proof of those claims. We played dueling cut and paste earlier over Greenland Ice: Your article said many gigatons of ice melted but didn't give a time frame. Hmm says the skeptic - how many gigatons melt in the summer? My answer: About that many. But wait: How much is deposited in the following winter? Enough to make up for most of the spring runoff, but the author skipped that part. Doing so is a red flag that the first author is withholding data in order to force a conclusion. That is precisely how Rachel Carson wrote 'silent spring' and Paul Ehrlich wrote the 'population bomb.' Hippies fell in love with both books. Both have been discredited, But the legacy lives on in the form of the EPA and other agencies.

Posted by: tom connor | December 3, 2012 1:32 PM    Report this comment

Tom, to answer your questions on world-wide ice melt rates, please watch the documentary, "Chasing Ice".

Posted by: Ric Lee | December 3, 2012 1:40 PM    Report this comment

Ric - I looked at the trailers. Purdy pix. No facts or data. But: I live near Glacier park and got to suffer thru Al Gore's visit to Grinnell Glacier to prove glaciers are melting. Yep - as has the two mile deep ice shield that pretty much blanketed the place north of the 48th parallel. And lived in Alaska where we used to gather ice from Bear glacier on Resurrection bay for the ice chests - and watch the glaciers calve. That's what glaciers do every year. Very pretty, powerful and if you get too close: Frightening. What does my ancient truck have to do with it? Aye, there's the rub!

Posted by: tom connor | December 3, 2012 2:15 PM    Report this comment

Ric, The trend is actually good news for life on the planet. Bad news would be increasing cold and increasing global ice. A trend toward warmer instead of cooler is obviously preferable.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2012 2:21 PM    Report this comment

This has nothing to do with carbon credits, but a lot to do with junk science and the EPA: http://junkscience.com/2012/12/03/whats-epa-smoking/#more-32531

Posted by: tom connor | December 3, 2012 4:17 PM    Report this comment

This has nothing to do with carbon credits, but a lot to do with junk science and the EPA: junkscience dot com/2012/12/03/whats-epa-smoking/#more-32531

OTOH, this has everything to do with carbon credits and junk science: nationalcenter dot org/PR-NOAA_Hurricanes_113012.html

Posted by: tom connor | December 3, 2012 4:26 PM    Report this comment

Interestingly, this letter from scientists in the geophysical union say exactly what Paul Bertorelli said: Stop wasting money on stupid stuff and put it where it will do some good. opinion dot financialpost dot com/2012/11/29/open-climate-letter-to-un-secretary-general-current-scientific-knowledge-does-not-substantiate-ban-ki-moon-assertions-on-weather-and-climate-say-125-scientists/

Posted by: tom connor | December 3, 2012 5:12 PM    Report this comment

Come on Tom are you really serious. Stop putting money into stupid stuff ... and what do we do with those left unemployed because of that and just think of the money that would go to good things and not get spread around. Really just what the world needs but unfortunately not everyone agrees with it.

I'll now take my tongue out of my cheek.

All that money going to Africa to pay for more wars and killings all done in the name of global warming (or what ever you want to call it) and some on this site agree with that Sorry can't go along with that.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | December 4, 2012 6:56 AM    Report this comment

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