Effect Measure

Texas: good for global warming

Tomorrow we will be “treated” to the annual State of the Union lie-fest, with Liar-in-Chief George W. Bush reportedly to tell us we need a massive commitment to ethanol to break our oil addiction. Ethanol is the oil man’s methadone, it seems. It doesn’t sound like we’ll be hearing about conservation, mass transit or other alternative energy sources (although maybe we’ll hear about the oxymoron, “clean coal”). Mr. Bush is an oil man from Texas, and in Texas they know what’s good for Global Warming.

They are good for global warming. As in the new 18 lane highway they are building to take the place of a commuter rail line:

Between 2003 and 2009, $2.7 billion of state and federal money will have been plowed into expanding 23 miles of Interstate-10 in west Houston to as wide as 18 lanes in some stretches of the city’s main east-west road.

“It is a concrete monstrosity,” said Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer in the Texas city who fought the expansion of “I-10” and lost. “It probably shows as much as anything the philosophy of development here.”


[Environmentalists] had sought to preserve a rail line that ran along I-10 for a commuter train that someday might bring workers to the city from distant suburbs. But after 15 years of study and discussion about the highway, state officials decided to go with a highway-only strategy. (Reuters)

The late Art Buchwald was interviewed by the NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown not long before his death last week. Brown asked him what was the one thing he regrets he will miss by not living longer. Buchwald answered immediately: Global Warming. He said he hoped his children and grandchildren would enjoy it in his place.

George Bush and his Texas cronies. Thinking of the next generation.


  1. #1 anon
    January 22, 2007

    at least he will mention global warming.
    For the first time of the SOUA

  2. #2 Ann
    January 22, 2007

    Does he really have the guts to say “global warming”? He just spouts one lie after another. After all, he is the “decider”.

  3. #3 Greg
    January 22, 2007

    Well, they’re not putting all their eggs in a still. Not that this is any better:

    U.S. urges ‘fivefold expansion’ in Alberta oilsands production

    On the other hand, this is indirect admission that they know Iraq is untenable. On the third? fourth? hand, idiots with guns are famous for scorching the earth when they can’t keep it all for themselves.

    I’m going to bed early tonight.. please, don’t wreck the planet (any worse than it is) while I’m gone.

  4. #4 grant
    January 22, 2007

    I think the preferred wording is ‘climate change’ … they’re was a us government directive a while back saying this was to be preferred to ‘global warming’.

  5. #5 K
    January 22, 2007

    I have mentioned before the research of David Pinetal – check it out – corn ethanol is a BAD and unsustainable choice to allow us to motor on. Public transport, fuel efficiency, and cutting back on motoring are MUCH better choices.

    Full article at http://healthandenergy.com/ethanol.htm

    David Pimental, a leading Cornell University agricultural expert, has calculated that powering the average U.S. automobile for one year on ethanol (blended with gasoline) derived from corn would require 11 acres of farmland, the same space needed to grow a year’s supply of food for seven people. Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion into ethanol, 131,000 BTUs are needed to make one gallon of ethanol. One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTUS. Thus, 70 percent more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that actually is in it. Every time you make one gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTUs.

    Mr. Pimentel concluded that “abusing our precious croplands to grow corn for an energy-inefficient process that yields low-grade automobile fuels amounts to unsustainable subsidized food burning”.

  6. #6 K
    January 22, 2007

    Further, world grain production has stagnated, and since population continues to increase annual storage has declined – further global warming decreases yeild ( rice yields declined by 10% for every 1ºC increase in seasonal mean minimum temperature.) and ground water is being withdrawn over recharge in many resevoirs world wide.

    World grain supplies (coarse grain and wheat) are expected be much tighter in 2006/07, boosting global grain prices. Rising consumption is expected to outstrip production for the second straight year, which would push world grain ending stocks to the lowest levels in more than 25 years.

    Global tightness in corn is primarily due to expected supply and demand changes in the United States. Lower production, coupled with strong domestic demand for ethanol, will likely shrink ending stocks and raise U.S. corn prices.

  7. #7 revere
    January 22, 2007

    This is why I called it the methadone of the oil bosses. It may prevent the government from committing crimes to get what it is addicted to, but you remain addicted to something else. Won’t help greenhouse effect either.

  8. #8 jason
    January 22, 2007

    Being a tree hugger who happens to live in Texas, the ‘they’ in “They are good for global warming.” is a broad brush to paint with. We’re fighting Rick Perry’s plan for more than a dozen new coal power plants in the state and have thus far been ahead of the environmental disaster conservatives want to create in this area. We’re fighting the Mexican-owned tollway ‘they’ want to run through this state (yes, we’ll have to pay Mexico to drive through our own state). All I ask is that you consider more than 60% of us Texans voted against him and these plans (‘they’ only won by default). The majority of us want change, so ‘they’ seems terribly inexact when you’re really talking about a minority–although ‘they’ happen to be a minority in power.

  9. #9 revere
    January 22, 2007

    jason: Apologies to you and the other environmentalist in Texas. What was his name again?

    Only kidding. Up north we like to do this. Point taken.

  10. #10 jason
    January 22, 2007

    LOL! That was a most excellent response. Sadly, it does seem that way, doesn’t it?

  11. #11 caia
    January 22, 2007

    K – As Vandana Shiva points out in Water Wars, the use of water was not considered in the “efficiency” of Green Revolution crops – it was considered an infinite resource. Nor were the nutritional profiles of the crops. So whenever I see some Ag company bragging on how they’re putting more vitamin A into rice, or whatever, I remember that other grains, less grown, like millet, naturally have better vitamin profiles than what we’re growing now, and nearly everything uses less water than rice.

    As for corn, it’s not like we’re mostly eating it anyway – the majority of it goes towards feeding animals raised for their meat. I’m not a vegetarian, but even I can see that’s inefficient.

  12. #12 Lea
    January 22, 2007

    It’s Iowa that will profit from corn, some in South Dakota, beyond that … .
    “We’ll be the Arabs of the Midwest,” mused John Becker, manager of a farm cooperative in Craig, Iowa.

  13. #13 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 22, 2007

    Yeah, I hear you. But does anyone here have any answers that fix the problem? Until you do, you cant complain too terribly much if you turn on the computer, fire up a stove. Remember when all electric was a good idea? Ethanol is like fucking for chastity. It will require more oil just to grow that 11 acres than it would to just power the SUV’s.

    The crossroads is approaching fast. I agree with much of what K sends in but the attitude that we should remove our troops because its only about oil is ludicrous from an economic and strategic standpoint. Maybe we should pull them back and let the Iranians start another Saracen push to the west. Then it will be over 150 per barrel and then it becomes cost effective to go to pure hydrogen separation for a remix with oxygen engine. How do you make the bodies for the cars though without oil? Its all plastic.

    I dont know but we do have some issues in the near future. It doesnt matter who is in the White House. It’s a big lie factory for all of us and has been since Warren G. Harding denied having affairs with chicks in the cloakroom. FDR got the pass for Pearl Harbor too. So watch TV and enjoy the show. The curtain is going up on WWIV regardless of who is doing the talking.

  14. #14 Lea
    January 22, 2007

    Exactly MRK, no one has the answers that fix the problem. It’s all talk for now and ain’t nobody listening but us.
    Bring on the crossroads, please, the globe and all the people on it need a shocking-good wake up call.

  15. #15 crazy mother
    January 23, 2007

    Maybe what the globe needs is a bit of population reduction?A decent global pandemic would suffice for a while. Not nice for you or me,but since when has nature’s imperative ever been to “make nice”?As for “climate change”,I’m the layest of lay-men,but I do have a mind and an internet..my antennae are still waving about on this issue.I detest all politicians and the fact that they are all thumping barrels on this issue,offends me and heightens ny naturally cynical nature.

  16. #16 K
    January 23, 2007

    Caia, you are so right – there have been hidden costs to the “green revolution”. Besides the water, the destruction of the soil, the loss of plant diversity there has been the success of having less people die of starvation resulting in more people having babies so that more people can die of starvation when the green revolution can produce no more new miracles.

    Demographics are such that even limiting people to 1 child per family takes a while to result in even and then reduction of population growth – as seen in China – while counter intutive, it relates to the age at when one has that one child and at what age they, their children, their grandchildren die. Something has to give as the sun delivers a steady light for photosynthesis and the land that is good for farming is a fixed number of acres – there is some upper limit to how much food the planet can produce – we have gone beyond normal limits not only by plant breeding and genetic manipulation, but also by exploiting oil and gas to fertilize and pump ground water (natural gas is used to create nitrogen fertilizer and diesel is used to mine other minerals and transport them around the world)

    So as crazy mother says, a pandemic might become nature’s wa of adjusting the human population. However large adjustments of human population have unforseen consequences. In the 1300’s the lords fled the plague and survived in greater percents than the serfs. WHICH gave the serfs that survived some bargaining power regarding the price of their labor. Some think that was the first stage that led to the French Revolution. In our current globalized world the consequences might be similar. Even if first worlders survive in greater numbers, our virtual slaves in the third world might be decimated and refuse to work for crumbs. But more than likely if a pandemic is large and widespread it will collapse the global house of cards that is called “THE ECCONOMY”. In the depression of the early 1900’s people who thought themselves well off and safe from ever being poor found themselves destitute.

    One advantage of voluntarily living on less is that one is more prepared to do without and cope with doing without should the ecconomy crash. Personally I find it a more satisfying and less stressful life. Personally I do not want one single US soldier to die to defend my “American right” to live high on cheap oil.

    MRK, when your 13 year old gets to be 18 will you encourage him to go fight in a poorly executed war to keep the price of oil down? If not, why are you OK with other young men and women risking their life, their limbs, and their sanity for what our pres calls “the non-negotiable American way of life”?

  17. #17 bar
    January 23, 2007

    I was travelling through the USA a couple of years ago. Here are a couple of pictures I took.


  18. #18 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 23, 2007

    K. When my 13 year old hits 18 he will make his own decisions. This is not a war in Iraq. I can tell you what a war is and this isnt it. Going into B’dad a couple of years ago was a war and now we are into appeasement, political correctness and lets always second guess every decsion thats ever made by any President. Oh, did I leave out that America is always wrong no matter what we do? The US pollutes too much, the US doesnt have healthcare, the US didnt do enough for the Ethiopians. It makes me just sick to hear that shit.

    You know, the one thing I didnt hear shit out of the left was about B. Clintons lets go save the Balkans when they had been dying by the boxloads for years until he woke up from a penis spit shine from Monica with what for all intents and purposes was an indictment. Even more so when he lied in front a federal judge and grand jury. I heard that it was all about sex. Okay Bill pop up and say you tagged her and take the hits. Dont lie in front of a jury. No one but himself did that. If you or I had lied we would have seen the inside of Atlanta Federal Penitentiary.

    You sit back and pontificate that this is a poorly executed war. Bullshit. Tommy Franks was a full bull Colonel when I met him and he was on the general battle staff and I was on the air battle staff. The plan on how to take Iraq had been on the table when Arkansas Billie was president. Oh my God, we were planning the invasion of Iraq in 1994? Sheyit! There goes the thoughts that Billies dirty Willy was such a negotiator. What? We fly a no fly zone for the next 20 years and at a cost of 10 million a month. He with two divisions you get eggroll and Baghdad! So dont preach about poorly executed wars as you likely have never been in one. Those kids fight and die and for what is always the question. Lets start with your right to say whatever you want in this country. Call it a training exercise because if I had been in charge and they were shooting us up I would have eliminated the problem down to the last woman and child in that area that the shit was being shot from.

    I dont poo-pooh your ideas K. In the real world where people sit around and bitch because we are in Iraq its really to stop or start WWIV depending on how you look at it. If I were given the toys to play with Teheran would be in ruins right now, along with Damascus and with a future offer in the springtime to lay ruin to it again. Al Muqutada would be gone or passive. Cant fight or fund if you are dead. Mathematics… I love them. They would be offered the peace table or I would knock them into pieces. No rebuilding, let them do that and the only way for them to do it would be to pump the oil from the ground that preserves the planets economy. Sure, you will say I am wrong but as of this past week the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place when the lead elements of the Stennis Battle Group were pulling onto station. We will offer the Iranians a chance, an out, whatever peaceful solution. As in stop building nukes or we are going to take the place off the map and maybe a lot of you with it. Why? To preserve the peace sometimes you have to make war. Little pissant countries with nukes will kick off WWIV in a hard and fast hurry and any chance of Revere’s UHC will be gone in a flash.

    Every damned Democrat out there will demand that the President whoever that is take immediate action and that action will be swift and to the point. You let Israel start popping retaliatory nukies and they wont stop at Teheran. They will take Damacus, possibly Yemen and Saudi Arabia depending on the day of the week. Yeah, Iraq was a good bloody idea. Be advised, we lose a lot of people each year just in training exercises. 3000 guys God love them is too many but at least they would stand and deliver and they did it with a signature on a piece of paper. It was their choice including all of the extensions and along with it promotions and veteran benefits points. Its called a job and like a cop you can get killed at it.

    Wars are one way trips to Hell. Sit back and enjoy your lifestyle however reclusive it is. It cant be too terribly productive in todays societies definition of success. If you are happy then fine, be happy. Those guys are for the better part happy in the military. They chose it and every 4 years they get to make a choice. Many stay in. I want you to remember though that someone else is always going to be paying for you to be happy either in garrison or out. At least they have the nuts to go out and do something even if its right or wrong. They answered the call, if you didnt maybe you should start thinking about it because there isnt a profession other than fireman or cop that comes close to this. Stand where others cant. Stand where others wont. Preserve the American way of life for the families that are at home.

    You want another Vietnam? Good, keep on not supporting the effort and you’ll see more than Vietnam, WWII and WWI combined if this gets out of control. Control at this point in time means military intervention. Later, history and the diplomats can decide whether we did a good job or not.

  19. #19 Marissa
    January 23, 2007

    I lived in Houston for about 10 years and i’m not surprised; the auto is totally king there and will be for evermore. On the other hand, light rail lines are a tough sell because most Americans don’t subscribe to public transportation as they do in Europe.

  20. #20 Lea
    January 23, 2007

    MRK’s comment, To preserve the peace sometimes you have to make war. That really is the bottom line however people refuse to see that.
    crazy mother: keep posting if you can take the hits, like what you say. You make perfect sense.
    K: I am tired of hearing how you live on less, please shut up.

  21. #21 revere
    January 23, 2007

    Lea: I think MRK was quoting George Orwell (without knowing it).

    Regarding not wanting to hear about K’s lifestyle: Feel free not to read his comments, just as many people no doubt feel free not to read yours. I rarely tell people to shut up (it has happened, but mainly I just let it go and don’t read them).

  22. #22 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 23, 2007

    Lea, Revere doesnt cull any comments unless they are extremely over the top and generally from making personal attacks on someone. Feel free to discount K’s comments but never, ever try to muzzle anyone in the US of A. It is exactly the point I make above. I HAVE to listen to rants from K and others because they aint all wrong. Misguided in yours and my view in many cases. But his heart is in the right place.

    The deal in Iraq sucks, its not post-war Japan where terrorism was dealt with very harshly. They would simply go in and arrest/kill them in Japan because it was a declared war. When they attacked us we simply backed a 155 howitzer up and let a whole district have it. End of problem and loud advisory to the populace that we would kill you for opposition. We have the situation in Iraq because first we are there, second because they felt that they can get away with the things that they have been because there is no accountability-e.g. they wont level this area because of humanitarian issues, lastly because the Iraqi’s are a divided and factional people.

    This gig is about oil first and the economies of the world, second about terrorism, third about eliminating nukes from the region which would affect number one, give rise to number two and then we are back at square one. Its a mess but now with a lame duck in office the pressure is about to ratchet up on the Iranians who are funding the brigades there. Kiss them goodbye.

    K….Rant on brother, Lea is a bit new to this heah blog. Rant on too Lea. You arent wrong, just need to watch the etiquette a bit.

  23. #23 Steph
    January 23, 2007

    Small point of contention: that’s a Spanish (not Mexican) company (CINTRA) that’s behind making that supertollway from Mexico through Texas.

    BTW most Texans don’t even know about it yet.


  24. #24 marquer
    January 23, 2007

    Here’s one more reason why ethanol is totally insane as energy policy (and why should we be surprised that both parties thus back it to the hilt?).

    Talk of “cellulosic switchgrass ethanol” and such notwithstanding, what ethanol will be made from now and in the foreseeable future is from corn.

    In the last hundred years, American agronomists have made corn into a more and more fragile and specialized and genetically narrow species in search of higher yields.

    In the short run that has worked. In the long run, beware. Such species, lacking natural genetic variation and robustness, have historically been prone to assaults by new or adapted plant pathogens or insects. And if entire multistate regions are planted in a genetic monoculture, as is the case in the US Midwest farm belt today, there is a risk of losing most or all of the crop.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    And yet American politicians are after it like a duck after a June bug.

    My pessimism about the long-term future of this country has rarely been darker. I am coming to think that we will see a slide in living standards here the like of which has not been experienced since the 1930s. And recovery will be much less prompt than it was from that previous Depression. It may not occur at all.

  25. #25 K
    January 23, 2007

    MRK – thanks for defending my right to rant on.

    Point 1 – I am a she not a he and at 58 a bit old to enlist. My gender saved me from the Vietnam draft.

    Point 2 – I didn’t like Clinton or Carter, I just disliked Regan, Bush I and Bush II more

    Point 3 – I think most liberals are in serious self deception. They truly think they can have the lifestyle they now have without the war machine and American imperialism. They cannot and no doubt when many of them finally realize this they will change their tune. I would like other anti war liberals to realize that the first step they need to make is to renounce the lifestyle that our military is buying for them with blood.

    Point 4 – I choose to live on less in part because of point 3

    Point 5 – If the plan is to provoke WWIV then I think the Administration is well on the way to accomplishing that plan. (many believe FDR provoked Japan to attack us and hid the knowledge that they were coming from those at Pearl Harbor – and think he did the right thing)- if this is the plan I think we are in deep shit

    Point 6 – if the plan is to secure Middle East oil, I think serious miscalculations have been made by the planners and Lea and all the rest of ya’ll may soon have to learn to live like I do. If the power grid is still up I will be glad to give out pointers and suggestions. If not you are on your own.

    If either 5 or 6 comes into play, the army puts out a handy dandy survival guide – FM 21-76 which you can get at Amazon for just $14.95

    Final point. Just what was Jeff Gannon that male escort doing when he was shown as arriving at the WhiteHouse one day and not leaving till the next – several times. You remember the one who was asking soft ball questions at Press conferences – If you don’t remember perhaps it is because the Bush administration got a pass from the “Liberal Press” while Clinton got trashed for something that was far less than many presidents have done. There are many things I wish he had gotten trashed for, but I really don’t give a double damn what anyone does in the privacy of their own bedroom UNLESS they are doing the very thing they are accusing others of doing – might we want to remember the hypocrisy of ex-speaker Gingrich or the Reverend Haggard????

  26. #26 bar
    January 23, 2007

    Revere: Up top you wrote:

    (although maybe we’ll hear about the oxymoron, “clean coal”).

    Having worked in a coal fired power station, “clean coal (burning)” isn’t an oxymoron. They have things called “electrostatic precipitators” and “air scrubbers”. If the products of combustion are passed through those items, the stack produces no visible plume. Hence “clean coal”.

    I suspect that most of those Chinese power stations do not have those devices, and I think I remember a fairly dirty plume while driving north through Indiana.

  27. #27 K
    January 23, 2007

    Marquer – Yep, yep and yep. Having watched the beautiful elms of my native city Buffalo all succumb I know what monocroping can lead to.

    I hear that our local farmers (I am relocated to AL) are switching to corn as it will pay better – watch for other farm commodities to increase in price. It is a bit surprising as switchgrass was supposed to be our niche. Perhaps Sen. Sessions was exagerating a bit about how ready we are for that and how wonderful it is going to be. Wonder what he had to do to get Bush to include that in last year’s State of the Union – weazeling seems to be his niche.

    Duck after a June bug – only one who has seen that and then transfers the mental picture of that scene to one of our congressmen can really appreciate that analogy!!!

  28. #28 revere
    January 23, 2007

    bar: I know quite a bit about those devices as I teach air pollution. They can be operated very efficiently but usually aren’t There is also a solid waste problem. Not to mention greenhouse gases.

  29. #29 Mark UK
    January 23, 2007

    Bio fuels are not that great… Moving to that kind of dependency when global warming could make things more unpredictable sounds like a bad idea. In Europe bread prices this year are up by over 15% because globally harvests have been less than averga for a few years now.
    You can’t invade the weather..

    Public transport in Houston? It’s not build for it. To spread out. Let’s focus the efforts on high density areas such New York etc. Let’s fund the clean coal technology for places like China. More bang for your buck over there.

  30. #30 K
    January 23, 2007

    Coal mining in this country is a shame. Even if you can make the coal clean burning, the destruction of whole mountains, the destruction of streams, the pollution of well water for the people who live in the mountains is a terrible cost. Further who knows how the weather will change as mountain after mountain is leveled?

  31. #31 marquer
    January 23, 2007

    My understanding is that “clean coal” goes well beyond simply using scrubbers and precipitators.

    Coal gasification is one of the clean technologies.

    Way beyond gasification, I have always been taken with the idea of using magnetohydrodynamic generators for coal burning.

    Basic idea of a generator: move an electric conductor through a magnetic field, and you will produce a voltage. In MHD, a combustible fuel (powdered coal in this scenario) is burned in what is basically a rocket engine, and the exhaust goes through the magnet. If you seed the fuel with something properly ionic, the exhaust becomes the conductor. It is *hot*. High thermal efficiency. So hot that you can run a second-stage steam turbine to generate even more power.

    Downside: the seed materials cost a lot of money, so you have to capture the cooled exhaust and reprecipitate them for re-use. But if you’re capturing the entire exhaust for processing, that implies the ability to sequester all of the exhaust, including the heavy metals (which could be drawn off for industrial processes) and the carbon dioxide.

    None of this is technologically trivial. And it would be a lot more expensive than the Stone Age combustion currently used to make electric energy from coal.

    And it leaves open the issue of the extraction of the coal in the first place, which is a dirty destructive process. But what seems clear is that people are going to dig and burn coal regardless. The overall cycle should be made as amicable and clean as engineering can manage.

  32. #32 Lea
    January 23, 2007

    revere: o.k. ~~~~~ MRK: o.k., my heart is in the right place too, please believe that until you know better. If you ever wonder about it please ask me.
    Truly, no offense was meant by it, I am not the most tactful soul around.
    K: Apologies extended. But … I did know you were a female! Living with less, on less, will happen soon enough; and I have done so the last several years, not because of having to but by choice.

  33. #33 bar
    January 23, 2007

    Kath: Your image of whole mountains being demolished is a bit colourful. A cubic kilometer (about a quarter a cubic mile) of coal would weigh over a billion tons, which is about the average annual US consumption. Usually in the US coal is underground, so subsidence (not open cut mountain moving) is the problem. I have lived in a subsidence area. Weren’t allowed to build more than 2 stories, brick houses not recommended. Of course open cut is the preferred & heaper methof for extracting coal if the seam is not too deep. Around Gulgong, NSW, the government required the mining company to landscape the mines back to farmland after open cut mining.

    Marquer: My power station experience was decades ago. We used powdered coal, which was injected into an airstream that squirted air/coaldust into a furnace about 40 feet square, 100 feet high, completely surrounded by pipes carrying pressurized water. I do not think gasification is a suitable technology for 200 MW power systems.

  34. #34 tardigrade
    January 23, 2007

    Just as I was pulling into LA from a long gaunt from Nashville ( Climate Project), and shooting video of my daughter’s opening night in Oklahoma, I heard about the 18 lane highway (my Prius was a champ averaging 54mpg on the highway… you gotta hand it to Toyota). I have to tell you that Texas is not ready for either an 18 lane highway nor climate change. Oklahoma was not prepared for the ice storm two weeks ago, but it made sure its big highways (Highway 40) were clear of ice and muck. Not true of Texas. They had the worst frozen muck and diversions around unfinished road projects, that I have ever seen.

    Another little story about Texas ….. considering the amount of water not being added to the Central Plains aquifer and climate change added together creating highways with more lanes means adding more people who will be wondering where their drinking water will come from…. take it from someone who grew up in Los Angeles.

  35. #35 Coin
    January 23, 2007

    1. Have you ever driven on I-10? The lane widening is if anything going to reduce pollution because people will be driving at efficient speeds rather than idling in traffic jams.

    2. While it is extremely sad that the light rail option was not explored, it is extremely questionable whether any significant gains on pollution could have been obtained had the railroad tracks beside I-10 been preserved. I personally would guess not. The problem is, while we would have then had light rail running alongside I-10 east-west, there would not have immediately been any extension of this light rail to any other part of the city. So had the light rail been built, it basically would have been done as an extension of the Metro bus system, with the bus routes that take I-10 being replaced by the rail line or something. Since most people in Houston already find the Metro system inadequate for their needs, it is extremely unlikely that there would have been significant new adoption of public transit in Houston with a light rail system based around the destroyed I-10 line– because okay, now you can get from any point alongside I-10 to any other point along I-10 via the light rail system, but how does this help you? OK, it may touch the tips of the suburbs in one place and Houston’s teensy little downtown in another, but in general there’s almost nothing alongside I-10 except fast food. What you’d have to do is take the I-10 rail line to catch a metro that goes whereever you actually want to go– and the metro buses are so torturous that anyone who can possibly afford a car would rather just do that. Maybe the I-10 line could have become the nucleus of a real, usable light rail system (in a way that the pathetic, unsafe joke of a light rail line that they recently put downtown just to make light rail advocates complaining precisely was not) down the road, but we’re still talking about years (decades?) of development and uncertain payback. A light rail system would I’d certainly agree have been better for Houston, but in the short term (i.e. before man walks on mars) no one would have been using the light rail system who isn’t using the Metro buses now. This means one, no environmental benefit, and two, they’d still have the desire to expand I-10 even if the light rail were put in– and it would maybe even have the same number of lanes post-expansion except just with maybe light rail tracks where the HOVs are now.

    3. Light rail proponents in Houston cannot fairly be described as “environmentalists”, or at least environmentalism was not a noticeably significant as a factor weighing in favor of light rail at the time at which the late-90s light rail proposals were being scrapped.

  36. #36 K
    January 23, 2007

    bar please check out
    I can’t get this to post with the link – google “mountain top removal virginia” and you should be able to get pics that will show you I am not exaggerating
    yes the coal in the Appalacian mountains is underground, but they have found the cheapest way to get to it is now to remove the dirt and rock on top by blasting and dozing, move it elsewhere and then get the coal.

    Lea – apologies accepted – MRK was the one who apparently thought I was male.

  37. #37 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 23, 2007

    K.- FWIW you arent wrong in your views. Its just too utopian for todays world. I want everyone here and now to listen up. We are going to be in a fur ball pretty quick and bird bug may hasten it along as suddenly the resources of the world dry up.

    We can disagree but unless we have security including economic security all bets are off. No President is going to sit by and watch Iran take control of the Middle East. Even Hillary wouldnt allow that to happen. Political animals will run for cover when the shooting starts and its about to. The Brits are also bringing up some assets into the region. Might just be to back stop us in Iraq, while we get the duty of doing Iran. I give it maybe until April at the latest. We will test their defenses, fly some low levels in there with stealth and see where the weak spots are and then suddenly, we will just act unilaterally. The French dont want it because they continue to sell them guns, ammo and technology. Understand Iran isnt setting up for just a defensive posture, they are setting up for offensive operations now. I cant see a ground assault, but I can see an airborne invasion of Teheran and Bushehr leaving the countryside permanently.

  38. #38 tardigrade
    January 24, 2007

    bang bang, anyone and everyone can be dead…. A video from the work of Jane Goodall shows how a male of a group, who had been an outcast, become a ‘leader’ for a while (got to sire a few offspring with the alpha female – isn’t that all the noise is about, anyway). He found a huge stick and thwacked it about scaring the troop. Our roots are not hidden from our eyes.

    Another way to look at things is to look at history instead of anthropology. Sparta and Athens thwacked at each other for decades and in the end it basically swallowed up their resources…. Sparta got a navy for a while but tired of that and lost it. Probably not as much fun as smacking around a big sword (stick).

    Grunting and yelling and thwacking… sigh.

  39. #39 cougar
    January 24, 2007

    Tardigrade, the water situation in Texas is a BIG worry – I’m watching huge development projects under construction in an area near my home which relies on a nearby reservoir for its drinking water. This particular lake is STILL 9′ below level even after weeks of rain around here. And we’re still under water conservation rules which will likely (as they should) become permanent. Not to mention when the city of Dallas’ reservoir runs low, they pull from – you guessed it – our little reservoir. I just hope I can make my move to east Texas before summer cause I fear water restrictions around here are gonna get pretty severe in a few months.

  40. #40 K
    January 25, 2007

    MRK – I am utopian in my wishes for the world, but no longer in my expectations. I think you are utopian perhaps in your view that our military can pull this off. How often have empires in decline failed to see they are at the end and attempted desperate last measures doomed to fail. Napoleon and Hitler come to mind immediately. So we shall see shan’t we. If we “do” Iran I think we will fail catastrophically.

  41. #41 revere
    January 25, 2007

    K: You have put your finger on a historically key element: the US is an empire in decline. One hundred years ago the US was on the margins of world powers, then dominated by the Europeans. After WWII we were on top. Iraq is the the signal that we are in decline. It isn’t the cause of the decline but it is hastening it dramatically. Who or what will take its place remains to be seen. Just as it is not reasonable to believe the future will be like the past or that the US will remain a dominant power forever, the future may not be dominated by a single nation state at all, speculatons about China notwithstanding. Whatever comes, I won’t live to see it but I feel confident that 50 years from now the US won’t be a superpower. It may not even exist in its present form but be part of some kind of Federation of states or regional bloc. Who knows.

  42. #42 K
    January 25, 2007

    Revere, exactly. However when empires fell before they fell in a world that wasn’t globalized. Our current situation is unique and the fall of the US empire could conceivably bring the whole shebang down. Richard Duncan’s Olduvai theory is the extreme peak oil theory – in his theory blackouts start in 2008 and we crash quickly back to something like the stone ages. I am reading the Limits to Growth 30 year update. The computer simulation that has us going forward as we are now crashes us in 2020 but not as extreme as Duncan’s. George Monbiot tells about theories that global dimming is holding back golbal warming – if the dimming is stopped for a period of time (could a pandemic shut down China’s factories and clear the skies?) global warming could enter a strong positive feedback cycle that might quickly bring civilization to its knees. If the theory about the melting of the frozen methane causing the permian extinction is correct – a few more degrees of global warming might make humans extinct. MRK’s anticipated WWIV could unleash all the nukes in the world. That could happen this year if US and Israeli general underestimate Iran and miscalculate about Russian and China. We can hope that all these possible futures are not the real future. But to be sure shouldn’t we consider them carefully. When a Dr sees a dot on a mamogram doesn’t he want to check it out further, even though he thinks it is probably not cancer? Unlikely things happen – just not as often as likely things.

  43. #43 Mark UK
    January 25, 2007

    You guys really want the world to end? Please, lighten up.

  44. #44 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 25, 2007

    Revere…. Off subject info request. I cant find out if H5N1 is small enough to be picked up in the proboscus of a mosquito. This is in reference to the fly thing from Indon this week. We know it can get into flies, but we dont know whether it will multiply in them. We have some monster horse flies here (bout the size of your thumb). Same applies for Central and Northern part of S. America. My big worry if its unfounded tell me, is that this could be transmitted to cows, horses, dogs, cats, rats, mice and humans from the bites of midges, flies, mossy’s. Flies we have the info on, but not mosquitos.

  45. #45 revere
    January 25, 2007

    Randy: The viral particle is tiny (120 nm), about a hundreth the size of a red blood cell, so there is no question it “fits.” However we don’t know (and so far don’t think) it replicates in a mosquito or fly, so that means they are essentially flying needles and the amounts of virus they can carry is very tiny, probably not a sufficient amount to allow transmission. I don’t know if that is an educated guess or just a wish. Nor do I have any doubt that some readers will be very alarmed. I am not. Not so far, anyway.

  46. #46 Lea
    January 25, 2007

    cougar: You said, I fear water restrictions around here are gonna get pretty severe in a few months. My question is, what are the water restrictions mainly for? Watering the lawn?
    We lived in South Dakota (SD) five years ago and there were water restrictions for watering lawns. And SD’s water is so expensive anyway, in addition to being filled with rust from all the red soil.
    Tardigrade: How long have you had your Prius? We’re contemplating a Toyota Camry Hybrid. (mainly because it appears to have a little more room than the Prius).

  47. #47 K
    January 25, 2007

    Mark, if you smell smoke in your house and your wife says “lets find out where it is” do you tell her to lighten up?

  48. #48 K
    January 25, 2007

    Mark a PS. For the sake of refrigerants and aerosol propellants we almost destroyed the ozone layer. The final verdict is not yet in as to whether we stopped that particular form of pollution in time. If the ozone had gone life on planet earth would have become MUCH less friendly to human beings. We humans have become capable of making planet wide mistakes – if we all just “lighten up” likely we will persist in some of the planet wide mistakes we are making today. Luckily a bunch of scientists are refusing to be coerced or bought off regarding global warming. Virtually the only disagreement is how bad is it and how much and what do we need to do to stop and reverse it. Few want to say that it might already be irreversable as that might discourage action. But the melting of the permafrost is one very worrisome positive feedback effect of the sort that could cause runaway global warming.

  49. #49 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 25, 2007

    K-Info about Ozone. We quit using CFC’s and the hole continued to get bigger in the arctic(s), so what happen. Special TR-1’s were sent up and sampling the atmosphere they found great amounts of CO and CO2. Some are speculating that the Chlorine based stuff may not have been responsible, but Carbonic Acid might be. Combination of water and carbon dioxide creating suspended carbonic acid crystals that may eventually reflect the sun and cool the planet in rapid manner. E.g. they didnt know that weather was affected by jet contrails until three years ago when a known NASA flight was being monitored in the Houston area for something else from space. Then urps, the contrail spread creating thunderstorms that were directly attributable to that flight.

    This stuff is really rattling people… Because in the seventies THEY KNEW, that the earth was cooling at an incredible rate. Coldest winter since 1776 in 1976-78 (had to be global cooling-not the volcanos that were going off). In the 1960’s THEY KNEW that SST traffic would damage the ozone layer. In the 1950’s THEY KNEW that radioactivity from above ground testing wasnt harmful more than 200 miles downrange. Heidi Cullen KNOWS that all of the problems being generated in the climate have to be human related.

    And just this week folks one of the scientists who was on the big sediment dig for evidence of global warming/cooling says that we had better just hold up because global warmng is more like really climate change and cyclical likely as it hits about every 41,000 years, every 100,000 years. Are we polluting the air? No doubt. But I wouldnt go off on a tangent until we have enough facts to chose a correct course of action. I again say that all of this stuff creates its own set of problems and renewable energy aint ethanol and it isnt the sun on solar cells. Might have to just let nature eliminate a few as it has each tme the worlds population has approached the level of the food supply. High food supply levels equate to babies, who consume more food and take up the excess. Then there isnt enough food and then nature culls it down. Just make sure you arent on the list.

  50. #50 K
    January 25, 2007

    MRK – one can always find a divergent “scientific opinion”. So I checked Wikipedia – often divergent opinions are listed there as people with divergent opinions can post them. The standard view seems strongly supported by scientists. The way ozone works it takes years for current CFC’s to get to the upper regions of our atmosphere. Once there their action continues over time and becomes worse for a time. Cessation of CFC’s while quicker than suspected was not as quick as was ideal and some still are being produced and some are still being released along with some other chemicals that affect the ozone.

    Wikipedia under the subject Ozone depletion states – “There is no scientific controversy or debate regarding ozone depletion. There is a general consensus among most atmospheric physicists and chemists that the scientific understanding has now reached a level where countermeasures to control CFC emissions are justified, although the decision is ultimately one for policy-makers.”

    The divergent opinions are listed as misconceptions and the misconceptions are addressed.

    We are all on the cull list – the question is who goes first, when do we go, how do we go and do we leave progeny – unless of course you are immortal.

  51. #51 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 25, 2007

    Well I always make sure I dont consult the ever changing Wikipedia. I dont want to mould anything to my thoughts here. I just want to make sure that all thoughts are out there before I go “Al -I take donations from the Chinese-Gore.”

    Personally I think that if a foreign government starts paying for electing our officials then thats a much more Inconvienient Truth and damned sure more factual. .

    As for consensus, Wikipedia is modfied by the users. There is no backup for a lot of what they put out there. If you were quoting the Encyclopaedia Brittanica or something like it I would be more receptive to that. Ozone is a naturally occuring gas, its what you smell on a hot day when the rain hits the hot pavement. Its also produced by electric motors in high volume. So where did it go? Chlorine and CFC’s have only been around for about 150 years. It takes years for it to reach the upper atmosphere and since we have only been monitoring the ozone for about 40 years no one is too terribly sure where and what this means to have a hole in it. We know its happened before but the mechanics of it are not known.

    I again say you should send me an email address to memphisservices@bellsouth.net and I will send you something that you wont like to see. It shows exactly who is doing the polluting of the air on this planet and for the better part it aint the EU and/or the US. Pretty damning evidence actually. It also doesnt matter who is in the WH because they are all liars-in-chief. Some just do a lot better job of it.

    Dont sweat it. We are going to go in a poof flash in the night or gurgling messes in hospital ward from some bug anyway.

  52. #52 revere
    January 25, 2007

    Randy: You are confusing tropospheric ozone with stratospheric ozone. Two different things (same molecule but entirely different source and significance). As far as I am aware, there is no controversey about the chemistry behind upper level ozone depeletion. The scientist who discovered it received the Nobel Prize for it. It was a surprise because freons are highly stable chemically and that they could entrain the set of free radical reactions was unforeseen. The Wikipedia stuff is a red herring, although in my experience it is highly accurate on scientific matters, more so than Britannica which doesn’t get its mistakes corrected. It’s a new world and it takes getting used to.

  53. #53 Lea
    January 25, 2007

    MRK: In my opinion, which many would debate, whatever way we go is a result of our own-making, as well as karmic debt. Individually and collectively.
    Since revere is godless I hesitate to bring up anything relating to God or the belief thereof. In addition, not to many people would understand where I’m coming from concerning the Divine. Nor do I care to explain.
    You said we are going to go in a poof flash in the night or gurgling messes in hospital ward from some bug anyway. This could all very well be true however, it is the not knowing that gnaws at us along with our multiple attachments.
    I am leaning more towards the side of many good folks will make it through all this. Some better for the experience and some not moved at all. There is a loving, caring force in this world as well as a force that wants to see mankind fail. Plus if a person’s number is up, then it’s up.
    All I’ll say at this point, is that I do believe in life after death, that we have lived many lifetimes, and will continue to do so until we realize what the truth of our existence is. So, while I’d like to live to get to the end of this lifetime successfully, in the end it doesn’t matter to me as I’ll be back.
    Don’t blast me too much revere, it felt good to get that out in the open.

  54. #54 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 26, 2007

    Wa’ll not so fast there big fella. Now I hold a weather certificate from the FAA but that aint anything but taking the readings, getting temps right and on down the line and cloud identifcation. But a friend named Andrews over at Accuweather is a weather scientist and he says that the info on the ozone “may” be wrong about them being different Revere.

    Seems that new data keeps popping up all the time about the vertical migration of near ground ozone to high level ozone “may” be wrong. Lotsa maybe about the weather because like our backsides, everyone has one of those and an opinion. Proves the point though. There is just toooo much data out there supporting, disproving, so-soing the various opinions. Personally I think that we are going to get hit hard by the weather in the next few years and just about anything the Earth can do to protect itself from the fungus called Man. But is it a 40 year cycle? A Milankovitch cycle? Any way you look at this thing regardless of which side of the argument you are on, all pretty much agree on one thing. It aint looking good and man isnt helping things either and man as the dominant species and others will suffer as a consequence.

    So will fossil fuel do us? Will general conditions for the point in space and time, AND man do something to eliminate a bunch of us? OR is really just nature kicking in with the environment, bug environment, degradation in lifestyles (Ethiopia never had one) and all of the ills of what is known as the human condition coming into play? I dont know and neither do they. No one can say with a certainty what is happening except that something is happening. None can say that even if we did anything at all that it would change things minutely or signifcantly. So there we go, riding the rail into Hell. Me, I never sit in the front of the roller coaster. Way too hairy a ride. Bragging rights as we either move out of this, farther into it or we just sit and languish in the previously brightly lit skies that contained sunlight.

    Hey Lea, Revere would just say at the time of your death you have reached the end of your lifetime successfully……..

  55. #55 Lea
    January 26, 2007

    MRK: In a nutshell kiddo. Enjoy reading what you write. Got a couple good laughs too.

  56. #56 K
    January 26, 2007

    We First worlders regularly go to Dr.s for checkups – Pap smears, blood pressure, colesteral tests, mammograms, now colonoscopies etc etc. If the Dr. says we have cancer we get body parts removed and submit to chemotherapy and radiation.

    If a LOT of scientists tell us that global warming is a real danger. If a growing number of geologists tell us that Peak Oil is a reality (the IAEA is only about a decade different from the retired geologists as the ASPO – Association for the study of Peak Oil). If scientists warn us about declining species in the ocean and on land. If world history tells us that civilizations have collapsed in the past and can identify tenatively the reasons and if they tell us similar situations are here now – shouldn’t we be as concerned as we would be if we are personally told we have cancer.

    There are still things we can do – first educate yourself on the myriad of really dangerous human created problems – second educate yourself on the value of proposed solutions – third make life style changes – if you would submit to the knife and poison yourself to survive cancer to die another day shouldn’t you be willing to make lifestyle changes to save the planet that makes our lives possible.

    Do something – plant a garden (and learn about the wonderful amazing planetary skin called soil and how it is endangered by agrobusiness) Save your seeds (find out why Monsanto doesn’t want you to do this and why Bremmer got a law passed in Iraq before he left outlawing seed saving) – drive less – support mass transit by using it and advocating for more – power down your house – use less water – dirty cars drive just as well as clean ones – dry your clothes on a clothes line – they smell better too. Boycott the worst polluters. Tell your congressperson and the administration that you do NOT want us to Nuke (a tactical nuke is still a Nuke) Iran because they might have nukes 10 years from now. Stop shopping and start reading. Jared Diamond – Collapse – Richard Heinberg – Power Down – the ASPO Uppsala Depletion Protocol – The thirty year update of Limits to Growth.

    Lea, sorry it might bother you that I am once again advocating the more simple life. However besides the planetary benefits of humans living more simply, most of the great religious teachers who taught about life after death also advocated voluntary simplicity. If you don’t want to do it for the planet, do it because Jesus and the Buddah taught it as an important or religious practice. Actually from my long study of Jesus before I became atheist I believe Jesus taught it as essential for aquiring that much ballyhoed life after death that religious people “desire” but avoid like the plague.

  57. #57 revere
    January 26, 2007

    Randy: I teach this stuff. Accuweather is funded by climate change deniers associated with the energy industry. Notorious. There is no controversey except among those whose job it is to manufacture doubt about accepted science that is inconvenient for them. Upper level ozone depletion results from human products that initiate free radical reactions in the stratosphere. We argue about the details, not the main point. The surprise was not only that a stable compound like a freon could do this but that it could get into the stratosphere at all, which, as you must know, has a temperature profile that prevents much vertical movement of air packets (it is an inversion layer). The reason it happens is that the freons are so stable that they last long enough to make it to the stratosphere in small concentrations, which, given the very different chemistry up there, causes the problem.

    The concentrations of ozone in the troposphere (produced by photochemical processes from sunlight with natural and human hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides) is much lower than in the stratosphere and produced by an entirely different process. It doesn’t “make its way” into the stratosphere (the concentration gradients are in the other direction). Upper level ozone is produced when diatomic oxygen absorbs UV from the sun. Ozone itself absorbs in the high energy UV range, so its disappearance lets that through, which is the ecological and health problem we are concerned about.

  58. #58 bar
    January 26, 2007

    Revere; have you got a way I can post images, maybe by email, & you insert?

    a general question of interest: I suspect that the probability that a new pandemic (H2H) will evolve is probably proportional to some power of the world population, my guess is somewhere around cube, so if you double the population, then the likelihood of a new pandemic arising goes up by a factor of eight.

    For the sake of simplicity, consider other population dependent factors, such as local pop. density etc, to vary directly with population. Care to speculate?


    In Australia, environmentalists insist that open cut mines be returned to a natural state. Maybe not put the mountain back, but at least restore the topsoil. That is democratic choice at work.

    I agree that our civilization expends energy unnecessarily. We do not need those large SUVs, in fact those who drive them increase the likelihood that the rest of us will be road fatalities. Most of that air travel is probably unnecessary.

    But I do not agree that because most scientists agree on a proposition that fact establishes the truth of that proposition. That is such an obviously bad argument that I don’t even know how to begin arguing against it. Flat earth, geocentricity, ebb & flow of blood; if you pick a science, I will try to find historic examples contra your case in that science.

    After our last conversation on these pages, (Gerald Ford) I wrote a web page on
    global warming. Hopefully that page summarizes my position, which is that any problems are soluble as they arise.

    Saying that there will be “dire consequences” is not good enough. Let’s you tell me those dire consequences, and tell me just how dire they are, because firstly, I don’t think that they are substantial enough to enslave our fellow man by dictating his life, and secondly, I think many of your predictions will not be sustainable.

  59. #59 revere
    January 26, 2007

    bar: I can post images, which I am willing to do if I think they are useful to others or are germane or if I feel like it :). However I don’t want to raise any expectations I will do it, for a variety of reasons not connected with the worth of the suggestion. This is a part time activity for me and I parcel out my time and energy according to internal priorities even I don’t understand.

    Regarding your speculations, the two parameters of most relevance to what you suggest are probably transmissibility and exposure or contact probability. The first is a complicated connection between host, agent and environment and may or may not be affected by population density and if so, it is not clear what the proper functional relationship should or would be. It is local, however, not global. The contact rate is also complicated and depends on the topology of the network, i.e., the probability that an infected person will come in contact with an uninfected one (and then transmit, of course). This is a global property.

    This used to be modeled in terms of a random network, i.e., that any person had an equal chance of coming in contact with any other. The mathematics of even this simple assumption is very hairy. But we know that human contact networks are not random. I have less a chance of passing on an infection to you in NZ than I do to my spouse or colleagues (althugh with international airline travel the probability is not zero). And different people come in contact with vastly different numbers of others. An airline attendant, for example, can spread more widely and to more people than a homemaker. So other network topologies (so-called small world topologies and scale free topologies) have been used, with the latter typical of many networks, including the internet. In this topology, some people are highly connected while most have very few connections. the highly connected ones are the big blogs like DailyKos or InstaPundit (to be evenhanded in my politics) and the ones with few connections are like you and me. This can be modeled well with a powerlaw and there is a lot of work in this area at the moment. For a good account for the layperson, read Duncan Watts’ book Six Degrees or Albert Barabassi’s Linked.

  60. #60 Lea
    January 26, 2007

    K: Your comments don’t bother me, nor do your beliefs or the lack thereof. What is of concern is that you believe everything you read. To put it simply it’s like my 86 year old mother that says, “well! “they” said so, so that makes it true. (and I hold the highest respect for her).
    The topic of Texas: good for global warming has gotten off track so let me close by saying to you K; I don’t support religions, nor Jesus nor Buddah; therefore your comment ‘do it because Jesus and Buddah taught it as an important or religious practice’ means nothing to me.

  61. #61 cougar
    January 26, 2007

    Lea: water restrictions are for all outdoor watering; this is mainly a rural area (I’m surrounded by cattle pastures, corn and wheat fields) so lawn watering isn’t much of an issue. Not to mention that all new houses around here – those with lawns – are watered by aerobic septic systems at least on one side. My worries are for watering my foundation and my sizable garden, filling my aquatic plant tanks for my business, filling pools for my dogs to ease them through summer heat, and filling my koi pond which is stocked with perch for emergency food.

  62. #62 revere
    January 26, 2007

    Lea: Excuse me for pointng this out, but you were fairly credulous regarding the tobacco and restaurant folks’ talking points on second hand smoke (or am I mixing you up with another commenter?).

  63. #63 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 26, 2007

    Revere, not discounting what you say. I have read a lot of what you have and participated in the CWA meetings here in town. My big thing is that it still doesnt account for what is happening.

    Hey K. If things keep on the way they are, we will be back to that simpler life sooner than later I think.

    Lea. Hit me on the email I have something for you.

  64. #64 revere
    January 26, 2007

    Randy: Doesn’t account for what? Upper level ozone depletion and global warming are two entirely different things. They have nothing to do with each other.

  65. #65 K
    January 26, 2007

    Lea – if I believed everything I read I would believe there is no human caused global warming, there is human caused global warming but it won’t be bad, there is human caused global warming and it is going to be really bad, and there is human caused global warming and its going to extinct us all.

    If I believed everything I read I would believe that H5N1 is designed by the CIA, that H5N1 is no big deal and just hyped by the press, that H5N1 is a plot to use to establish martial law, that H5N1 only changes by mutatiion, that H5N1 changes by recombination etc.

    What a mess of contradictory beliefs I would have.

    I would also believe Revere is right about CFC’s and that MRK is right about CFC’s

    Would you like to amend your comments about my beliefs so they make some sense.

    Regarding one specific belief I have – The facts are in – discovery of New conventional oil peaked some time back. Energy per capita peaked in the 70’s. Production of oil in the 48 states peaked in the 70’s. Oil fields regularily peak and decline. Now as to when the world’s conventional oil will peak, do I believe the executives at Exxon and Mobile or retired geologists with years of experience but no longer beholden to their bosses? At any rate the difference between the most optomistic and the least is about 40 years at most – unless of course one wants to beleive the few lone voices that think oil is abiotic and renewing under the surface and we are SAVED. I read that and I don’t believe it.

    BTW did you notice that BP now says that stands for Beyond Petroleum rather than British Petroleum.

    And although I read and hear from ADM that we are going to drive forever on Corn, I don’t believe that.

    As far as topic drift – it happens – so what. If Revere wants to do something about it he can. Otherwise we are free to take our comments wherever the discussion prompts us to go.

  66. #66 K
    January 26, 2007

    Bar – while in the US land is supposed to be “reclaimed” after mountain top removal for coal – one cannot return old growth forests overnight. First strong explosives are used to blast up to 800 feet off the tops of mountains and the overburden is pushed over the side of the mountain and into the once beautiful creeks of the Appalachian mountains. Streams are destroyed, wildlife killed. Wells are contaminated and the people who live there have little recourse but to drink the water. Further there is a sort of slurry generated “The slurry is a witch’s brew of water used to wash the coal for market, carcinogenic chemicals used in the washing process and coal fines (small particles) laden with all the compounds found in coal, including toxic heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury. Frequent blackwater spills from these impoundments choke the life out of streams. One “spill” of 306 million gallons that sentsludge up to fifteen feet thick into resident’s yards and fouled 75 miles of waterways, has been called the southeast’s worst environmental disaster.” The promised “reclamation” does not always happen at the end of all this.

    “Mountaintop removal is devastating hundreds of square miles of Appalachia; polluting the headwaters of rivers that provide drinking water to millions of Americans”

    If a company came into your neighbor hood and destroyed your drinking water in order to provide a benefit for someone else, would you say “ah well that is the democratic process at work”

    Sorry I can’t get my messages to work if I post links. Just google “Mountain Top Removal Appalachia” – to learn more.

    Note to Lea – I lived in Appalachia and saw this myself – it is not just something I read.

  67. #67 Lea
    January 26, 2007

    cougar: thanks for answering my question, appreciate it.

    revere: Second hand smoke thing. It might have been me however, please know I don’t put my faith in the tobacco or restaurant folks’. If you’ve never known a smoker dear heart it’s not easy to understand what they go through. It’s like a social worker with no children telling the lady with three kids how to raise her children.

    K: You said, “Would you like to amend your comments about my beliefs so they make some sense.” ~~~~~ NO ~~~~~~~

    MRK: You should have the email

  68. #68 revere
    January 26, 2007

    Lea: I’m extremely well acquainted with the smoking habit. Extremely.

  69. #69 bar
    January 26, 2007

    Revere: Thanks about the images. It’s just that the images on the “tale of two rivers” post I did are not really part of my website. http://barvennon.com/caltx.html

    Looking at your response, I am not sure that I defined the question adequately. The first variable in a new pandemic is the count of people where the index case could originate. That is the total population. Then, supposing that index case to exist, the next variable is the number of persons that could catch the infection. The next variable is the personal distance. I attempted to exclude transmissibility by specifying a pandemic, i.e. broadly speaking, that each person infected more than one other person before they stopped being infectious.

    I once attempted to write some modelling software for the spread of AIDS, so am aware of the network problems. I attempted to exclude networks. I would have said Daily Kos -v- Drudgereport. And thanks for the references.


    I think you are referring to this link. (They seem to have some sort of block on turning it into a link, but if the following line is pasted into a browser e.g. Firefox) as a URL, it gives the web page.)

    If all of those dangerous pollutions are happening in Virginia, then I would have thought that your EPA would be involved. I mean, aren’t we speaking about the Potomac? Isn’t that where Washington is? Or do all those legislators drink bottled water? If not them, what about that woman who sued in California for poisoning of the population on an old mine site? (They did a film about her – forget her name).

    As for the destruction of historic scenery (aka “old growth forests”). We in Australia are fairly cynical about the greenies attitudes to OGF. The recent bushfires & loss of life are considered to have been more severe because the Greenies had bargained for legislation that stopped householders from “burning off” even within a hundred yards of their own home for their own home safety.

    And I am sorry, but I happen to believe, (unlike you I think) that humans are more important than scenery. If the people in Virginia decide that the total destruction of less than 1% (I am guessing, but suspect that I am correct) of their OGF is a fair price to pay for prosperity, then that is their decision. New scenery can be grown, and if it isn’t, then obviously the appropriate bonds were not demanded. To me, forest is forest. Similar trees can be planted, and if properly promoted would probably provide a tourist attraction. Eventually, those new forests will be “OGF”.

  70. #70 Lea
    January 27, 2007

    revere: saw on CNN today a short blurb about a part of the brain called the “insula”, a spot deep in the brain. Apparently it has something to do with smokers and shows great promise in helping those who really want to quit. The only down-side, and it’s not a down-side to me, was they mentioned the use of magnets.
    They also said it was in the Journal Science. If you so desire and can find the article without too much trouble would appreciate seeing it in an article here.
    My son wants to quit so bad that it hurts, and this makes me hurt. It’s a devasting condition, withdrawal. None of the remedies on the market work, none of them.

  71. #71 K
    January 27, 2007

    Bar – I understand that because you do not live in the US you don’t quite understand how things work here. Under Reagan we had a Secretary of the Interior (James Watt) who at least said he believed in the coming rapture. Therefore he felt no need to protect forests (or anything else on public held land) – just let the lumber companies have all they want off of public lands because the end was near. Under our current administration the EPA is muzzled. Industry people are appointed to protect the environment – I don’t know if the Potomac is one of the rivers most polluted, but large cities can afford large water treatment facilities. Small cities and people on wells cannot. And yes I suspect that the politicians in Washington all drink bottled water.

    Yes one small battle was won in CA by Erin Boganivchh (sp). Appalacia is a different place. When I lived there in the early 70’s the towns had had electricity for only 10 years, some places still did not have it. The people are independent, distrustful of outsiders, needy of the only jobs available which is the mines. The miners are like feudal lords. The fact that many people are now banding together to protest is a sign of how bad it has become. The rest of the US however gets far more news about CA than West VA, VA, TN etc. Our press chooses what we know about and what we do not and the cost to society for Mountain Top Removal is not something they routinely tell us about.

    I didn’t mention the old growth forests because of their scenic value. Forests are part of the planetary regulation system. They affect many things – they cycle large amounts of gasses and water through our eccosytem in extremely beneficial ways. All through history when forests have been destroyed desertifcation follows. If the remaining forests of this planet are destroyed we are in serious deep shit. How much more is not precisely known but there is a point where positve feedback begins and it becomes to late.

    We often don’t know what will happen if we make changes to our world on a large scale until we make those changes. Even teenage experiments in a chemistry lab can have dangerous consequences. Worldwide experiments more so. We know what local forest removal can do – starting with Mesopotamia and through history. We don’t know what large scale removal of the world’s forests will do, but we have hints. Once done not only do forests take decades to be restored, the way they change climate may make it impossible to restore them.

    And for what – in East Asia for disposable chopsticks for Japan, in the Amazon for a few years of farming on fragile soil and pricey wood for rich people, in the US so we can get the coal and light our Christmas displays and be unhappier with our affluent lifestyle than 150 other less affluent countries.

  72. #72 K
    January 27, 2007

    Lea – you could have said – “K what I meant is that you believe the most dire forecasts that you read” – then we could have discussed that. While not entirely true it is in part true – I don’t necessarily believe every dire prediction but I do think they are worth looking at. One thing that is at stake is the liveablity of planet earth for humans. If one doctor tells you you have a dangerous cancer and you will die in months if you don’t treat it agressively, do you just look for another doctor who tells you nothing is wrong. Don’t you want to get a variety of opinions because you life (on earth at least) is at stake?

    I looked seriously at Thomas Gold’s abiotic oil theory which is way out of the mainstream – I couldn’t find any real world back up for it and even unlimited oil doesn’t save us from the pollution we generate with excess energy. The theories I talk about – Peak oil, global dimming, runaway global warming have significant numbers of scientists who believe them and the data coming in continues to support rather than discredit these theories. Duncan’s Olduvai theory is more on the fringe, but the lack of investment in our electric grid and the fragilty caused by their size and complexity, along with modern civilizations absolute dependence on electricity give it some credence. Since his prediction is right close we shall see. Other dire predictions I have looked at but not mentioned here (such as the collapse of the housing market) are looking more and more likely.

    The complex and global nature of the current civilization make IMO dire predictions more and more likely. Things are connected in ways we don’t understand.

    And in the wisdom of high school cheerleaders “The bigger you are the harder you fall”

  73. #73 revere
    January 27, 2007

    Lea: There was a long article in the New York Times about it. Unfortunately for your son (and some people close to me) this is just an observation about people with brain injuries (16 of them) at the moment. It does suggest some new routes of research but nothing is likely to come from it for many years. Science is slow.

  74. #74 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 27, 2007

    But Revere my assertion is simple. Global Climate Change is what I am talking about rather then Global Warming. Warming and cooling phases possibly coupled up with volcanic eruptions, asteroids, comets likely have caused huge changes in the atmosphere for millions of years. We cant and arent the only effect on warming even though they can only account for one degree of warming from humanity. E.g. Mt. St. Helens dumped enough sulfuric acid into the air to cause one of the worst world havests since Biblical times. Mt. Pinautubo dropped the temps in the N. Hemisphere 3 degrees when it blew.

    The bottom line to this is simple. We are going to lose some people or all of them. We CAN change some of the things and repress our society in lieu of anothers view of it. If GW types are wrong and there is NOTHING that anyone could say and more so prove that indicates that John Wang Doe is doing anything more than polluting at a high scale then we risk even more.

    IMO the earth is responding with TB, Bird Flu, high incidence of cancers, major disasters such as quakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions. Its trying to cull us down. So do we pull back and say oookay drop the pretenses that what we do is going to change anything? For example California keeps upping the ante on their emission standards and the air keeps gettng worse there. Why? Too damn many people and too many people in China producing emissions that drift all the way across the Pacific.

    We sign Kyoto and China becomes the dominant power on this planet and they dont have to comply with the first clean air statute in it for 40 years…. How nice. Thats politics for you. On the other hand, you have seen the MODIS pictures that I sent you Revere. We could turn off everything and those rice propelled guys would INCREASE what they are doing as our businesses move over there so they dont have to comply here. So whats next? A law prohibiting foreign investment to keep the jobs here?

    No matter what humans do if the 1 degree accounting is true my point is that It wont change much of anything. Erin Brockovitch’s deal was for something that they knew was illegal with PGE. A bunch of people died, a bunch of people are sick and are still sick. A bunch of people got rich off of it. Result-The air and water didnt get cleaner there, it got worse. The rebound to what we dont do is that the earth responds, then we respond by coming up with a new vaccine, a new piece of technology that keeps more and more people alive. From what I read that if and when big oil collapses or even declines, it wont matter. The air will become cleaner because one shit load of people will die from lack of polluters We are even as I write at the maximum food production capability on this planet. Humanity might just be on its way out in entirety folks. Its not a US decline, it is a human decline. We spend, spend, spend and it seems that no matter what we do we make more people and in turn destroy the human environment even more. Wars are inevitable as resources diminish and all societies may fall as things fall apart. Shoot, Revere should be telling everyone to drive 1950’s Yank tanks rather than demanding that everyone cut back. It would hasten the end of Big Oil and bring everything to its logical conclusion and that is that humanity is about to take a BIG hit either by famine, pestilence or that big poof in the sky I refer to as the KODAK moment.

  75. #75 revere
    January 27, 2007

    Randy: Your long rants are all over the map. You mix in your politics with the science until they become indistinguishable. I never know if it is politics or science you are talking about or both. My point was this: upper level ozone depletion from human activities is not global warming. It is something else. It might have an effect on climate because it affects radiation balance but that isn’t the point. The point is that it lets through to the earth’s surface, where living things are located, more UV than is the case without it. Lots more. So stop mixing this up with climate change. The phenomenon was discovered empirically in the early 1980s and has increased dramatically over that time period. This is not the time scale of climate change. This is an acute change in stratospheric chemical composition.

    Upper level ozone depletion has nothing to do with global warming or Erin Brokovitch or vaccines or anything else. It does have to do with ozone destroying materials like freons making their way to the stratosphere where they take part in very complicated free radical chain reactions that destroy ozone there. Since ozone shields us from UV radiation, that is a bad thing for us, for anchovies and who knows what else. If you want to contest this with some evidence of your own (IMO it will have to be fringe science but maybe you can find some argument somewhere) but stick to the point and not fuzz everything up with an extended response that always ends up with us shooting someone from another country.

  76. #76 Greg
    January 27, 2007

    Kruger, when are you going to start taking responsibility for your own actions?

  77. #77 bar
    January 27, 2007


    OK, the DC pollies might all drink bottled water. But if it’s as bad as you say they should also shower & wash their clothes in bottled water. So either it aint as bad as you say, or your pollies are stupid (I don’t think so).

    The gist of what you said seems to be that old growth forests are the lungs & kidneys of the world, and if we cut them down they cannot be replaced. We get deserts, like Iraq.

    In Australia we know about deserts. Deserts are chiefly identifiable because they have poor water resources, or a lack of trace elements. There was a desert east of Adelaide. That region has sufficient rainfall: it gets the top end of prevailing west winds. CSIRO scientists determined that the soil lacked molybdenum. Molybdenum added to the soil, and suddenly the land is very productive.

    I was brought up at a place called Condobolin. Annual rainfall about 18 inches a year. We grew wheat & sheep. The rule for wheat was: two years in five a disaster, two years in five break even, One year in five you got 20 bags to the acre, and were rolling in money. The country is flatter than a pancake. An old flood plain, nobody knew how thick the topsoil was, because not many people dug deep enough to get through it, but it was rumoured to be thirty feet. The problem is no water. Rivers a line of waterholes most of the year. When I saw the Mississippi west of Chicago I marvelled. How can you have a river with so much water, (I recall about a mile wide, and flowing at about 5 knots – but I dont trust that recollection now) and more than a thousand miles from the sea. That is incredible wealth.

    If there is rain and the soil is ok, stuff grows. Throw a few seeds around, and trees grow. Cutting trees down is not making desert. To a farmer, trees are just another crop. Cut them down, plant more. Slow growing trees? Then rarity makes them valuable. Cull those trees that are old and hogging the resources (sunlight etc.) & replant.

    You said “All through history when forests have been destroyed desertifcation follows.” Huh? I was all over Europe, in Germany, France, UK, Benelux. I understand that a couple of thousand years ago most of northern Europe used to be a huge forest. It isn’t a forest any more, and hasn’t been for several hundred years. But neither is it a desert.

    You are cherry picking my challenge. Nothing you have mentioned is realistically a potential doom or even a “dire consequence” for mankind. Granted, mining can put all sorts of nasties in the water table. What you have detailed has limited and not very severe consequences. If well water was my source & it became unhealthy, I would install rainwater tanks.

    Not having abundant, cheap electricity would be a great deal unhealthier for everyone.

  78. #78 K
    January 27, 2007

    Bar, I recommend to you the books of Professor Tim Flannery, a native of Australia and just named Australian of the year by your very own Prime Minister. I have never been to Australia so I cannot speak personally of your country – that didn’t bother you when I spoke of Appalachia. But a man with such a singular honor might have some merit in your eyes. I suggest you try his book “The Future Eaters” which refers to the first future eaters – the Aborigines and the second wave of future eaters – the settlers. I am looking forward to getting his new book “The weather makers” when the price comes down a bit.

    Deforestation does cause climate change and desertification – how severe it is depends on the soil and other factors. Thus the Amazon deforestation is more dangerous than the Appalachian deforestation and deforestation in Europe was not as serious as in Mesopatamia. I was not precise in my previous post.

  79. #79 bar
    January 28, 2007


    Disappointing. I thought we had gotten past relying on “authorities”.

    As a libertarian I have a very low opinion of just about all politicians, so not surprisingly, I don’t hold much truck with the Little King’s (aka John Howard’s) “Honours List” & “Australian of the Year” choices (which are made no doubt to influence the “green” vote for the federal election due in a few months. TLK is about as green as GWB)

    I am a mechanical Engineer and did postgraduate work on the atmospheric boundary layer. I am sorry, but a full professor of Zoology does not impress me all that much when it comes to climate prediction. The story about Aborigines turning Australia into Desert by burning off has been around for decades. Tim Flannery is just another person who is hooked on publicity, but hasn’t really got any original thoughts himself.

    FYI – I have driven through the Appalachians (from Atlanta up through Tennesee, (camped there) Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania & upstate NY.)

    As a farmer I know that care must be taken when land use is varied. This does not mean that agriculture must never experiment or change land use (which, when you get down to it, is essentially what deforestation is all about.)

    The Amazon deforestation is risky. Experience with deforestation in tropical Africa found that the high rainfall leached minerals from the bare soil. Let us hope that the farmers in Brazil are aware of the potential problems.

    You are generally wrong about deforestation producing deserts. The top of North Africa across to Egypt and Iraq (and much of Australia, south California, N Chile, SW Africa etc) are geographically similar. They are on a west coast below latitude 40, and so cannot benefit from onshore (west) winds to bring moisture. Egypt has been fertile because of the Nile, Iraq has been fertile because of the Tigris & Euphrates, California & Arizona have been made fertile by diverting water from the Colorado river. The other parts of the world in that location are deserts. So far as I know, it is speculative fiction that removing forests affects weather.

  80. #80 K
    January 28, 2007

    Bar, if degrees don’t mean anything why tell me about yours?

    You have low opinion of politicians yet you assure me we have the EPA to keep us safe.

    Do you go to a doctor ever?

    You present yourself as an expert I should listen to. Experts of course disagree but the way you frame arguments disinclines me to agree with you.

    For instance you told me not to worry we have the EPA. However if the EPA should fail we have the Erin B’s of the world to protect our water. Yet you deride me from having any concern – Persumably you would have derided Erin B yet you use that as an example – if there was a problem in Appalacia that the EPA missed there would be an Erin B. No Erin B no problem. Yet there are hundreds of Erin B’s in fact who are standing up to the coal mines but you discount them. You may have degrees but you sure do have circular arguments that are specifically designed NOT to get at truth but to prove the point that fits your world view.

  81. #81 K
    January 28, 2007

    I realized I may have misunderstood you – when you complained about my relying on authorities you may have meant Mr. Howard’s awarding Prof Flannery rather than Flannery himself – I had assumed that most Australians were so anti green that Mr. Howard awarding Flannery was a reluctant acknowledgement that Flannery was on to something. Perhaps I am wrong about the mix of greens to non-greens or perhaps his backing of the US has so weakened him that he is desperate.


    ” In ancient ages, Egypt was considered as one of the forest zones, due to the dense tree-cover extended over most of the lands. The production of the said trees was sufficient for pottery industry, plus other small mining industries that prevailed in these times, particularly during the period of the Nile flood on both banks of the river.”

    Once Greece was covered with forests – once the Cedars of Lebanon grew in abundance. No more

    Re appalachia – deforestation alone would probably not cause desertification – but removing up to 800 feet of mountain top along with deforestation will surely have unpredictable effects on the weather – we won’t know until they quit and some time passes. Unfortunately there are often long delays between the actions of humans and the results of human actions – so we don’t get the normal feedback that we use daily for decision making. So we have to rely on a hosts of scientists to probe the past and model the future. The stakes are high – I haven’t seen any analysis in any of your posts that would make you more convincing to me than the carefully laid out logic and documentation that Prof. Flannery uses. I would rather trust the future of the planet in the hands of those who warn of human generated climate change than the deniers. If we change our behavior we might have to reduce our life stlye – if we don’t we might decimate or even extinct the human race. Since I know one can be happy on a reduced life style I think there is no question who is worth listening to.

  82. #82 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 28, 2007

    Revere… even though you teach this stuff you cant attribute the decline in the ozone to just CFC’s, its not proveable except to say that the ozone layer is depleting. You also know that if you teach it that it continues degradating as we write. You also know that volcanic activity that slings sulufic acid and all of the other compounds into the air depletes the ozone. I again say that the reach that scientists make are often wrong, based on flawed data and certainly cant account for what is happening in the climate. It might a combination of factors but in the same breath, it could be limited down to one single one such as the Milankovitch or long term effects of vulcanism. I also state that because of the impacts of climate change, rather than global warming I fully believe that as the resources dwindle there are going to be a lot of countries posturing including this one. Its happened thru history. I believe a little country called Japan did it because we cut off their oil. Right or wrong…. it started a war.

  83. #83 revere
    January 28, 2007

    Randy: OK, we’re making progress. We are off global warming and fixed on upper level ozone depletion. Now let’s get the various contentions straight. If you inject things forcibly into the ozone layer (as in a volcanic eruption) then you can also affect ozonoe concentrations. The force is necessary because vertical motion in an inversion layer (or more generally any vertical stretch in which the environmental lapse rate is less than the adiabatic lapse rate, which needn’t be an actual inversion) is stable. For this reason for many years people thought what went on in the troposhere (where we live) wouldn’t affect things in the stratosphere. But freons are stable enough to last long enough to make their way there over the space of years. The early measurements of UV discarded the rapidly thinning ozone layer as outliers that were data mistakes but when we realized it was real we saw continued and fairly rapid enlargement of the areas of relative decreased concentration (it’s not really a “hole”) and subsequent studies have shown that freons are involved. They are not the only thing. Nor do I believe it is true that the layer continues to degrade. As far as I remember (haven’t checked it lately) it is stable or recovering.

    Regarding your doubts about climate change, you are of course free to associate yourself with whatever climate change deniers you wish to. Accuweather (your apparent source of information) is a private science for hire company who works for a consortium of companies involved in cliimate change denial. They are on the fringes of atmospheric science. Their views (and yours) run contrary to the worldwide consensus of atmospheric climate scientists, which you may choose to ignore (for whatever reasons) but this does not avoid the fact that you (and Accuweather and Shell and Exxon, etc.) represent a small minority of scientists in this matter. The fact that we are even spending as much time as we have on this little blog debating a scientific consensus is a reflection of the tactic the oil companies and others use to create doubt and confusion. Yes, there will be disagreements and adjustments about details about how all this works and what factors are most important, but the main points are well accepted — by scientists.

  84. #84 Lea
    January 28, 2007

    While I swore to ignore this thread here I am. Gads!
    Maybe this is appropriate, maybe it’s not. In my mind this line seems to fit this little blog:

    “Statistics are like prisoners, torture them long enough and they’ll tell you whatever you want to hear.”


    Andrew Leonard at How the World Works

  85. #85 revere
    January 28, 2007

    Lea: Exactly what are you saying with this? I don’t think I understand your point.

  86. #86 Lea
    January 28, 2007

    It sounded appropriate for the numerous thoughts posted, that’s all. And it wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, so please don’t think that.

    In the end, all of us only hear what we want to hear.

  87. #87 K
    January 28, 2007

    Note to Lea – comments on simple living included in this post so please don’t get yourself upset by reading it.

    “If you cannot afford to lose do not gamble” Meadows and Rangers – Limits to Growth. We are gambling with the fate of the planet for what?

    Further from the authors of the 30 year update – “People don’t need enormous cars; they need admiration and respect. They don’t need a constant stream of new clothes; they need to feel that others consider them to be attractive, and they need excitement variety and beauty. People don’t need electronic entertainment; they need something interesting to occupy their minds and emotions. Trying to fill real but nonmaterial needs – for identity, community, self-esteem, challenge, love, joy – with material things is to set up an unquenchable appetite for false solutions to never-satisfied longings. A society that allows itself to admit and articulate its nonmaterial human needs, and to find nonmaterial ways to satisfy them, would require much lower material and energy throughputs and would provide much higher levels of human fullfillment.”

    I realize that to quote this book I lay myself open to all the false criticisms of the original work. By computer modeling they have not predicted any future, but rather tried to see how different aspects of our societies might affect the future of the planet. IMO they are overly conservative. Yet their hopefullness is almost breaking through into my cynicism about the future of the planet.

    If we cut back on pollution of all sorts we may have to live with less material goods – if that turns out not to be necessary its not the end of the world. If we don’t and it turns out it was necessary it might be the end of the world – for humans at least. Seems like the choice is clear. We do not have the right to gamble with the lives of our children and grandchildren for the baubles of 1st world lifestyle.

  88. #88 revere
    January 28, 2007

    Lea: I wasn’t offended. But I was trying to get you to think through exactly what you meant. If we only hear what we want to hear it means that making arguments is useless and that none of us pay attention to evidence that is contrary to our beliefs. Regarding the latter point, there is a well developed school of mathematical statistics (Bayesian analysis) that starts with people’s prior beliefs and gives rules for how they should be altered given new evidence. Most of us (meaning ordinary people and most scientists) are Bayesians at heart in that we automatically accept without much inquiry data that accords with our view points, no matter how weak and move our prior beliefs only grudgingly when presented with strong evidence to the contrary. But most of us do move if presented with strong evidence. If I were to take your comment literally, science would be a useless endeavor, which I hope it isn’t, since I’ve devoted my life to it.

  89. #89 bar
    January 28, 2007


    God forbid! not “an expert you should listen to”, but a person presenting arguments based on facts, probabilities & history. If you are going to throw so called “experts” at me, then I can respond (and I am ashamed that I did, it was a moment of temper.)

    In Australian senate elections each state elects six senators each three years, the whole state is treated as one electorate, and each voter has a transferable preferential vote. (See Wikipedia if that isn’t clear). The point is, it is easy to see that the Greens have an average overall Australian constituency somewhere between 5% & 10%. Politicians are extremely good at sensing what the voters will approve – it’s Darwinism at work. John Howard was reflecting most Australian’s feelings towards Americans when he backed George, but GWB does strike me as an “either you’re with us or agin us” sort of person.

    I thought the EPA was a government instrumentality, not a bunch of politicians. Having only one recourse is not good, which is why having pathways like that which Erin B. followed is also good. You lost brownie points with me when you raised that issue (appalachian water purity) because it was not your original concern. I am not a lawyer, but do not hesitate to seek justice before our courts. (In fact, I have stood before Justice Kirby, one of the seven High court judges in Australia).

    I do not deny that the Nile valley was a jungle in historic times, but find it difficult to believe that the whole of Egypt was a forest. btw, It is quite impressive to look at the upper Egyptian Nile valley on google earth.

    I understood that historic Greece was a rocky mountainous country with a few fertile valleys. I thought it was this geographic compartmentalization that led to the city-states.

    I basically do not trust Flannery in climate prediction. He may have academic rigor & expertise in his own profession, which apparently is zoology. Academic training in a discipline gives a breadth to the approach to a problem in that discipline that is often lacking in enthusiastic amateurs. I am suspicious of people who want to put their name on everything that they touch, a bit like I don’t like people who advise of all their qualifications before giving an opinion.(blush)

    Yes, I do go to doctors, but usually I have researched any symptoms first. I go to them because of the breadth of experience, and the fact that by law, I cannot self prescribe many drugs.

    btw I do not deny that global warming climate change may be occurring. For my position, see my post at http://barvennon.com/spin/?p=18#more-18 I just do not believe that it presages irrevocable doom, or even that the likely harm outweighs the likely benefits.

    a random thought – I wish these comment boxes had spell checkers. I really can’t be bothered writing in word and pasting.

  90. #90 bar
    January 28, 2007

    Randy: Ozone is a molecule made up of three atoms of Oxygen joined together, written O3. Ordinary oxygen in the air is a molecule of two atoms of oxygen joined together, written O2. Between about a 10 to 50 km, high energy UV radiation can cause 3 molecules of O2 to produce 2 molecules of O3. I understand that Ozone is not transparent to UV light.

    That is the general explanation of the existence of O3 in the stratosphere. At the surface of the earth, ozone is commonly found around heavy electrical equipment. It is toxic, and (supposedly) smells like salty (ocean) air.

    Experimental evidence (have a box in a lab, fill it with O3 & put stuff in & see what happens) is that some chlorofluorocarbons (eg freon) cause the O3 to revert to O2. A major thinning out of the O3 layer has occurred over the south pole. In Australia, this has led to a well publicized increased risk of sunburn.

    Revere: Loved your comment on Bayesian math. It is one of those topics I hope to find the time to look further into.

  91. #91 revere
    January 28, 2007

    bar: Thanks for the additional material. Only one point. In the northern hemisphere most ground level ozone is produced from sunlight, hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide air pollutants which form photochemical oxidants, 90% of which is ozone.

  92. #92 Lea
    January 28, 2007

    revere: Point well taken.

  93. #93 K
    January 28, 2007

    Bar – the EPA is a governmental organization supposedly free from political influence – Many good people who are dedicated to a healty envrionment have and do work there, but the poltical influence is still strong and growing stronger. Anything the government in the USA does is strongly infused with the political.

    From Plato
    “What now remains compared with what then existed is like the skeleton of a sick man, all the fat and soft earth having wasted away, and only the bare framework of the land being left…there are some mountains which now have nothing but food for bees, but they had trees not very long ago… there were many leafy trees of cultivated species and… boundless pasturage for flocks. Moreover it was enriched by the yearly rain from Zeus… But the soil it had was deep and it even received the water, storing it up in the retentive loamy soil and …. Provided all the various districts with abundant supplies of spring waters and streams….”

    I have about the same attitude and practice with doctors that you do – perhaps if we try we could find out that we have some shared beliefs.

    I think I made an erroronious (sp?) statement that started this when I said that they removed mountains for coal in Applachia – while 800 feet of mountain is a lot of earth moving – they move mountain tops not mountains. In Haiti however I saw a mountain 1/2 gone (on one side) for some raw material – looked like the rest might collapse. Also almost no trees – not a desert but it might be if the Dominican Republic cut all its trees too. No wild birds in Port-au-Prince either – the kids sling shot them to eat. Its so strange not to hear any birds twittering.

  94. #94 bar
    January 28, 2007


    “What now remains compared with what then existed…”

    Only one quibble, the time frame is not clear. Did Plato see “what then existed”, or was he relying on reports.

    In Australia it is illegal to clear land of greater than about 25 – 35 degree slope, because it is known that water erosion will probably occur.

    Regarding interference in government instrumentalities by our elected officials, see my post on effectmeasure here: http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2007/01/freethinker_sunday_sermonette_32.php

    As for mountain moving effecting weather changes, well imho you would need to insert or remove a range of mountains over 1000 feet high & several miles long to have a noticeable effect on local weather. As said earlier, scars on the landscape can be patched in a few years with topsoil and seeds. If that is not done, it can take decades to heal.

  95. #95 K
    January 28, 2007

    bar I agree with your post about changing elected officials. We don’t have however a lot of options for changing our form of government. Those who are currently empowered to do it like it like this. The people are too busy finding new ways to use coal generated electricty 🙂

    Well we don’t know yet if 800 feet off of mountains all over WV, Va and TN will change the weather – they ain’t slowing down yet and as oil and natural gas (Canada ain’t going to sell it to us when they no longer have enough to supply themselves mething) becomes more expensive and scarcer they will likely speed up the mountain top removal. Then we will get to see whether your 1000 foot high theory is correct for the specific conditions in Appalachia. If you are right – whew. If you are wrong and it has a massive negative change I suppose you will change your mind but it will be too late to put the mountain tops back on eh?

    My impression from other stuff I have read is that Plato saw that happening in his lifetime.
    At any rate, most likely the Bronze Age saw a westward spread of a timber crisis. By 800 BC an extensive new use (ornamental and roof tiles) added to the burden, and around 500 BC the rise of the classical civilizations brought the final intolerable strain on the forests immediately round the Mediterranean. Eratosthenes, writing of the Late Bronze Age, say 1200 BC, reports that Cyprus was so heavily forested at that time that even smelting copper and silver, and felling trees for shipbuilding, had made little inroads on the forest. Farmers were even encouraged by gifts of land to clear the forest for agriculture. But soon after this a boom in mineral production, and a major improvement in the technology of tree-felling tools (as well as military weapons) both allowed and encouraged major forest clearing.

    The great silver mines of Laurion, near Athens, required not only the fuel to smelt the ores, but the fuel to build and maintain the water cisterns. Wertime estimated on the basis of 3500 tonnes of silver and 1.4 million tonnes of lead production for classical Athens over perhaps 300 years, that the Laurion mines had consumed 1 million tonnes of charcoal and 2.5 million acres of forest. It is, in fact, quite likely that the mines declined, not because they were exhausted of ore, not because the miners had reached the water table, but because the fuel costs had risen to the point that they were uneconomic to run. It is clear that deforestation, accompanied by soil erosion, was already a severe problem in Attica, the region surrounding Athens.

  96. #96 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 29, 2007

    Revere, your comment on consensus isnt based upon anything that I can pull from any source. There are as many out there calling it global warming as there are climate change. Neither you or the “consensus” can say anything more than the temperature is rising, you cannot prove it is being done by man or any other source. You can only say the greenhouse gases are increasing. I would submit that they have done so in the past and there are so many things on this planet that generate greenhouse gases that you cant state in science that you are right, or that I am wrong.

    I also submit that if indeed you are right then some other species will become dominant on this earth or that the earth will respond with the aforementioned problems and take care of itself. If you are right, then so be it. But we will likely both agree that the end result of you being right is that man is going to be heading out. There are just too damned many people and if you are right by generating too many emissions they will eliminate a goodly portion of the planet. We have about 6.5 billion people on the Earth right now. If we increase the population by even another 1/3rd in the next fifty years I see no way the earth can sustain it. So We are back to square one. Prove what you are saying, definitively.

    I hear this is the consensus of opinions on global warming. It is not. There are just as many who are saying that this is a normal cycle and it is amplified slightly by humans. Note I said slightly because they cannot attribute enough science to it. Even GWB acknowledges that Global Warming is underway. But no one can point to more than one degree of warming. Even if you are right, then what? Are you going to say that other than some changes that will slow it, it will defer the eventual and logical outcome? That outcome is that one hell of a lot of people are about to die.

    Here the consensus.



    So its everything from the winds to ozone eaters and now even France says the hole is even bigger. Did removing ozone eating chemicals really do anythig or is this yet another part of a cycle? That second one was done in 2002.

    Here is another


    This one says that its poised for recovery and CFC’s were banned long ago. But supposedly it takes about 50 to 60 years for it to happen. Now we have a hole thats as big as it has ever gotten. So someone with the consensus please explain to me how it can be depleting STILL. Revere I respect your opinion on this stuff but respectfully disagree that this is the consensus of opinions. I will heartily agree that something is up however.

  97. #97 Greg
    January 30, 2007

    Kruger, add this to your list of sources :


    Be sure to check out the links to the official (English) text, and other sites which comment on it. There must be at least one with enough credibility to persuade you that the thing exists. Bush for examples has said publicly that it exists.

    About 170 governments agree to a “consensus” which you claim you are unable to find. Doubless, some are lying for diplomatic effect. But that only proves the consensus exists.

  98. #98 Wayne
    January 13, 2009

    funny to read some of this in 1/2009. All my statements are IMHO and i am just a dumb hillbilly.
    seems mr bush not only screwed Iraq and Afghanistan, with his big mouthed bullying ways he exposed our military weakness to the world while he pissed off every potential enemy we had and turned them into true enemies as well as pissing off all our friends while basically bringing the world economy to a standstill and shipping our jobs overseas,destroyed our manufacturing base selling the people and our country out to big business and energy companies and did more harm to the constitution than all our enemies ever could.He pursued policies that made us weaker by far than anytime in recent history, dependent on China to support the dollar, the middle east for oil with not enough finances to defend ourselves if we were attacked by Russia that he slapped in the face and pushed into moving into our backyard with bombers and warships in Venezuela,alienated South and central American countries and lost all our good standing in the eyes of most of Europe. When will we learn that honey catches more flies than vinegar and violence and greed are not the answer.
    to all of you that believe there is clean coal, go to the top of the stack and inhale the mercury that comes out of them or come lick the soot off my house and car or take a hike through what used to be the beautiful mountains of Eastern Ky and W Va and look at the millions of acres of destroyed habitat and take a drink from some of the contaminated streams they have left behind,or eat some of the mercury laden fish from the rivers of some 20 states.even if the smoke stacks started putting out nothing but oxygen, coal would still be no where near clean because of the destruction to the earth and people of the area where it is gouged out of the earth. Those of you that qualify it changing the climate to removing ‘just’ the top of the mountains, they may not take off 1000 ft but they are taking off several hundred ft on millions of acres and removing all the local forest and replacing them with non native scrub plants, meaning many of the local animal species become out of balance, the coyotes,turkey and dear seem to thrive but many birds are gone and will any of them survive long with no clean water. Come to E Ky and check out all the cases of cancer and autism along with many other things attributable to coal pollution. Come see what mountain top removal has done to the people put out of work by it,come see what no jobs has done to the young people here that spend their lives on prescription drugs and alcohol because they have no future and nothing to do since the mines cut so many jobs, now that they only need explosives and bulldozers and all the other businesses went belly up as a direct result.That nice clean cheap electricity you all love is destroying the lives of many Americans and raping and killing one of the most beautiful,bio-diverse areas of the country, if it is made by burning coal.
    ethanol from food crops is just dumb. conservation, solar-heat energy as well as pv and wind are the only answers,and they will work better at home than having some energy company control them. Coal,bio fuel and nuclear are only stop gaps and add to pollution problems.
    I don’t have the answers for all of you, as for me i will wear my mask when outside so i can breath the air that coal has polluted so bad on my mountain, raise my own sustainable organic food and medicine in compost tilled by earthworms with no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, make what little electricity i use with the wind generators i built from recycled auto parts and used pv cells that i got by trading garden produce, stored in recycled golfcart batteries,cook on my solar stove when i can,cook/heat with the methane i produce from the horse manure i am paid to haul off from local stables{using the bi-product as fertilizer} and the fallen trees from the woods around me and that i remove from neighbors yards after storms,heat my water by solar/compost pile/heat exchanger in chimney, wear my recycled clothes i buy from salvation army store,live in my small {over insulated with blown recycled paper mixture} passive solar house that was built from 90% recycled materials from old buildings that i was paid to tear down, purify the water i drink, enjoy my homemade wine,barter work or produce for anything i can’t make or grow,plant seedling trees and plants native to this area on the so called reclaimed mountaintops around me,help my neighbors when i can,ask for no charity,walk when i can or coast my old 4 cylinder Toyota pickup down the mountain and drive it slowly back up, protect my own little hollow from enemies foreign and domestic and wish you all well.
    Conservation is the cheapest way to go,tread lightly on the earth,heal it where you can, it is still alive though near terminal and learn to enjoy the simple things.

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