The Intersection

A frightened society is easily kept in check by the powers that be so I suppose someone is benefiting from the news media circus, eh? But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…let me begin again by taking things back to our formative years:

One day Chicken Little was walking in the woods when — KERPLUNK — an acorn fell on her head. “Oh my goodness!” said Chicken Little. “The sky is falling! I must go and tell the king.”

i-d7fa7ef29fcb87f6e6c5d463164f3b15-asteroid.jpgHence, ‘Chicken Little‘ has become synonymous with hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. I liken the mentality to that exhibited by the prime time news media who have the audacity to scare us silly with stories of impending apocalypse on a nightly basis. Sure there’s a tremendous marketing angle to fear (Steven King and M. Night Shyamalan would agree), but there’s a time and place for such whimsy. Nonsense panic shrouded as news is simply unacceptable.

The stuff we’re most afraid of these days like avian flu, SARS, and eating spinach are statistically pretty unlikely to affect us, but when it comes to reporting and winning over the average American attention span during an 8 second teaser advertisement, the fear factor gets top billing. Thus, we’re becoming a frenzied public scared of sting rays and mosquitoes as every topic is tagged as a special report or level orange impending disaster. Even more worrisome, all these relatively innocuous warnings leave us so numb to real crisis that when a big risk is looming, we easily pass it off as commonplace. And now that we face the greatest threat to the future of humanity, many of us have become too desensitized to notice. Climate Change is upon us.

So while I can’t guarantee that you won’t be the target of some mutant killer bee, asteroid impact, or hijacked plane, I can assure you that our highest concern will not be packaged in a four minute television segment. Instead of giving credence to news written for ratings, I implore you to pay more attention to the increasing climate reports. Start here and learn how glaciers and ice caps will dominate sea-level rise this century. Become empowered by arming yourself with information and thinking critically about what’s happening so you can develop you own opinion unbiased by mass media spin.

Besides, while market-driven, over-hyped news gets tiresome, real life tends to be the most fascinating story of all – and this one’s a choose your own ending…

Comments

  1. #1 carey
    August 24, 2007

    If only climate change were more visually exciting… the only way to bring it home to the audience is to show life in the year 2050, cutting between the abandonment of low-lying coastal cities and the killer drought in Africa and the middle east. We could have some hunk with six-pack abs be the climatologist, and suddenly science would be cool again.
    Hmm. Maybe we should pitch this to a big-name producer.

  2. #2 Cliff
    August 24, 2007

    Freaking out won’t help and neither will pretending it’s not happening.

    One way of looking at it is that we are all part of one of humanity’s great pivotal adventures and if we all pull together, our heirs will get through this and will have a much healthier, balanced relationship to the environment they live in.

    I know…who NEEDS that kind of adventure? Well it’s not a question of need, except in the sense that we need to change our habits and expectations.

  3. #3 Wes
    August 24, 2007

    In California, the ad for a “Flex your Power” campaign are now on YouTube. I particularly like this one. It makes the connection between what we know, what we do, and how our grandchildren live.

    As for solutions, I became converted when watching a web cast teach-in sponsored by Architecture 2030 and the NY Academy of Sciences last year. It is archived here for viewing.

    I assume that everyone knows Dr. Hansen, has heard or read him before. But please watch the convincing presentation by Dr. Mazria about how our built environment is key to reducing energy demand. The real work is to get local city councils, planning commissions, etc. to put this into effect as part of building codes, permitting processes, etc.

    My own town’s mayor signed on to their Climate Protection Agreement. End of action. End of story. My goal is to re-awaken my own town to make their actions match these words.

  4. #4 Dave S.
    August 24, 2007

    The problem with climate change is that it’s creeping up on us so slowly and steadily from the surrounding noise that its easy to ignore until its too late to effectively do much about it. It doesn’t help to hear claims, not from anyone here of course, that every bad thing that happens in the weather is a result of global warming, only to have the most overblown comments withdrawn later. Its a very real problem, and I’m afraid we really won’t wake up to it until its too late. Maybe we’ll run out of fossil fuels just in time, and that will force us to make the necessary changes whether we want to or not. Wouldn’t that be irony writ large?

  5. #5 Linda
    August 24, 2007

    Unfortunately, I do fall prey to the media scares from time to time, and should really know better…
    Gathering factual information and knowledge, and taking steps in the right direction is a better approach.
    And you are right, it can be a “choose your own ending”.

  6. #6 Mark Powell
    August 24, 2007

    I’m not sure that I buy your argument:

    “all these relatively innocuous warnings leave us so numb to real crisis that when a big risk is looming, we easily pass it off as commonplace”

    There are many reasons why people resist information. We need to tell a better story and we’ll get more attention.

    Your approach here is to direct people to “do their homework” to correct their mistaken impressions, and that’s simply not a compelling directive. A few rationalists might respond, but they’re already on your side.

  7. #7 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    August 24, 2007

    We need to tell a better story and we’ll get more attention.

    Well said Mark. I agree this is only one aspect of the problem. Sounds like you’re suggesting that we need to do a better job framing these important issues.

  8. #8 donna
    August 24, 2007

    It’s like all the attention paid to Dean while the remnants of Erin were flooding the midwest and people were killed. Media pays attention to the big storm, but it’s the flooding that is truly dangerous in these storms, and people weren’t warned about it once the “big storm” was over. Sad, really.

  9. #9 Eric the Leaf
    August 24, 2007

    The Hubbert Peak of world oil production will dwarf global warming as a more immediate threat and, unfortunately, will require remedy that cannot be met even by the most idealistic scenarios painted by alternative and renewable energy proponents. It is incorrect to portray the Hubbert Peak as “running out of oil,” but recent analysis on TheOilDrum suggests that Saudi Arabia may well have entered their depletion phase and it looks as though the planet already is past the peak for conventional oil. The decline may occur at an annual rate of 1 or 2% for a handfull of years or less, then accelerate beyond that.

    In a world faced with both liquid fuel shortages and stress on the electrical grid, it appears to me unlikely that a reduction of greenhouse gases will occur within any meaningful time frame. On the contrary, nations will burn dirty coal to achieve maximum electrical production to maintain industrial and business activity and to satisfy residential demand for light, heat, cooling where it currently exists, and otherwise support the still burgeoning global human population. Coal-to-liquids production will increase this growing exploitation of coal.

    My feeling, and I don’t like it, is that we will burn through all of the hydrocarbons in a futile effort to prevent what may amount to the most significant cultural discontinuity since the origns of agriculture. And again, just my opinion, this cultural trajectory has such overwhelming momentum that it is unlikely to be deflected by any conscious human action.

  10. #10 Neuro-conservative
    August 24, 2007

    Sheril — At your recommendation, I have read the U Colorado press release to which you linked, as well as the actual Science paper that is described.

    Assuming for the moment that all data, models, and extrapolations in that paper are accurate, the sea level increase is still on the order of a few millimeters per year. Even the worst case scenarios posit a maximum increase of 7 inches due to all causes by 2050, and no more than 25 inches by 2100. More plausible estimates are far less.

    I honestly don’t understand why this should be a source of fear. Should even the worst case scenario come to pass, there will be plenty of time to monitor and address these modest changes.

    As far as framing goes, I would recommend the following Google search: sea level rise maps. You will find several environmentalist sites that project the shape of global coastlines given varying amounts of sea level increase. Note that all of them present alarming scenarios, with Florida, New York, and London inundated, and whole islands disappearing. These images are very arresting, and frame the discussion in catastrophic terms.

    Now notice that all of these maps start at 1 meter of sea level rise and progress up to 7 meters or even 14 meters — an order of magnitude greater than the projected worst-case scenario. And the 1 meter increase, which is still substantially greater than even the worst-case scenario, is only marginally perceptible across global coastlines.

    This sort of alarmism does little to enhance the credibility of the global warming message, at least amongst people who actually read Science. Please explain why I should worry about this more than avian flu, SARS, or the hangnail on my left thumb.

  11. #11 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    August 25, 2007

    This sort of alarmism does little to enhance the credibility of the global warming message, at least amongst people who actually read Science. Please explain why I should worry about this more than avian flu, SARS, or the hangnail on my left thumb.

    Ok. Sea level rise will impact us in multiple ways:
    1) shoreline retreat 2) flooding 3) salt intrusion 4) socioeconomics

    Most obvious is that for those living in low laying areas such as Louisiana or Florida, sea level rise gets very personal. The loss of flood plains along rivers and bays as well as beach resorts will impact tourism, state revenues, and land value.

    Loss of shoreline would also leave higher elevated areas vulnerable to increased threat of erosion due to wave action and landward migration of coastal barriers. There are additionally enormous economic implications associated with an expected increase in storm damage. Related to that, wind and low pressure during hurricanes would cause flooding in new regions less equipped to drain stormwater. Top all that off with greater salinity for rivers and estuaries and sounds like a recipe for trouble…

    That’s the short answer, but for these reasons alone, we should pay serious attention to this pending threat… And as for that hangnail, I wouldn’t be too concerned, but see a doctor if it gets infected.

  12. #12 Neuro-conservative
    August 25, 2007

    Thank you for your thoughtful response, Sheril. You will forgive me if it still does not provoke any fear, dread, anxiety, or shpilkes. We are talking about such a slow, incremental process — maybe an inch per decade. It is ironic, to say the least, that you base your entire post around the chicken little metaphor.

    The details of your argument primarily revolve around economic impacts, which appear to be distant in time, limited in space, and of potentially marginal significance (beach resorts losing tourist revenues?). By contrast, the commonly-proffered “solutions” to global warming tend to be wrenching, immediate, and global.

    For example, the government-dictated demand for ethanol fuel additives has caused corn prices to double, leading to general inflation in food prices. This is an immediate, regressive tax that disproportionately impacts the poor. Since America is a major food exporter, this has also imposed a burden on the developing world.

    While I step away to put some antibiotic ointment on my thumb, perhaps you can explain why Mexican peasants earning fifty cents an hour should pay twice as much for tortillas to protect American beach resort revenue.

  13. #13 Eric the Leaf
    August 25, 2007

    Neuro,
    I sympathize with your argument, but for different reasons. I simply believe that there are NO solutions to global warming, if by that one means some signficant use of alternative fuels for petroleum and coal. The climate scientist William Ruddiman, no global warming denier he, says this all more eloquently than I. All of the hydrocarbons that CAN be burned WILL be burned. What strikes me about those so terribly concerned with climate change is that they enjoy the debate with their opposition but generally avoid confronting what it might take to avert the crisis, other than some magical thinking about wind, sunshine, biofuel, carbon sequestration, and so on. All come up woefully short in the time frames that are relevant. And the pricetag for the implementation of any techno-fix will become prohibitive as fossil fuels, particularly oil and natural gas, become increasingly expensive and difficult to extract.

    Many global warming commentators seem ill-informed about the energy requirements of industrial civilization and that our energy system is tragically broken. If you’re not concerned about peak oil, you haven’t asked the right question. My prediction, and it is only that, is that global warming will soon be taking a back seat in the pantheon of scary things.

  14. #14 Fred Bortz
    August 26, 2007

    Neuro and Eric,

    It’s nice to see some intelligent discussion and questions instead of the posturing of many posters.

    Neuro, I think there is a difference between the gradual sea level rise that you and Sheril are discussing and the potential for catastrophic rise that leads to accusations of alarmism.

    The IPCC report explicitly leaves out “dynamic,” nonlinear melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets because the evidence is not in. We are seeing some suggestive signs that parts of those ice sheets may be heading toward a collapse. In other words, the error bars on sea level rise projections may be very large.

    A business as usual scenario leads to projections of the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets within a few centuries, and that would raise sea levels 5-10 meters. There are a few plausible scenarios that project such a rise in a much shorter time.

    As far as I know, no one has been able to quantify the risk of such a rapid change, which would be a catastrophe for human civilization but a mere blip for Earth. The fact that it is plausible tells me we need to rule out business as usual and, with careful analysis and political deliberation, propose different ways of producing and using energy.

    Eric’s discussion of peak oil adds an interesting complication. It is likely that we will replace gasoline cars with hybrid or electric vehicles, and that will mean we instead burn more coal, which will probably remain cheap and abundant for a long time.

    I reviewed a couple of interesting books on peak oil in 2004. I looked over my review (click my name) and it seems that the books are still quite on target.

    The main thing that this discussion points out is that there are no easy answers and plenty of important questions. Science will help us understand, but political discussion will be needed to develop policies that work for real people.

    Partisanship is inevitable and possibly useful as long as we can keep personal animosities from taking over. I tell my young readers to “follow your questions.” This thread seems to be an exercise in doing that.

  15. #15 Eric the Leaf
    August 26, 2007

    Fred Bortz,
    Allow me to comment on some of your discussion points, which I thought were well-considered.

    I believe there are better books on peak oil, although those you cited are OK. One of the most useful is Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert’s Peak by the Princeton geologist Kenneth Deffeyes in which he develops the “Hubbert Linearization” to predict trends in oil production. His methods have been further explored on TheOilDrum.com and the conclusions are grim indeed.

    How long do you think it will take to replace the current fleet of trucks and automobiles to hybrids (which use gasoline) and electric plug-ins and have the infrastructure in place to support this? Conventional oil peaked in May of 2005, domestic consumption among oil exporters is on the rise, Mexican and North Sea oil production (among others) is crashing, and it looks like Saudi Arabia has now entered their depletion phase. The potential economic and social turmoil that may result is on a faster and more immediate track than the most severe of the global waming scenarios. Thus peak oil seems like more than an interesting complication.

    Estimates for the amount of extractable coal reserves often are framed in how many years of coal remain AT CURRENT RATES of consumption. These estimates generally range between 200 and 300 years. Using a figure of 220 years (no reason to get into that particular number) and using the equation for the exponential expiration time for a finite resource as cited by Univeristy of Colorado physicist Albert Bartlett, a 1% annual growth rate in coal consumption would reduce that value to 116 years. 2% to 84 years. 3% to 68 years, etc. At a growth rate of 7%, all of the extractable coal we be finished up in 40 years assuming it was possible to mine it in that amount of time. So any increase in the rate of coal consumption, and I believe you are correct in that suggestion, makes a big difference.

  16. #16 John McCormick
    August 26, 2007

    Climate Progress has a similar discucssion ongoing and some of my comments there echo those of Eric the Leaf (great handle).

    I begin with the obvious fact that we do not have time to give greater amounts of attention to changing personal lifestyles (even though that makes us, on an individual level, feel empowered). Enough with the personal choice stuff. The mitgation task is so massive and the post-peak oil world too desparate to make any progress with light bulb campaigns or wind towers substituting for base load electric supply. And, burying CO2 is akin to advocating bicycles for the HOV lanes.

    Think globally and read global analysis and one begins to approach the collosal challenge ahead. Start with the UNFCCC report “Analysis of existing and planned investment and financial flows relevant to the development of effective and appropriate international response to climate change” issued last week and available at:

    http://unfccc.int/files/cooperation_and_support/financial_mechanism/application/pdf/background_paper.pdf

    Start at pg 33 and pay close attention to section 4.4.1.2 and most important at paragraphs 113-117 and reflect on where we find ourselves today weather and glacial melt-wise.

    US electric power sector (we customers) emitted 2.4 billion tons of CO2 in 2005 — that is 293 cubic miles of gas -EACH YEAR AND GROWING -destined for PERMANENT (one would presume) burial. China’s power sector might actually double US CO2 output and has limited geologic disposal sites and Japan has virtually no disposal sites since it is sitting atop the Pacific ring of fire.

    To capture and pump the CO2 to its PERMANENT disposal site takes energy from the power plant — between 15 and 30 percent and that is in addition to the electric power needed to operate conventional pollution control equipment, run the plant’s pumps, etc. Cutting a plant’s electric output by a third or half and particularly in summer to capture and dispose the CO2 is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

    A new plant will require building a 130 to 150 percent plant to assure the electric demand will be met by the new power station. Or, maybe our individual lifestyle changes will actually work and……….but that overlooks the basic fact that whatever size plant is built 30 to 50 percent more coal will be burned than needed if CO2 was not being captured. Is this beginning to make some sense or am I impinging on the comfort zone of the caring.

    When we adults get real about what it is going to take to give our children a running start on damping the CO2 concentrations we will all then realize the cost will be enormous and it will not be spent on wind towers and bicycles. The world does not operate on casual power. It needs base load, 24-7 and very concentrated. Engineers make those decisions not us environmentalists.

    AGW is not an environmental problem. The environment is the victim. It is engineering and economic challenge greater than human kind has ever had to take on and succeed. That will take bigger ideas than changing light bulbs and will include things we do not like to think about such as high temperature gas modular reactors.

    Eric the Leaf and all comprehensive thinkers please give some thought to and read about the following radical idea: carbon dioxide can become a resource and converted through some complex, chemically accepted and commercially used processes into diesel and jet fuel and other petrochemical products. It will take trillions of dollars and about a decade to get things rolling. That might not sit well with the lifestyle change advocates but it can be real world and our children will have to live in the real world one day while we have fun in ours today.

    Maybe everyone is eventually going to become a believer. Even then, no one will actually be in charge globally.

    My worst case scenario has capitalism crumbling and collapsing when Amazon drought becomes permanent, Arctic summer ice melt back near total and sea levels rise above the Battery Park subway entrance in NYC. I won’t be here then but that future bothers the heck out of me because caring people seem not to want to think about how to make that not happen while continuing to hold on to their vision of the world as they want it to be and refusing to accept the real world (industrial world) is operating on a here-and-now basis.

  17. #17 Fred Bortz
    August 26, 2007

    Eric,

    You’re way ahead of me on the topic of peak oil. Thank you for the additional reference in the popular literature (which came out a few months after the two in my review) and your interesting (in a scary way) discussion. I really have nothing to add, and certainly no answers to your critical questions.

    Will you join me in a not-too-gentle nudge for Chris Mooney to turn his brilliant journalism to the science and politics of peak oil? Now that he has proven himself on global warming, its time to get in the middle of the political machinations and the scientific, technological, and social issues relating to “black gold.”

    In other words, it’s time to have a different look at Daniel Yergin’s “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power.” It won Yergin a Pulitzer, I believe. Chris would probably have a good shot at the same, and the insights would be very important.

    The future of the Arab mid-East intrigues me. The more progressive emirates have done a very good job in educating their population and getting into high-tech business, but the Saudi Royal family seems (from my limited perspective) to be more intent on making sure they stay rich and their people stay subservient. If they are indeed entering the depletion stage, how will they deal with it?

  18. #18 Neuro-conservative
    August 26, 2007

    As Sheril notes in her opening paragraphs, disaster / catastrophe scenarios have a natural attraction for the modern mind. 40 years ago it was overpopulation, 10 years ago it was Y2K. The fear of losing the benefits of our modern civilization is a powerful force, yet it ironically tends to lead to costly policy “solutions” that hinder our civilization’s strongest line of defense against Malthusian despair: namely, the engine of free enterprise leading to unpredicted technological innovations.

    30 years ago, fear of nuclear power gripped the nation. A famous left-wing celebrity (Jane Fonda) made an Oscar-nominated movie (The China Syndrome) warning of the dangers. An unprecedented disaster — Three Mile Island (death toll: zero) — led to breathless reportage, widespread speculation about the next such event, and ultimately Congressional hearings. Well-intentioned liberal policy-makers successfully shut down any further development of nuclear energy, and America was left largely without an inexpensive and safe source of power with virtually no carbon footprint (compared to oil and coal).

  19. #19 Eric the Leaf
    August 26, 2007

    Neuro,
    The market needs realistic price-signals to respond. That will not occur until oil skyrockets. Then I fear it’s too late. Technological innovations do not create energy and that certain advances may prove profitable does not make them scalable. I agree with you about nukes, although I do think that they come with their own connundrums.

    Fred Bortz,
    Yes, Chris should be shoved in this direction because I agree he would do a great job. Yergin and his organization (Cambridge Energy Research Associates) have been taken on, but not in the popular media. Yet they seem to have enormous influence and there is tremendous grist for the mill here. Perhaps Chris should attend and report on the upcoming ASPO-USA (Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas) World Oil Conference to be held in Houston, October 17-20. Some notables like T. Boone Pickens and Matthew Simmons will speak, but a number of other writers, scientists, and oil and gas professionals are on the program. Also congressman Roscoe Bartlett. He is a conservative republican (but according to Bartlett, “I am not an idiot.”) and former scientist and farmer (not to be confused with the physicist Albert Bartlett, by the way). Bartlett and the democrat Tom Udall head the congressional Peak Oil Caucus (which has, like, 2 members).

    I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea about how Saudi Arabia will deal with production declines (now on the order of 8% I believe). They claim they can increase production if they wanted to, but some doubt this is possible. I believe they have new projects in the works, but nothing like the supergiant Ghawar and probably not enough to compensate for current decline rates.

  20. #20 Eric the Leaf
    August 26, 2007

    John McCormick,
    Hmm, will check out Climate Progress but I tend to agree with many of your comments. The UNFCCC document is quite a tome. Thanks for posting that link. I do not quite grok the CO2 conversion process you mentioned. Sounds a little too mysterious.

  21. #21 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    August 26, 2007

    Eric, I caught your wink at Heinlein, so I’ll quote him in response to

    I simply believe that there are NO solutions to global warming, if by that one means some signficant use of alternative fuels for petroleum and coal.

    Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.

  22. #22 Neuro-conservative
    August 26, 2007

    Yes, but Heinlein was a libertarian:

    “It may not be possible to do away with government–sometimes I think that it is an inescapable disease of human beings. But it may be possible to keep it small and starved and inoffensive…”

  23. #23 Eric the Leaf
    August 26, 2007

    That’s a fun quote, Sheril, although I take the liberty to disagree with it! Suppose John F. Kennedy had proposed an Apollo program to place a man on Pluto before the end of the 1960s? That might be a more correct analogy to our current energy situation, perhaps even understated.

    Alternatives do exist, just as in the 1960s there were manned spaceships. It is the scalability of the resource that is the issue, like taking that manned spaceship and setting foot on Pluto in the years preceding 1970. Science fiction writers will not get us to Pluto, but to the extent that the rational response to bad odds is to try harder, I’m all for it!

  24. #24 Eric the Leaf
    August 26, 2007

    Chris, get thine ass to the ASPO World Oil Conference. I am your Father…It is your Destiny.

  25. #25 Neuro-conservative
    August 26, 2007

    Sheril — All kidding (& quoting) aside, what do you think should be done, right now, as a matter of public policy? Specifically, what role should government play in enforcing any such prescriptions?

  26. #26 John McCormick
    August 27, 2007

    Eric, many journals and reports have written up the process of capturing CO2, converting it to carbon monoxide and feeding that into a Fischer-Tropsch process to produce diesel and other liquid fuels. Yes, it is complex but the components are being tested and assembled in South Africa, China, Japan and the U.S.

    If you reply to my email at johnmcc793@aol.com, I will provide more material.

    This is not an off-the-shelf technology; nor is CCS. But, capturing much of the CO2 for upgrading to fuels is only logical.

  27. #27 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    August 27, 2007

    Neuro,

    Put a price on carbon and stop tropical deforestation. Indeed quite possible in real time — and yes, quick enough to have a significant impact.

  28. #28 John McCormick
    August 27, 2007

    Sheril, I understand you are a marine biologist so I would not expect you personally to have a comprehensive response to Neuro-conservative’s question: [what do you think should be done, right now, as a matter of public policy?]

    You should defer questions you are not prepared to answer to peope who are. Your audience deserves more than [Put a price on carbon and stop tropical deforestation.] Those ideas are righteous but do not answer nero’s show-stopping question.

  29. #29 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    August 27, 2007

    Actually John McCormick, you’re mistaken.

    After graduate school in marine biology and policy, I spent 2006 on Capitol Hill in Senator Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) office advising on environmental legislation. I now work at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

    And I have answered Neuro’s question.

    Creating a market by putting a price on carbon and stopping tropical deforestation are indeed the most practical realistic solutions to climate change.

    For details on either, click the links…

  30. #30 Neuro-conservative
    August 27, 2007

    Thanks much, Sheril. Very interesting. I’ll see your links and raise you one. Both of these lengthy pdf’s provide devastating documentation of the failures of pseudo-market carbon trading schemes.

    Bottom line:
    Enron decided that carbon trading would “do more to promote Enron’s business than almost any other regulatory initiative”…Carbon trading is excellent for the fraudster, good for the robber baron, ineffective for the environment, bad for the economy as a whole and disastrous for the poor. No wonder Enron liked it.

  31. #31 John McCormick
    August 28, 2007

    Excuse me, Sheril. I did not know you worked for Senator Nelson.

    And, I tried your solutions by positioning the cursor and left-clicking. What I found were not answers to Neuro’s question. They are the sort of stuff casually thrown around as serious solutions to global climate change.

    Neuro’s links appear to cast doubt as well.

    What about digging a bit deeper and providing more substance than advertisements. Lets hear about the dangers of US unilateral action when China and India step back. What then? Clock is ticking.

    No time for tear sheets. We need substantive, realistic and expensive multi-lateral action and it does not begin with the 111th Congress. Sorry.

  32. #32 Eric the Leaf
    August 28, 2007

    John and Neuro have made some excellent points. This is what I suspected all along, that magical thinking dominates the arena of solutions. And still no real depth of thought regarding peak oil. Another subject, largely taboo from discussion, is the size of the human population.

    PS: I’m a little new at posting and do not know how to include a hyperlink. Any suggestions?

  33. #33 John McCormick
    August 28, 2007

    Eric, it is a matter of days before this thread falls beneath the fold and likely never to be seen again unless the involved, curious participants dig it out of the archives.

    The AGW solution(s), answer(s) are meaningless if they do not begin with locking in the simultaneous participation and investments of China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Australi — a few of the big players. The UN-sponsored climate treaty (aka Kyoto Treaty) is mainly a trophy and not a solution. I do not hold much hope the next AGW treaty will accomplish much either. So, tie peak oil to AGW and that gives nations something to warm up to.

    What we all have in common aside from CO2 emissions is the long-term (decades) quandry about how to replace conventional oil with other than coal to liquids or oil shale. And, for those less concerned about quantity, we all will be concerned about the cost of the last barrel.

    Now, I respect there are not many chemical engineers posting comments on this thread but it would be of immense value for someone to try to get a discussion going on how to capture CO2 and treat it as a resource (feedstock) and not as a reject (pollutant).

    The products of that might not come in time to save the Amazon from perpetual drought. And, I fear polar bears will soon be land creatures. But, pointing towards engineering and chemistry remedies (also) can trump the good work of policy wonks chasing paper and hyping clean development mechanisms or carbon credit indulgenses.

  34. #34 Eric the Leaf
    August 28, 2007

    John,
    It is clear you have given this serious thought and I appreciate your insight and exchanges. Perhaps your suggestions will be taken up on another occasion…

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