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EPA Issues Endangerment and Contribution Findings:

Yesterday, as expected, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed finding that emissions of six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, pose a threat to public health and welfare due to their contribution to global warming. The EPA further found that the emission of such gases from motor vehicles contribute to dangerous concentrations in the atmosphere. The EPA announcement is here.

The proposed findings will now go through a 60-day public comment period. Shortly thereafter, the findings will be finalized. Industry and anti-regulatory groups will almost certainly challenge the findings in court, and their legal challenges will almost certainly fail. Even if one doubts the accumulated scientific evidence that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases contribute to climate change and that climate change is a serious environmental concern, the standard of review is such that the EPA will have no difficulty defending its rule. Federal courts are extremely deferential to agency assessments of the relevant scientific evidence when reviewing such determinations. Moreover, under the Clean Air Act, the EPA Administrator need only "reasonably . . . anticipate" in her own "judgment" that GHG emissions threaten public health and welfare in order to make the findings, and there is ample evidence upon which the EPA Administrator could conclude that climate change is a serious threat. This is a long way of saying that even if climate skeptics are correct, the EPA has ample legal authority to make the endangerment findings.

Once the findings are finalized, the EPA will then be required to develop regulatory standards for new motor vehicles under Section 202 of the Act. As a practical matter, the EPA will also have to prepare to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under other portions of the act, as the relevant endangerment findings necessary to trigger such regulation are effectively identical to that which triggers motor vehicle emission regulation under Section 202. Even if the EPA sought to resist such regulation, it would be relatively easy to force the EPA's hand through additional citizen suits, much like the suits that set the EPA on this course in the first place.

Now that the EPA is on course to set greenhouse gas emission standards for new motor vehicles, it will be interesting to see how the Agency handles California's request for a Clean Air Act waiver for its own state-level vehicle emission standards. One of California's arguments was that it was particularly concerned about (and threatened by) climate change, and thus wanted to adopt its own regulations. But if the EPA is going to set national greenhouse gas emission standards, it is not clear why California should be able to have standards of its own. The automakers, for their part, will certainly argue that a single federal standard is more efficient and will impose fewer costs on consumers. Furthermore, given the global nature of climate change, the argument for allowing an individual state to go its own way is much weaker than where environmental concerns are more localized. And, if the new federal standard ends up being as stringent as those developed by California, the waiver issue would be moot.

Regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act will not be a particularly cost-effective way to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA and White House understand this, but they also recognize that, under Massachusetts v. EPA, the agency does not have much choice. Moreover, the threat of Clean Air Act regulations on greenhouse gases will create significant pressure upon Congress to replace such regulation with some alternative, such as the cap-and-trade program. I suspect this is one reason the Administration has not complained too much about Congress refusal to embrace cap-and-trade in the budget. It's okay to set climate policy aside now, they could reckon, as there will be significantly more political pressure to act on the issue later. Perhaps by then there will also be greater political willingness to consider alternatives to cap-and-trade.

Oren:
Chevron (and progeny) have long been regarded by the environmental movement as giving far too much deference to executive agencies, so it's nice to see the shoe on the other foot for once.

As a side question, can the NRC cite the EPA's finding when analyzing the purported benefits of new nuclear power permits? The fact that a new nuclear facility would emit (effectively) zero GHG, coupled with the impending regulation of virtually all over baseline power delivery methods, ought to weigh heavily in favor of new construction.
4.18.2009 12:41pm
rosetta's stones:
As a point of education, we should let California run loose, and make whatever regulatory mess they want. When CA residents all have to deplane in Nevada, and reboard aircraft properly approved by the CARB nuts in Sacramento, they'll start to see the light.
4.18.2009 12:52pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
What an incredible waste of time, money, and domestic fuel resources. All perpetrated by a bunch of lying hysteric frauds.
4.18.2009 12:53pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
I second what Mr. Lunny wrote.
4.18.2009 1:01pm
geokstr:
Let's assume (only) for the sake of argument that the planet is warming. Man's role in it is still highly speculative and considered to be a very minor factor by even the IPCC and many other climate change proponents. Why are we about to consider wrecking the entire global economy (further) before we even examine whether a warmer planet is necessarily a bad thing?

Let's recall that Greenland got its name because when the Vikings landed there it was, well, like green or something. It was warmer then than it is now, and none of the dire scenarios being painted of our future happened then either.

There have been many entire epochs in the earth's past where it was considerably warmer than now, and the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was multiples of what it is now, and all those periods were lush with life. Imagine rain forests pretty much everywhere.

Now imagine that the vast tundras of Russia, the Yukon, Greenland and other Arctic wastelands are the world's breadbaskets, and all the mineral and fossil fuel wealth that is now buried under miles of ice is suddenly available to even today's technology. Are these bad things?

It seems to me that it would make a lot more sense to look at whether slowly relocating populations from low-lying areas to higher ground in the next century would be easier and a lot cheaper than trying to fight against the inevitable changes in climate patterns that have occurred with regularity throughout the planet's history, even long before SUVs and coal burning. Most of that relocation would actually be done without government intervention or planning as people moved to find jobs in the newly habitable areas.

The earth's a lot bigger than we are, and it takes a bit of hubris to think we know what to do to stop it from changing as it always has.

But I suppose there wouldn't be nearly as much opportunity to grab power and wealth unless we do it algore's way.
4.18.2009 1:09pm
geokstr:

Oren:
As a side question, can the NRC cite the EPA's finding when analyzing the purported benefits of new nuclear power permits? The fact that a new nuclear facility would emit (effectively) zero GHG, coupled with the impending regulation of virtually all over baseline power delivery methods, ought to weigh heavily in favor of new construction.

Silly rabbit.

:-)

Everybody who is anybody knows that atoms are evil.
4.18.2009 1:14pm
Teh markets:
BHO policies cause many to believe that gun ownership will get more difficult and more expensive in the near-term future. Gun and ammo sales skyrocket.

BHO policies cause many to believe that large vehicle ownership will get more difficult and more expensive in the near-term future. Will Land Cruiser sales skyrocket?
4.18.2009 1:25pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

BHO policies cause many to believe that large vehicle ownership will get more difficult and more expensive in the near-term future. Will Land Cruiser sales skyrocket?

Obviously this is Obama's shrewd plan to save the big 3, as domestic SUVs have typically sold better than foreign SUVs (reversed for sedans).
4.18.2009 1:29pm
MCM (mail):
Now imagine that the vast tundras of Russia, the Yukon, Greenland and other Arctic wastelands are the world's breadbaskets, and all the mineral and fossil fuel wealth that is now buried under miles of ice is suddenly available to even today's technology. Are these bad things?


I think it's more likely they'd be some of the biggest swamplands and marshes on Earth. The miles of ice don't sublime, they melt.

But sure, there are some highly certain benefits. The problem is that it doesn't seem like it'd be a net gain.

For example, if the temperate zones shift northward, they're basically contracting. A globe has more land towards the middle than it does towards the tops and bottoms.
4.18.2009 1:34pm
merevaudevillian:
I know very little about all this, but what are the implications for the criminal provisions of the Clean Air Act? Would the argument be that, while essentially every business and person operating an automobile is knowingly releasing into the ambient air a hazardous air pollutant, the release does not "place[] another person in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury"? I wonder, is the only defense simply that it's too attenuated?
4.18.2009 1:34pm
Lior:
The real question: is the EPA required to quantify the degree of endangerment caused by these pollutants?

Unless they can give an actual estimate (with credible error bars) of the marginal risk to human health and welfare associated with the emission of a marginal ton of CO2, they cannot be said to have any clue what they're talking about. In particular, without such estimates how can they formulate regulations?
4.18.2009 1:37pm
Guest12345:

A globe has more land towards the middle than it does towards the tops and bottoms.


Not the one we live on.
4.18.2009 1:45pm
Bpbatista (mail):
We are about to destroy what is left of our economy on the basis of a politicized fiction.

This is what the marriage of Modern Liberalism with Radical Environmentalism has wrought.
4.18.2009 2:13pm
AKD:
That most dangerous GHG dihydrogen monoxide curiously excluded from the list of pollutants...
4.18.2009 2:14pm
Lior:
The have on the site what they call the "technical support document". That document contains no technical information, and in fact has been carefully sanitized of all information that could be used to support rational decision-making. The key section should be Section IV, titled "U.S. Observed and Projected Human Health and Welfare Effects from Climate Change". It is divided into sub-sections for the various proposed effects, basically a long parade of horribees.

The report has been window-dressed to appear scientific: in the beginning, there's a table defining "likely", "very likely", "unlikely" and so on in terms of probabilities ("very likely" means "90%-99% probability", for example). However, saying that a particular bad outcome (say "disease pressure on crops to increase") is "likely" is not useful statement. Without knowing how much the increase is going to be, there is no way to make policy decisions.

It spending $10 to avoid a 90% certain $50 loss due to climate change worth it? Surely it is. Is spending $10 to avoid a 90% certain $5 loss due to climate change worth it? Surely not. And if the expected loss is $0.01, then we shouldn't say that the risk is "significant". So which of the three scenarios are we facing?

The so-called "technical" part of the finding makes not attempt to make the distinction. It's simply not a document that policy plans can be based on.
4.18.2009 2:24pm
geokstr:

MCM:
I think it's more likely they'd be some of the biggest swamplands and marshes on Earth. The miles of ice don't sublime, they melt.

But it would happen over the next century or more, which would certainly be enough time for most of the water to drain off to lower ground, no? Much of it would also evaporate, since warmer air can hold much more water than cold air. Vast new river systems would form, around which much of the population would live, just like they do today.

You really think that we have the knowledge and the technology to be not only able to affect something as gargantually complex as the climate of the entire planet, but to actually know enough so that we do it right, with no nasty little unintended consequences? Not even algore is that smart.

But we wouldn't have the ability to be able to inhabit the newly temperate areas.

Sheesh. The hubris of it all...

This has become such a religion to its believers. It must be the apocalypse unless the commands of the high priests are followed to the letter.
4.18.2009 2:26pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Federal courts are extremely deferential to agency assessments of the relevant scientific evidence when reviewing such determinations.

Umm. Massachusetts v. EPA, under which the courts ordered the EPA to find that CO2 is a "greenhouse gas" and regulate it as a pollutant. As you noted, "the agency does not have much choice."

Apparently this deference only works one way. Any finding for greater regulation by the EPA will be upheld by the courts; any finding against greater regulation will be overruled by the courts.
4.18.2009 3:11pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
There might be at least one new crucial issue for the courts here:Is there any harm to the USA?

From the link in the post:

The Court held that the Administrator must determine whether or not emissions of greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare, or whether the science is too uncertain to make a reasoned decision.

The EPA has to make the arguments: 1. CO2 from cars contributes to global warming,and 2. Global warming endangers public health or welfare. Step 2 is the hard part, even for warming generally but especially for the USA, which might even benefit from global warming.

In fact, a case could reasonably be made that warmer winter temperatures—which is the effect observed- improve public health rather than hurting it. If that's true, would the EPA be required by law to issue regulations to increase the amount of CO2 emitted from car engines?
4.18.2009 3:15pm
John (mail):
I am surprised that commenters do not seem to realize the distinction between political correctness and correctness. Being right is simply not a defense against administrative action that can be supported by something, somewhere. In this case, of course, it is supported by a lot, everywhere.

The only solution would be for Congress to legislate this all away. But that will not happen. So it's time to give up and move to India or some other locus of sanity.
4.18.2009 3:28pm
JM Hanes:
I'm sorry I hadn't read your item before I commented on Ilya Somin's Czar thread, because the issues are more closely related than they might first appear.

Agency rulemaking is a pervasive form of binding bureaucratic legislation, in which voters have virtually no official voice, despite, as you point out, the nominal right to "comment." Once the hazardous designation kicks in, rulemaking does become mandatory, but the idea that the EPA and the White House have "little choice" in the matter seems almost disingenous. It ignores the very clear choice that they have already made when they set out to issue the catalyzing declaration. It also ignores a very clear upside from an Executive Branch perspective.

The EPA can establish legally enforceable regulations by virtual fiat, whether or not such rules would pass legislative muster in Congress. Despite the tenuous link to global climate change which makes this particular initiative politically palatable, no demonstrable, practical effect of atmospheric C02 on human health has ever been established or even identified. Alas, "welfare" may be the most convenient, most problematic, omnibus term in the history of U.S. governance -- and one which consistently renders any other more specific conditional terms irrelevant.

In routinely passing off its regulatory responsibilities to extra-Congressional entities, Congress itself has effectively blurred Constitutional distinctions between executive and legislative functions, to what may ultimately be devastating, persisting, effect. If one realistically confronts the potential economic and bureaucratic consequences of the sweeping regulations which the EPA will soon be empowered to establish in the questionable name of immediate chemical hazard, the true scale of the governmental hazard is breathtaking.

The problem of nearly unchecked executive power alone should still be giving everyone pause, regardless of one's stance on global warming per se -- or on the Administration in power. Unfortunately, developments like recent NASA findings on the little recognized/understood climatic role of aerosols also suggest that current forms of proposed remediation may even be fundamentally misguided. This should also concern everyone across the entire environmental and political spectrums.
4.18.2009 3:41pm
EricH (mail):
As a poster above asked, how will this (or will it?) affect lawsuits brought by individuals or groups charging that their health or property has been harmed by these gases or emissions?

Or will Congress step in and introduce a sort of grand father clause exempting companies up to a certain date?

Quite a Pandora's box we've opened up.
4.18.2009 3:59pm
JM Hanes:
EricH:

We will be dealing with multiple Pandoras.
4.18.2009 4:09pm
geokstr:

Rich Rostrom (mail):
Apparently this deference only works one way. Any finding for greater regulation by the EPA will be upheld by the courts; any finding against greater regulation will be overruled by the courts.

I've made this comment before on a number of threads, and it's probably applicable to just about every one in one way or another, and maybe even to every modern culture on the planet. The rachet only turns one way - towards greater collectivism, more central control, less liberty. It's inexorable, cumulative, and apparently inescapable. Sometimes it proceeds a bit more slowly than at other times, but it never, ever stops.

Can anyone think of any area of government in which this has been substantially reversed for any material period of time?

Reagan said he'd eliminate departments and ended up increasing their size, scope and budgets and that's the last time it's even been talked about. I doubt if it's ever really been tried, and probably will never be until something so catastrophic happens that the entire planet will have to reinvent the way the governed and the governors relate to each other from scratch.

I think that whether the left or right wins the battles, freedom will lose the war. The only thing Orwell got wrong in his prescient novel was the year.
4.18.2009 4:42pm
Glen Alexander (mail):
The purported scientific certainty with which EPA is proceeding is indeed frightening.

Just the day before, on Wednesday 15 March, this article appeared in the New York Times announcing recent discoveries about the connection between global climate change and "black carbon" (also known as plain old soot) from cooking stoves throughout rural India and China.

It ledes:
“It’s hard to believe that this is what’s melting the glaciers,” said Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, as he weaved through a warren of mud brick huts, each containing a mud cookstove pouring soot into the atmosphere.
Anyone who's traveled the backwoods of India or China has surely seen the piles of cow dung sold roadside as cooking fuel — along with the persistent dust and haze in the atmosphere. Now, apparently, scientists have discovered that the effects of this airborne soot is being felt far beyond these remote villages.

But the science is changing so fast that:

...black carbon’s role in climate change has come so recently that it was not even mentioned as a warming agent in the 2007 summary report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that pronounced the evidence for global warming to be “unequivocal.” Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of environmental engineering at Stanford, said that the fact that black carbon was not included in international climate efforts was “bizarre,” but “partly reflects how new the idea is.” The United Nations is trying to figure out how to include black carbon in climate change programs, as is the federal government.
Needless to say, providing rural villages with more modern cookstoves would be an extremely cost-effective method of mitigating global climate change.

Unfortunately, that fix isn't on the EPA's agenda.
4.18.2009 5:38pm
New Pseudonym:
Don't exhale!
4.18.2009 5:58pm
Oren:


Umm. Massachusetts v. EPA, under which the courts ordered the EPA to find that CO2 is a "greenhouse gas" and regulate it as a pollutant. As you noted, "the agency does not have much choice."

They did nothing of the sort. Mass v. EPA merely established that the CAA grants authority to the EPA to regulate GHGs.
4.18.2009 7:13pm
rimfire (mail) (www):
Before I get out the watering can for the Tree of Liberty, how will all this effect my charcoal grill and wood stove?
4.18.2009 7:39pm
CDR D (mail):
rimfire sez: Before I get out the watering can for the Tree of Liberty, how will all this effect my charcoal grill and wood stove?

Dunno where you live, but here in Northern Kaleefornia, we have chimney nazis who can fine you up to two thousand dollars for warming yourself by using your fireplace.

They drive around (spewing CO2, of course) looking for chimney smoke, and also rely on neighbors putting their neighbors on report.
4.18.2009 7:48pm
Bart (mail):
Regardless of the level of deference the court may normally grant administrative agencies, business has no real choice but to put the manmade global warming fiction on trial in court. The cost to business and consumers of allowing EPA regulate the entire economy in a manner that attacks the energy and manufacturing upon which the economy relies is simply too enormous to accept without a fight.

I am not so sure such an effort would be hopeless. In reality, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support the theory of manmade global warming. None.

The scientific method essentially requires that the scientist poses a hypothesis and tests the hypothesis to develop proof.

The alleged proof of manmade global warming consists entirely of computer models. Computer models are actually hypotheses of how various inputs into the climate affect atmospheric temperature. In order to confirm these hypotheses and thus generate proof, the computer models must be tested to determine whether they can explain past weather or predict future weather. No computer model has ever done so and thus cannot be considered scientific proof.

There is simply no observable correlation, nevertheless proof of causation, between rapidly rising manmade CO2 emissions and atmospheric temperatures. While emissions have been increasing at an almost exponential rate since the advent of the automobile and industrialization of the world, atmospheric temperatures have bounced up and down in close correlation with solar activity, with the most rapid increase in CO2 emissions occurring over the past decade while we have entered into another cooling period similar to that which occurred between 1940 and 1979.

In sum, this is a battle which can and should be fought. Even if the court defers to EPA, the pseudo science can be exposed and the trial can be used to lobby Congress to amend the Clean Air Act to stop this madness.
4.18.2009 7:49pm
sbowers3:
Is the state of the law (absurd as it may be) such that the EPA can single out one particular source of CO2 (automobile engines) for special regulation while ignoring all other sources of CO2 or do they have to regulate all sources equally? If they regulate cars, do they also have to regulate (as rimfire suggested) charcoal grills, fireplaces, the act of breathing, coal-burning plants, steel mills, i.e. virtually every single person and business in the country?
4.18.2009 7:51pm
Lior:
Eric Rasmusen: If you read the technical document, you will see that they have no clue whatsoever whether any harm will come to the USA, and more importantly whether any regulation will actually have any effect on the harm.

In greater detail, there are a lot of bad things that could happen and a handful of good things that could happen. However, there are no estimates on how large or small the effects will be, and how dependent the effects are on the amount of GHG emitted in the US.

It is conceivable that I'm wrong, in that they do have actual estimates but they have decided not to make them public at this time. That would be a very odd way of handling public decision-making, but then making cardinal decisions with no data is also an odd practice of decision-making.

This unfolding situation brings to mind the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq.
4.18.2009 7:56pm
AKD:
Being the largest emitter of CO2, Texas stands to lose the most at the hands of EPA regulation. My proposal: Texans recoup losses by suing the other states for the oppresive heat inflicted on Texas by their decadent American way of life.
4.18.2009 9:40pm
MCM (mail):
Being the largest emitter of CO2, Texas stands to lose the most at the hands of EPA regulation. My proposal: Texans recoup losses by suing the other states for the oppresive heat inflicted on Texas by their decadent American way of life.


I like Rick Perry's more recent solution better.
4.18.2009 10:10pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
If CO2 is a threat to public health do I have a reasonable basis for suing anyone standing next to me who exhales?

This may seem to be a frivolous question, but is it? Does anyone have an example of a law or regulation that found a substance to be hazardous that only limits the production of that substance to a few producers instead of all producers? Can the production of CO2 by automobiles or power plants be forbidden while the production of the same chemical by all other sources is overlooked?

I would be interested to find an attorney who will help me sue Al Gore for emitting a hazardous substance in defiance of appropriate regulations. And if the EPA refuses to regulate the production of CO2 by Al Gore, I would like legal assistance in suing the EPA for failure to enforce its own regulations.
4.18.2009 10:12pm
geokstr:
Don't forget for a second either that by limiting the production of CO2, we'll also be starving the poor widdle twees, and broccoli too (which has recently officially been given the same right to be treated with dignity as human beings by the Swiss government).

/sarc (just in case someone out there thinks I'm really dissing broccoli and reports me to the International Tribunal for Vegetable Rights)
4.18.2009 10:57pm
Fiftycal (mail):
One half of "human generated" CO2 is from breathing. And domestic animals emit CO2 also. So when "homeland security" stops you to check your papers, you had better have your current "CO2 emission license" or you will be gathered up and put in "polluters jail" until you work off your fine. How much will your license and the licenses for your spouse and children cost annually? However much the Obammy cabal needs to fund it's nationalization of whatever private industry is left.
4.18.2009 11:55pm
Linda Mae (mail):
Why hasn't anyone brought up that the number one cause of our problem as stated in the Kyoto meeting was deforestation. So, where's the antidote to cap and trade? Plant a tree and you are exempt from a tax increase. Plant two, and you get a better deal. Fill your house with plants to offset the dangers you bring to the earth by your breathing. Add more and have your neighbor pay you so that they don't have to have plants in their houses. This is just plain stupid!

Rasmussen just published their poll that only 34% now think climate change is a problem. We have to convince them that Hansen's computer model was no basis for such a strong policy. That Hansen was given $750,000 by George Soros and $250,000 by John Kerry's wife. That Gore has bought companies which will make him millions. That a study of the science keeps pointing out mistakes made by the global warming believers. Big mistakes. Most importantly, scientists have sued to have their names removed from the UN report because they considered it junk science. That Gore was awarded his Noble Prize by a panel of 5 judges who are greenies, socialists, etc. NOT scientists. That there is a Nobel prize for science and Gore did NOT win that one. I am so tired of fighting this battle.
4.19.2009 12:46am
Anon21:
It's amusing and depressing that this comment thread full of non-experts, persons with no background whatsoever in climate science, has almost to a man declared that the scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming does exist is incorrect.

I'm sorry, but none of you know. I don't know either, but I know enough to trust the experts. What's worse, I'll bet a fair number of you put a great deal of stock in the collected myths of itinerant shepherds and nomads who have been dead for millenia. And yet modern science always remains elusively short of your rigorous standards of proof.

It's all just so laughable.
4.19.2009 3:58am
geokstr:

Anon21:
It's amusing and depressing that this comment thread full of non-experts, persons with no background whatsoever in climate science, has almost to a man declared that the scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming does exist is incorrect.

I'm sorry, but none of you know. I don't know either, but I know enough to trust the experts. What's worse, I'll bet a fair number of you put a great deal of stock in the collected myths of itinerant shepherds and nomads who have been dead for millenia. And yet modern science always remains elusively short of your rigorous standards of proof.

It's all just so laughable.

It would also be laughable, if it weren't so potentially tragic, that there are so many like you, totally unskeptical about a "consensus" that doesn't even exist.

Thirty one thousand American scientists have signed a petition that expresses grave doubts about anthropogenic global warm...er, ah, sorry, it's climate change now that the data haven't shown a warming trend for the last 10 years. And there are lots of non-American scientists who are also skeptics.
Petition Project

Over 10,000 of them have degrees in and/or work in areas directly related to environmental or atmospheric science, physics and aerospace science, or computer modeling, all areas integral to understanding the issues:
Qualifications of Signers

Your approach to this issue shows a woeful ignorance of how science works, or at least, is supposed to work if the politicians would stay away. Scientists are supposed to be skeptics, even of their own conclusions, not sheep bleating of "consensus".

Maybe global warming is a fact, but maybe not. If it is, maybe we've at least partially caused it, maybe not. But there is no firm data to prove it, and lots to disprove it. Perhaps the brief period of warming that occurred late last century is but a prelude to the onset of another ice age (as a number of scientists believe), but we are ready to totally disrupt and reconfigure our entire global economy to stop the warming. What if all we accomplish is to accelerate the cooling that is coming? A warmer world would be a darn site more hospitable to all kinds of life forms than a colder one, that is known for sure.

It would seem that prudence would dictate that there should be a lot more study, open, honest, unbiased analysis of this whole issue before we go nuts about it. James Hansen's computer models are not the last word, believe it or not, and have already been proven to be faulty and loaded with inaccurate data:
Climate Audit

If Obama wants to spend trillions on global warming, let the first 100 billion be spent on funding research into it, but only if half goes to scientists who aren't believers. After that's done, maybe we'll know enough about what's coming to actually make a rational decision.

And no, I'm an atheist. Don't even believe in the FSM.
4.19.2009 9:02am
Roguestage:
@geokstr


Let's assume (only) for the sake of argument that the planet is warming. Man's role in it is still highly speculative and considered to be a very minor factor by even the IPCC and many other climate change proponents. Why are we about to consider wrecking the entire global economy (further) before we even examine whether a warmer planet is necessarily a bad thing?


Let's assume (only) for the sake of argument that you've read the IPCC report. You'd see that it expresses little to no doubt about man's role in the current warming. So you either have not read the science which you purport to discuss, or you are lying. Either way, it should be given no credence.

A brief flavor of the IPCC's report:
Absent any greenhouse effect, the global average temperature would be -19 degrees Celsius, the temperature at which the energy received from solar radiation would be at equilibrium with the energy the earth releases back into space. Needless to say, the Earth isn't in a deep freeze, so the greenhouse effect must exist, and the strongest greenhouse forcer in the atmosphere (due to its prevalence) is carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide NEVER exceeded 280 parts per million in the atmosphere until the industrial age began and coal started to be burned in massive quantities. The natural variation of carbon dioxide (from bubbles trapped in ice cores) was between 180 and 280 ppm. Times with 180 ppm correspond to ice ages; times with 280 ppm correspond to the warmest times in history, such as the Medieval Warm Period.

Today, we are at 380 ppm, and rising at 1-2 ppm per year. The carbon signature of CO2 in the atmosphere - based on carbon dating, the same technique used to date archaeological findings - shows that the increase is largely due to carbon that has entered the atmosphere in the last 200 years.

Over the same period, the global average temperature has begun rising, to the point where the ten warmest years on record have all happened in ... the last ten years.

All of this is correlation, of course, but it strongly implies causation. The earth is getting warmer, the cause is human activity; the only debate is over the consequences.


Let's recall that Greenland got its name because when the Vikings landed there it was, well, like green or something. It was warmer then than it is now, and none of the dire scenarios being painted of our future happened then either.


Or maybe Greenland got its name because Lief Ericson named both Greenland and Iceland, and he had realized that nobody wanted to colonize a place called Iceland, so he came up with something a little more likely to attract people. Sort of like calling a retirement home in the Arizona Desert 'Shady Acres'.


There have been many entire epochs in the earth's past where it was considerably warmer than now, and the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was multiples of what it is now, and all those periods were lush with life. Imagine rain forests pretty much everywhere.


See above - the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has never exceeded what it is now. Read the science before you make things up.


Now imagine that the vast tundras of Russia, the Yukon, Greenland and other Arctic wastelands are the world's breadbaskets, and all the mineral and fossil fuel wealth that is now buried under miles of ice is suddenly available to even today's technology. Are these bad things?


Now imagine that the river deltas that contain half of the world's populations are flooded, and that every major coastal city is underwater, because miles of ice have melted and raised sea levels twenty feet. Are these bad things?

Now imagine that there is no seasonal ice anywhere in the world, and thus that the Colorado River, the Ganges River, the Yangtze River, the Yellow River, the Danube River, and, well, every ice-fed river has dried up. Are these bad things? Only if you're one of the billions of people who gets their water from those rivers.


It seems to me that it would make a lot more sense to look at whether slowly relocating populations from low-lying areas to higher ground in the next century would be easier and a lot cheaper than trying to fight against the inevitable changes in climate patterns that have occurred with regularity throughout the planet's history, even long before SUVs and coal burning. Most of that relocation would actually be done without government intervention or planning as people moved to find jobs in the newly habitable areas.


So you're in favor of massive immigration to the U.S. from India, Bangladesh, and the Pacific Islands?


But I suppose there wouldn't be nearly as much opportunity to grab power and wealth unless we do it algore's way.


Once again, we see that the argument against global warming is simply an ad hominem - if Al Gore wants it done, we must be against it! If Al Gore wanted us to all get good jobs and have health insurance, we should be unemployed and sick!

There's not a single scientist studying the issue who either disputes that global warming is happening, or that humans are the cause. The only dispute is over consequences, and that dispute is fairly minor.

If the fear is regulation, you should take a look at the Clean Air Act. 'Minor sources' (those that emit less than 100 tons of a pollutant per year, like, say, humans, backyard grills, or chimneys) are basically unregulated. Furthermore, EPA has the authority to regulate sources by class, and to determine that a class of sources should not be regulated because the pollution-related benefits would be less than the health-related costs. So no, EPA is unlikely to regulate human exhalations, backyard grills, etc.

Of course, coming to that conclusion would require reading the science and the law instead of screeching about how awful EPA and Al Gore are.

When we're dealing with an issue this politicized, I don't hope for that kind of rationality.
4.19.2009 9:31am
JM Hanes:
Roguestage:

The issue here is not global warming, it is whether there is, in fact, any proof that CO2 is demonstrably hazardous to human health -- which is the basis upon which the EPA asserts its regulatory authority. It is telling that those who support this move make no effort to support the EPA's actual argument. Instead, they make the case for global warming remediation -- an issue which should be addressed by Congressional legislation, not by executive agency. This circumvention is intended as climate remediation by other means, and the propagation of a fictional basis for regulation is recipe for disaster scientifically, economically, and politically.

On the subject of global warming per se, I have in fact, gone through the IPCC report line by line. As is often the case, the true import of their findings can be found in the footnotes which are rife with disclaimers. Most significant are those which deal with assessing probability. When your margin of error exceeds the differentials being examined, you have serious problems. Such notations proliferate throughout the seminal document. It is particularly significant that even short term phenomena have not, in fact, conformed to predictive models -- something which has not been disputed because it cannot be disputed, and which is the proximate reason that "global warming" has morphed into "global climate change."

Recent NASA findings suggest that there are, indeed, a man made effects on climate, but that the most easily observable changes are likely effects of man made reductions in atmospheric aerosols.

Science by consensus is not science at all. In this case, the dangers of correlation based conclusions are immense. Those who agree that man can effect climate change should be the most concerned about getting the causes wrong! If your remedial efforts are based on faulty premises, the unintended consequences could be destabilizing in heretofore unimagined ways.
4.19.2009 10:28am
AKD:

It's amusing and depressing that this comment thread full of non-experts, persons with no background whatsoever in climate science, has almost to a man declared that the scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming does exist is incorrect.

I'm sorry, but none of you know. I don't know either, but I know enough to trust the experts. What's worse, I'll bet a fair number of you put a great deal of stock in the collected myths of itinerant shepherds and nomads who have been dead for millenia. And yet modern science always remains elusively short of your rigorous standards of proof.

It's all just so laughable.



Consensus is a political, not scientific, term. Consensus has no role in discovering fact.

"I know enough to trust the experts."

That is a nonsense statement. Either you know enough about the science to be sure that the data they present is correct and used correctly, or you don't. You may feel yourself inadequate, but some of us are quite capable of critical thought and do not immediately defer to authority. Such behavior has not turned out well for humanity in the past.

It doesn't matter what 1,000 climatologists say is true, while pointing at statistics and saying "there is the proof!" If even one statistician says that the data is manipulated, we have a right to question the data until it handled openly and honestly.
4.19.2009 11:17am
Oren:

The scientific method essentially requires that the scientist poses a hypothesis and tests the hypothesis to develop proof.

Sure, but the standard is not "beyond a reasonable doubt", it's "does this model account for all the observables without being ruled out on theoretical grounds". Virtually every scientific discovery is not set out as definitive proof but rather as a compelling model for an observed variable.


The alleged proof of manmade global warming consists entirely of computer models.

You are going to be seriously disturbed if you ever go into real science and discover how much work is done numerically. Most real problems are not tractable in any other fashion. Just off the top of my head: structural analysis of every building you've set foot in (finite-element modeling), aerodynamics of the airplanes you fly (computational fluid dynamics), population dynamics (numerical integration of coupled PDEs), chemical engineering (ditto), drug discovery (computational docking) ....
4.19.2009 11:43am
Oren:

If even one statistician says that the data is manipulated, we have a right to question the data until it handled openly and honestly.

Excellent. I have a degree in the hard sciences and I question the result that hard drugs result in lower economic activity. Until we resolve this issue to my satisfaction, the government is forbidden from regulating hard drugs in any fashion!
4.19.2009 11:45am
Oren:

The issue here is not global warming, it is whether there is, in fact, any proof that CO2 is demonstrably hazardous to human health

That is a true statement. Unfortunately, the phrase in the statute is ( which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.

So, take your sentence and then make the replacements:

"demonstrably hazardous" —> "reasonably be anticipated"
"hazardous to human health" —> "endanger public health or welfare".

Now, you can see that, while your statement is true, under the much less stringent terms of the CAA, the finding is also true. You are evaluating an argument using a different standard of review than the one mandated by Congress. Complain to them, not the EPA.
4.19.2009 11:51am
AKD:
Oren, models that predict global population or the behavior of the global economy would be a more relivant comparison.
4.19.2009 12:21pm
AKD:
sorry, *relevant*
4.19.2009 12:21pm
Oren:

Oren, models that predict global population or the behavior of the global economy would be a more relivant comparison.

I was only trying to point out that people that routinely use the results of computer-model based conclusions (airplanes, buildings, cars) have a rather pronounced change of heart when it comes to AGW to the point of deriding the very notion of computer modeling as a useful method of doing physical science.

IOW, the complaints would have more weight if they were consistently applied to all the fields in which computer model results are used to derive, direct and validate designs.
4.19.2009 3:25pm
ReaderY:
Regarding the uniform standard issue, it would seem that Congress necessarily took that issue into account when it permitted California to adapt a different set of standards. Since Congress already considered and rejected this argument, waiver considerations should be based on the specific issues in California's standards. Whether California should have any business having different standards in the first place is a question for Congress.
4.19.2009 3:33pm
Roguestage:
JM Hanes


The issue here is not global warming, it is whether there is, in fact, any proof that CO2 is demonstrably hazardous to human health -- which is the basis upon which the EPA asserts its regulatory authority.


Actually, no, the basis upon which the EPA asserts its regulatory authority is endangerment of human health or welfare - and "welfare" is specifically defined in the Clean Air Act as including effects on weather and climate. CAA §301.

Even assuming arguendo that the CAA is only directed at human health, the possibility of loss of snowpack leading directly to diminished water supplies for millions of people is a pretty severe impact on human health. Given the length of time it takes for this problem to accumulate and to be remediated once it has actually occurred, it makes far more sense to take preventative measures now than to wait until we are absolutely certain of the impacts (in other words, to wait until disaster has struck).


It is telling that those who support this move make no effort to support the EPA's actual argument. Instead, they make the case for global warming remediation -- an issue which should be addressed by Congressional legislation, not by executive agency. This circumvention is intended as climate remediation by other means, and the propagation of a fictional basis for regulation is recipe for disaster scientifically, economically, and politically.


Actually, I agree that this issue should be addressed by Congressional legislation - aside from the mobile source provisions, the CAA is poorly structured to tackle this problem. But fixing a problem with poorly designed tools is better than ignoring it based on a false 'uncertainty' wholly manufactured by those who profit from making the problem worse.


On the subject of global warming per se, I have in fact, gone through the IPCC report line by line. As is often the case, the true import of their findings can be found in the footnotes which are rife with disclaimers. Most significant are those which deal with assessing probability. When your margin of error exceeds the differentials being examined, you have serious problems. Such notations proliferate throughout the seminal document. It is particularly significant that even short term phenomena have not, in fact, conformed to predictive models -- something which has not been disputed because it cannot be disputed, and which is the proximate reason that "global warming" has morphed into "global climate change."

Recent NASA findings suggest that there are, indeed, a man made effects on climate, but that the most easily observable changes are likely effects of man made reductions in atmospheric aerosols.


As I'm sure you noticed, those footnotes with disclaimers are in the section of the IPCC report dealing with impacts. I stand by my earlier statement: there is no serious scientific dispute as to the fact that the earth is getting warmer and that humans are the cause, primarily through the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases; the only serious dispute is on the impact of this change.

In your note that short term predictions have not conformed to predictive models, you fail to note that the models are predictors of long-term trends. Your objection is rather like saying a prediction of odds in a card game is worthless because it didn't tell you whether you'd win a particular hand, or that statistics on average annual rainfall are worthless because they don't tell you whether it will rain on Tuesday.

I fully expect that this time next year, we'll hear a lot about how 2009 was cooler than expected and that this means global warming is a myth (again). None of those reports will mention that an above-average number of volcanic eruptions have already taken place this year - as happened with Mt. Pinatubo in the early 1990s, the aerosols ejected into the upper atmosphere block sunlight, cooling the planet. Why is this irrelevant to global warming? Because those aerosols fall back to earth in 1-2 years. CO2, the primary warming agent, stays in the atmosphere for 500-1000 years.


Science by consensus is not science at all. In this case, the dangers of correlation based conclusions are immense. Those who agree that man can effect climate change should be the most concerned about getting the causes wrong! If your remedial efforts are based on faulty premises, the unintended consequences could be destabilizing in heretofore unimagined ways.


Science by consensus is called peer review, and is the foundation of modern science. Other experimenters review experimental reports to find flaws with them; if they succeed, they report the flaws and the original finding is not accepted. Where are the scientists disputing the IPCC report? On ExxonMobil's payroll.

The science of the greenhouse effect dates to the 19th century and has never been experimentally disproven. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and we are rapidly increasing its concentrations in the atmosphere to levels that have never existed in nature. Reducing CO2 emissions as a method to remediate the effects of these absurdly high concentrations is not based on a faulty premise in any way.

Will it cost money? Probably. But the interests that are saying now that it will cause economic collapse are the same ones who claimed that the 1970 Clean Air Act would mean that "Americans will freeze to death in the dark" (never happened) and that mandating the use of catalytic converters would bankrupt the auto industry (no, it was ultimately their failure to adapt to market conditions that did that). They've been wrong so many times that I'll trust the scientists rather than them.
4.19.2009 4:16pm
geokstr:
Roguestage:

I don't appreciate being called a liar or told I'm making shit up.

I don't know how to link to .pdf files, nor how to copy the graphs in them to this comment, but in a few minutes of googling I was able to find these references to higher CO2 concentrations than the present.

"Carbon dioxide reached levels similar to today’s only a few thousand years ago, in the early
Holocene (Kouwenberg, 2005); prior to that, in earlier geological epochs, atmospheric carbon
dioxide attained levels of 1000 ppm or more without known untoward environmental effects
(e.g. Haworth et al., 2005)."

Changes in atmospheric composition from the
Precambrian until today over different timescales
Christian Weller

Table 3.2 illustrates a declining CO2 percent from 25% of the atmosphere 500 million years ago, declining to 15% 350 million years ago, down to 1% for the next 100 m/y, then rising to between 5% and 9% for the entire 150 reign of the dinosaurs, then declining to 3% 50 m/y ago, then slowly declining to under 1% in the present.

SOS Forests
However, in past geological epochs the atmosphere has had concentrations of CO2 that were 10 to 15 times current levels

Princeton Physicist Tells Congress Earth in 'CO2 Famine' -- Increase 'Will Be Good for Mankind'

"Almost never has CO2 levels been as low as it has been in the Holocene [geologic epoch] – 280 [parts per million (ppm)] – that’s unheard of,” Happer said. “Most of the time, it’s at least 1,000 [ppm] and it’s been quite higher than that."

If you wish to argue that CO2 concentrations are higher now than in the very recent past, so be it, but show me where I argued differently. I understand that leftists are narcissistic and that time itself revolves around them, but the period that humans have been on this planet is a tiny blip in time. For hundreds of millions of years, life flourished just fine with considerably higher CO2 and temperature.

Of course, you can always claim these are all right wing heretics paid off by Exxon.

And the 31,000 scientists who signed a petition poo-pooing global warming are all Nazis or stupid.


So you're in favor of massive immigration to the U.S. from India, Bangladesh, and the Pacific Islands?

And where in my remarks did you get that from? I made the assumptions that all the tundras would be temperate, and there's several tens of millions of square miles of it just to the north of India and Bangladesh. Why would they need to move here? They can still run all our customers service centers from the Steppes.

Humans are pretty adaptable creatures. I suspect you would like to be in charge, but migration patterns will happen without you telling them where to go.

At least I didn't try to make up shit you supposedly said, like you did for me.
4.19.2009 4:32pm
AKD:
Roguestage, it has never been experimentally proven either.
4.19.2009 4:35pm
rosetta's stones:
Oren: "IOW, the complaints would have more weight if they were consistently applied to all the fields in which computer model results are used to derive, direct and validate designs."
...................................

Oren, computer models might "derive" and "direct" designs, but design validation is almost always done with physical prototypes of the designs churned out from the model. i.e., they build a prototype, and drive, fly, load, crash, sail it. I don't see the global warmers doing much to seek physical prototypes.

They haven't really tested their models, even. They're merely accepted on blind faith. Let me know when you find a structural engineer accepting a computer model on blind faith alone.

If you're talking about a building for example, the inputs to any "computer model" will be far less numerous, and the model itself far less complex than this global warming thing. Certainly, simple statics don't even require a computer model, the inputs are so simple.

Aerospace is more complex, but they always seem to wind up flying a prototype... and first there's the wind tunnel. Both are used to physically validate a computer model.

I think you're oversimplifying the usage of computer models, and conflating conceptual design work with detail design. The 2 are related, but unique. And neither can be directly compared with a probability-based model, like the global warming thing appears to be. Models are to be tested and validated, and in design work, individual outputs from those models should be physically validated.

Contrast that with the multitude of inputs to the global warming model, and the lack of validation of any sort of the model, or the output. This is the root of skepticism about them, I suspect.
4.19.2009 4:50pm
JM Hanes:
"Science by consensus is called peer review, and is the foundation of modern science."

Peer review does not remotely resemble consensus. I'm guessing you don't work in the sciences.

"But fixing a problem with poorly designed tools is better than ignoring it based on a false 'uncertainty' wholly manufactured by those who profit from making the problem worse."

Fixing the wrong problem with the wrong tools because you're relying on correlations, not causation, is foolish -- just as it is now looking like the mandated reduction of aerosols substantially contributed to the current warming - quite possibly making black soot amelioration a more pressing and effective place to spend remedial dollars. Shoot, it may even be more effective to incentivize clean energy production in India and China than emission capping here. The issue has become so politicized that it is now almost impervious to new data coming in.

"The science of the greenhouse effect dates to the 19th century"

Oh please. Until recently we had next to zero data from the entire southern hemisphere, and next to no clue how oceanic heat sinks factored in.

"On ExxonMobil's payroll."

Metaphors have no place in an argument about science. I'm assuming you don't think that NASA is just ExxonMobil outreach in disguise, but given the assertions you've been making in that vein, I suppose you might.

I do see a downside in running remediation through Congress though, because you're likely to end up with some form of cap and trade which is just a exorbitantly expensive shell game.


Oren:

"Now, you can see that, while your statement is true, under the much less stringent terms of the CAA, the finding is also true."

As a matter of fact, I complained about the use of "welfare" above, when I said, "Alas, "welfare" may be the most convenient, most problematic, omnibus term in the history of U.S. governance -- and one which consistently renders any other more specific conditional terms irrelevant." What purpose does the word health here even serve really? Indeed, where "or welfare" appears, what purpose would any other term serve?

"I was only trying to point out that people that routinely use the results of computer-model based conclusions (airplanes, buildings, cars) have a rather pronounced change of heart when it comes to AGW to the point of deriding the very notion of computer modeling as a useful method of doing physical science."

If observed phenomenon to date were actually conforming to the predictive models in use, and weren't sending folks back to the drawing board left and right, then such skepticism might be unwarranted. I simply cannot comprehend why so little attention and $$ are being dedicated to the modeling end of this whole equation. I personally believe that too many people have too much invested in the political mantra that "the science is fixed" to admit that our modeling is primitive at best. What's fixed here is the idée.
4.19.2009 5:34pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
The opening post says,
Now that the EPA is on course to set greenhouse gas emission standards for new motor vehicles, it will be interesting to see how the Agency handles California's request for a Clean Air Act waiver for its own state-level vehicle emission standards.

The California waivers of federal preemption of auto emissions standards have outlived their usefulness and should be abolished. When federal auto emissions laws and regulations began in the late 1960's, there was strong opposition to allowing the California waivers because it was recognized that because of the high mobility of motor vehicles (air pollution also has high mobility), very stringent auto emissions standards would be required on vehicles sold anywhere in the USA. What finally persuaded Congress to allow the waivers was the idea of using California as a "testing area" for new emissions control technologies and equipment. As a bonus, California would get a badly needed headstart in controlling auto emissions. These benefits of the California waivers have practically no significance today.
4.19.2009 6:27pm
Dan Weber (www):
Roguestage said:

Carbon dioxide NEVER exceeded 280 parts per million in the atmosphere until the industrial age began and coal started to be burned in massive quantities. The natural variation of carbon dioxide (from bubbles trapped in ice cores) was between 180 and 280 ppm. Times with 180 ppm correspond to ice ages; times with 280 ppm correspond to the warmest times in history, such as the Medieval Warm Period.

Today, we are at 380 ppm, and rising at 1-2 ppm per year. The carbon signature of CO2 in the atmosphere - based on carbon dating, the same technique used to date archaeological findings - shows that the increase is largely due to carbon that has entered the atmosphere in the last 200 years.

Two comments.

First, I think you're overstating "NEVER", since the earth's atmosphere was (probably) once largely CO₂. Of course the earth wasn't habitable by humans at that point.

Second, what's the granularity of those ice cores? If there were 10 years of 350 PPM, would it show up in the cores?
4.19.2009 6:30pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
I do wish commentors would stick to the topic of the post. That topic is NOT global warming. There are plenty of other fora to talk about that in. The topic is EPA regulation, which does not depend on global warming happening or not, but only on whether global warming affects the United States adversely. Thank you, Lior, for pointing out that the EPA's current support for that position is frivolous. The Chevron doctrine has its limits, and unless the courts are willing to show obvious bias (a real possibility), the EPA must present a reasoned argument for its claims. I do wonder, though, if any of the commentors knows of any reasonable studies arguing that health and welfare ***in the US*** will be harmed by global warming.
4.19.2009 9:49pm
Roguestage:
Dan Weber,


Two comments.

First, I think you're overstating "NEVER", since the earth's atmosphere was (probably) once largely CO₂. Of course the earth wasn't habitable by humans at that point.

Second, what's the granularity of those ice cores? If there were 10 years of 350 PPM, would it show up in the cores?


On your first point - you've hit the nail on the head. The worry is that higher concentrations of CO2 are unsuitable for human habitation, at least as we currently conceive of it (large societies based on reliable agriculture). That's precisely the issue: whether CO2 emissions endanger human health and welfare. EPA says yes, and I agree. Many others here clearly think that's frivolous, but their view has scientific support. Per Chevron, that's all they need.

I may be guilty of overstating "never" (which is why good lawyers never use the word, but I'm not quite a lawyer yet); but others here have repeatedly said that global warming isn't going to end life on earth. That's nothing but a strawman. The issue isn't whether life will continue; the issue is whether we, and our civilization as we know it, will continue.

Second, the granularity of the ice cores is a function of annual snowfall, since there are periods in the Antarctic each year where there is no snow. They can be counted like the rings on a tree.

geokstr:
You're rapidly becoming uncivil, so I'm not going to respond in kind. I'll look up the articles you point to. But I'd note that your list of '31,000 scientists' includes at least one who has publicly stated that he was included on the list without being informed and has requested to be removed. His name is still on the list. I'll leave it to you to make what connections you will about the quality of that list of names.

JM Hanes:

Science by consensus is called peer review, and is the foundation of modern science."

Peer review does not remotely resemble consensus. I'm guessing you don't work in the sciences.


You're right, I don't. But my wife does, and goes through peer review all the time. It is a process of building towards consensus. What's your experience with it?



"The science of the greenhouse effect dates to the 19th century"

Oh please. Until recently we had next to zero data from the entire southern hemisphere, and next to no clue how oceanic heat sinks factored in.


Notice that I didn't say "global warming". The scientifically proven FACT that an atmosphere of CO2 holds heat, whereas atmospheres of pure oxygen or pure nitrogen do not, was proven in the 19th century. That, at a global level, is the greenhouse effect, and that's when it was scientifically established.

And by the way, that's in the IPCC report.


"On ExxonMobil's payroll."

Metaphors have no place in an argument about science. I'm assuming you don't think that NASA is just ExxonMobil outreach in disguise, but given the assertions you've been making in that vein, I suppose you might.


Why on earth would you bring in NASA? Oh, because someone in the Bush administration changed the statements in their public research reports that were pro-climate change to be anti-climate change so that there was a scientific source other than someone paid by ExxonMobil to deny global warming.

Here's a source linking to NASA's own internal investigation of the matter.

Sorry, a P.R. hack hired by the Bush White House doesn't count as a scientist any more than I do. Nor does he count as someone who wasn't bought and paid for by ExxonMobil.
4.20.2009 12:07am
Ricardo (mail):
Most of that relocation would actually be done without government intervention or planning as people moved to find jobs in the newly habitable areas.

There is plenty of government intervention with where people work and live in the form of immigration laws, as has already been pointed out. The Republic of Maldives (highest point in the country is 2.3 meters above sea level, according to Wikipedia) has already announced that it may have to move its entire population to another country if sea levels should rise. Even a modest rise would inundate previously dry areas during high tide. Which country is going to grant visas to every national of the Maldives?

And that's the simple case. Who would give refuge to hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis flooded out of their homes on the Ganges Delta?
4.20.2009 2:41am
geokstr:

Roguestage:
geokstr:
You're rapidly becoming uncivil...

I apologize for some of the language I used, but I do not like being accused of being a liar.

I did not in fact read the entire IPCC report but have read many parts of it and also lots of summaries and critiques of it as well. Some of those critiques come from scientists (yes, real environmental scientists not in the employ of Exxon) who were actually part of the IPPCC and stated that the role of the scientists was merely to review various analyses and research, and that all the conclusions were written by...politicians. The "scientists" had zero input into that part.


Now imagine that the river deltas that contain half of the world's populations are flooded, and that every major coastal city is underwater, because miles of ice have melted and raised sea levels twenty feet>

Now you're either making stuff up, or you're using the algore version of "Apocalypse Now" to get your facts from. These nightmares of 20 foot walls of water crashing down on New York and Holland are just that - delusional dreams.

You do know that if the entire Arctic ice cap melted, the sea level would rise - nada? That's because it all floats on water already. Melting it would make no difference.

From the EPA site (I assume you trust them), describing the IPCC findings:
Coastal Zones and Sea Level Rise

"Higher temperatures are expected to further raise sea level by expanding ocean water, melting mountain glaciers and small ice caps, and causing portions of Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets to melt. The IPCC estimates that the global average sea level will rise between 0.6 and 2 feet (0.18 to 0.59 meters) in the next century (IPCC, 2007).

The range reflects uncertainty about global temperature projections..."

There is that much "uncertainty" about "temperature projections"? Gosh, looking at the media reporting, whouda thunk there was any "uncertainty" at all? And 7-24 inches in the worst case is a heck of a lot less than 20 feet.

But I'd note that your list of '31,000 scientists' includes at least one who has publicly stated that he was included on the list without being informed and has requested to be removed. His name is still on the list. I'll leave it to you to make what connections you will about the quality of that list of names.

So, one name has been identified on a list of 31,000 that he says shouldn't be there. Therefore, the entire list, a monumental undertaking where an occasional error might creep in, is irrelevant, immaterial, misleading and false? Is that the logic they're teaching at law school these days?

You know who else uses such logic? Creationists.

It's called "quote mining". They look for any phrase in legitimate scientific writings that they can pull out, then distort into something the author didn't intend, and then say the entire science is falsified.

If that Petition list was full of names that shouldn't be there, instead of just one, you'd think the climate change proponents would have been able to easily indentify them and expose the entire petition as a fraud, wouldn't you?

Will it cost money? Probably. But the interests that are saying now that it will cause economic collapse are the same ones who claimed that the 1970 Clean Air Act would mean that "Americans will freeze to death in the dark" (never happened) and that mandating the use of catalytic converters would bankrupt the auto industry...

It will probably cost money? Ya think?

This is not just mandating higher mileage, this is talk of re-inventing the entire energy structure upon which the economy depends. It mandates hundreds of billions for totally inadequate power sources just for starters, while denying common sense partial solutions even for the interim while this is happening, like nuclear, clean coal and domestic drilling.

This is insane, and totally politically driven.

If you wonder why I ride on algore so much, take your own distrust of all skeptics as shills for Big Oil. But Gore has somehow become extremely wealthy pushing apocalyptic global warming, but his financial interest does not color what he says at all?

I stated above that we should be taking a ton of money and putting it into honest, objective research, where the opponents get as much grant money as the proponents, and then sort it out before we go ahead and do something that could turn out to be very rash. The truth is that we know almost nothing about the multitudes and myriads of interactions of all the processes that affect climate. But the gummint is going to try to fix it all for us anyway.

Please find me one thing that government has done anywhere that hasn't had major unintended consequences.
4.20.2009 10:36am
geokstr:

Eric Rasmusen:
I do wish commentors would stick to the topic of the post. That topic is NOT global warming. There are plenty of other fora to talk about that in. The topic is EPA regulation, which does not depend on global warming happening or not, but only on whether global warming affects the United States adversely.

Unfortunately, Eric, global warming is the underlying cause of why the EPA is promulgating these regulations. The politicians who uncritically believe in AGW are in power now, and they are going to do radical things to our country over it.

If global warming exists, if it is bad for us, if we have some way to stop it, if we really know what we're doing here, is the crux of this whole issue. That's a lot of "ifs".

The power to regulate CO2 is the beginning of a huge restructuring of our economy based on very contentious science. Simply arguing the legal minutiae of the agency's power to regulate or how they are going about it is akin to debating whether the doctor has the authority to immediately begin radical chemotherapy to a patient who might not even be sick, or at least might have been misdiagnosed as having cancer, when it might be the worst thing we could do. Of course he has the power, but is it the right thing to do?

What would House do?

:-)
4.20.2009 10:50am
geokstr:

And that's the simple case. Who would give refuge to hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis flooded out of their homes on the Ganges Delta?

Assuming that 7-24 inches of sea level rise per the IPCC is enough to force all those Bangladeshis to resettle:

1) Not all of India and Bangladesh are below sea level, so many could resettle a little bit inland.
2) If there is still not enough land, then newly temperate lands in Russia would look mighty tempting. Did we have to formally approve it when Mexico invaded the US?
3) Once those Russian tundras are habitable (again), they will need workers to develop them, since there own population is now shrinking due to a suicidally low birthrate. If you think the Indians and Bangladeshis will all want to come here, maybe we could arrange a trade (see 2) above.
4) With the melting of miles of ice on the tundras, new river systems and deltas will be forming, providing new locations for population centers.

Eventually, the earth will change its climate whether we want it to or not, as it has done countless times before SUVs ruined Detroit. Maybe we should learn to be more adaptable until the science of terraforming is a bit more developed.
4.20.2009 11:04am
Oren:

They haven't really tested their models, even. They're merely accepted on blind faith. Let me know when you find a structural engineer accepting a computer model on blind faith alone.

Skyscrapers are built on the accepted fact that FEM works without validation. Do you think they build a test skyscraper?

PS. No, you can't build and test a scale model because beam deflection varies like length^4 but cross-section^2 -- iow, elasticity is not scale-invariant.


As a matter of fact, I complained about the use of "welfare" above, when I said, "Alas, "welfare" may be the most convenient, most problematic, omnibus term in the history of U.S. governance -- and one which consistently renders any other more specific conditional terms irrelevant."

Interestingly, you didn't reach the distinction between "demonstrably hazardous" and "reasonably be anticipated".

The latter standard means only that there needs to be some evidence (which there certainly is), not that the evidence is conclusive. In fact, there could be highly-disputed evidence that could lead the EPA to reasonably anticipate something. It's a very weak standard!
4.20.2009 12:47pm
Oren:

The power to regulate CO2 is the beginning of a huge restructuring of our economy based on very contentious science.

That's not necessary really. If we take the long view (50 years) then it's sufficient to:
(1) Build new nuclear power plants to meet increased needs AND replace fossil-fuel-based plants at the end of the designed life (which is ~50 years anyway).

(2) Move to Chevy Volt-esque plug-in hybrid cars that are zero-emissions for the first 20-30 miles after a charging (the Volt claims 40-50, which is overkill).

(3) Install methane-burning flues over the major livestock feedlots and their excrement.

That alone will reduce effective GHG emissions by 70% or so for a minor cost. Nuclear power is no more than 20-30% more expensive that fossil fuel, less if you keep the plant for a long time (most of the cost is initial capital). Electric cars will scale as consumer demand develops.

Plus, the geopolitical benefits ought to be worth something in this calculation.
4.20.2009 12:53pm
rosetta's stones:
Oren: "Skyscrapers are built on the accepted fact that FEM works without validation. Do you think they build a test skyscraper?"


First, yes, they do in fact build test skyscrapers. Like all prototypes, the data generated from it will have limitations, and in the case of a skyscraper, those would presumably be related to the scale of that prototype, as you mentioned. But, the analysis would be data driven... not accepted on blind faith.

Second, your statement that FEM isn't validated is false. The inputs to a finite element analysis are known, and remember, the number and kind of elements to be analyzed is finite. We are simply using high-speed computers for the mathematical treatment of large amounts of data, and solution of numereous simultaneous equations. Known elements, known model, known inputs... and then we review and validate the outputs.

We can do all this with a paper and pencil, you know. Or maybe you were thinking they fired up their PC's 100-150 years ago, to build skyscrapers?

I'm not a structural engineer, but I think I know enough about the animal to know one's reaction, if I call him over here to my screen right now, and point out some guy on the internet trying to compare his methodologies to the global warming non-science. Belt and suspenders structural engineers don't work on blind faith.
4.20.2009 3:23pm
rosetta's stones:
Oren, the 3 measures you described above sound good, but are they practical?

Nukes are fine to talk about, but the next gen nuke plants haven't been built or life-cycle-costed. This isn't the panacea it's made out to be, not yet anyways. I want to pursue this, and it's good that you throw in a reasonahle 50 year implementation time frame, but caution is in order, as always.

The Chevy Volt is a publicity campaign, and clearly isn't going to come in at reasonable cost. No suitable batteries, dontchyaknow.

Modern farming techniques can be made more efficient, but the ag sword cuts many ways on us. In NA, you used to be able to tell when the Chinese where doing their spring planting, as it kicked up so much debris... maybe you still can, haven't checked recently. Many things influence the weather, including ag practice.

This is the problem with this global warming hysteria. It's not data driven. They are not using the scientific method. It's chicken littlism.
4.20.2009 3:40pm

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