In an attempt to both strengthen the US's negotiating hand in the upcoming Copenhagen climate talks, and to prod domestic lawmakers into swifter action on lasting legislation, the White House has told the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with new rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
The new rules would only cover plants that emit at least 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. That cutoff focuses the regulation primarily on 400 power plants, which will suffer fines if they fail to utilize the cleanest available technology. The rules could take effect as soon as 2011, and represent the first major use of the EPA's mandate to regulate greenhouse gases since the Supreme Court declared fossil-fuel-released carbon dioxide a pollutant in 2007.
In addition to the 400 power plants most pirmarily affected by the new rules, another 14,000 or so factories and smaller power plants will also face the threat of fines, and need to renew construction and operating permits based on their ability to cut their emission of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.
The new rules have already come under fire, both from Republican lawmakers, who fear that the fines will result in additional costs to their constituents and thus act as a "back door tax," and from business groups like the US Chamber of Commerce, which has already threatened to sue the EPA over carbon dioxide regulation.
"We are not going to continue with business as usual," Lisa P. Jackson, the EPA administrator, told the New York Times. "We have the tools and the technology to move forward today, and we are using them."
[via The New York Times]
Wow! The Supreme Court declared that CO2 is a pollutant? Did they start teaching chemistry in law school? Actually, I think what Stuart is referring to is a ruling made by the Supreme Court that permits the EPA to call anything they want a pollutant. In fact, if Lisa P. Jackson would like, she could call oxygen a pollutant.
I invite them to push forward with this nonsense so I can enjoy the show when the EPA and the White House run head-on into the brick wall of reality. Getcha popcorn ready!
In other news, it turns out that the beloved hockey stick that has been the basis for so much of the fear mongering of the AGW movement has in fact been shown to be cherry picked data. It only took 10 years to uncover the truth that the alarmists have hidden from the public. Yet more inconvenient truth for these idiots to deal with.
Keep spouting this stuff Stuart. It only gets funnier to watch.
She looks fake.
"Methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride."
I'll take "Things I care about more than CO2 levels" for $500, Alex.
What's not funny at all is the view of earth we have from space, and the obvious changes mankind has wrought on the surface... day and night, our presence is unmistakably changing/destroying what naturally exists/existed.
How much respiration and burning can the atmosphere absorb before it becomes unsuitable for those trapped inside? How much industry, how much polluted water, how much mono-culture of plants and animals?
I honestly don't understand people who believe we can do NO wrong. Sure, we might not be able to destroy every living thing on earth down to the last microbe, but what happened to preserving it for posterity?
Btw, coal-fired power plants don't release JUST CO2.
(note to flamers: I made no scientific statements in my comment, I simply asked questions that personally concern me and the nation I reside in, the planet I'm trapped on with the rest of you.)
How much respiration can the atmosphere take? "those trapped inside". "don't understand people who believe we can do NO wrong"
Things like you said, and this isn't meant to be mean in any way, worry me. People have been conditioned to accept and deny things based on the person or political party rather than their own thoughts. Even though much of that person or party's beliefs (on all sides) have everything to do with money and power. If you make people afraid enough they will do anything, when you make someone afraid enough you can convince them of anything, to say anything, do anything. And search for enemies irrationally. If you give them an enemy when they're afraid enough they'll go after them with with a viciousness that borders on the psychotic.. Look in the media or internet postings on anything political or religious and you will see an amazing amount of almost psychotic hate. This benefits some because you won't watch what their doing, your too busy watching and hating "The Enemy".
The people who point out the problems with theories don't hate the planet, they probably camp, hunt, fish etc. Many of them just understand why these problems have been defined this way and gained so much attention now is someone figured out how to use them for political, money and power gain.
This is also why people try to shut up any dissenting opinion with accusations of being a deniar, fascist, racist ad infinatum. Its easy, and it works. So podboq, don't worry so much, most of what we've all been told (about almost everything) is a lie at least in part. Whenever you hear about this crisis, or the next, or the next, just think if you can come up with a way that someone in power gains by it, and take it with a grain of salt. It doesn't mean its 100% lie, but it's probably no where near 100% truth either.
podboq, please don't think of yourself as "trapped" with the rest of us. Consider this an exercise in intellect. If you think of this rebuttal as "flaming", then I apologize.
1. The view of earth from space. Should we have not built cities, airports, dams, etc.? If other creatures (ants, beavers, etc.) could build large structures like we do to suit their needs, I bet they would. And if you are upset with nighttime lights, I can only suggest that if we used no fossil fuels whatsoever and used only "clean energy", you'd still see those lights at night.
2. By the way, aren't we part of nature also? We may be a ton of different things, but "unnatural" is not one of them.
3. Your question about the mono-culture of plants and animals is interesting, because it seems that as we look back in history, the number, variety, and types of species on this planet has ALWAYS been changing, even before "the rest of us" showed up. Like a QB on a football team who gets too much credit or blame, you are giving us too much blame.
4.I think the number of people who believe we can do NO wrong is very small. What most of us want is a reasonable approach to a clean environment. That includes not falsifying data to tell us to "clean up or die", not placing excessive prices on fuels, and not labeling the gas that I exhale as a "pollutant".
We need to be good stewards of the planet, but let's not panic. (Or call each other names while were at it.....)
Dear podboq and everyone else: are you aware they are saying Carbon Dioxide is trapping heat when the concentration of Carbon Dioxide in air is in the neighborhood of .04%? That is 4 one-hundredths of a percent, or .0004 of the air you and I breathe. It is amazing how much good the plants get out of only that much Carbon Dioxide. By the way, the reason CO2 is a greenhouse gas is because it is piped into greenhouses to feed the plants - not to keep them warm! Water vapor traps heat. Have you ever been outside on a cloudy summer night? It is much hotter than a dry clear summer night in the desert, where there is just as much CO2 but you had better have a jacket. Let's stop the silliness. The CO2 penalties are a desire to gain government control of business and raise money so they can blow it on their cronies, provide to the unproductive, and control the rest of us. Think for yourself...why does government do anything? Generally it is to gain its own power or control and to raise taxes. That is why the Constitution was written, not to tell us our rights, but to tell government where its rights end. It is generally ignored.
Thanks to everyone so far being civil.
I don't lean easily to any short-term freakouts over the environment, I remember, far back as I can, that fishing holes were/are littered with line, hooks, sinkers, bobbers, styrofoam, plastics, beer cans, on and on and on, everything i've ever fished, for 30 years.
None of those things encourage a healthy water-cycle or ecosystem.
Mostly I mind the lights because they block out the stars...Infrared cameras and motion sensor lights are, to me, a much smarter idea for security than always on flood lights. But essentially what I meant by commenting on lights was the fact that day or night, our presence is known even from orbit. That's all really...
(although lights do affect animals in ways we don't seem to much care about...I tend to keep my porch light OFF, unless I'm actually ON the porch at the time, or expecting someone to visit)
The rest of my questions were just that, questions. Not insinuations.
I'm interested in how much of us the earth can stand, and it seems logical to me, that having nearly 7 billion of us, our livestock, our farming habits, or fishing habits, or energy habits, isn't leaving the earth is such good shape.
I'm concerned, not a fanatic, but I see damage everywhere, maybe I'm just biased?
(trapped was the correct word, if things go south for humankind on earth, where do you think we'll go?)
It's amazing how far PopSci has come. Originally, it was a place where people who actually KNEW things came to report the results of their experiments, so that the general public could be enlightened. People trusted scientists to do their experiments correctly, and believed their results. Any disagreement was on the basis of fact. Now, anybody can post ridiculous claims like C02 not being a greenhouse gas, with absolutely no respect for the scientific process. If you think that's the case, go get yourself two belljars, a canister of C02, two digital thermometers and a sunny place to put them. Take a video and post it online and put the link here. Then come here and tell us that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas. Show us the data. Don't come to the Nation's foremost public science magazine and make stuff up.
Coal is an 18th century fuel powering a 21st century economy. We need to invest in renewable energy sources to create jobs, reduce mining fatalities, lower energy prices, and reduce emissions of mercury, sulfur, nitrous oxides, particulates, and CO2. The question is whether we're going to sit back and let China and Germany dominate the 21st century's energy technology market. I think the U.S. should be a leader in this field, and not sit around making excuses to continue to boil water with anthracite.
Hey Parker - are you aware that CO2 is heavier than the ambient air? God made it so that plants thrive on the part of air that tends to sink toward the ground. The theory of Global Warming, which is provably not happening, considering the last 8 years have noted a cooling trend, is based on flawed assumptions fed by junk science in pursuit of research money and an impotent ex Presidential candidate who has gotten filthy rich off it. Put a higher than normal concentration of CO2 in a very large bell jar. Put normal air in another bell jar. Put nothing but oxygen in a third bell jar. Set them all out in the sun. You will note that they all get hot because of one factor. Can you guess what that is?
I am mostly with you about coal. If the by-products of the burn are not filtered, they can stink up an area something awful. On the other hand, there are coal fires going underground that are orders of magnitude more than we burn in industry. There are volcanoes belching things out that should have the EPO down their cone about it (send them). The atmosphere extends about 62 miles above the Earth, right? At least when they want to test something to the edge of space, that is how high it needs to go. How much do you think of Carbon Dioxide, considering most of it will no doubt sink to the ground, and since it is basically 400 parts per million here on the surface, how much of it is up there making us hot?
"People trusted scientists to do their experiments correctly, and believed their results. Any disagreement was on the basis of fact."
The recent discovery that Briffa omitted, for whatever reason, numerous tree ring samples which flattened the famous hockey stick do little to engender trust in this so-called science. He certainly was aware of the data. Was he hiding this data or was he simply not sharp enough to understand that a larger sample would produce a more accurate result? These questions remain open.
But any position which previously used the hockey stick can now be discarded, as it is clear that this analysis is deeply flawed.
With regard to your bell jar experiment, if that is your experimental proof of global warming, then I'm afraid it too, is woefully inadequate. This will only prove that CO2 has a higher heat capacitance than N2 and O2. I've seen the demonstration, and I'm sure it's used disingenuously in science classrooms across the nation. To conduct a more accurate experiment, you would need to model a great deal more than you're suggesting, and even the climate modelers admit they can't do that with much accuracy. But they sure tell us how bad things will be when their admittedly incomplete models predict warming.
As for coal, it contains more energy per unit of mass until you are ready to cook with nuclear. Since environmentalists have road-blocked nuclear with over-regulation, you'll have to sit and like your anthracite warmed tea. There are enough coal reserves in the US to keep up with present and future demand for energy for 200 years. That's a simple fact, and markets dictate that the cheapest price wins. That doesn't mean it can't be cleaner, but those are the facts, Jack.
It's not just BURNING that's causing the problem, adding to it is the amount of forest turned into farmland, or clear cut, or strip mined.
Felling trees in their millions isn't all of the problem, there's livestock too, hundreds of millions of animals more than there would be naturally...
But cows aren't the whole problem... the agriculture that sustains all that livestock causes topsoil erosion, extreme concentrations in surface water and subsurface water of chemicals used as fertilizers...
But farming isn't the whole problem either... yearly floods along major water ways contribute to the deadzones in the ocean, the befoulment of rivers and streams...
All of these things could be done better, more cleanly, more naturally, but they're not. All in the name of the cheapest price.
Someone tell me what a healthy world is worth. Please, anyone have a figure?
What I'd really like to know is, why is the modern world's way of life 'better' than the lives the 'primitive' natives around the world live....
A few things for you to consider in response to your question of "...why the modern world's way of life is 'better' then the lives the 'primitive' natives around the world live...":
* Life expectancy has risen from about 30 years to over 70 years for most industrialized countries.
* Infant mortality has decreased dramatically; so have deaths of women from child birth.
* The world is better fed today despite a population orders of magnitude larger than 200 years ago.
* The world's population is more productive and more free than at any time in its history.
The freedom mentioned above grants you the ability to choose how you wish to live. I encourage you to make a go of living as a 'primitive' native if you're not already doing so. Your access to a computer to comment here doesn't seem to support that assumption, but who knows. Come back in a few months or years and share with us all your experience. Tell us then why such a standard of living is preferable to what you have today.
There are those of various political stripes who choose to live this way, and I support their ability to do so. What I do not support is action or legislation which imposes restrictions on the People's choices in how to live, especially when that action is based on faulty or fraudulent "science". And that is precisely what the AGW movement has become - a politicized and fraudulent cabal of environmentalist zealots who will falsify their "research" to impose *their* standard of living on the People.
So if our standard of living is better, why complain about giant lakes of coal ash in your neighborhood? Why complain about acid rain? Spent nuclear fuel? Why worry about deadzones in the sea? Why worry about anything we're doing to the natural order of the planet?
Btw, your world-wide stated items, doesn't change that many native peoples living as primitives live just as full lives, they're FIGHTING for the right to continue to do so, but the modern world is squeezing them out.. What about their rights?
Btw, the suggestion that I go live like an ape is hilarious, how do you propose I get there, over international borders, over whole oceans? Most of us are trapped in modern society whether you like it or not. There's certainly not a square acre of land in North America I can claim as my own, build a house from materials on it, then grow food to sustain myself from it.
"So if our standard of living is better, why complain about giant lakes of coal ash in your neighborhood? Why complain about acid rain? Spent nuclear fuel? Why worry about deadzones in the sea? Why worry about anything we're doing to the natural order of the planet?"
I never stated that there aren't issues to be addressed. Many of the issues you're presenting here *have* been addressed (like acid rain), while others (like spent nuclear fuel) have been hamstrung by the current US administration. Dead zones are caused by numerous factors, but energy production is not one of them.
"Btw, your world-wide stated items, doesn't change that many native peoples living as primitives live just as full lives, they're FIGHTING for the right to continue to do so, but the modern world is squeezing them out.. What about their rights?"
This has nothing to do with global warming or energy production. This seems to be a human rights issue. I'm not sure what your point is here.
"Btw, the suggestion that I go live like an ape is hilarious, how do you propose I get there, over international borders, over whole oceans? Most of us are trapped in modern society whether you like it or not. There's certainly not a square acre of land in North America I can claim as my own, build a house from materials on it, then grow food to sustain myself from it."
This is plainly false. I can only assume that you have no means available to you or are unwilling to make the effort to take the suggestion. There are VAST tracts of available land at $500 per acre throughout the continental United States. Further, you don't have to buy land. You can get a passport and live in Africa. Missionaries and aid workers do this all the time. You're making excuses. I asked that you honestly experience the lifestyle and report back to us on that experience. Perhaps we could learn from you.
Instead, you tell me that primitives "live like an ape" and that it's a hilarious suggestion that you might try to speak from experience after having lived that way. I'm sorry that you feel that people living in villages in the jungle or desert are living like apes; I'm sure they'd have a few things to tell you about that as well. You see, you're really not above us all, and you're really not well-equipped to tell the rest of us how to live.
"What I'd really like to know is, why is the modern world's way of life 'better' than the lives the 'primitive' natives around the world live...."
Okay podboq, how about living with the Amish? A quick glance at Wikipedia shows the Amish have communities in multiple states. They are low tech, and may be able to show you a "better" way to live. No borders, no oceans, no passport issues to stand in your way. Heck, sell your car and take a bus. You certainly won't need a car once you get there anyway.
I actually hope that you decline this idea. I'd much rather have you living/coping/arguing with the rest of us and our modern ways. But if that bug to ditch technology has got too big of a hold on you, then here is a legitimate option.
Getting people thinking is a great thing... but are you really?
When people's livelihoods were tied directly to the land, they took better care of it. The disassociation of cities and the messes that surround them, and the relatively healthy land around non-industrial food production land bears that statement out, no?
"Dead zones are caused by numerous factors, but energy production is not one of them."
Energy production heats the water in rivers by means of the effluent water from power plants, causing problems, dead zones even.
I'm not sure where the benefit of trying to deal with the symptoms, rather than the cause of the symptoms is...
'Oh, yes, you have cancer, but just take this class on positive thinking, and you won't feel a thing, have a nice day...'
I'll say that I haven't read all the comments in this thread, and that this post isn't aimed 100% at you. But I think that one of the better and more subtle points in these comments is this:
Our modernized society has many of great things going for it, but that is coming at the cost of destroying many of the natural things around us, like ecosystems, and they are irreplacable. So with those pros come the cons, but we have the ability to change that (and make our society more environmentally friendly), but we're not doing too entirely much.
Basically I don't think we have to revert to a less advanced society where we have to live off the land. Or a large natural disaster to get everyone's attention :) Maybe then will people have a little more concern for the environment.
Made a typo in my above post. I mean to say, "Maybe we need a large natural disaster". No idea why that came out as a mere "Or". Anyways, hope no one's offended.
Well,I'm glad to see the forum isn't as one-sided as usual when the topic of global warming comes up. Funny, I thought this was a science site, and since the vast majority of scientists involved in studying Earth's climate believe it to be warming, and over 70 percent think we've got a lot to do with that -- well, it would seem most of the discussion would be on ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and not whether or not they actually are warming things up. But when you have posters trying to argue that water vapor is the most potent greenhouse gas, obviously there's a problem with the understanding of basic science, the scientific method, and the process of research, peer review, and consensus that forms the dominant viewpoint regarding climate change.
As for the overall impact of humanity on our environment, it's pretty sad when someone raises the point that we do more damage than we need to, and that poster gets equated with Luddites or the Amish. Obviously we could practice more efficient and less destructive means of energy production and usage, agriculture, and urban development. Just take a look at many of the articles on this website, and you can see that there are plenty of ideas that could lead us to a better future without sacrificing the comforts of civilization we've all taken for granted. It's a pretty foolish argument to make when you take the stand that pushing inovation and ingenuity to get us away from a non-renewable lifestyle would wreck the economy. History has shown us time and again that periods of rapid scientific progress in improving efficiency and new energy sources always result in improved standards of living across the board.
Well, a majority of theists think there is a God, therefore there is. Right?
Science is *not* a democracy, where majority opinion is "truth." At one time, cutting-edge science thought that the Earth was the center of creation. The quantity of people who believe an idea, regardless of their standing as scientists or lay people, has no bearing on the validity of the idea.
The opinions of scientists are worthless. The only thing of value is the data, and the robustness of the analysis. The facts are that there are huge holes in the historical data, and very limited data sets (in quality, quantity, and coverage).
Our ability to produce reasonably accurate weather and climate models is pathetic.
The strength of the current data has been oversold, or perhaps been overbought, by those wishing to use government force to enforce their agendas.
Even if the climate is permanently warming, and even if we are the cause, the climate will be *different*, not worse. Better or worse is a normative issue.
Earth's climate has changed many times in the past; who the heck are we to decide that it should change nevermore from what we are used to?
Scientific views quite often turn on new data. Consider the case of water on the Moon, or the new ring around Saturn. Maybe new data will support it, or perhaps refute it.
I submit that anyone that tries to pass off normative judgments as science ought to be publicly called out and humiliated.
"It's a pretty foolish argument to make when you take the stand that pushing innovation and ingenuity to get us away from a non-renewable lifestyle would wreck the economy."
Does the EPA limiting CO2 emissions count as "pushing innovation and ingenuity"? No, it's taxing the price of our energy. Power companies don't pay that, we do. We welcome innovation and ingenuity in this country. We love it. If renewable energy becomes cost effective, this country will be all over it. But we're not willing to pay several times more for it, it's as simple as that.
And I believe you over-simplified the discussion a bit by saying, "when someone raises the point that we do more damage than we need to, and that poster gets equated with Luddites or the Amish." That individual questioned if our lives are better than those without technology. Asking that individual to research the situation within our own country is legitimate. If you have a better suggestion for the poster, you should mention it to him/her yourself.
There's no question we could do more to clean up the environment, but it looks like it's a question of priorities. We'd rather spend money on wars, bailouts, etc. than living cleaner. I do look forward to a day when my home generates its own electricity (and pouring dollars into the Middle East is a distant memory).
And I'm not exactly sure what you had in mind for a natural disaster, but would Katrina qualify? I haven't heard anything for awhile about environmental damage from that storm (wow, it's been 4 years now!). Did we get that all cleaned up? Hmmm.........