Hank Roberts | 1 Jun 20:20 2008
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[Global Change: 2691] Re: Has the impact of rapid melting of Greenland on climate been modelled?


> shutting down the convective plume in the north Atlantic.
...
> Less north atlantic overturning

Have a look at Peter Ward's recent book 'Under a Green Sky' on this.
http://www.amazon.com/review/R2M8V2JZS3KOVK
http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2007-10/2007-10-09-voa24.cfm?CFID=246165966&CFTOKEN=65067773

Jim Torson | 1 Jun 23:04 2008
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[Global Change: 2692] The latest sorties in the war over nuclear power

http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/5/30/14423/4313

Rebuklear

The latest sorties in the war over nuclear power

Posted by David Roberts at 8:54 AM on 01 Jun 2008

There have been several good entries in the never-ending nuclear debate lately. I'm pulling several together into one post, so all the vicious arguing can center in one comment thread. Fun!

In a long, detailed, and devastating cover story in The Nation, Christian Parenti asks, "What Nuclear Renaissance?" Peeling away the hype and PR, he discovers that there's much less than meets the eye: This much seems clear: a handful of firms might soak up huge federal subsidies and build one or two overpriced plants. While a new administration might tighten regulations, public safety will continue to be menaced by problems at new as well as older plants. But there will be no massive nuclear renaissance. Talk of such a renaissance, however, helps keep people distracted, their minds off the real project of developing wind, solar, geothermal and tidal kinetics to build a green power grid.

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report on the costs of new nuclear plants [PDF] in light of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (which contained beaucoup subsidies). On his blog Green Energy War, ex-California Energy Commissioner John Geesman has three great posts digging into the report -- one, two, three. Here he summarizes the top-line conclusions:

<snip>

And finally, last but not least, don't miss a brief, pointed, and utterly devastating article from Amory Lovins, Imran Sheikh, and Alex Markevich: "Forget Nuclear." I won't start quoting parts, 'cause I'll end up quoting the whole thing. Suffice to say, micropower and efficiency are kicking ass and attracting enormous private investment; nuclear is attracting none. And there's a reason for that. Read the whole thing.

<snip - see website for entire article and comments>

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Jim Torson | 2 Jun 00:28 2008
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[Global Change: 2693] The real reason conservatives don't believe in climate science

Posted at Joe Romm's Climate Progress blog...

http://climateprogress.org/2008/06/01/krauthammer-part-2-the-real-reason-conservatives-dont-believe-in-climate-science/



Krauthammer, Part 2: The real reason conservatives don't believe in climate science

Part 1 discussed the odd anti-science part of Krauthammer's screed, " Carbon Chastity: The First Commandment of the Church of the Environment." I ended by asking, Why does he break faith with so many conservatives and worship at the altar of evolution science, but stick with them on climate denial? My book discusses this general question at length, and offers the answer:

The answer is that ideology trumps rationality. Most conservatives cannot abide the solution to global warming-strong government regulations and a government-led effort to accelerate clean energy technologies into the market. According to the late Jude Wanniski, Elizabeth Kolbert's New Yorker articles [on global warming], did nothing more "than write a long editorial on behalf of government intervention to stamp out carbon dioxide." His villain is not global warming, but is the threat to Americans from government itself. George Will's review of Michael Crichton's State of Fear says: " Crichton's subject is today's fear that global warming will cause catastrophic climate change, a belief now so conventional that it seems to require no supporting data.... Various factions have interests-monetary, political, even emotional-in cultivating fears. The fears invariably seem to require more government subservience to environmentalists and more government supervision of our lives."

[Note: Will also believes in evolution - he actually called it " a fact." For a debunking (with links) of Crichton's laughable collection of disinformation, see " Global Warming, Tsunamis, and Michael Crichton's Big Blunder."]

As the NYT's Andy Revkin explained about the recent [skeptic denier] delayer conference in New York, " The one thing all the attendees seem to share is a deep dislike for mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gases." What unites these people is their desire to delay or stop action to cut GHGs, not any one particular view on the climate.

It is nearly impossible to win an argument with a conservative or libertarian who hates government-led action. Yes, you can try to point out all the great things the government has done (the Internet, anyone?) and try to point out that they invariably support government-led action for military security, and, of course, government subsidies and regulations to promote energy security, at least as it applies to oil industry and nuclear energy pork.

I have a different argument - if you hate government intrusion into people's lives, you'd better stop catastrophic global warming, because nothing drives a country more towards activist government than scarcity and depravation. Interestingly, Krauthammer understand this point abstractly, but since he has no understanding of climate science, indeed he has no interest in learning about the subject at all, he gets the argument exactly backwards.

<snip - see website for the complete thought-provoking article
and comments>

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jdannan | 2 Jun 04:03 2008
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[Global Change: 2694] Re: Has the impact of rapid melting of Greenland on climate been modelled?


Alastair wrote:
> 
> 
> On May 26, 2:59 am, jdannan <james.an... <at> gmail.com> wrote:
>> hgerhau... <at> yahoo.co.uk wrote:
>>>> The ice
>>>> melting and coldness of the meltwater itself are unimportant.
>>> Is that because slow melting is always assumed?
>>> Or because my back of the envelope is wrong? (and 1 W/m2 over fifty
>>> years I suppose is only 0.17 W/m2 over 300 years)
>>> Or because the cold is rapidly spread across the world / deep into the
>>> ocean?
>> Well in the case of the 50y collapse, I think we have bigger things to
>> worry about.
> 
> What would be worse than the Greenland ice sheet disappearing in 50
> years?
> 

What I meant is that the sea level rise would swamp any worries about 
the temperature effects.

>> Also, note that when the surface of the ice sheet gets wet,
>> this changes its albedo substantially for the worse, so a chunk of that
>> 1W will come for free (from the POV of the rest of the climate system).
> 
> So albedo will accelaerate the Greenland ice melt as well as the
> Arctic sea ice melt?

Yup. As will the lapse rate effect if/when the height of the ice sheet 
drops significantly.

> 
>> OTOH there may well be some inconsistency with an assumption of rapid
>> melt, overturning shutdown, and local cooling (which would presumably
>> slow the rapid melt). Somewhat similar to the assumption of economic
>> meltdown due to the rapidly rising emissions of rapidly growing economies...
> 
> So, the north Atlantic will get warmer not cooler?

Most estimates have it getting warmer, albeit at a lower rate than most 
   of that latitude belt if the circulation slows down (although there 
is no sign that this is actually happening). If there is enough fresh 
water input, it could possibly get colder in absolute terms.

James

Alastair | 2 Jun 02:57 2008
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[Global Change: 2695] Re: The real reason conservatives don't believe in climate science


> I have a different argument - if you hate government intrusion
> into people’s lives, you'd better stop catastrophic global warming,
> because nothing drives a country more towards activist government
> than scarcity and depravation. Interestingly, Krauthammer
> understand this point abstractly, but since he has no
> understanding of climate science, indeed he has no interest in
> learning about the subject at all, he gets the argument exactly
> backwards.

You are right! But getting arguments exactly wrong is not unusual.
Anyone can make a wrong argument convincing it they make it with
enough force.

But why did you leave your main point to last?  Make your main
point first before people give up reading what you have taken
a long time to prepare :-(

HTH,

Cheers,  Alastair.

Michael Tobis | 2 Jun 05:51 2008
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[Global Change: 2696] prices, incentives, rationing (was re: Record high grain production)


On Apr 20, 3:30 pm, "hgerhau... <at> yahoo.co.uk" <hgerhau... <at> yahoo.co.uk>
wrote:

> What would be nice would be to produce several times what's actually
> needed. If enough food gets grown that 25 billion could be fed, while
> there are 7-8 billion of us, that would be kind of comforting, when
> worrying about aquifers supplying 10% of agricultural produce or the
> potential damage of droughts.
>
> What to do with tbe surplus? Maybe feed it to animals or make
> biofuels?

I've been thinking about this clever comment a lot in the intervening
weeks, as energy prices spiral rapidly upward.

The idea that we can promote desired collective behavior through taxes
is certainly to be preferred to regulation, for reasons of simplicity,
effectiveness and fairness. Yet we see that as meat and biofuel usages
for grain become prominent the price for grain gets bid up, at least
temporarily, out of reach of the least well off consumers.

There is an analogous problem in energy where the most prodigious
users are the least price sensitive. People driving gigantic vehicles
for pleasure are not likely to be enormously affected by a doubling of
gasoline prices; gasoline costs will remain under a per cent of annual
income for them. Less well off people in America have already been
forced to live far from their workplace or workplaces. I am personally
acquainted with a well remunerated blue collar worker who travels
about 150 miles per day in urban traffic across the length of Chicago,
who has strong personal reasons (his wife's work and her inability to
drive) not to move to the other end. He will pay the price and take it
out of discretionary spending. The people lower down the income scale
where this makes no sense will be the ones to substantially change
their behavior by losing their income altogether.

Putting a price on carbon seems to impact the wrong people. Large
disparities in income seem to be part of the situation, as does a hard
constraint on available resources. For the first time, substantial
numbers of wealthy people are competing with poor people for the same
goods. This seems to me to summarize the novelty of the contemporary
situation.

The immediate consequence is that the circumstances of the poor get
dramatically worse. Price incentives seem to me much less desirable
than they did a few months ago. It is one thing to shrug and say
"subsidies". It's another thing when the price goes up before
subsidies are even considered.

I start to think that some form of rationing for certain materials may
be needed. Perhaps part of the food and fuel supply can be injected
into a free market, but it seems necessary that some must first be
reserved for the population regardless of wealth. I don't relish the
consequent bureaucracy but the only alternative I can see is a much
more equitable distribution of wealth than we now have, which also
isn't easily achieved.

Otherwise it isn't just the surplus that goes to the animals,
unfortunately.

mt

Tom Adams | 2 Jun 14:19 2008
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[Global Change: 2697] Re: The real reason conservatives don't believe in climate science


You have got it wrong.

Conservatives (modern US consevatives at least) and libetarians are
arbitrary and contradictory in their views on government
intervention.  They profess to love private property with its deeds,
wills, laws, courts, police, patents, copyrights, a huge govenment
system in interventions to hold the whole thing up.

But they don't want the carbon holding capacity of the atmosphere to
become private property as with carbon caps.  Suddenly, deeds, laws,
courts, police, are considered bad ole govenment intevention. These
self-professed anti-communist make a complete flip-flop on that giant
commune that is the Earth's atmosphere.

In reality, their only consistent guiding principle is the economic
status quo.  They will defend anything in the name of the economic
status quo.

On Jun 1, 6:28 pm, Jim Torson <jtor... <at> commspeed.net> wrote:
> Posted at Joe Romm's Climate Progress
blog...http://climateprogress.org/2008/06/01/krauthammer-part-2-the-real-reason-conservatives-dont-believe-in-climate-science/Krauthammer,
Part 2: The real reason conservatives don't believe in climate sciencePart 1discussed the odd
anti-science part of Krauthammer's screed, “Carbon Chastity: The First Commandment of the Church of
the Environment.” I ended by asking, Why does he break faith with so many conservatives and worship at
the altar of evolution science, but stick with them on climate denial? My book discusses this general
question at length, and offers the answer:The answer is that ideology trumps rationality. Most
conservatives cannot abide the solution to global warming-strong government regulations and a
government-led effort to accelerate clean energy technologies into the market. According to the late
Jude Wanniski, Elizabeth Kolbert's New Yorker articles [on global warming], did nothing more
“thanwrite a long editorial on behalf of government intervention to stamp out carbon dioxide.” His
villain is not global warming, but is the threat to Americans from government itself.George Will’s
review of Michael Crichton's State of Fear says: “Crichton’s subject is today’s fear that global
warming will cause catastrophic climate change, a belief now so conventional that it seems to require no
supporting data…. Various factions have interests-monetary, political, even emotional-in
cultivating fears.The fears invariably seem to require more government subservience to
environmentalists and more government supervision of our lives.”[Note: Will also believes in
evolution - he actually called it “a fact.” For a debunking (with links) of Crichton's laughable
collection of disinformation, see “Global Warming, Tsunamis, and Michael Crichton’s Big Blunder.”]
> As the NYT's Andy Revkin explained about the recent [skeptic denier] delayer conference in New York,
“The one thing all the attendees seem to share is a deep dislike for mandatory restrictions on
greenhouse gases.” What unites these people is their desire to delay or stop action to cut GHGs, not any
one particular view on the climate.
> It is nearly impossible to win an argument with a conservative or libertarian who hates government-led
action. Yes, you can try to point out all the great things the government has done (the Internet, anyone?)
and try to point out that they invariably support government-led action for military security, and, of
course, government subsidies and regulations to promote energy security, at least as it applies to oil
industry and nuclear energy pork.
> I have a different argument - if you hate government intrusion into people’s lives, you'd better stop
catastrophic global warming, because nothing drives a country more towards activist government than
scarcity and depravation. Interestingly, Krauthammer understand this point abstractly, but since he
has no understanding of climate science, indeed he has no interest in learning about the subject at all, he
gets the argument exactly backwards.<snip - see website for the complete thought-provoking article
> and comments>
Laxman Belbase | 2 Jun 05:53 2008
Picon

[Global Change: 2698] Top U.S. Scientists and Economists Call For Swift, Deep Cuts In Global Warming Pollution

Top U.S. Scientists and Economists Call For Swift, Deep Cuts In Global Warming Pollution: More than 1,700 Say Early Reductions Can Benefit Economy

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
URL: http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/top-us-scientists-and-0120.html
Posted Date: May 29, 2008

More than 1,700 of the nation's most prominent scientists and economists today released a joint statement calling on policymakers to require immediate, deep reductions in heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming. Issued just days before the Senate begins debate on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill, the statement marks the first time leading U.S. scientists and economists have joined together to make such an appeal.

The statement stresses that implementing policies to achieve swift and substantial cuts is both economically sound and necessary to limit the worst consequences of climate change.

"There is a strong consensus that we must do something about reducing the emissions that cause global warming," said James McCarthy, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and one of the statement's authors. "The debate right now is about how much we need to cut. The fact that so many scientists and economists have spoken out and signed this letter should give policymakers the confidence that we can avert serious adverse climate impacts."

Besides McCarthy, the statement authors include Mario Molina, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry; Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lead author; Stephen Schneider, a Stanford University climatologist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS); and Geoff Heal, an economist at Columbia University's Business School. The signatories, compiled by UCS, include six Nobel Prize winners in science or economics, 31 NAS members, and more than 100 IPCC authors and editors, who all shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.

According to the statement, "the strength of the science on climate change" compelled the signers to warn policymakers of climate change's growing risks, including "sea level rise, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, snowmelt, floods and disease, as well as increased plant and animal species extinctions."

The statement notes that acting quickly to cut global warming pollution would be the most cost-effective way to limit climate change. If the United States delays taking action, future cuts would have to more drastic and would be much more expensive. Those costs would come in addition to the increased cost of adapting to more climate change. Conversely, the statement says smart reduction strategies would allow the economy to grow, generate new domestic jobs, protect public health, and strengthen energy security.

The statement concludes that the United States should reduce global warming pollution "on the order of 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050" and that the first step should be reductions of 15 to 20 percent below 2000 levels by 2020. The statement calls on the United States to set an example and bring nations together to meet the climate challenge.

Columbia University economist Heal said the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of addressing climate change. The costs of cutting emissions to safe levels would be between 1 and 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), he said, while the costs of allowing climate change to proceed unabated would be on the order of 10 to 20 percent of GDP.

Heal sees the challenge of reducing global warming emissions as an economic opportunity. "Limiting global warming emissions is a great investment," he said. "When you compare the cost of acting to the cost of not acting, cutting emissions would give the world a return of 10 to 1. That's attractive even to a venture capitalist."

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Don Libby | 2 Jun 17:13 2008
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[Global Change: 2699] CBO examines nuclear (May 2008)

The Congressional Budget Office has produced a new report "Nuclear Power's Role in Generating Electricity" (May, 2008)
 
 
Highlights:
 

Carbon dioxide charges of about $45 per metric ton would probably make nuclear generation competitive with conventional fossil-fuel technologies as a source of new capacity, even without 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) incentives.

EPAct incentives would probably make nuclear generation a competitive technology for limited additions to base-load capacity, even in the absence of carbon dioxide charges.

Uncertainties about future construction costs or natural gas prices could deter investment in nuclear power. In particular, if construction costs for new nuclear power plants proved to be as high as the average cost of nuclear plants built in the 1970s and 1980s or if natural gas prices fell back to the levels seen in the 1990s, then new nuclear capacity would not be competitive, regardless of the incentives provided by EPAct. Such variations in construction or fuel costs would be less likely to deter investment in new nuclear capacity if investors anticipated a carbon dioxide charge, but those charges would probably have to exceed $80 per metric ton in order for nuclear technology to remain competitive under either of those circumstances.

-dl


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Eric Swanson | 2 Jun 18:11 2008

[Global Change: 2700] Re: prices, incentives, rationing (was re: Record high grain production)


Michael Tobis wrote:
{cut}
>
> Putting a price on carbon seems to impact the wrong people. Large
> disparities in income seem to be part of the situation, as does a hard
> constraint on available resources. For the first time, substantial
> numbers of wealthy people are competing with poor people for the same
> goods. This seems to me to summarize the novelty of the contemporary
> situation.
>
> The immediate consequence is that the circumstances of the poor get
> dramatically worse. Price incentives seem to me much less desirable
> than they did a few months ago. It is one thing to shrug and say
> "subsidies". It's another thing when the price goes up before
> subsidies are even considered.
>
> I start to think that some form of rationing for certain materials may
> be needed. Perhaps part of the food and fuel supply can be injected
> into a free market, but it seems necessary that some must first be
> reserved for the population regardless of wealth. I don't relish the
> consequent bureaucracy but the only alternative I can see is a much
> more equitable distribution of wealth than we now have, which also
> isn't easily achieved.
>
> Otherwise it isn't just the surplus that goes to the animals,
> unfortunately.
>
> mt

I agree with your conclusion regarding rationing and have written
about it for years.

Energy [particularly oil these days] is not like many other
commodities which are renewable or recyclable.  Our  stock of fossil
fuels will be exhausted some day and long before that, the rate of
recovery of what remains will reach a maximum and begin to decline.
There are some analyst who contend that world oil production is now
near or perhaps past  the peak.  Several books have been written over
the years and the present stunningly high prices for oil have
energized the discussion.

I've spent quite a bit of time at  theoildrum.com where this issue is
debated daily.  Along with the rapid increases in oil prices, we've
seen more and more articles in the popular press discussing the
situation.  The economists tend to think that more supply will
magically appear to satisfy the demand, a thinking which has long been
a characteristic of the classical economists who apparently don't
understand that the Earth is a sphere floating along thru space.

The basics of the oil problem and the reason prices have risen so
rapidly is that the so-called "elasticity" of oil supply is very
steep.  That means that demand does not change much when the price
goes up, thus a shortage in supply results in a steep increase in the
price in the market place.  In this present situation, the supply of
oil has not increased as fast as the demand, especially as the rest of
the world's peoples try to keep up with the U.S., Europe and Japan in
their use of oil.  What results in the market is called "demand
destruction", ie, the price must increase enough such that the demand
matches the available supply.  Thus, some people will not be able to
use the oil which they would if the supply were freely available, as
had been the situation for most of the years after WW II.

When the price is the only mechanism available to produce the
necessary "demand destruction", be that a pure market set price or the
result of increased taxes, the resulting "demand destruction" tends to
fall on the lower income sections of the economy.  And, "demand
destruction" is not immediate, as many consumers have invested in
systems that must have oil to function, such as the large SUV's and
PU's which were widely purchased in recent years.  Also, houses with
oil heating can not be easily switched to other sources of heat or,
perhaps worse from our climate change viewpoint, may be switched to
energy sources which emit more CO2, such as electricity.

As a result of the inertia within the consuming sector of the economy,
much pain is experienced by those on the bottom rungs of the economic
ladder.  For them, "demand destruction" is very personal because they
don't have the resources to adapt, such as the ability to buy a new
vehicle which uses less gasoline.  For that matter, they don't buy new
vehicles at all, but are stuck with the hand-me-downs from the more
well off in the community.  Similarly, they can not scrape together
the money to improve the energy efficiency of their dwellings and they
are likely to be renting instead of owning.  Renters typically pay the
utility bills and the land lords have little incentive to invest in
insulation when rents can not be increased to cover the cost.

If the world is at peak oil, then I think that the price mechanism
won't work in the long run.  As oil production can be expected to
begin an inexorable decline with less available each year, prices
might just begin a spiral to infinity.  Worse yet, the cost of
building alternative energy sources is a function of the cost of
energy and materials used, which can be expected to increase as the
price of oil increases.  Call it hyperinflation, only this would be a
world wide problem, not just the result of a very bad national
economic policy.  There's been considerable discussion of the
possibility that the internal inertia of the  world economy would
simply grind to a halt as the oil runs out, with dire consequences for
the many billions of people living or to be born in the near future.
Some have suggested that the world's population would experience a
massive dieoff as a result.

Given that prospect, I think the only rational solution is a system of
rationing such that the most wealthy would immediately feel the pain
and begin to work toward a solution.  Such a system could begin with
rationing oil products, but might be expanded to include all fossil
fuels, given that they will all run out eventually.  The rationing
system should include a "white market" for individuals to trade their
allowances, thus cutting out some of the criminal element who would
tend to take advantage of the situation.  The idea of rationing is not
new and is very similar to proposed "cap-and-trade" systems, the
difference being that individuals would be allowed to chose how to use
the rations.

The Peak Oil problem will likely impact everybody on Earth today and
into the future.  It is to be hoped that the problems resulting from
the decline in production can be contained in a rational manner which
would minimize the pain associated with the transition to other energy
sources.

Eric Swanson
{sorry for the long rant}


Gmane