Dayton Grassroots Daily: Copenhagen and climate change v.14

While global leaders are in Copenhagen to discuss climate change and carbon credits- Greg Hunter and David Esrati weigh in on what we really need to do to have a sustainable planet. How does it affect you locally- and what should we be doing in Dayton.

Enjoy!

Great opinion piece in the NY Times today about carbon tax: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/opinion/07hansen.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

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31 Responses

  1. jstults December 7, 2009 / 5:29 pm
    David (I’m paraphrasing a bit):

    Gotta get away from those damn dirty carbon-based energy sources!!

    Yeah, you’d think we’d finally figure out what mother nature did a long time ago about storing and transporting energy in dense, efficient little packets of fat and sugar, what elements were in those again? It’s ok as long as it’s local carbon, right?
     
    I’m a little disappointed, given the topic I expected it to be a little more inflammatory…

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  2. J.R.Erwin December 7, 2009 / 6:11 pm
    Well, the Supervisors in charge of dispatching salt trucks ahead of a storm should be charged with dereliction of duty. Also, whoever hired them..!

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  3. John Ise December 7, 2009 / 7:34 pm
    Kevin Crum of Mother Jones opines about a carbon tax (yes, in an ideal world, the best way to go) vis a vie cap n’ trade:
    In the near term, no serious carbon tax will ever pass the U.S. Senate.  Period.  If you believe otherwise, you’re just not paying attention to things.  A big part of the surge in interest in a carbon tax is purely cynical, coming from special interests who are afraid a carbon cap might actually pass and want to muddy the waters with pseudo-liberal arguments in order to build an anti-C&T alliance and keep anything at all from passing.  There are plenty of carbon tax advocates who are perfectly sincere, but I gotta tell them: you’re being played by people who are the farthest thing imaginable from sincere.  If you win, we’re not going to get a carbon tax.  We’re going to get nothing.

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  4. Robert Vigh December 7, 2009 / 9:19 pm
    Greg,
    In a totally free market the roads would be private and the owners would set the rules of the road. I imagine that conditions would be similar, but maintenance would be better.
    Furthermore, there is already economic incentive to walk to work. You dont have to buy gas, but what you suggest is not only do the drivers have to buy gas, but they have to pay the non-gas users? The free market will address the reserves of oil, as supply dwindles the prices will increase and people will have to make decisions. Why would you want to force this issue sooner?
    Sometimes I really wonder about you two. We could go back to what it was like before the industrial revolution where life expectancies where 40. Skies would be pretty though.

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  5. jstults December 9, 2009 / 11:23 am
    Another response to Hansen’s piece:
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/unhelpful-hansen/
    Along the lines of ‘cap and trade is the best we can do, so shut up already about how flawed it might be’, similar to what John posted above.
    What I find shocking in the article is that someone can state, in public, with a straight face, that there is a looming ‘inevitable catastrophe’, when no models give any catastrophe scenario a very high probability (because the catastrophe’s depend on a chain of things happening and when you multiply all the various probabilities for the things in the chain out you end up with a low probability for the catastrophe).  Whenever I’ve seen claims of inevitable catastrophe, on deeper examination I can never find any scientific basis for the claim (please share a link if you think I’ve just been missing the work that supports this).

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  6. Greg Hunter December 9, 2009 / 12:24 pm
    as supply dwindles the prices will increase and people will have to make decisions. Why would you want to force this issue sooner?

    Yes as oil went to 140 dollars a barrel the “drive til you qualify” American Way of Life imploded with catastrophic dislocation for a large number of Americans.  On top of that Alan Greenspan, the idiot, did not pop the bubble, nor heed the warnings of Brooksley Born on the regulation of Financial Time bombs known as default swaps.

    So if you think the “free market” is the best way to solve the problem instead of at least having a discussion about what the proper motivation would be for the public at large instead of letting the “free market” create a catastrophe is a mistake.

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  7. Gene December 9, 2009 / 12:26 pm
    Greg, do you own a car anymore?

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  8. Greg Hunter December 9, 2009 / 3:58 pm
    Of course.  I live in “this world”, not the one I want.

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  9. Robert Vigh December 9, 2009 / 4:53 pm
    Greg,
    You have demonstrated repeatedly that you do not have a concept of a free market. You obviously think that you do. Who created the bubble………Oh yeah the government. Who did not pop the bubble……….Oh yeah the government. Gas prices went up and guess what, the elasticity of the price became noticeable and people drove ALOT less at $4.00/gallon.

    Want to know who did not heed the free market warnings about Madoff’s ponzi scheme? Oh yeah……..the SEC. Free market catastrophe, ha, show me where the free market has created catastrophe’s without government interference please.

    Until then consider thinking before you speak on the free market and ask yourself if you really think it was do to the “freedom” part. It would be an excellent exercise.

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  10. jstults December 11, 2009 / 11:53 am
    Happy propaganda Friday!
    http://vimeo.com/8023097
    Just kidding, some of the attribution of motivation is a bit over-the-top, but he does actually point out some of the real chicanery that’s used to support cap-and-trade and other silly policy initiatives.

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  11. Ice Bandit December 12, 2009 / 9:51 pm
     I live in “this world”, not the one I want (Greg Hunter)

      Well, Greg, is the world that you want to live in have unicorns and rainbows or biker bars and strippers? Either way, in that world you long for, the rules that govern earthly economics do not apply. Yeah, the $4 a gallon gas was a major patoot pain, but it was hardly the catastrophe (your words) that you remember. Nor did it cause the American dream to “implode”  or cause the undead to walk the earth. Just the minor adjustments work-a-day folks make when a commodity increases in cost, be it petrol or peanut butter. Robert Vigh hit the ball over the Dragons Head in into the yard at Requarth Lumber.  Markets work whether they are free or not, they just work better  without the always counterproductive hand of big government………….

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  12. David Esrati December 12, 2009 / 10:26 pm

    No matter if it’s called “global warming” or “climate change” or anything else- there is something unnatural about using carbon to propel people long distances in huge cars to make the economy run. We’re fatter, poorer (cars are our number 2 expense in life)- and no one wants to suck on a tail pipes emissions.

    And that’s just cars- not coal fired power plants, steel mills etc. We can’t keep polluting- period. Wake up folks- and start thinking about what we can do to change things.

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  13. jstults December 12, 2009 / 11:29 pm
    David:

    …there is something unnatural about using carbon to propel people long distances in huge cars to make the economy run. […] We can’t keep polluting…

    So, is the problem pollution or using carbon-based fuels?  Those are two different things.  Would you be ok with cars that used fuel cells instead of internal combustion engines (no NOx / CO / particulates, just H20 / CO2 exhaust)?  Do you consider CO2 a pollutant?
     
    There’s probably plenty of electric / human power options for the local commute (which already exist if you are so inclined), but unless you want to give up intercontinental (or rapid domestic) travel or go to nuclear aircraft, hydrocarbons are the only way to fly.  I think more nuclear power is the answer if you want to get away from coal and not go back to hunter-gatherer days.  How do you feel about nukes? Willing to lower the regulatory barriers for new nuclear power plants?

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  14. David Esrati December 12, 2009 / 11:46 pm

    @jstults- why do people always have to go to extremes- if we just had 25% of people start walking to work- or using public transit, we’d stop needing to import oil-

    There are other solutions than nuclear- but, given a choice between coal or nukes- I take nukes.

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  15. Ice Bandit December 13, 2009 / 10:46 am
    No matter if it’s called “global warming” or “climate change” or anything else- there is something unnatural about using carbon to propel people long distances in huge cars to make the economy run. (David Esrati)
    why do people always have to go to extremes- if we just had 25% of people start walking to work- or using public transit, we’d stop needing to import oil  (jstults)
    Well Dave, some of us folk call it neither “global warming” nor “climate change.” Since the release of the e-mails from East Anglia University, an ever increasing number of us are referring to it as “fraud” or “hoax” or “how did we ever get talked into believing this nonsense.”  But since you choose to address what is unnatural, consider this.  There is something downright Luke Skywalker  about being bombarded with magnetic resonance, having surgery done by gamma knife, premies sleeping in incubators and dining on crops that are both flood and drought resistant. But since all of the aforementioned unnatural acts enhance and lengthen lives, there is little clamor from 21st century Luddites to return to the ways of the Amish. Same goes for the internal combustion engine, villified by the likes of Al Gore and David Esrati. But rather than being the engine of doom, the ICE is one of history’s great ideas. Easy to work on and affordable by all, the eight cylinder motor has resisted competition from such geniuses as Wankel of rotary engine fame. Innovations and modifications have made this marvel cleaner and more efficient. This invention enables folks in Winnipeg to eat Georgia peaches a day after they have been picked, and serum in Indianapolis to be in the hands of doctors in Albuquerque before the outbreak becomes epidemic. Since you spend some time doing another unnatural act David (sitting at a computer screen doing what Guttenberg or Hearst couldn’t fathom in their wildest speculations) you don’t reject all technology, just the ones deemed by cultural fashionistas as politically incorrect. Sounds like a textbook case of brainwashing, easily remedied by a dose of Reality 101.
    And talk about unnatural?  Jstults’ suggestion that a quarter of Americans should alter their lifestyle is science fiction worthy of Ray Bradbury. The history of America is the story of populations in transit, from the colonies to the exterior; from the midwest to the left coast; from the south to the industrial rust belt and from the cities to the suburbs. This uniquely American nomadic phenomena will not cease just because some folks don’t approve. Furthermore, our biggest state practically floats on an ocean of oil, and it will be ours when we remove the solons from the lower 49 states who think they can dictate what is in the best financial interests of Alaskans. Drill, baby, drill……………..
     

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  16. David Esrati December 13, 2009 / 10:58 am

    @Ice bandit- The 25% moving out of cars- was my comment- not jstults.

    The reality is- we are a net importer of oil- and it’s killing our economy, sending money to people who don’t like us much. You over exaggerate the value of the auto-

    and- the “leaks” that “prove fraud”- you go close the garage door and leave the engine running and see how well your house plants do (or you). Garage being a euphemism for the planet in case you don’t get the nuance of what I say.

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  17. jstults December 13, 2009 / 11:39 am
    Ice Bandit: I agree with a lot of your sentiment, plenty of people who whine about gasoline and autos are incoherent Luddites, but there are rational reasons for wanting to go to something more efficient than a piston engine, or something lighter than a predominantly steel light utility truck for the local commute.
    David:

    you go close the garage door and leave the engine running and see how well your house plants do (or you). Garage being a euphemism for the planet in case you don’t get the nuance of what I say.

    Fine analogy, according to OSHA recommended safe continuous exposure level for CO2 is about 1000 ppm, while safe exposure limits are somewhere between 10,000 and 14,000 ppm [1]. Right now we are just under 400 ppm in the air [2]. I say that only to say this, it is not an urgent problem, it may be important, but there’s plenty of time for cool-headed deliberation. I think the reason people react so strongly against ideas like yours is because a lot of the folks peddling them are offering alarmism and tales of apocalypse (and tend to have conflicts of interest to be biased in that direction).

    and it’s killing our economy, sending money to people who don’t like us much.

    I disagree about the economy killing part, but there’s probably strategic value in diversifying our energy sources (btw, we buy less than half of our oil from OPEC if that’s what you were referring to [3], we’re already pretty diversified).  The reason I disagree with the ‘economy killing’ is because those imports are a cheap alternative, there’s still oil sitting in the ground in Tennessee that we don’t pump out because it’s too expensive relative to the imports (sorry I can’t find the link right off), having access to cheap alternatives is good for our economy.
     
    [1] http://www.inspectapedia.com/hazmat/CO2_Exposure_Limits.htm
    [2] http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
    [3] http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbbl_m.htm

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  18. jstults December 13, 2009 / 12:03 pm
    From the WSJ [1] on CO2 finding of endangerment:

    From the start, the Obama team has wielded the EPA action as a club, warning Congress that if it did not come up with cap-and-trade legislation the EPA would act on its own—and in a far more blunt fashion than Congress preferred. As one anonymous administration official menaced again this week: “If [Congress doesn’t] pass this legislation,” the EPA is going to have to “regulate in a command-and-control way, which will probably generate even more uncertainty.

    Heavy-handed stuff like this has a tendency to make folks believe Glen Beck’s political theatre: weeping for the constitution and decrying the impending socialist take-over.  That’s why people over-react against ‘green ideas’, it’s not that they hate the earth (or the polar bears, or the pandas), they just don’t want elitist hypocrites forcing them to do stuff they otherwise wouldn’t.
    [1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703514404574588120572016720.html

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  19. Ice Bandit December 13, 2009 / 2:53 pm
    The year was 1970, and the topic in the newly established “science” of enviornmental studies was about global climate change. But of course, nobody was getting out their shorts and suntan lotion. Nosiree. The topic then was global cooling, and we were just a few years removed from the next ice age where folks in Houston and Mexico City would be engaged in snowball fights. Then these experts shifted their focus to overpopulation. Gurus and prophets such as Paul Ehrlich assured us that by the year 2000, Dayton would have a population 5,000,000 and resources would be so scarce roving bands would be killing innocent civilians for the lead in a number two pencil. The culture, in such movies as Soylent Green, warned us that by the early years of the 21st century, the only alternative to the worlds’ food shortage would be state sponsored cannibalism. Then, overnight, the narrative changed. No, the Gods of Science assured us from Mt. Olympus, we are not going to freeze, we are going to burn. And this change in agenda was completed without apology or explanation. Fact is, these Ivy League charlatans have been wrong about everything for the last 40 years, and they are wrong now. Agriculture has never been more efficient, populations have been controlled without the coercive tactics used in China, and the scientists in charge of tracking polar bear populations assure us they have never numbered more. So please, spare the Old Bandito the spreadsheets, the projections and the technobabble. Thine eyes have seen every one since the Nixon administration and they are just as full bovine excrement as the last one…………

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  20. jstults December 22, 2009 / 7:49 pm
    The reasons for the complete and utter failure of Copenhagen are both fundamental and irresolvable. The first is that the economic cost of decarbonizing the world’s economies is massive, and of at least the same order of magnitude as any benefits it may conceivably bring in terms of a cooler world in the next century.

    The reason we use carbon-based energy is not the political power of the oil lobby or the coal industry. It is because it is far and away the cheapest source of energy at the present time and is likely to remain so, not forever, but for the foreseeable future.

    Switching to much more expensive energy may be acceptable to us in the developed world (although I see no present evidence of this). But in the developing world, including the rapidly developing nations such as China and India, there are still tens if not hundreds of millions of people suffering from acute poverty, and from the consequences of such poverty, in the shape of malnutrition, preventable disease and premature death.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107604574607793378860698.html

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  21. Greg Hunter December 23, 2009 / 9:43 am
    Yes JStults, that is the fundamental problem.  Oil and Coal are the building blocks of the a First World Economy.  We (US and OECD) have known it since the dawn of the industrial revolution and the those in the third world finally “get it”.  Now that they get it and their constituents want it, while ours do not want to give it up, we play this game; a game all are sure to lose.  In many people’s minds they believe that “something” will be found that will replace these two “engines of growth”, while continuing on our merry way.  I find this faith ill conceived; based on the potential energy sources currently on the table, population growth and the “sunk cost” in infrastructure associated with the current energy delivery systems (Energy Returned on Energy Invested – EROEI).  Which is why I consider people no smarter than yeast in spite of the consistent bloviating.
    The empire is in its death throes and in the time being I will enjoy the show.  panem et circenses

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  22. jstults December 23, 2009 / 11:17 am
    Greg:

    In many people’s minds they believe that “something” will be found that will replace these two “engines of growth”, while continuing on our merry way.  I find this faith ill conceived; based on the potential energy sources currently on the table, population growth and the “sunk cost” in infrastructure associated with the current energy delivery systems (Energy Returned on Energy Invested – EROEI).

    Do you think nukes and renewables won’t be able to replace coal (and power the manufacture of high energy density transportation fuels)?  There are economically viable alternatives to coal that are putting power on the grid right now.  Do you think people don’t recognize how fast the carbon based fuels will run out in comparison to how long it takes to build new power generation infrastructure?  Or do you think that even if we have the time to build new plants, the cost will be so crippling that economies will fail?
     
    I think when things get bad enough people will learn to stop worrying and love the nukes, and all of that oil delivery infrastructure can be used with synthetic gas just as well as the natural stuff.

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  23. jstults December 23, 2009 / 12:12 pm
    Sorry for double-posting; I read your comment a little more closely and got confused.
    Greg:

    …and the “sunk cost” in infrastructure…

    It is irrational to base investment decisions on the sunk costs, only the expectations should matter.
    From the wiki:

    In traditional microeconomic theory, only prospective (future) costs are relevant to an investment decision. Traditional economics proposes that an economic actor does not let sunk costs influence one’s decisions, because doing so would not be rationally assessing a decision exclusively on its own merits.

    Are you claiming that we are letting an irrational concern for the sunk costs in our current energy infrastructure keep us from making good investment decisions about our future energy infrastructure?  If so, what leads you to that conclusion?
     
    Just because people aren’t investing in the things you think they should be doesn’t make them irrational.  On the contrary, a common bias is to over-value your own state of information.

    People often see other people’s decisions as the result of disposition but they see their own choices as rational. Investors frequently trade on information they believe to be superior and relevant, when in fact it is not and is fully discounted by the market. This results in frequent trading and consistently high volumes in financial markets that many researchers find puzzling. On one side of each speculative trade is a participant who believes he or she has superior information and on the other side is another participant who believes his/her information is superior. Yet they can’t both be right.

    http://www.investorhome.com/psych.htm

    Maybe the big energy producers really are being irrational, but I haven’t really seen convincing evidence for it.  When the expectation of profit looks good for a solar field, or a wind farm, or even a nuclear reactor they invest, when it doesn’t they don’t, and these are generally big investments with long time-horizons.

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  24. Greg Hunter December 23, 2009 / 1:51 pm
    Jstults – These are all good questions and I think some of your conclusions are true ie

    Or do you think that even if we have the time to build new plants, the cost will be so crippling that economies will fail?

    Yes

    I think when things get bad enough people will learn to stop worrying and love the nukes, and all of that oil delivery infrastructure can be used with synthetic gas just as well as the natural stuff.

    Absolutely, but here again I think timing wise it is too late.

    Information on Energy Returned on Energy Invested.

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  25. jstults December 25, 2009 / 4:54 pm
    China knows it is becoming an uncontested superpower; indeed its newfound muscular confidence was on striking display in Copenhagen. Its coal-based economy doubles every decade, and its power increases commensurately. Its leadership will not alter this magic formula unless they absolutely have to.
    How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room

    Are the Chinese being irrational, or is it just rational self-interest and Realpolitik?

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  26. jstults January 9, 2010 / 11:36 am
    From a guest post on Pielke’s blog on the intersection between climate science and policy:

    In another historical context, decades ago, Friedrich Hayek pointed to the paradoxical development that follows scientific advances; it tends to strengthen that view that we should “aim at more deliberate and comprehensive control of all human activities”. Hayek pessimistically adds “It is for this reason that those intoxicated by the advance of knowledge so often become the enemies of freedom”.
     
    […] in the architecture of the reasoning of the impatient critics of democracy, one notes an inappropriate fusion of nature and society. The uncertainties that the science of the natural processes (climate) claims to have eliminated, is simply transferred to the domain of societal processes. Consensus on facts, it is argued, should motivate a consensus on politics. The constitutive uncertainties of social, political and economic are treated as minor obstacles that need to be delimited as soon as possible – of course by a top-down approach.
    An Inconvenient Democracy

    The article is slightly long but worth the read.
     
    I could get behind a climate policy that embraces freedom and rational decision making.  Nothing coming out of the UN committees or the climate  alarmist community (but I repeat myself) does a good job of embracing either.

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  27. jstults January 13, 2010 / 8:35 pm
    Apparently the representatives of our Chief Executive at Copenhagen didn’t like what was coming out of the UN committees either:

    “The UN didn’t manage the conference that well,” Pershing said. “I am not sure that any of us are particularly confident that the UN managing the near-term financing is the right way to go.”

    From the same article, I thought of posting this under the Pantheism article, but I guess it fits here too (are there actually people that take this sort of hyperbole seriously?):

    …also expected to pursue the idea of an international court for environmental crimes, as well as the radical idea of “mother earth rights”. This would give all entities, from man to endangered animal species, an equal right to life.
    “Our objective is to save humanity and not just half of humanity,” said Morales in a speech at Copenhagen. “We are here to save mother earth. Our objective is to reduce climate change to [under] 1C. [Above this] many islands will disappear and Africa will suffer a holocaust. The real cause of climate change is the capitalist system. If we want to save the earth then we must end that economic model.”

    UN Should be Sidelined in Future Climate Talks, Says Obama Official

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  28. jstults September 17, 2010 / 10:29 am
    Hydrocarbon hate doesn’t stand up to engineering analysis:

    “We? named ?our ?company ?Edison2 ?because ?we? accepted ?the ?conventional ?wisdom ?that ?an ?electric? or ?hybrid ?drive ?is ?the ?key ?to ?efficiency,” Kuttner said. “?But? our ?analysis ?showed ?that ?the ?only ?two ?absolute ?virtues ?in ?auto ?efficiency ?are ?light ?weight ?and? low? aerodynamic ?drag. ?So ?we ?avoided ?the ?hundreds ?and? hundreds ?of ?pounds ?of ?batteries? needed ?for ?an ?electric ?and ?chose ?a ?conventional ?internal ?combustion ?engine ?running ?on ?E85.”

    Read More http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/09/automotive-x-prize-winner-gets-102-5-mpg/#ixzz0znSynipp

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