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Earth Government News Politics Science

National Academy of Science Urges Carbon Tax 875

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-flamewar-begin dept.
eldavojohn writes "Moving for the first time from a cautious message to a message of urgency, the National Academy of Science has advised the United States government to either adopt a carbon tax or cap and trade legislation. This follows a comprehensive study in three parts released today from the National Academies that, for the first time, urges required action from the government to curb climate change."
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National Academy of Science Urges Carbon Tax

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  • Re:Who is going (Score:4, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:13PM (#32272338) Journal

    Being as volcanoes are responsible for an irrelevant amount of CO2, no one. Humanity produces several orders of magnitude more CO2 than volcanoes. It's like suggesting that we tax squirrels for using the road while they cross the street.

  • First warning. (Score:5, Informative)

    by TapeCutter (624760) * on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:18PM (#32272426) Journal
    This may be the first time the NAS have advised specific policies. However the first time NAS warned the US government of the problem was in 1958. This Bell Labs video [] summarises the contents of that first warning. The NAS has not suddenly flipped from cautious, the urgency has steadilly increased over the last 50yrs to the current position of virtually screaming at congress to pull their head out of their collective arses.
  • Re:Water vapor (Score:3, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:25PM (#32272516) Journal

    Water vapor amplifies the effects of greenhouse gases as a feedback effect it is not however, strictly a causal agent. CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries while Water vapor generally is transient.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:27PM (#32272538) Homepage

    [who is going] to tax all the volcanos around the world for their CO2 production?

    The CO2 out gassed by active volcanoes comes to about one percent of anthropogenic emissions [].

    Learn to be check the numbers [] when you hear outrageous claims like this.

  • by khayman80 (824400) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:27PM (#32272540) Homepage Journal
    Methane's lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than CO2's, so it's less of a long-term problem. You're right to say that methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and we need to stop emitting it too. But as soon as we stop emitting methane, concentrations will decrease in a few years. Not so with CO2. (Also, methane is CH4, so technically methane has more carbon by mass than CO2...)
  • Re:Grandfathered in (Score:5, Informative)

    by theaveng (1243528) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:45PM (#32272736)

    It hasn't been okay to pollute the air for several decades now. That's why cars have catalytic converters to scrub-out human-damaging pollutants like NOx and HC (produce ozone) and CO (poison). Power plants have scrubbers to eliminate the same things, plus soot, so you no longer see black smoke but white stream coming from their towers.

  • Re:externality (Score:5, Informative)

    by lgw (121541) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:47PM (#32272754) Journal

    A tax on carbon is a tax on everything. Food prices will rise. The price of everything ordered on Amazon will rise. The price of everyhtng transported by road or rail will rise. The price of running your heater or AC will rise, a lot. And it's a regressive tax, like all consumption taxes.

    The last time America had a serious economic crisis, it was pretty directly caused by energy prices rising. Why are we so determined as a nation to magnify and extend the current economic crisis to match the Carter years?

  • Re:Experts (Score:5, Informative)

    by khayman80 (824400) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:47PM (#32272756) Homepage Journal

    Notice that they're meteorologists. In other words, they study short term trends and don't have PhD-level understanding of ensemble averages and other techniques necessary to analyze long term trends. (Heck, they're TV personalities. They might not know more than how to wave their hands around a green screen.)

    But sqrt(2) is right to say that most [] scientists [] agree that anthropogenic CO2 is causing a dangerous temperature increase. The percentage of scientists who agree with this statement increases with increasing relevance [] of the scientist's field.

  • Re:Too Controversial (Score:3, Informative)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:55PM (#32272840) Journal

    Exactly, in the US we generate a lot of our electricity by dirty coal (and there isn't any other type, "clean coal" is a fraud) and so if you switch to electric transportation you're going to use more coal which is worse than gasoline. Stupidly, the environmental lobby is the biggest opponent of nuclear power, the only real alternative we have for clean base load power generation. I normally vote Green Party, but I am a fervent supporter of nuclear power. I think they will come around on the issue though, there isn't any other alternative.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:20PM (#32273130) Homepage Journal

    The CO2 out gassed by active volcanoes comes to about one percent of anthropogenic emissions [].

    Learn to be check the numbers [] when you hear outrageous claims like this.

    Just imagine how different our society would look if every citizen took the time to check outrageous claims, even the ones that sound truthy.

    But I wonder if it would even help if the outrageous claims of certain agenda-driven media outlets and purveyors of hate were to be exposed. At some point, people will believe what fits their inner narrative before they will believe what can be demonstrated to them to be true.

    For example, if you hate those elite college-educated types and high-falutin' liberals like Al Gore, when someone tells you that global warming is just a scam and a conspiracy dreamed up by the majority of climate scientists who are all being paid off by the filthy rich Sierra Club, it's going to fit your inner-narrative, and you're going to believe it. So when you see a report that the last 12 months were the warmest year in recorded history, you're going to dismiss it as just part of the conspiracy.

    "Checking the numbers" only works on those whose minds are open enough to step outside the comforting, narrative-supporting cocoon of Fox News and question the notion that everything that challenges your assumptions is part of the conspiracy. And even well-educated, otherwise mentally-capable people can be imprisoned by that narrative, because it's comforting.

  • Re:Same thing (Score:4, Informative)

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:23PM (#32273166) Homepage
    My comment above wasn't in defense of a cap and trade system but rather explain the important economic differences between a carbon tax and a cap and trade system. The fact that you couldn't see that is fascinating. Incidentally, much of what you write above is incidentally wrong. For example, Cap and trade does not stifle innovation. Quite the opposite, if a given industry normally produced a lot of CO2 then under a cap and trade system they have a lot of incentive to find ways to reduce that, more than they do in a general tax. In fact, cap and trade systems have been tried before. For example, in the early 1990s, the US created a cap and trade system for a cap and trade system. This system successfully reduced SO2 levels a lot. Moreover, economists estimate that this was much more efficient than simple regulation. See []

    Pollution is wasted energy, technology will eventually catch up with it and make great progress.

    Unfortunately, that's not the case. In the most efficient burning of a fossil fuel, the result is CO2 and water. There's no way to make the CO2 not be there. There's no wasted energy. Moreover, added CO2 is an externality [] so individuals have no incentive to reduce the creation of CO2. This is true with pollutants in general. As with most difficult externalities, the impact of the pollution is not directly on the individual who created it, and it is diffuse enough that one cannot easily trace any specific bit of pollution back to any specific source. That's precisely why we have the government regulate the sources. Cap and trade is a very efficient system which takes advantage of market forces to more efficiently reduce pollution.

  • Re:Who is going (Score:4, Informative)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:27PM (#32273202)

    I'd definitely like to see IRS personnel inside an active volcano.

    Sorry, they stopped offering tours years ago.

  • by pastafazou (648001) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:33PM (#32273262)
    Bill Gates had nothing to do with getting the cost of computers down. In fact, the price of Microsoft's operating systems has continued to increase over time, not just in dollars but as a percentage of the total purchase.
  • by 1800maxim (702377) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:39PM (#32273324)

    The reason is that they need to be HOT in order to function. And they are hot if the engine is running rich, so that unburned fuel particles can burn in the catalytic converter.

    Today's engines with fuel injection and MAF sensors (and complicated computerized calculations) can run very clean without catalytic converters. In fact, cars from the factory run RICH just to employ the cat.

    That's why aftermarket tunes that lean out the mixture get more power AND better fuel economy.

  • Re:externality (Score:5, Informative)

    by EllisDees (268037) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:42PM (#32273360)

    >because you haven't sufficently proven that CO2 is the cause, thats why. the current 10 year trend is actually cooling.

    Oh, Really? []

    "April this year was the hottest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced.

    The combined surface temperatures on land and at sea averaged 14.5 C, some 0.76 C above the 20th century average. Average ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for April and the global land surface temperature was the third warmest on record for the month.

    NOAA also says that Arctic sea ice was "below normal for the 11th consecutive April" while "based on NOAA satellite observations, snow cover extent was the fourth-lowest on record" since 1967."

  • Re:Cap Tax (Score:2, Informative)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:53PM (#32273484) Homepage Journal

    Note to people who don't understand sarcasm: The EPA and others have begun pushing to label CO2 as a poison.

    This is the ridiculous stance that I am parodying here. CO2 is not a poison. Unless you consider everything a poison, if you breathe nothing but.

  • Are you serious? (Score:5, Informative)

    by XiaoMing (1574363) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:01PM (#32273558)

    Remember that post a few hundred lines up that suggest fact checking? I would suggest some sanity-checking.

    So for a simple tweak in software, cars would not only gain performance, save more gas, but also eliminate the need for expensive (cats are one of the world's biggest uses platinum) catalytic converters?
    Man, it makes complete sense now that the car companies of the world, especially those on the verge of bankruptcy in this economy, don't want the public to know that they are totally IGNORING this simple reprogramming of the ECU for the great reason of... ... oh yeah it's completely wrong and stupid.

    Cats are there to change NOx (smog, eventually becomes ground level ozone, the kind you WANT depleted) emissions into more harmless NO2.
    Problem is NOx emissions come from higher ignition temperatures (why Diesels get great fuel economy and power, but have always been seen as a dirty fuel source/powertrain), _which are a result of running lean_.

    As a general point, it's also important to remember that CO2 emissions are different from the "Emissions" that they usually talk about in cars (LEV, ULEV, ZEV). Even the "Zero emission vehicles" (many of which are fuel celled) still emit CO2 and water, it's just that they don't burn anything containing nitrogens, and thus emit "zero" NOX (still a bit arguable since fuel cells run hot, and the atmosphere is 80% diatomic nitrogen).

    Anyway, point of the matter, and man I hope people have read this far, is that CO2 is what is being attributed to global warming (save that debate for another thread), but the "emissions" coming out of tailpipes are what's important for whether your children have chronic asthma by their teenage years.

  • Re:externality (Score:3, Informative)

    by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:04PM (#32273588) Homepage Journal

    Err....what evidence, exactly?

    Last I heard, it was making negligible impacts in Europe, and in some cases was even counter-productive: []

    Ireland brought in a carbon tax last year, claiming it would fund a cut in the value-added tax. However, the price of gasoline immediately rose by more than four per cent to the equivalent of $1.60 a litre while the cost of heating fuels, including oil, natural gas, coal and peat briquettes, went up between six per cent and 11 per cent, forcing the government to introduce a fuel-poverty subsidy. Britain, when faced with the same situation, had to raise its fuel-poverty subsidy to 100 per cent of the revenue it collected through the tax. Every European nation that has levied a carbon tax has seen weaker economic growth, the loss of industrial jobs, deterioration of public finances and negligible impact on greenhouse gas emissions -- facts that are misrepresented by carbon tax advocates. Germany reduced its emissions by more than 22 per cent between 1990 and 2008. It does not have a carbon tax.

    (Bold emphasis mine...)

  • Re:Are you serious? (Score:4, Informative)

    by XiaoMing (1574363) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:05PM (#32273604)

    Doubt anyone will have read that previous post unless they care, so here's an errata addendum:

    NO2 should have read O2 and N2, NO2 is still an NOx (x being integer), the platinum traps that molecule til another NO comes along and smacks into it, and changes both into diatomics.

    Another point is that CO2 and "emissions" can both still be attributed to cars (although more CO2 from power sources like coal fired plants).
    This is where the debate between mpg and "emissions" comes in, and why depending on where you're from, some "emissions" are worse than others because of politics (europe vs CARB vs rest of America), but why everyone thinks better mpg (less CO2) is awesome.

  • Re:externality (Score:2, Informative)

    by 246o1 (914193) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:12PM (#32273702)

    A tax on carbon is a tax on everything.

    No. A tax on income is a tax on everything (except inheritance and other unearned wealth that the upper class depends on). A tax on carbon is a tax on almost everything, but in ways that are aligned with the damage done by consuming/producing the good much more accurately than things like income taxes.

    The last time America faced a serious economic crisis, it was deepened by unexpected increases in energy prices. That will be *more* likely to happen the longer we remain dependent upon limited, non-renewable, semi-monopolized resources for most of our energy.

  • Re:externality (Score:3, Informative)

    by riverat1 (1048260) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:30PM (#32273886)

    What people need is energy, not fossil fuels. If the tax is only on ff's, not other forms of energy, they become cheaper and more attractive relative to ff's. That said, the most cost effective way to reduce CO2 often is conservation. We're pretty wasteful of energy in a lot of ways since it has been so cheap for us.

  • Re:externality (Score:4, Informative)

    by darkmeridian (119044) < minus poet> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:41PM (#32273992) Homepage

    (1) A carbon tax will lower use of fossil fuels. More independence from the Middle East.
    (2) Better bite the bullet now than have our grandkids suffer.
    (3) Costs will be spread out more evenly than a consumption tax on end products.

  • Re:Who is going (Score:5, Informative)

    by wanerious (712877) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:44PM (#32274020) Homepage
    Right, but that's 3% over equilibrium, and it's cumulative.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:58PM (#32274150)

    So Mr. Moderator. What went through your head when you modded Troll? Let me guess. You saw "Enviro Chicken Little" and thought "OH, he must be one of those DENIERS I've heard about in Mrs. Kerbapple's class. I'll do everyone a service and mod troll!!! Yipeee!!

    You're right. The use of phrases like "Enviro Chicken Little" is more deserving of a "flamebait" mod than a "troll" mod.

  • Re:externality (Score:3, Informative)

    by Albinoman (584294) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:05PM (#32274204)

    There are plenty of studies that all say the same thing. Yes, more CO2 does have a positive effect on plant growth. Quite conveniently, it is most pronounced when you also increase the temperature.

  • by enodo (603503) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:10PM (#32274238)
    So do you know how the continents were arranged then, and what effect on climate that had? Any idea how different the solar irradiance was at that time? What the sea levels were? If not, why are you asking this question?

    Do you really think that the members of the National Academy of Sciences haven't thought of these obvious questions?

    If you really want to know the answers, you could start by reading articles on Wikipedia: [] [] []

  • by metric10k (1815470) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:27PM (#32274376)
    If you really want to cut or even eliminate CO2 emissions then the last thing you want to do is turn CO2 emissions into a revenue stream for the government. That's just the WORST thing you could do. It's like trying to get rid of cows by eating them. Why not just make other energy sources more attractive by removing bureaucratic nonsense (nuclear energy) or making investments in R&D (solar and wind)?
  • Re:Who is going (Score:4, Informative)

    by CyberSaint (1376273) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:43PM (#32274506) []

    Not even a percentage point, nice try though.
  • Re:externality (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:54PM (#32274594)

    Oh, Really? []
    "April this year was the hottest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced.

    Look at all the warming across northern Canada. Pity that NOAA collects its temperature data from only 35 stations across the entirety of Canada (in the 1970s, they had more than 600), while Canada itself has more than 1400. And the elevated temperatures across Canada above the Arctic Circle? It's amazing how the one station at Ellesmere Island -- the only one above the Arctic Circle that NOAA collects data from -- can measure the temperature all the way across Canada.Look at NOAA's own data; in 1991, almost a quarter of NOAA’s Canadian temperature data came from stations in the high Arctic. The same region contributes only 3% of the Canadian data today. NOAA collects no temperature data at all from Bolivia -- a high-altitude, landlocked country -- but instead “interpolates” or assigns temperature values for that country based on data from “nearby” temperature stations located at lower elevations in Peru, or in the Amazon basin.

    NOAA also says that Arctic sea ice was "below normal for the 11th consecutive April" while "based on NOAA satellite observations, snow cover extent was the fourth-lowest on record" since 1967."

    Really? In other articles [], data collection by NOAA's own National Snow and Ice Data Center would appear to suggest otherwise. "While global sea ice extent has only been measured with high resolution since 1979, the recent increase in sea ice coverage now puts the start of 2009 in the same place as the year when records started: 1979. While the extent of sea ice in the northern hemisphere is currently slightly below the 30-year mean, the coverage in the southern hemisphere exceeds the thirty-year mean by approximately 500,000 square kilometers." Not only that, the extent of sea ice around Antarctica has been increasing over the last 20 years, a state of affairs that the current climate models are unable to explain; all the models that have been tweaked to corroborate the desired result of global warming would have warming water around Antarctica causing a long-term reduction in sea ice; the Earth failing to cooperate with rigged projections places these models in doubt.

  • Re:Grandfathered in (Score:1, Informative)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @11:07PM (#32274684)
    the fact is CO2 is not toxic, it only becomes a problem if it displaces enough O2 for the O2 level to drop below 21%.
  • Re:Are you serious? (Score:3, Informative)

    by fnj (64210) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @11:41PM (#32274926)

    Actually you are not allowed any CO2 from a ZEV either. Zero CO2, CO, HC, particulates, and CO2. At least that is the common use of the term. This allows plugin hybrids WHEN IN ELECTRIC ONLY MODE, mostly straight electrics, and at least in theory, hydrogen (only) fuel cells. The whole point of the recent CO2 regulatory rulings is that CO2 _IS_ now to be regarded as a pollutant.

    A PZEV on the other hand is so watered down that it can just be a clean conventional vehicle with an extra good emissions warranty. PZEV is basically horse shit. What the hell is "partial zero," anyway? However, the term is at least well defined.

    Updated The Zero Emission Vehicle Regulation - Frequently Asked Questions - warning PDF []

    EPA Sets Thresholds for Greenhouse Gas Permitting Requirements []

  • Re:Grandfathered in (Score:5, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @11:51PM (#32274998) Homepage Journal

    the fact is CO2 is not toxic, it only becomes a problem if it displaces enough O2 for the O2 level to drop below 21%. []

    Due to the health risks associated with carbon dioxide exposure, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that average exposure for healthy adults during an eight-hour work day should not exceed 5,000 ppm (0.5%). The maximum safe level for infants, children, the elderly and individuals with cardio-pulmonary health issues is significantly less. For short-term (under ten minutes) exposure, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) limit is 30,000 ppm (3%). NIOSH also states that carbon dioxide concentrations exceeding 4% are immediately dangerous to life and health[48] although physiological experiments show that such levels can be tolerated for some time [49].

    ...and so on. Have a read. Its very interesting. Or give Jim Lovell a call. He will tell you all about it.

  • Re:Cap Tax (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @11:59PM (#32275038) Homepage Journal

    Just because it's funny to say "Straight from the horse's mouth": []

    But here's the primary link: []

    They're using the endangerment clause ("air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare") of the Clean Air Act (, intended to be used to regulate actually dangerous emissions, to regulate CO2.

    Enough links? =)

  • by pcfixup4ua (1263816) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @12:00AM (#32275046)

    Any responsible environmental policy includes a plan for reducing the world population over time.

    Availability of contraception
    Improve life expectancy
    Improve rights for Women

  • Re:Grandfathered in (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChatHuant (801522) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @02:23AM (#32275792)

    If you then show these people that (a) Zero people died because of Three Mile Island, (b) 46 firefighters died in the Cherynobyl accident, and (c) nobody died in Japan you will be branded a liar and some kind of anti-environmental kook

    Well, here []'s what the World Health Organization says. Some significant quotes, for people who don't want to bother reading:
    A large increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer has occurred among people who were young children and adolescents at the time of the accident and lived in the most contaminated areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. This was due to the high levels of radioactive iodine released from the Chernobyl reactor in the early days after the accident.

    In Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine nearly 5 000 cases of thyroid cancer have now been diagnosed to date among children who were aged up to 18 years at the time of the accident.

      It is expected that the increased incidence of thyroid cancer from Chernobyl will continue for many years, although the long-term magnitude of the risk is difficult to quantify.

    The Expert Group concluded that there may be up to 4 000 additional cancer deaths among the three highest exposed groups over their lifetime (240 000 liquidators; 116 000 evacuees and the 270 000 residents of the SCZs).

    Predictions, generally based on the LNT model, suggest that up to 5000 additional cancer deaths may occur in this population [ Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine] from radiation exposure

    The numbers in this report are contested by a Greenpeace study (available here []). Greenpeace estimates the number of cancers attributable to the Chernobyl accident to 270000, out of which 93000 fatal.

    Even ignoring the Greenpeace numbers, if you'll say only 46 people died at Chernobyl, but omit the fact that thousands more have contracted cancer as a direct consequence of the Chernobyl accident and 4000 more are expected to die of it, then you're indeed a liar and a kind of anti-environmentalist kook.

  • Re:externality (Score:2, Informative)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @02:33AM (#32275836)
    answer me this. why is a graph of the USA temperatures that i posted unaccpetable because it's supposedly too localised, yet melting pack ice can't also be subject to localised changes? everyone waves their arms about melting in the arctic yet when any skeptic pops up with something localised they get nailed to a cross for it?
  • Re:Experts (Score:3, Informative)

    by khayman80 (824400) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @04:23AM (#32276300) Homepage Journal

    Ok great. But his politics don't matter, unless he's lying about the surface station data. Are you saying his surface station data is wrong? That's the only thing that matters. I haven't seen anything that says it is, but I could be wrong. In regards to the verification, what I mean is that the fact that his good stations agree with the national average shows his selection process is probably a good one, since it matches satellite temps.

    What surface station data? Anthony Watts has a blog filled with photos and a history of failed journal submissions. I'm not disputing his politics. I'm saying that he clearly implied that the "best" 10% of stations would show global cooling (or stagnation) whereas the "bad" 90% of stations contaminated by the UHI would show an even bigger increase. When someone actually checked this, it turns out he was wrong. Seriously, read Menne et al 2010 [], linked previously but I'll give it one more shot. Scientists hadn't ignored any of the issues Watts implies. They'd actually checked the time series in quite a few interesting ways. Watts simply didn't do a thorough literature search before making his wacky claims.

    I'm not an AGW denier. By no means am I claiming that. I only take exception when people overstate a threat, or ascribe global warming to whatever news item of the week it is. Back when I was living in SF, pretty much everything was ascribed to global warming on the local news.

    I've made a list of all the nonsense [] I'd seen from the Greens. What utter rubbish. I've still got things to add to that list, too, I just can't divert time away from school...

    In terms of the error bars, I just find it amusing that they're so large you can basically never prove the predictions wrong. Being off by 30-50% over twenty years, for example, is considered acceptable. My own personal prediction is that by 2100, the temperature of the earth will be somewhere between the surface temperature of the sun, and absolute zero. Even though I'm confident this will play out, I'm still waiting to pick up my Nobel Prize, unfortunately.

    They're smaller than the error bars you can get using the most sophisticated approach that can be solved using a paper and pencil. Decreasing the error bars further will require better understanding of cloud formation and aerosol interactions, faster computers, raw data at higher spatial and temporal densities, and a better theoretical understanding of the turbulence that is currently extremely difficult to model such as the oscillations ENSO, AO, AAO, NAO, PNA, AMO, PDO, MJO, etc.

    Radtea already asked [] what would be necessary to convince me that our emissions aren't responsible for at least the majority of the warming since ~1970, as measured using 20 year smoothing to account for our current limitations.

  • Re:Political Agenda (Score:4, Informative)

    by chrb (1083577) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @04:30AM (#32276324)

    The only difference will be that they will pay more

    That is what the power companies said when the EPA began to regulate SO2 emissions, but it didn't happen - instead, the emitting companies significantly reduced their emissions to the point where the cost of a permit became negligible.

    The reality is that, when the cost of an externality is added to the cost of an activity, then people will moderate that activity to lower their own costs. This is basic economics.

  • Re:Who is going (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lars T. (470328) <Lars@Traeger.googlemail@com> on Thursday May 20, 2010 @05:15AM (#32276540) Journal

    97% of annual CO2 emissions are natural. Only 3% are anthropogenic. It mostly comes from decaying biomass. Look it up. What, don't they highlight this fact on the greenist web sites? My country (Canada) is responsible for 0.06% of total CO2 emissions. Hardly seems worth gutting my standard of living over.

    Sure. What Watts doesn't tell you is that before humans those 100% went straight into building new biomass (and some other CO2 drains). It's called a "balance". Now not only do humans suddenly add 3% on top, they also prevent creation of new plant matter at an increasing rate, mostly by cutting down rain-forests and replacing them with (at best) mono-culture trees.

    Let's try an analogy: a river flows through a valley, rain causes flooding - but no, you say, it's not the 3% of water from the rain that causes the flooding, it's the 97% normal discharge.

  • Re:externality (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cyberax (705495) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @06:31AM (#32276928)

    No, it doesn't. Plants are NOT limited by CO2 concentration, they are limited by the efficiency of light-gathering biological systems.

    However, increased CO2 concentration allows plants to expend less water during photosynthesis. It doesn't make them grow faster, but increases their drought-resistance.

    Here is a nice article: []

  • Re:externality (Score:3, Informative)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @06:58AM (#32277106)
    "since 1967"? "20th centure average"?

    You do know we're coming out of an ICE AGE don't you? It's SUPPOSED to be getting warmer.

    Come back when you've consulted geological records and we'll have a chat.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2010 @07:56AM (#32277544)

    "How the CO2 concentration in our atmosphere during the Cambrian was 7000ppm and the average global temperature was 20C"

    Solar luminosity was lower. See the faint early Sun paradox [].

    "during the Jurassic the CO2 concentration was 2000ppm and the average temperature was still 20C"

    I'm not sure the average was lower. I thought it was slightly higher, although not by nearly as much as expected from the higher CO2 concentration of the period, so it is still a valid question to ask. Also, what is typical of the Jurassic, Cretaceous, and early Cenozoic is not merely higher CO2, but a more "equable" climate between the equator and the poles -- less difference in temperature. Much of the difference in climate in the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic is thought to be due to different continental configuration. Continental position greatly affects ocean currents and how the temperature is distributed world-wide. For example, in the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic there was an equatorial ocean without continents blocking the E-W flow of the currents (e.g., the Pacific and Caribbean were connected, and what is now part of the Mediterranean was connected via wide straights to the Atlantic and to the west -- the Tethys Ocean []). Continental position, global sea level, and variations in erosion in mountain ranges is thought to be responsible for the long-term (100s of millions of years) cycling between conditions. Basically it is plate tectonics driving these very-long-term fluctuations. []

    The bottom line in both of these cases is: if you were to experimentally pump up CO2 concentrations on an Earth today you will get different results from an Earth back then because other things besides atmospheric CO2 have changed. Geologists and paleoclimatologists have thought about these puzzles and attempted to answer them. They are interesting questions, but the puzzle now is why people would pose the questions as if reasonable answers aren't available. It means either you haven't looked for them or don't actually care about the answers as long as you score some rhetorical points.

  • Re:Political Agenda (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:00AM (#32277584)

    The only thing requiring us to bother "protecting a pile of weapons grade nuclear waste" is the politics that have frozen research into things like fast breeder reactors for the last several decades. If it wasn't for NIMBY and BANANAisms we'd be able to pull a lot more, if not all, of the useful power out of a given amount of radioactive material, and not have to worry about storing highly active waste, because we'd be using it all to make power.
    And as far as weapons grade stuff goes, we can use up all of that stuff with decades old technology. If you change the politics to allow it.

    I don't understand the conceptual space that people come from that let them make self-inconsistent assumptions like this. Any free market guy is going to want to use this stuff to make money, not to have to pay money to stick it in a hole.

  • Re:externality (Score:3, Informative)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:15AM (#32277734) Journal

    >because you haven't sufficently proven that CO2 is the cause, thats why. the current 10 year trend is actually cooling.

    Oh, Really? []

    "April this year was the hottest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced.

    The combined surface temperatures on land and at sea averaged 14.5 C, some 0.76 C above the 20th century average. Average ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for April and the global land surface temperature was the third warmest on record for the month.

    NOAA also says that Arctic sea ice was "below normal for the 11th consecutive April" while "based on NOAA satellite observations, snow cover extent was the fourth-lowest on record" since 1967."

    How long have accurate temperature readings been kept? When I say "accurate", I mean with 0.76C margin of error? Is that really long enough to make a trend?

    Arctic ice lowest since 1967? Why that's a whole 43 years ago. Is 43 years of climate change really long enough to indicate a trend? Since it's the 4th lowest in the past 40 years, I'd say that it is only in the low 10% range. Climate changes. That's what it does. Every 10 years or so, you can expect it to be in the bottom 10%. That's how statistics work.

  • Re:externality (Score:3, Informative)

    by QuantumPion (805098) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:40AM (#32278156)

    A tax on carbon is a tax on everything. Food prices will rise. The price of everything ordered on Amazon will rise. The price of everyhtng transported by road or rail will rise. The price of running your heater or AC will rise, a lot. And it's a regressive tax, like all consumption taxes.

    If half the harms of global climate change come true, that's going to happen anyway. I'd hate to pay more for my amazon order, but I'd hate even more to catch malaria because it was warm enough now for it to thrive in my latitude.

    (note that I have no idea how likely that effect of climate change is. I'd probably invest in some bug spray and gin and tonic... maybe that's not a bad thing...)

    Global warming only predicts a 0.5 meters increase in sea level rise and a couple degrees [] increase in temperature, over 100 years. So no, the items the parent posted would not happen anyway. No one is predicting that regional climates will substantially change. Technological and economical improvements in that time frame will vastly, vastly dwarf any implications of global warming (loss of coastal property, changes in agriculture industry, etc. keep in mind, this is over 100 years).

  • Should I believe the pro-AGW scientists who refuse to share their data, or the anti-AGW scientists who remain skeptical of the data that is available?

    If AGW were as clear-cut as pro-AGW scientists like to pretend it is, there would be no need for them to hide their data. That by itself is more than enough to cause my skepticism, and it's hardly the only uncertainty when it comes to AGW.

  • There are plenty of reasons to switch away from fossil fuels as it is, so it's stupid to hang the whole thing on something as controversial as AGW.

    But now, instead of just working on switching to e.g. nuclear power we're wasting tons of time and money arguing on a global scale about what exactly (if anything) we want to do about global warming or climate change or whatever they're calling it these days.

    I don't think it's true that the "vast majority" of scientists support the AGW theory. But don't ask me, ask the CRU's Phil Jones []:

    It would be supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don’t believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this. This is not my view.

    Having been the director of the CRU, Phil Jones is definitely in a position to know whether "the vast majority" of scientists support AGW - and here he is, publicly stating that he does not believe the vast majority of climate scientists think the debate is over, nor does he himself think so!

    What I gather from this is that the scientists actually researching climate change are not nearly as sure about its cause as their political supporters want us to believe.

    I elaborated a bit [] on this very point back in February.

  • Re:Grandfathered in (Score:2, Informative)

    by locrien (865888) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @02:41PM (#32283940)
    Anytime the government gets their hands on money to redistribute wealth, It is destroyed. Why would we have the government hold on to our money just to give it back to us if we were good little conservationists? Of course they take a nice big chunk in between you and you getting your money back. Yeah that makes sense.....
  • by Mab_Mass (903149) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @03:57PM (#32285236) Homepage Journal

    Did you really link to that article to refute AGW? The quote you gave was asking him to speculate on why scientists claim the debate is over, and his statement wasn't addressing the fundamental black and white question of whether there is such a thing as AGW. Instead, he was making the point that we still don't know everything, which is a statement that any scientist worth anything would make.

    What about the questions:

    E - How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

    I'm 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 - there's evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.

    I - Would it be reasonable looking at the same scientific evidence to take the view that recent warming is not predominantly manmade?

    No - see again my answer to D.

    You do a wonderful job of taking snippets of things he says and drawing big conclusions, but when you look at his response to point-blank questions, there is clarity.

One person's error is another person's data.