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Failure at the Hague Climate Conference

By codemonkey_uk in News
Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 10:08:26 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992 the world acknowledged that human activity is having a negative effect on our climate.

In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol established targets for reduction of greenhouse gases emitted by industrialised countries.

After all night talks on Friday, 24 November 2000, the Hague Climate Conference was suspended due to lack of time...


The conference got of to a bad start with protestors disrupting negotiations, and Frank Loy, US climate negotiator, getting a pie in the face, but what people will remember, if they remember anything at all, is the childish bickering between Dominique Voynet, French head of European Union delegation, and John Prescott, the British deputy prime minister.

This very public spat probably started when Prescott blamed the French for the failure of the talks to end in agreement, and told the press that Vonyet was "too tired to handle the detail". Voynet responded by saying that "Prescott 'lost his cool' over global warming", that he was a 'male chauvinist', and so on, and so on.

But behind the headlines, lie the real issues. Why did the talks fail in the first place?

Has the rise of the Green Party in Europe has increased the gap between EU and US thinking on global warming and climate control? Did Voynet come to the negotiating tables with high expectations?

The US came to the talks with the preconception of an "understanding" re the Kyoto Protocol (Japan, 1997) about getting carbon credits for letting trees grow. This "carbon sink" policy was considered unacceptable by the EU team.

    Problems with carbon sink / tree planting projects
  • Carbon accounting is not fully understood.
  • Distracts from clean energy investment (driving down value of carbon credits).
  • Open to fraud.
This time real emission reductions where expected.

Yet Prescott and Loy put together a deal that accepted that carbon sinks are not central to halting global warming, so why didn't it go through? Was it just a lack of time, was it personal, or where there simply too many issues to deal with in the time allocated?

    Other problem areas for the negotiators
  • Should countries gain carbon credits for "watching their trees grow"?
  • Should countries have to reduce CO2 emissions "primarily" at home?
  • Is nuclear power and acceptable "green" energy tchnology?
  • Who pays for developing countries to adopt greenenergy policies?
  • What penalties should there be breaching the Protocol?

The UK said that only one more day would be needed to close the deal. A deal that would bring humanity one step closer to sustainable living. But the conference hall was already booked ... for an oil industry jamboree!

When the negotiations start again, and these differences resolved, many deals that where so close to finalisation may be out the window. Russia had promised to invest the proceedes from the sale of unwanted polution credits into clean energy. An agreement had been reached that carbon credits would not be claimed for investment in nuclear power.

So what about the future? The conference will resume at the end of May, but by then a lot will have changed. Loy is out if G. W. Bush is in (which at this point looks probable), Prescott will be out, or in for a change of jobs after the next UK election, and the French must pass Voynet's job onto Sweden. Will this be a good thing? Personality seemed to be an issue, but will changing the players mean starting again? If the EU think the US took a hard line this time, they won't like it when there's a republican in the white house, and Bush is pro oil, even by republican standards. Bush isn't convinced that pollution is the cause global warming!

But as oil runs out, and it will, humanity is faced with a choice, develop and use clean energy sources, such as solar, wind, wave etc, or use even dirtier carbon based energy sources, such as shale oil. With the head of the American Electrical Power Research Institute stating that the industrialised nations should be running carbon free by 2050, and the Global Climate Coalition, a pro oil lobby group, losing members such as BP, Shell Oil, Texaco, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and Ford (apparently because the public want green energy) then perhaps it will be business not government pushing green energy.

The best case now would be that customers continue to demand green technology, that the Kyoto talks resume, and the protocol will be put into place, eventually. The worst case is, in my opinion, unthinkable.

Thad

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Related Links
o all night talks
o Hague Climate Conference
o protestors disrupting negotiations
o pie in the face
o Prescott blamed the French
o Prescott 'lost his cool'
o male chauvinist
o so on
o and so on
o "carbon sink" policy was considered unacceptable by the EU
o Bush isn't convinced
o Global Climate Coalition
o BBC Reports
o NewScienti st Global Warming Report
o EPA's global warming website
o Thad
o Also by codemonkey_uk


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Failure at the Hague Climate Conference | 110 comments (104 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Carbon sinks no, carbon trading yes (4.11 / 9) (#1)
by Paul Johnson on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 08:46:29 AM EST

I agree with the concern about accounting for carbon sinks. Until we understand these systems better there is just too much scope for creativity. Apart from anything else, a mature forest has absorbed all the carbon it ever will: as a tree dies and rots it releases all its carbon back into the atmosphere. I suppose you might try laying down future coal seams by sticking dead trees underground or something.

However the other sticking point was over carbon credit trading. The basic idea is that we allocate a certain amount of carbon emission and then allocate it to nations on a per-capita basis. Nations who don't actually generate that much CO2 can then sell their pollution rights to nations like the USA who want to generate a lot more. This has two main benefits:

  1. It allocates the world carbon production in an efficient way, far more efficiently than bureacrats sitting in conference centres. Any country that wants to spare some group the cost of buying pollution credits can subsidise it.
  2. It transfers large amounts of money from the developed world to the undeveloped world. This is as good as debt cancellation.

Pollution trading schemes (trading in "bads" rather than "goods") have already been tried within the US for pollutants such as sulpher dioxide. They work rather well.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

bit of a rosy view (3.70 / 10) (#6)
by streetlawyer on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:46:26 AM EST

In fact what happens is that buying carbon credits substitutes for existing aid budgets, developing countries do not develop industrially because they've sold all their carbon credits, and in future rounds, they lobby for larger and larger unneeded carbon allowances in order to trade them. Meanwhile, the transfer of resources goes straight into the political elite of the developing countries with poor efficiency in terms of development.

Carbon trading works within the US, where the differences in development and pollution are small. It also works between companies in the same geographical area and industry. The economics of pollution trading between polluted and non-polluted regions are entirely different.

I could potentially be convinced of the benefits of carbon trading, but for the moment, am unconvinced by the simple case, and think that some minimum requirement for domestic improvements is needed in order to prevent the USA (well, lets's be blunt) from abusing the system.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Carbon sinks (2.66 / 3) (#27)
by weirdling on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:26:46 PM EST

So, if I switch my industry and cars from oil to methanol, I don't get extra carbon credits? At the very least, it should be recognized that mine is a zero sum system and I shouldn't be charged for the carbon, as I'm using plants to create my fuel and these plants obviously take out at least as much carbon as they release, often much more. Just a thought.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Good point (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 04:35:11 AM EST

You have a good point, as far as it goes. Methanol and its relatives are indeed zero net CO2 technolgies. But you can get around that by simply not requiring methanol users to buy carbon credits.

The bigger issue is with the idea of planting trees in order to earn extra credits which can then be sold. Its a nice idea, but at present we don't understand enough about forests to account for their effects accurately.

OTOH anyone who chops down their forests should definitely have this charged to their CO2 emissions. So its not just the oil-burning countries who might want to buy carbon credits.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Capitalism (4.25 / 12) (#2)
by theboz on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 08:54:49 AM EST

perhaps it will be business not government pushing green energy.

Exactly. Government is fairly ineffective at doing such things. It is the consumers, at least in the U.S. that will make the final decision. We already have more and more people pushing for alternatives to using up so much fuel. There is a big push for telecommuting, electric powered cars, public transportation, etc. This is all the result of what the citizens want, and once people realize it is better to use these other sources, then I think businesses would have to change, and ultimately the world. However, right now there are a few problems. Public transportation is more expensive, sometimes dangerous, and often slower. Electric cars are extremely slow and nearly useless, not to mention expensive. Also, businesses don't like telecommuting because they are too old fashioned to change to a results-based organization rather than time-based.

Part of the problem in the U.S. is that there is a lot of money tied up in the current infastructure. We have oil companies that are as anticompetative as Micro$oft, and sleeping with car companies, and all are paying politicians off. At the same time, the citizens don't know what is going on, so we don't hear about a lot of this type of stuff in the U.S. This country, while basically the citizens can be more free than a lot of other places, also allows for aristocracies of the rich. We have too few people like Ted Turner, who basically runs the majority of news media that people listen to and watch. I'm sure he's very good friends with other rich people that own the auto and oil industries in the U.S. and he wouldn't allow his CNN people to say something too bad about them.

Anyways, hopefully Americans get off their lazy asses and do something, or at least complain about the problems. Most people here just seem to accept it as sheep. It will be a different story when all of their children die from the various pollution and havoc wreaked on the environment.

Stuff.

the market does not make long term plans (4.50 / 4) (#9)
by codemonkey_uk on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 10:32:53 AM EST

The corporate machine will not fix itself, in my opinion, but instead, consume until there is nothing left to consume, whilst giving the impression that everything is okay.

Its much easer for the big-boys to appear green that it is for them to be green.

The public can be manipulated quite easly, as is demonstrated dayly by the news and advertising industrys.

I would argue that profit making corporations will not solve the humanitys enviormental problems on their own.

Point. Counterpoint. The ying-yang of discussion.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Eventually, they have to (3.00 / 4) (#10)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 10:55:45 AM EST

When they run out of oil, they'd sure as hell better be "green", or they're going to be out of luck. The market doesn't make long-term plans, but corps do. They plan for the future. And if the future is going to require them to use "green" energy sources, then they'll do that. And they'll get in early, if they can.

"The Market" doesn't make long term plans, but "The Market" isn't a coherent entity; it can't make plans at all. But as each individual part makes plans and changes operations, the whole changes as well.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

oil companies are *special* (5.00 / 3) (#13)
by Narcischizm on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 11:48:16 AM EST

Oil companies have a single product. Oil. They know that they will make money as long as they feel there is another untapped reservoir on the planet. They will drill in pristine wilderness if it will make them another buck, they will lobby for international peace so that they will be allowed to toss up offshore rigs and derricks anywhere on the planet, because they will always benefit, no matter how low the resources run. I understand (no facts) that we will probably not run out of oil in my lifetime, and that is all that concerns the oil companies. Their focus is short term (as long as the projections of drilllable oil remain the same), not 50 years forward.

Your statement should be a 'loud and clear' to other industries dependent on fossil fuels, they are the ones that will be hit hardest by a steadily rising cost of materials.

[ Parent ]
Level of remaining resources ... (3.50 / 2) (#50)
by BoredByPolitics on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 06:41:11 PM EST

  • I understand (no facts) that we will probably not run out of oil in my lifetime, and that is all that concerns the oil companies.

This may be mentioned elsewhere in the discussion, but AIUI current predictions are that by 2010 the average person won't be able to afford oil based fuel to run a car, because of the current rate at which the remaining oil reserves are diminishing, coupled with (demand lead) expected increases in the production of oil.

This has implications for all forms of transport, along with the cost of goods, and the social benefits (and penalties) associated with humanity's ability to travel internationally.

For the Oil Companies to still be in business 10 years from now they will have to implement alternative fuels, including contributing towards the client technology.

--

--
"Every contract has a sanity clause", "Sanity clause! Sanity clause! You can't fool me, there's no such thing as Sanity Claus"
[ Parent ]

Climate change is too long term (3.66 / 9) (#3)
by StrontiumDog on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:04:42 AM EST

and too fuzzy to really goad political leaders into taking measures. It's also a global problem, and needs global solutions, and nations generally have a hard time seeing eye to eye on anything.

My take:

Who's to blame for the failure of the talks? In a sense, both the EU and the US. Jan Pronk, who chaired the conference, said the failure was largely due to the lengthy speeches and declarations from the delegates, that left too little time for the real negotiations to be carried out.

Both the EU and the US have valid points. The US was right in insisting that the carbon sink policy should not have been dismissed out of hand: the financial incentives for countries to develop carbon sinks would be a powerful stimulus, and give the US some breathing space. On the other hand the EU suspects IMHO correctly that the carbon sink policy could very easily degenerate into a farcical bookkeeping system, with carbon credits being traded left and right in a system totally out of touch with reality. In any case, emission of pollutants has to be reduced at the source.

The real losers will be the island and coastal nations which are (already) being reclaimed by rising sea levels. I suspect there's little they can do to change their fate.

Making politicians take note (3.60 / 5) (#5)
by gcmillwood on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:31:28 AM EST

There are two ways to get politicians to take note of something. The first is to hit them in the ballot box. If enough people care (or more specifically if the elected representative in question thinks enough people care), then they will take note.

Unfortunately, votes seem to mean less and less as 'major' politicians appear to all have the same policies, differing in only minor details. This means that the second method has been getting more effective: give the politician large amounts of money (direct/indirect/hard/soft money doesn't matter, as long as there is lots of it).

Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age, but that is the way it appears to me.

[ Parent ]
Politicians (3.60 / 5) (#11)
by theboz on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 11:02:09 AM EST

Unfortunately, votes seem to mean less and less as 'major' politicians appear to all have the same policies, differing in only minor details.

Hmmmm...I think you've been paying attention to the U.S. politics. It is funny to see two sides that are so similar and both equally useless fight over who should be president. Both Gore and Bush are pro-big business so the environment loses. I think we need some good 3rd party people that can get the votes they need. Not that I think Ralph Nader would be the right person to be in charge, although he would be a really good advisor for whoever the president is.

However, it all goes back to where the real power is. It's in the hands of the people, the proles...without the average person being able to understand that this will damage them or their families, they won't push the businesses to change. I think to a certain extent people are pushing business to be more environmentally friendly, and now that the ball has started rolling more people need to get involved.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Not just the US (4.00 / 3) (#12)
by gcmillwood on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 11:46:57 AM EST

The US is just the most public, and recent, example of politicians all saying the same things. The same is true in the UK.

It irritates me that politicians exist solely to get elected. Almost as if they have no morals of their own, they adopt any position that they think will get them more popularity. In itself this could just be democracy at work. However, because the politician is choosing something popular, that does not mean he is doing something right. (e.g. it is popular to 'protect the children', so laws are created to make it look like the government is doing just that, even when they have no such effect).

I'd much prefer that people got elected for their own beliefs, rather than stealing someone elses. That way politicians would be much more effective - you work a lot harder for something you really believe in, as opposed to something that you say simply to be popular.

[ Parent ]
Politicians (2.40 / 5) (#14)
by theboz on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 12:05:30 PM EST

You just inspired me to write an article to post here...I'll post it after I take a nap and then we'll see if it makes it. :o)

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

just a question (1.80 / 5) (#18)
by streetlawyer on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 12:43:34 PM EST

How many politicians do you know on a personal level, since you appear to be so well acquainted with their private motives? This cynical attitude is just as unrealistic as its opposite.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Fair enough (none / 0) (#65)
by gcmillwood on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 05:06:55 AM EST

I know one elected local politician (my father-in-law), and one retired local politician (retired from politics, but still working).

I fully accept that I don't really know what drives all politicians to stand for office. I made a sweeping generalisation that is (hopefully) not completely accurate. However, my cynical attitude to politics results from watching politicians perform on TV, making policy u-turns, grabbing onto bandwagons, stealing policies from the opposition, and verbally assaulting each other in the media. This makes me believe that some politicians are not trying to get elected to make things better, or to give back to society, but instead simply so that they can wield some power.

In reality I know that not every politician is like this - many really do 'feel' for what they are doing. I'd just prefer to be cynical, and pleasantly suprised, rather than trusting and unpleasantly suprised.

[ Parent ]
Balance (3.66 / 3) (#22)
by Aztech on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:02:28 PM EST

It's a global problem yes... but one of the delegates cited the fact the equivalent American produces four times the waste, and consumed four times the energy as the average Frenchman ... that's pretty imbalanced, maybe the French were just pissed off.

[ Parent ]
Further sources (3.60 / 10) (#4)
by h2odragon on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:12:18 AM EST

The conference is over now; as far as I know Sovereignty International's daily updates were the only reporting from the scene from someone not pushing for the adoption of the protocol.

Disclosure: I'm involved with SI.

Blame the French! (1.16 / 6) (#15)
by PenguinWrangler on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 12:17:06 PM EST

Basically what happened is that France currently has the EU Presidency, and got upset that they weren't in charge of the UK-US deal, so they vetoed it in favour of their own deal which nobody else agreed to...
"Information wants to be paid"
oil is not running out (2.00 / 9) (#16)
by gregholmes on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 12:37:38 PM EST

On the contrary, gasoline (for example) has kept a remarkably stable price for decades. Given inflation, the price has actually declined substantially.

Things that are running out get more expensive, not less.



matter of logic (3.50 / 6) (#17)
by streetlawyer on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 12:41:58 PM EST

Your conclusion requires the premis of an efficient market, which is sort of the matter at issue. Unless you believe that oil is not a fossil fuel, or that new fossils are being formed quicker than oil is pumped (neither of which theories have much support outside cranks and Forbes magazine), then the proposition that oil is running out goes through, as a matter of logic.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
running out (3.00 / 1) (#67)
by gregholmes on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 05:53:33 AM EST

Maybe its time to get Clintonian then, and discuss the meaning of "running out". According to current cosmological theory, heat, as such is "running out", and our universe will end up a cold, ever thinning gas. Sad, but my personal worry about it is rather low.

I worked myself up into a youthful froth about oil running out back in the '80s, before I worked out the economic argument and settled down. Turns out I was right (we still have energy supplies now, despite those who claimed we wouldn't by 1990); and I see no reason to change my mind now. Especially when petroleum based fuel costs about the same as it did then (what else does)?

The oil market is actually very efficient; big players with big stakes have a big investment in discounting future changes. There is even an active oil futures market. It is also as predictable as any market gets (which admittedly is not very); it's not like there are secret oil labs pumping it out somewhere. The techniques and sources are pretty well known. The biggest variable is probably government regulation.



[ Parent ]
Shortage and price (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 06:59:06 AM EST

In an ideal market, price and demand are related. Given constant demand, lessening supplies lead to price increases. And that's the crucial point here. There is a difference between supplies and reserves.

Let me put it another way. Your car engine is only going to complain and quit, when its gas supply dries up more or less completely. As long as the gas is flowing from your tank to the engine, it is perfectly happy. This does not mean your gas tank has unlimited capacity. Conversely, cutting off the feed between the tank and your engine will also bring your car to a halt, no matter how full the tank may be.

Right now, there are no oil supply problems, apart from those caused by OPEC manipulations, Middle Eastern problems, and the like. This does not mean petroleum reserves are unlimited. Nor is the oil futures market a very good indicator right now; 25 years is practically eternity in any futures market, and currently known reserves are (and have been for a long time) good for at least three times that. In addition, political machinations will probably screw up supply long before physical depletion does.

The problem is more, as Greenspan would put it, ensuring a "soft landing" when supplies dry up. Because there are two ways the world can wake up to an oil supply shortage: cold turkey, or via a gradual transition. The fact that you may not see it during your lifetime, makes it a long term problem, but a problem nonetheless.

[ Parent ]

'unlimited' (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by gregholmes on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 07:21:25 AM EST

I never claimed the supply was unlimited; I thought that went without saying (silly me).

If my engine had a bank account, or stockholders, it might change its plans or research alternatives based on the supply left in the gas tank.

I'm all for alternatives and new ideas; what I'm against is a bunch of posturing politicians and pious NGOs regulating my life. Their connection with reality is on the 'dimpled chad' level anyway (gratuitous US election reference, sorry); I'd much rather trust to evil businessmen.



[ Parent ]
I catch your drift :-) (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 07:54:40 AM EST

and I know that hearing "But just think about the children" for the n'th time from some vote-monger's lips can be pretty nauseating. But what makes you think businessmen are any better?

By this I don't mean that the market is evil, but the market is short term, and reactive, rather than long term and proactive. There is not a business on the planet now that's worried about what is going to happen in the 22nd century, and there are no stockholders that demand that action be taken either. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But the undeniable fact is, shit happens, and it does not neccessarily happen in a conveniently sized business cycle or a 4-year electoral period. There's time to stop a freight train gently when it's still rolling out of the stocks; when it's thundering at full speed stopping it is going to take a hell of a lot more sweat and effort. And that's the problem with short-term markets: they notice there's a problem only when they feel the forces working on them. For large scale, long term problems that means the built up inertia is going to be a problem.

As you probably know (being a k5er, and likely well versed in CS), a greedy search algorithm usually offers near-optimal short term solutions, but can deliver sub-optimal or nearly worst case long term performance. I like to compare market forces to them. And that's why I don't trust markets to solve long term problems optimally: they may, but there's just as good a chance that they will fail dismally, and there's an even greater chance that the "solution" the market brings is not neccessarily the solution people had in mind. Take for instance climate change. Pure unadulterated market forces would not do a damn thing to stop it; the change takes place when centers of production (like farmlands) are affected so radically by climate change, and consumers likewise, that the means, type and location of production change also. And this can be as sub-optimal as widespread famine and population depletion.

In conclusion, don't knock non-market forces :-) They have their place.

[ Parent ]

Yes they do (none / 0) (#76)
by gregholmes on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 08:36:27 AM EST

Ah, intelligent discussion! Cool :) See other strands of this thread for the alternative :p

Non-market forces definately have their place. I just get so used having to point out the other side. Non-market forces seem to have had a sufficient cheering section that they don't need my help ;)



[ Parent ]
Denial (3.75 / 4) (#21)
by Aztech on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:48:22 PM EST

This is the effect of increased production through efficiently and higher demand, plus the fact oil is kept at artificially low prices in some countries. In the UK I'm told the dependency on oil is actually lower than it was during the Suez's crisis in the 60's, however car ownership has more than compensated for any lapse of demand in industry and energy production.

Today's prices are no representation of total supply, we are running out of oil, it doesn't take a genius to workout this is only a finite supply, also the affects are also happening to our environment.

For instance tonight thousands of houses are preparing for big floods, the rivers have already swelled. The worst floods in 60 years were only here two or three weeks ago, now the same places are preparing for the same thing again.

We have no chance of moving forward until people acknowledge basic concepts such as our finite oil supplies and climate change, denying these basic principles is like declaring the world flat. I was amazed when I heard Bush's ambiguity towards climate change, leaders of the industrialised nations should not be in denial about these particulars

Az.


[ Parent ]
The problem, of course... (3.00 / 2) (#25)
by weirdling on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:21:55 PM EST

No one has ever demonstrated an actual link between CO2 emissions and an increase in the planetary temperature. The increases that have happened are well within the error rate of the equipment being used, and can be explained by the fact that we are coming out of an ice age anyway.
So, A) the problem doesn't exist, B) if it did, it could be explained in such a way that makes it impossible for us to do anything about, and c) it follows we must reduce CO2 emissions? Where's the simple logic in that?
Actually, natural emissions *far* outweigh unnatural emissions of almost all greenhouse gasses.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Indifference? (4.33 / 3) (#30)
by Aztech on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 03:17:18 PM EST

There's an awful lot of ambiguity, in the 40's the world's temperature appeared to be dropping for a couple of years, scientists of the time had visions of the next ice age commencing. The same distain remains in the scientific community today, however this ambiguity shouldn't lead to indifference, something "odd" is going on with the climate, no doubt about that.

Ice ages and warm periods in the world's history do occur in cycles, this is acknowledged, however these cycles don't happen at the rate seen over the last 200 years. For instance the temperature over the last 100 years has risen 2.5 degrees C, the only thing that coincides this increase is our production of up to 7 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, from practically nothing over the last few centuries, this is quite a coincidence.

I'm not sure what you mean about natural releases of gases, animals and volcanic activity can produce sizable amounts of CO2, however our 7 billion tonnes of human CO2 output outweigh this. Also our concentrated releases of gasses like chlorofluorocarbons are more potent than any natural releases, even if they're released in smaller numbers.

There also many theories, some scientists are saying our sun with going through a "hyperactive" cycle, and the increased radiation is accountable for the increased temperature, however this increase could go hand in hand with our new "blanket" in the atmosphere which is restricting the release of radiation from our atmosphere.

I don't blindly believe in any sentiment, however I think it would be small minded to simply dismiss this problem. Even if you're not convinced by the current theories, it still deserves consideration.

If Global warming is not a concern to a business or government, one thing we cannot dismiss is our finite supply of oil, if we find a practical energy renewable supply then this will kill two birds with one stone.

Az.

[ Parent ]
CO2 isn't the only culprit (none / 0) (#88)
by weirdling on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 12:22:08 PM EST

Methane emissions from cows amount to almost as much as unnatural CO2 from humans. One single volcano is easily more catastrophic than all the polution emitted in a year by the whole world.
My point is that the problem is so badly understood that to act now would be highly premature and needlessly expensive. This is the same thing as the fear of nuclear power; the thing *could* happen, so we will act as if it will. It's just not good science.
It is not that I don't care; it is that I think that many of the people who want this stuff are doing it for religious reasons, not reasoned reasons.
The insistance on alternative power is odd, given that the amount of sunlight striking the surface of the earth (the only increase in power available in this system that is not artificial) is not sufficient, even given 100% efficiency, to power our energy needs in ten years at this rate. That is why ethanol, methanol, and so on, all failed as fuels: it simply costs too much to create them due to the large acreage that must be tended to make a little.
Fact is that IMO, nuclear is our best option right now, but no one is building more plants despite enormous advances in nuclear technology in the last few years.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Misinformation (none / 0) (#104)
by sec on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 11:03:04 PM EST

Ice ages and warm periods in the world's history do occur in cycles, this is acknowledged, however these cycles don't happen at the rate seen over the last 200 years.

Except that they do. During the Medieval Warm Period, temperatures rose to a level higher than they are today within a similar time frame.

For instance the temperature over the last 100 years has risen 2.5 degrees C,

0.8 degrees. the only thing that coincides this increase is our production of up to 7 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, from practically nothing over the last few centuries, this is quite a coincidence.

Except that most of the warming took place before WW2, and most of the increase in CO2 emissions occurred after WW2. Correlation does not imply causality, especially when the event that was supposedly caused takes place before the event that supposedly caused it. :)



[ Parent ]

The simple logic (2.33 / 3) (#46)
by thePositron on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:36:06 PM EST

1)CO2 gasses when they are over abundant in an atmosphere cause the greenhouse effect. Proof: Venus.
2)Over time if something is added continually without subtracting it increses in value and volume. Eventually the additional CO2 gasses added to the atmosphere will result in the greenhouse effect.

[ Parent ]
This is no doubt true (3.00 / 1) (#85)
by weirdling on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 12:15:53 PM EST

If the CO2 increases continue unabated, your prediction will be right. It was my intention, however, to argue that that was not the case. Rather, I doubt that anyone has ever demostrated satisfactorily that a natural process won't result in increased CO2 consumption, as people aren't allowed credits for trees growing because no one knows how that affects the situation.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
failure to agree with you is not 'denial' ... (3.00 / 2) (#41)
by gregholmes on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:00:50 PM EST

...although that would be convenient, wouldn't it ;)

I'm not sure what you mean by "artificially low", unless you consider high energy taxes a force of nature. The U.S. imports more oil, not less, as domestic production is surpressed by regulation. Yet, relatively stable prices here.



[ Parent ]
You're just paranoid rather than being in denial (3.50 / 2) (#45)
by Aztech on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:35:23 PM EST

I'm not talking about Kyoto or even the US for that matter, you shouldn't jump to conclusions :) The poster I replied to seemed to be in denial about oil being a finite resource, unless you're willing to wait around for a few more million years for more to form, then it will run out, doesn't take much working out.

This is why we need to do something about oil dependency, even if even if the environmental matters don't come into it.


[ Parent ]
thanks ;) (none / 0) (#68)
by gregholmes on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 06:03:25 AM EST

Actually, I like to think I'm just paranoid enough ... ;)

I posted near here about the meaning of "running out", I won't repeat the whole thing here. As I am the original poster (of the economic argument), I will reiterate that I don't see how something in imminent danger of running out costs the same as when I first started driving in the '80s!

I don't deny the physical nature of oil; I just note that people told me it was running out then. I'd like to see something else (besides gasoline) that cost US$1.20 then cost $1.50 now (and that is after a run-up this year, and down from $1.80 a few months ago).

There is an active futures market in oil, and the price reflects expected changes in supply.



[ Parent ]
The supply is finite (3.00 / 2) (#44)
by thePositron on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:31:10 PM EST

The supply is finite, therefore it will run out if we continue to use it. This might happen sooner than later.
It is in the worlds best interest to explore alternate sources of power.

[ Parent ]
best interests (none / 0) (#69)
by gregholmes on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 06:10:00 AM EST

Absolutely. But the world should do so on the basis of freedom and reality, not government edicts based on a false premise.

I didn't think it necessary to state the finite nature of oil, but oh well! My point was that something that is in imminent danger of running out is not going to cost the same as it did in the '80s, particularly when there is an efficient market that even includes futures trading.

To break it down very simply, if despite a high production rate, it were known oil was going to run out next month, you and I wouldn't be able to afford it, I'll tell you that.



[ Parent ]
Special Interest Groups (4.00 / 7) (#19)
by quam on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:18:42 PM EST

You alluded to, what I think is, a significant problem in the U.S.: relationships between the government (federal and state) and special interest groups.

For instance, about five to seven years ago in Texas we virtually had a high-speed rail system ready to be implemented. It was fully funded by private investors with no cost to the public/government. Sure, everyone likes their cars and arguably not as many people would have used high-speed rail as expected. I, for one, absolutely positively would have enjoyed travelling 250 mph to get from Austin to Dallas in one hour or Austin to San Antonio for lunch in thirty minutes. However, the project was killed, relatively easily, in the Texas legislature by Southwest and Continential airlines.

This example is not provided to illustrate the benefits high-speed rail would have had for reducing emissions, but to explain that it was relatively easily for a corporation to put its hands down someone's pocket (or in this case send a lobbyist to speak with the offices of the lt. governor and house speaker) to kill the project.

I am not suggesting that companies are per se 'bad.' On the contrary, I feel that specific attributes of the political and legislative system cause such problems and influences. This issue is the most important one to me because it disruptes the republic: the wants and needs of the constituency are not heard; the wants and needs of the special interests are heard loud and clear.

Unfortunately, things will not soon change in the U.S.

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
Good. (2.37 / 8) (#20)
by jet_silver on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:45:30 PM EST

There is so much junk science in the global warming debate that the summit decisions would have been based on a combination of emotion, band-wagon-itis and 'green thinking'. It was an exercise in marketing, not engineering, and it is marketing to the global government market. There is no better way to build an expensive paper mill. Look at Ronald Baily's "Eco-Scam" for a few facts. The most telling: the admission of one of the scientists interviewed (my copy is not to hand right now) that in essence says he polluted the data in his paper in order to pander to public opinion. I would be appalled if the climate came under the control of government. If you want to see something appalling under the control of government, and you live in the US, have a look at a VA hospital.
"What they really fear is machine-gunning politicians becoming a popular sport, like skate-boarding." -Nicolas Freeling
Logic. (3.33 / 3) (#23)
by Spendocrat on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:04:15 PM EST

That's a terrible leap in logic. "This one thing run by the government is bad, thus all things run by the government are bad". If I'm going to follow that line of thinking, no government, corporation or individual should ever be trusted to run anything ever, simply because some government, corporation or individual ran something in a crappy manner at some point.

[ Parent ]
One thing is too little (3.50 / 2) (#24)
by weirdling on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:17:01 PM EST

But our government has generously provided many hundreds of badly managed systems. The deregulation of Conrail and the resulting revival of freight railways, the deregulation of airlines and the resultant benefits to consumers, both point decisively that government isn't good at managing. Of course Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are classic examples of boondoggles that eat close to *half* the federal budget.
I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
benefit to consumers? (2.50 / 2) (#26)
by ChannelX on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:26:38 PM EST

You're kidding about deregulation of the airline industry being good for consumers right? The airline industry has been getting steadily worse year after year. I don't see the benefits so far.

[ Parent ]
The benefit is real (3.50 / 2) (#29)
by weirdling on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:34:19 PM EST

I can fly from Denver to Dallas for $167 if I plan ahead and it isn't peak. I'd say that benefits me, as I have friends in Texas, and it is almost cheaper to fly than drive, but that's not the point; the point is that it is a fourteen hour drive and a three hour flight. I can do it over a long weekend and have most of the weekend there.
I agree the level of service has gone down, but the prices have reduced *dramatically*. It used to be only rich people flew. Now everyone does. Just about anyone can afford an airline ticket if they are careful about how they get it.
It costs $600 some odd to do the same flight on short notice. During the days of regulation, it costed that much no matter when...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Deregulation (3.00 / 2) (#42)
by thePositron on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:23:40 PM EST

I know that this does not address your last post directly but I thought that I would chime in on the deregulation debate. In order to make the point that deregulation is NOT ALWAYS wise is to point to San Diego's power market, where power prices have soared 300% as a result of deregulation. Deregulation does not always benefit consumers in fact it is threatening to throw California into a recession and it is harming citizens of this state who are having a hard time living in the first place.

[ Parent ]
Yes...the price is right but nothing else is (none / 0) (#103)
by ChannelX on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 06:39:40 PM EST

That is the problem. The prices have dropped and now more people can afford to fly. While this is fine it also requires other steps to be taken to prevent the system from becoming overloaded. Those steps *havent* been taken and the problem is getting worse and worse. Were these other areas to be addressed properly I'd competely agree with you.

[ Parent ]
Deregulation doesn't always work (3.50 / 2) (#33)
by Philipp on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 03:55:11 PM EST

How about the deregulation of the power systems in California. The effect is that the power providers are quite happy with the low supply and resulting high prices. Of course, the public suffered black-outs in summer and it is now told not to switch on Christmas lights before 8pm. But what is good for business, is good for America, right?

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]
This is a monopoly (none / 0) (#84)
by weirdling on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 12:10:23 PM EST

Deregulation doesn't work unless there are alternatives. When I was in Texas, you could be on TXU, the state-sponsored monopolistic system with a nuclear power plant, or Johnson County Co-op, the county sponsored power company with only coal plants. Needless to say, the co-op was about 30% cheaper most of the time. This kept TXU honest, because the grids did interchange, and if TXU was hit hard, they had to buy power from Johnson County and vice-versa. You're problem in CA, as I see it, is that there is only one major power company.
I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Implementation over concept. (none / 0) (#94)
by Spendocrat on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 01:35:17 PM EST

From your arguments though I can only safely draw the conclusion that *your* government, or certain types of governments are bad at managing things. The electrical grid and auto-insurance are examples of things that are run very well in my province by crown corporations, essentially companies owned by the government. AFAIK both power and car insurance in Manitoba are some of the cheapest in North America. On top of that, the quality of our electricity is very high, such that we anchor the grids of and sell power to neighbouring states and provinces. There are other mitigating factors of course, yadda yadda, but on to my point.

My point is that government is not necessarily inherently bad at running things. Certain governments (or implementations of government you can say) do some things or all things very poorly. A lot of times a government (or the people within certain departments) are free to do things inefficiently because there's simply no accountability. If something screws up, no one is responsible (in any meaningful way at least).

The type of things that you want to entrust into the hands of government are issues whose handling might run against the main goal of any corporation (to make money, of course). Environmental regulations, the justice system, police, etc, etc. Ideally, businesses would view environmental and social impacts as constraints within which they must operate in order to ethically make a profit. Unfortunately, it seems that the attitude is more one of "Our only ethical imperative is to make a profit. Anything that limits profit is morally wrong.". This may seem a little out there to you, but how many companies to *you* know of that have taken a revenue loss in order to help out the environement outside of regulations mandated by government?

The incompetance of a particular government means that that government might need to be retooled or modified, not necessarily thrown out of that sphere of operation all together.

[ Parent ]

Heh... (2.55 / 9) (#28)
by trhurler on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:29:00 PM EST

Here's what I've never understood about Europeans demonizing the US over environmental issues:

First, cars. At last check, many European-made cars are illegal to sell in the US without first retrofitting them with pollution controls they don't get when sold in Europe. On the other hand, there are zero cars made in the US that need such work to be legal in Europe.

Second, powerplants. Europe uses nuclear a lot. European reactor designs are quite good - they're similar to what the US uses in military roles. Nuclear is good in this context - provided you can handle the waste. While the US has been busily developing methods for this(a fluoride crystal recently was shown to be a viable method, and will probably see use,) Europe has been busy burying its head in the sand while condemning the US for using coal. By comparison, coal is clean IF you can't safely store nuclear waste, which Europe cannot. Not to worry though, because the US is about to teach Europe how to do so:) We all should be moving to a combination of alternative methods, which might well include some use of good nuclear powerplant designs coupled with responsible waste storage plans, and looking forward to fusion, but demonizing any one region is absurd in light of the whole world's abysmal record, and that's what Europeans seem to like doing to the US.

Third, industry. Guess what? Pounds of pollutant per unit production, the US leads the world in clean manufacturing. Europe doesn't even come close, but Europe also doesn't make as much stuff, so it ends up producing less total pollutants. This fact doesn't stop Europeans from preaching in a truly foul holier-than-thou manner.

That's all the serious sources of pollution. I'm not going to say the US is a great environmental leader; it is not. The problem I have is that far too many Europeans act like they're a superior breed that can do no wrong, when in fact they are mostly driven by unsubstantiated fears and statistical lies to demonize a country that basically invented pollution control and environmental planning. The same trend can be seen in life sciences work, where Europeans are opposed to everything that is proposed, and resort to terrorist tactics when their blind fears are not substituted for rational scientific analysis. (Do understand that I am not implying that the US doesn't suffer from the same problems; the point is merely that in this case, the European "bash the US" thing is particularly obvious to anyone whose eyes are open.)

In short, get off your high horse, Europeans. It is easy to make a proposal and then criticize people who don't agree with it, but it is constructive to make a proposal and then look at the problems that arise, thereby giving rise to the possibility of an improved proposal. Very likely, the US will never agree to proposals that significantly harm human interests in favor of environmental concerns, but the two do not have to be opposed, if we let science and good judgement prevail over fear, prejudice and self-righteousness.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Hrmm (3.00 / 3) (#32)
by Aztech on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 03:51:13 PM EST

At last check, many European-made cars are illegal to sell in the US without first retrofitting them with pollution controls they don't get when sold in Europe.
Sorry that just sounds like a jingoistic reasoning for a protectionist car market.

Are you trying to say the american cars are some how superior in the efficiency stakes? I think many people including americans would find it hard to imagine how a 4 litre gas guzzler the size of a tank is somehow efficient. For instance, those SUV's aren't particularly spartan when it comes to fuel consumption.

The EU set down some decent rules on emmissions testing, are the US car companies forced to produce cars with catalytic converts?

There's various incentives schemes the governments run too, for instance I get a 1/3 discount on my road fund because my car was built to certain emmission levels.

[ Parent ]
Emissions vs fuel economy (3.20 / 5) (#34)
by trhurler on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 04:31:55 PM EST

Sorry that just sounds like a jingoistic reasoning for a protectionist car market.
It may sound like it, but this is not the case. Foriegn automakers have a very easy time selling cars here; in fact, they sell more cars here than US automakers do. The reason Europeans don't do so well here is that the cars you export to the US are ridiculously expensive. That's not because of protectionism - that's because most of them are luxury models, and the few that aren't are mostly Volkswagens. VW's US pricing is absurd; they price their cars like low end luxury models even though they equip them no better than the Japanese or the US equip ordinary vehicles. I can buy a Passat for $30,000, or I can buy a Toyota Camry V6 for $23,000. The difference is, the Camry runs just as clean, gets just as good fuel efficiency, has more power, more cargo space, more passenger room, and is vastly more reliable. Protectionism, my ass. I suspect the real problem is that European regulations make European automakers incapable of competing with Asian and US pricing.
Are you trying to say the american cars are some how superior in the efficiency stakes? I think many people including americans would find it hard to imagine how a 4 litre gas guzzler the size of a tank is somehow efficient. For instance, those SUV's aren't particularly spartan when it comes to fuel consumption.
Fuel efficiency is one thing, and emissions are another. The latter are what really matter to the environment. Cars sold in the US have to meet quite stringent standards, and those standards get a little bit tougher with every passing year.
The EU set down some decent rules on emmissions testing, are the US car companies forced to produce cars with catalytic converts?
All cars sold in the US have been required to use catalytic converters for over twenty years now, unlike European cars. They've also been required to meet specific emissions tests for that same time period. At this point, the next car I buy will probably produce so little emissions that it won't even register on the new and more sensitive gear they use to measure exhaust in my home state - and that's with a decent 3.0 liter six cylinder, not some 3 cylinder electric-assist 60hp barely-makes-it-up-hills piece of crap. If the EU finally did mandate decent emissions controls, then maybe we'll quit seeing European cars having to be modified to be sold in the US, but that depends on how stringent those standards actually are.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Europe != EU (3.00 / 3) (#37)
by Philipp on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 04:44:44 PM EST

You can't really look at EU standards the same as US standards. The EU is still very weak compared its member countries. For instance, Germany has mandatory catalytic converters for over a decade and regular smog checks which only exist in a few states in the US. This may not be true for Greece, or countries outside of the EU, such as Albania. When you compare the environmental standards of countries that are economically on the level of the US (such as Germany, UK, France, ...), you'll find that they have many more stricter emission standards (not just for cars) than the US. Furthermore, there is a much higher degree of concern for the environment. Activists in the US are still mostly seen as "tree huggers" and even the next president, W, is not so sure about the whole global warming thing.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]
There's a reason for that... (1.50 / 4) (#39)
by trhurler on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 04:58:13 PM EST

The fact is, in the US, most environmentalists ARE tree huggers. It may be that there is an intelligent science-based movement in Europe, although I've yet to see any evidence of this and have seen evidence to the contrary, but in the US, environmentalists base their claims on junk science and scare tactics rather than facts, and they typically make claims like this one from Al Gore: "The internal combustion engine is the worst threat to mankind. It must be eliminated immediately!"

What I see in Europe, from here appears to be to be no better. There was talk about how the rain in Britain must be proof of global warming - until a scientist using evidence found in caves proved that the rain was not at all abnormal for the region. There is talk about how "global warming is a fact," despite the fact that not one reputable study has linked any human activity to climate change in any even vaguely conclusive way. There is talk about how biotechnology should be banned - even though it has been in successful use for at least ten years now with no significant problems. There is talk about how we're going to run out of fossil fuels - despite the fact that we're discovering new fossil fuel deposits at an ever increasing rate. There is talk about how we're destroying the ozone - despite the fact that no manmade chemical has been detected anywhere near the "ozone hole." I'm not saying none of this stuff is true, but until someone actually does a proper, reputable analysis of it instead of using fearmongering to pass political measures that don't address the facts and just make people feel good about having "done something" about a phantasmal problem, I do not think the US should be involved.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
monstrously ill-informed (2.00 / 3) (#59)
by streetlawyer on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 03:42:00 AM EST

There is, of course, a wealth of scientific research supporting the connection between carbon dioxide and global warming, CFC production and ozone depletion, etc, but you don't come across it if the only things you read are right-wing tracts telling you that "not one single reputable study" has proved this or that.

In fact, of course, the world is not mad, and governments tend to pass unpopular, inconvenient legislation only in response to a wealth of scientific evidence. Which is why biotechnology has in fact not been banned, while CFCs have.

And the statement that "no manmade chemical has been found anywhere near the ozone hole" is pretty silly -- the reason for this is precisely that CFCs react with ozone so quickly.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Ozone decomposition (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by ambrosen on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 10:12:05 AM EST

And the statement that "no manmade chemical has been found anywhere near the ozone hole" is pretty silly -- the reason for this is precisely that CFCs react with ozone so quickly.
I thought it was chlorine reacting with ozone myself, after the CFCs had decomposed. Not that I disagree with you at all.

Word from the <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/global/globalfaq.jsp>New Scientist is that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will cause a 1 degree (celsius) global temperature rise, with complications coming into effect as that affects other temperature regulation systems. Just if anyone needed proof.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]

Assertions do not facts make... (1.00 / 1) (#99)
by sec on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 02:34:40 PM EST

You can say that there's a wealth of evidence, but that doesn't make it so. If there was so much evidence, then why did 17,000 climatologists sign a petition saying that there wasn't?



[ Parent ]

17,000 climatologists? (1.00 / 1) (#110)
by streetlawyer on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 04:41:11 AM EST

that doesn't sound very likely at all. I doubt that there are 17,000 climatologists in the entire world.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Hmm (3.33 / 3) (#43)
by Aztech on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:25:41 PM EST

Well... I'm not sure what you're measuring against, it also depends what you mean by EU, each nation state has varying rules, I know the UK the emission and noise standards are very stringent, my brother's three year old car failed an emissions test on his MOT (annual car testing), it turns out the car wasn't truly warmed up properly and this threw his emission levels on the required limit, there was nothing technically wrong with the car, but it was enough to bring him over the limit.

Fuel efficiently is also a concern, this isn't primarily just to environmental concern, but cost, many people couldn't afford to drive round in a 4 litre showgun because the fuel costs are x5 the cost in the US (that soon adds up when you're buying a few gallons).

The emissions are no just an environmental concern either, it's also a public health matter, carbon monoxide out of cars and lorries have been blamed for asthma in children, so the rules governing emissions are strict, HGV's are being encouraged to use ultra low sulpha diesel.

German cars are expensive by convention, VW's are actually quite cheap in the US when comparing to the UK, for instance the new VW Beatle is around $23us here. However, "expensive" is relative, I'm amazed that people complain about paying $1 a gallon or however petty the price is.

Fuel efficiency is one thing, and emissions are another. The latter are what really matter to the environment.
Both are equally important IMHMO, if you're burning less fuel, you're obviously outputting less fumes.

[ Parent ]
Partly true (2.66 / 3) (#48)
by trhurler on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 06:00:00 PM EST

there was nothing technically wrong with the car, but it was enough to bring him over the limit.
We're having similar problems here, and unfortunately, it has caused more than a few lawsuits in our already clogged courts:(
HGV's are being encouraged to use ultra low sulpha diesel.
Our big diesels have been running pretty clean for quite a while; buses and whatnot are often dirty, but long-haul truckers insist on efficiency and cleanliness because it saves them big money over time in fuel and repair costs.
German cars are expensive by convention, VW's are actually quite cheap in the US when comparing to the UK, for instance the new VW Beatle is around $23us here. However, "expensive" is relative, I'm amazed that people complain about paying $1 a gallon or however petty the price is.
The Beetle isnt much cheaper here, and they're trying hard to sell more expensive models. Most people are finding them not to be worth it, because for what the nicer Volkswagens cost, you can buy a much, much nicer low-end BMW, and obviously either they don't want to spend that much or else they want the nicest car possible:) Basically, though, there are NO cost effective European imports to the US. I'm thinking about buying one of the new BMW Minis when they arrive here in the US - this is a tiny little car, but it will still cost close to $20,000 in the US.

As for gas prices, complaints are relative; people used to spending 90 cents a gallon will complain when it goes to $1.50, and people used to spending $5 a gallon will complain when it goes to $7.50. The numbers are different, but the trend is the same: people complain when prices go up:)
Both are equally important IMHMO, if you're burning less fuel, you're obviously outputting less fumes.
Keep in mind that a modern US-made v8 has better emissions than some of the late 70s four cylinders the US and Japan made, despite not having nearly the fuel economy. There is quite a lot to be said for superior technology and the will to apply it in solving problems.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
specious reasoning (2.50 / 4) (#56)
by streetlawyer on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 03:17:49 AM EST

Fuel efficiency is one thing, and emissions are another. The latter are what really matter to the environment.

The Kyoto summit on *global warming*. Read the title. Fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide production are what matter in the specific context of *global warming*. I can't decide whether you just failed to think, or whether you're intentionally talking up a dust cloud to try to confuse the issue, but either way, knock it off.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

erratum (1.33 / 3) (#57)
by streetlawyer on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 03:34:33 AM EST

Hague summit, of course, not Kyoto

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
For the confused (none / 0) (#66)
by codemonkey_uk on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 05:10:02 AM EST

The Hague is the "Sixth Session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, COP 6", the purpose of which was to (try to) finialise the Kyoto protocol.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Efficiency. (3.33 / 3) (#47)
by Narcischizm on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:43:29 PM EST

I believe I have covered this before (SUV discussion), but I will do it again because I really do take this personally. You need to actually look at the numbers before you start pointing fingers.

3 vehicles with automatic transmissions using regular (87 octane) fuel

Toyota Camry Solara 20/27 city/hwy, 22 combined, 3.0 liter/6cyl
Volkswagen Jetta 19/26 city/hwy 21 combined 2.8 liter/6cyl
Jeep Cherokee 17/22 city/hwy 19 combined 4.0 liter/6cyl

The Jeep weighs nearly twice as much as either of these cars, which is the most effective gas guzzler? So I guess the comment can be turned around, those VWs/Toyotas aren't exactly spartan...

[ Parent ]
Proves My Point (3.00 / 3) (#49)
by Aztech on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 06:00:06 PM EST

Is that ~ 20 miles per gallon? That really is quite poor by any accounts.

Az.

[ Parent ]
My point (none / 0) (#80)
by Narcischizm on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 10:21:07 AM EST

I was not trying to hop on the side of trhurler's post. My point was simply, don't focus only on SUVs (as your post hinted) when you focus on vehicles with poor gas mileage. Poor gas mileage is NOT exclusive to SUVs, mileage on passenger cars (domestic and import) are also abysmal. The Light Truck category, which includes SUVs, constitutes a low percent of the auto sales market in the US. They just get more media attention. The example was simply to show how two imported mid-size passenger vehicles measure up to an average domestic mid-size SUV.

I know it was a minor nitpick of your comment. He presented you with plenty of ways to challenge the 'facts' in his post without being somewhat innaccurate.

[ Parent ]
Efficiency is ideally not mass-related. (3.00 / 1) (#63)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 04:43:29 AM EST

Except for the acceleration and deceleration of a vehicle, all fuel usage is due primarily to losses to friction (internal and surface), and wind resistance. Under ideal circumstances there would be zero losses due to wind resistance (think driving in a vacuum) and friction (think rocket sled on perfectly smooth ice). Circumstances are never ideal in the real world of course, but fuel efficiency does not scale with mass. Fuel usage per kilogram is not a useful measure of efficiency.

[ Parent ]
True 'dat (none / 0) (#81)
by Narcischizm on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 10:39:49 AM EST

But not my point. People single out SUVs as being the only vehicles on the road that get poor gas mileage, when the problem of poor gas mileage has a much broader base 'to which the finger can be flipped'. IMO, the two midsize imports should be getting at least 30-50% better mileage than a mid size SUV. I had a 1981 VW Rabbit (not a Honey-catcher in the slightest) that averaged 55 MPG. The Best MPG of any car sold in the US today is comparable with that. MPG should have improved in 20 years.

[ Parent ]
What people buy. (none / 0) (#78)
by ambrosen on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 10:01:25 AM EST

You are of course talking about cars with 3 litre engines. I don't doubt that they're all pretty much as fuel inefficient as each other, wherever they come from. The simple fact is that these cars are rare in Europe. If I go and look out of the window, I'll see a hundred or so cars with engines varying in size from 1.1 litres to 2.0 litres and very little bigger than that (the odd BMW or Mercedes, maybe a Volvo). And all those cars do 30-40 miles per gallon.

The issue over emissions testing is nothing to do with climate control. It's to do with keeping the air breathable in cities, and that doesn't require low CO2 emissions, it requires low emissions of carbon monoxide, ozone, oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide and particulates. All of which are local pollutants, but not bad on the global scale.

My personal opinion is that a little less car dependency would be the best way round this kind of problem. I just happen to live in a city where I can walk to everything, and up until recently I could get anywhere I wanted conveniently by train. And it's brilliant. And it's safe. The fact is that bad driving kills people, and bad driving is inescapable. 42 000 people died due to bad driving in 1997 in the US (most recent figures available). The population is 5 times that of the UK. 3590 people died in the UK in 1998. It seems that the love of the car is killing a lot of people. That doesn't count its general effect on public health due to lack of fitness. Anyway, that's all a bit off topic, but the general point is that not only is it not right for such a large proportion of the world's resources to be devoted to auto transport, but there's no point.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]

Some mistakes (4.00 / 3) (#36)
by Philipp on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 04:33:57 PM EST

You make some very general statements, so I looked up some numbers that refute these. First cars: While fuel efficient cars are becoming very popular in Europe (there is talk of a "3-liter-car", meaning roughly 75 miles per gallon), the latest trend in the US is to drive around in tanks. The effect is that the average mpg in the US is 23.8 and declining, while it is 25 in Europe (with a goal of 31.4 mpg). The statement you make about European cars being illegal in the US may be true only for some manufacturers, and only for California which has very high emission standards. Can you back that up?

What power plants are concerned, just look at the emissions from coal burning power plants where the US leads the world. Talking about clean energy, there is currently a craze in Europe for wind energy that has not really caught up in the US.

The negotiation position of the US during the summit was explicitely not to accept anything that might harm the US economy. Apparently there is a 2/3 majority needed in Congress, and you can easily see how little can be accomplished this way. I don't have to remind you who is funding the campaigns of senators and representatives?

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]

Uh... (2.50 / 4) (#38)
by trhurler on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 04:49:52 PM EST

Well, without some sources, those numbers don't mean a whole lot. US law mandates that the average fuel economy must be a certain figure, and that figure rises a bit every year. This is the CAFE regulation, if you want to look it up. I don't know the exact schedule, but I do know that automakers face stiff penalties if the goals aren't met.

Wind energy is nice. We're looking into geothermal here. The problem we have is, we have too much power consumption for wind to work in the US except in a few very windy places. It has been tried, but it is a special purpose technology in the US. On the other hand, the US may well end up without having many large power plants in 10-20 years, because it won't be too long before it will be cheaper for me to make power in a fuel cell than to buy it from the electric company. Fuel cells are quite clean and require no nonrenewable resources to operate. I still say that Europeans have no business complaining about US coal plants until they figure out how they're going to dispose of all the nuclear waste their commercial reactors are creating.

As for the 2/3 majority, yes, that is written in the US Constitution, and it has served us quite well; it prevents us from overeasily becoming entangled in foriegn commitments that the majority of US citizens do not support. Most treaties do eventually pass anyway, but often in modified form. This is a way of protecting US soveriegnty - don't expect it to change.

I'll go ahead and admit that when I talk about European cars not passing US emissions, most of those are not the cars Europeans drive - but they are the ones that Europe exports to the US. Mostly luxury models and sports cars. If Europe actually sold economy models in the US, I'd be interested in them, but for some reason or other, virtually every import from Europe is massively expensive and generally they're not as reliable as the Japanese imports(but then, nothing is:)

By the way, speaking of Japanese imports, they've got some astonishingly fuel efficient and clean-burning cars on the market both in Japan and the US. I sat in a car last time I went to dealerships that is rated at 80mpg and has been anecdotally shown to get up to 90mpg if you are very careful driving it(the Honda hybrid.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Check the links (4.00 / 2) (#40)
by Philipp on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:00:42 PM EST

Well, without some sources, those numbers don't mean a whole lot.

That's why I took half an hour to look them up and provide so-called "hyperlinks" to the information.

Apparently the CAFE regulation you are quoting is not working very well. If I recall correctly the reason that monster-trucks that people are buying nowadays are exempted is because they are trucks and not cars.

And about nuclear energy: Sweden and Germany have taken the lead in abandoning it altogether.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]

SUVs are trucks, BTW (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by magney on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 10:51:10 PM EST

Look closely at an SUV next to a pickup truck sometime, particularly a pickup truck that has a cap installed, and you'll see a very distinct resemblance. An SUV is basically a pickup truck with a different interior and somewhat different styling.

Of course, this is merely a reflection of a long-standing trend in US auto-buying to prefer big gas-guzzlers to small econo-boxes. I prefer the econo-boxes myself, but I'm well out of the US car-buying mainstream.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

***Blatant lie about treaty ratification ***** (1.66 / 3) (#58)
by streetlawyer on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 03:37:20 AM EST

As for the 2/3 majority, yes, that is written in the US Constitution, and it has served us quite well; it prevents us from overeasily becoming entangled in foriegn commitments that the majority of US citizens do not support. Most treaties do eventually pass anyway, but often in modified form. This is a way of protecting US soveriegnty - don't expect it to change.

Funny, Article II of the US Constitution seems to think otherwise:

the President shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties
So, for a start, we're talking about the Senate only here, not "Congress". Clinton has already signed the Kyoto Agreement. And under the Vienna Convention on Treaties signed by an official representative are binding. In fact, the Convention specifically says that a signatory is "obligated to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty" and cannot "invoke the provisions of its internal law [such as the U.S. Constitution] as justification for its failure to perform a treaty." And that treaty is one to which the USA is bound.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Puhlease (1.50 / 2) (#92)
by farmgeek on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 01:00:37 PM EST

Would you care to try and enforce it? Get real.

As far as most Americans are concerned the constitution trumps any international 'law' and always will.

I am definately pulling all the catalytic converters and smog control equipment out my cars.

Fortunately, living in one of those backwards southern states that could care less what you drive until you personally kill someone with it, I can do that.

[ Parent ]
Enforcing ... (3.00 / 2) (#95)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 01:38:35 PM EST

... is easy; the onus is placed on car manufacturers to ensure that vehicles match new emission standards. The WTO is there to ensure international arbitration. The car market is global enough that the manufacturers will play ball.

That won't stop anyone who really wants to from modifying his car to emit more, not less CO2, but that's going to be a small percentage, and a dwindling one at that.

[ Parent ]

The US spews out far more CO2 per person (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by goonie on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 12:20:26 AM EST

than anywhere in Europe, and burns up a lot of it because US (and Australian consumers, I'm ashamed to admit) are driving around in massive SUVs with gasoline engines and automatic transmissions. Very few middle-class Americans take public transport.

If the US wants to tackle greenhouse emissions it could easily start by radically increasing fuel taxes, using some of the money to fund alternative energy research but giving most of it back as income tax cuts to both businesses and individuals.

However, that would take a US government prepared to take on the US motor industry, who make most of their profits from gas-guzzling SUV's and pickups. I can't see that happening soon :(

[ Parent ]

Isn't it nice... (1.50 / 2) (#82)
by trhurler on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 11:10:10 AM EST

to take one number and bandy it about as though it were Truth with a capital T? Yes, the US produces more pollution per capita than anyone else. Of course, the US also provides more to everyone else than anyone else, and the US also supports a truly massive military which Europeans don't seem to mind having around to protect them. It is all well and good to talk about worthy goals, but blaming us for doing what you in other contexts BEG us to do is the worst sort of hypocrisy.

As for mass transit, for at least 50% of Americans, it wouldn't be practical even if it was available, because they live in rural areas. Keep in mind that Texas is the size of France by itself; most Europeans seem to have no grasp of the sheer size of the US. For another 40-45% or so, it isn't a desirable option for a reason that anyone who has used public transportation in any US city knows: a trip that should be 15-25 minutes ends up being 2 hours in smelly, poorly cleaned, cramped seating, IF you can find a seat, and that's if it runs on time. Why this is, I do not know, but you cannot fault people for not using it in the condition it is presently in unless you yourself would be willing to spend four hours a day getting to and from work under such conditions. Somehow I doubt that.

And forget about massive fuel taxes; if they were imposed, whoever did it would be voted out of office without any doubt, so nobody will do this. Lots of people like to talk about the environment, but none of them will suffer for it.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
USA! USA! USA! (2.75 / 4) (#86)
by streetlawyer on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 12:16:17 PM EST

my, what a big flag you have, grandma. Y'know, for someone who's as keen as mustard to accuse everyone else of crooked debating tactics, trhurler is awfully prone to spraying mud around to cloud the issue. So we have "The USA gives more to other countries" (this isn't true; the US is a massive borrower and importer of goods from overseas, and a measly donor, smaller than Japan), we have the military, and we have discourses on the size of Texas (!). Precisely none of which are relevant to the fact that CO2 is going to kill a lot of us, the USA produces 25% of the world's Co2 emmissions, and therefore, and I mean no moral judgement on this at all, any solution to the problem of CO2 will have to involve the USA. Christ, if it was garlic butter that was melting the ice caps, we'd be all over the French!

And I can't resist this one -- it's so cute

anyone who has used public transportation in any US city knows: a trip that should be 15-25 minutes ends up being 2 hours in smelly, poorly cleaned, cramped seating, IF you can find a seat, and that's if it runs on time. Why this is, I do not know,
Mister "Libertarian, cut my taxes" can't work out why US public transport is a disgrace, and thinks that the solution is for everyone to get up early and scrub the buses! You couldn't make it up.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Some corrections ... (3.50 / 2) (#87)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 12:18:32 PM EST

Of course, the US also provides more to everyone else than anyone else

Nope. US not mass provider, US mass importer. With a massive trade deficit. To the tune of $300 billion a year. (See this site for more details).

the US also supports a truly massive military which Europeans don't seem to mind having around to protect them.

While I don't think Europeans mind having the US protect 'em, the US is pretty keen on the EU not developing much military clout of its own. See, for instance this article. The US has never been a big fan of EU defense initiatives. If that pisses you off as a US citizen, maybe you should take it up with your local congressman. Let the euros build their own damn army.

As for mass transit, for at least 50% of Americans, it wouldn't be practical even if it was available, because they live in rural areas.

Wrongo. According to Brittanica online 76.4% of all Americans live in urban areas, with 23.6% in rural areas.

Keep in mind that Texas is the size of France by itself; most Europeans seem to have no grasp of the sheer size of the US.

From the US Census Bureau's state-by-state breakdown, it appears that the average merkin's travel time to work is 22.4 minutes. Inhabitants of the great State of Texas have it slightly easier: in this region greater than France they travel an average of 22.2 minutes to work.

trhurler, may I introduce you to the wonders of search engines; a little checking before you post goes a long, long way.

[ Parent ]

Nice statistics... (1.50 / 2) (#90)
by trhurler on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 12:37:16 PM EST

Of course, as usual with facts taken in isolation, the story you try to tell with them is only as accurate as the outcome you wanted to find. Watch closely:
With a massive trade deficit. To the tune of $300 billion a year.
That money came from somewhere. If we didn't produce what we do, that money wouldn't exist to spend. If we didn't spend it, certain other countries would be in a world of hurt. That's not to mention the fact that we also, between private charities, foriegn aid, foriegn military presence, and so on spend a lot more than $300 billion a year overseas. It is quite arguable that we SHOULDN'T do so, but it is not arguable whether we DO.
While I don't think Europeans mind having the US protect 'em, the US is pretty keen on the EU not developing much military clout of its own.
Believe me, I'd be as happy as you can imagine to see the US military come home and defend the US instead of being the world's policeman; the EU can do whatever it wants, and why should I care? Europe isn't our enemy. However, Europe seems to have a different point of view; they want to have their own military, but they also want us to stick around. Funny that.
Wrongo. According to Brittanica online 76.4% of all Americans live in urban areas, with 23.6% in rural areas.
Sure, if you count any town with a population over 50,000 or so as an urban area. Most of those towns can barely afford to keep their streets paved, much less fund any public transit. If urban areas were as overwhelming as you pretend, then Al Gore would have won the presidency in a landslide; he won the cities by huge margins.
From the US Census Bureau's state-by-state breakdown, it appears that the average merkin's travel time to work is 22.4 minutes.
Yes, by their PRESENT means of transportation. NOT by public transit. That was my entire point, and I thank you for backing it up. Try out some US public transportation sometime, and unless you're really lucky and stumble onto one of the two or three systems that work well nationwide and your destination happens to be reachable via them, you'll see what I mean. For practically all Americans, public transit just isn't viable as an option right now, whether or not they want it.
trhurler, may I introduce you to the wonders of search engines; a little checking before you post goes a long, long way.
I used what probably was the first search engine ever devised for the web. I'm familiar with them. However, as you have just aptly shown, the ability to acquire raw factual material is not the same as the ability to actually interpret and apply it in a meaningful fashion.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Put your money where your mouth is ... (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 12:56:38 PM EST

... and back up some of your assertions with facts.

That money came from somewhere. If we didn't produce what we do, that money wouldn't exist to spend. If we didn't spend it, certain other countries would be in a world of hurt

Amen to that. About the only sensible thing you wrote all day. And if you hadn't been busy defending all the assertions you pulled out of your ass you would have noticed that you have now drifted completely off the topic you started on.

That's not to mention the fact that we also, between private charities, foriegn aid, foriegn military presence, and so on spend a lot more than $300 billion a year overseas.

Bullshit.
You are claiming that unaccounted for sources (charities, aid) have quietly siphoned an amount equivalent over a decade to half the entire annual US GDP overseas ? Get back to me when you can substantiate these figures. And make the effort.

Sure, if you count any town with a population over 50,000 or so as an urban area. Most of those towns can barely afford to keep their streets paved, much less fund any public transit. If urban areas were as overwhelming as you pretend

I gave you the source; Britannica in turn derives its sources from the US Census Bureau, whose URL I also provided, but which you were probably far too dumb to check. What part of the sentence did you not understand? You claimed, arbitrarily, that at least 50% of the population was rural. You have another definition of rural? Fine. Back your assertion up with sources. Better yet, go ahead and count heads. The US Census Bureau did just that and I just gave you the figures. Don't give me any Al-Gore-has-the-cities-Bush-has-the-rural-areas-and-that's-how-my-census-goes crap.

I used what probably was the first search engine ever devised for the web

And by the looks of it, you're still using it.

[ Parent ]

Round and round and round... (1.50 / 2) (#93)
by trhurler on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 01:33:53 PM EST

Notice that, for the purposes of this response, I've cited no sources except yours, and I've deliberately left out the link, as we all know where to find the census bureau. You really shouldn't rely on the US census bureau, by the way:)
You are claiming that unaccounted for sources (charities, aid) have quietly siphoned an amount equivalent over a decade to half the entire annual US GDP overseas ?
Either we've got wildly differing figures for US GDP or else your statement makes no sense. I cannot be certain which is the case. Either way, I included more than just charities and so on in that statement, and after you add up government expenses overseas, you already have the majority of that money accounted for. Then, of course, there's the fact that "money spent overseas" includes investment capital... but hey, ignore that fact, right? After all, it doesn't jive with your decision as to what is correct!
I gave you the source; Britannica in turn derives its sources from the US Census Bureau, whose URL I also provided, but which you were probably far too dumb to check. What part of the sentence did you not understand? You claimed, arbitrarily, that at least 50% of the population was rural. You have another definition of rural? Fine. Back your assertion up with sources.
Britannica is a login required site. I'm not interested in getting a login for it, because I get quite enough spam already. However, I'm willing to assume that the figure you quoted was correct insofar as it goes. If you can actually quote the means used to determine what was an urban area, so be it, but if they're relying on census bureau figures, then a lot of those "urban areas" are anything but.
Better yet, go ahead and count heads. The US Census Bureau did just that and I just gave you the figures.
One foriegner tells me the US census bureau is totally wrong, the next cites it as a source, and here you are claiming that it actually counts heads. Do any of you know what you're talking about at all? First off, the census has used statistical methods in producing its figures, so they aren't a headcount. Secondly, they tend to undercount AND underestimate the populations of rural areas. Third, their methods of determining anything more sophisticated than "how many people are in your household," such as average commutes, which you also cited earlier, is to do statistical sampling that, given the response characteristics, is totally meaningless because good respondants are a self selecting sample. But of course, you know none of this, and you don't care. You have a citation, therefore you're right. Whatever.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Are you for real, trhurler ? ... (2.66 / 3) (#97)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 02:04:08 PM EST

.. or do you just not know when to quit ?

Either we've got wildly differing figures for US GDP

You bet. There's the trhurler GDP, which you make up on the spot, and there is the real figure, which my trusty Time Almanac 2000 lists as being approximately 8 trillion a year. You are claiming that more than $300 billion is siphoned out of the US yearly outside the normal trade balance, which means $3 trillion per decade off the books. Prove it, please, don't dodge around here.

Britannica is a login required site

The URL I gave you is requires no login. It is a direct link; I took the trouble of looking it up for you and posting it, and you're too damn lazy to even click the thing ... ????

Then, of course, there's the fact that "money spent overseas" includes investment capital... but hey, ignore that fact, right? After all, it doesn't jive with your decision as to what is correct!

Trade deficit includes investment capital. The US has an annual trade deficit of $300 billion, and that figure, trhurler (and pay attention, you might learn something) includes investment capital.

And I'm going to ignore your rant on the foreigners and the US Census Bureau until you tell me what your reliable, accurate reason was for producing that figure of 50% of the rural population. You want to know what criteria the US Census Bureau uses, click on the URL yourself. The amount of effort you expend to substantiate your own empty statements is zero.

I really don't give a damn whether you believe my citations or not (you do, but you're not going to admit it publicly, that's the kind of troll you are). I purposely chose mainly US sources so as not to be accused of using biased information. I posted the information in response to a posting of yours in which you made several unsubstantiated statements. We have had a lengthy exchange and you still haven't substantiated anything. I give you figures and you question their veracity. Fine. Bring out your own sources. In other words, put up or shut up.

[ Parent ]

Well, I HAD a response... (2.00 / 2) (#101)
by trhurler on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 04:49:35 PM EST

but then, as usual, this pathetic web browser crashed. Here's a shorter response:

First off, most overseas capital investments by US firms are in US owned companies, and those don't count in the trade deficit - but they DO boost foriegn economies.

Secondly, I'll just give up on the population distribution question; if you lived here and travelled and paid attention to voting results and watched the census bureau's machinations, you'd know full well the figure you're touting is bullshit, but I'll just replace the whole claim with this one: almost nobody in the US -can- use public transportation, regardless of desire, and the few who can only do if forced - because it is slower, more unpleasant, and less convenient. I don't even care why it is that way; it IS that way, and unless it changes, arguing about whether people "should" use public transportation in the US is stupid.

Third, your browser must have a cookie that let you into Brittanica, because when I clicked YOUR LINK, I got a login prompt. But hey, just go on calling me an ass; I'm sure that's more fun than you'd get from caring about what is true.

Finally, this business about the GDP. Your figure is about what I expected to hear; I'm assuming that I misread you when I thought you claimed that 300 billion was one half of 8 trillion. Sorry about that, because the mistake is probably mine.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
why don't you look it up????? (1.00 / 1) (#109)
by streetlawyer on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:03:25 AM EST

most overseas capital investments by US firms are in US owned companies, and those don't count in the trade deficit - but they DO boost foriegn economies.

This is simply not true!!! Any investment overseas, whether it takes place inside or outside a corporate boundary, will require the purchase of foreign exchange. This will generate an increase in net foreign assets, the counterpart to which is an increase in net foreign liabilities. The vast majority of intra-company investment is captured in this way.

Furthermore, trhurler seems to be under the impression that the USA invests more abroad each year than it receives in investment from Europe and Asia; this is not the case.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

clarification on the trade deficit (1.00 / 1) (#108)
by streetlawyer on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:59:33 AM EST

Trade deficit includes investment capital. The US has an annual trade deficit of $300 billion, and that figure, trhurler (and pay attention, you might learn something) includes investment capital.

This statement is true, but misleading. The trade deficit is exactly what it says; the net difference between US exports and imports. It forms part of the current account balance (in the USA's case, a deficit), which includes services as well as trade in goods.

The current account is counterbalanced by the capital account, which is the balance between US investment overseas and overseas investment in the US. Clearly, overseas investment in the US is greater than US investment overseas. For this reason, I have a bit of a problem with saying that the trade deficit "includes investment capital"; investment capital is part of the counterpart to the trade deficit, rather than the trade deficit itself.

However, of course, the fact that the USA invests borrowed money which it does not own overseas tends to exacerbate the trade deficit, and increases its dependence on overseas capital. It's more a difference of terminology than anything else.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

heh, heh (1.00 / 1) (#107)
by streetlawyer on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:54:49 AM EST

there's the fact that "money spent overseas" includes investment capital

Of course it doesn't; spending is not investment, nor vice versa.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

don't be so coy (1.00 / 1) (#106)
by streetlawyer on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:52:45 AM EST

That money came from somewhere.

In fact, it came from Japan, which is the biggest single creditor of the USA and has been bank-rolling the trade deficit for the last ten years.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Could we at least stick on topic? (none / 0) (#105)
by goonie on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 09:30:53 PM EST

...to take one number and bandy it about as though it were Truth with a capital T? Yes, the US produces more pollution per capita than anyone else.
This is a discussion about greenhouse gas emission. In this discussion, I can't see how that statistic can be anything other than relevant. As to its accuracy, I've seen the figures quoted in publications from New Scientist to Time.
Of course, the US also provides more to everyone else than anyone else, and the US also supports a truly massive military which Europeans don't seem to mind having around to protect them.

Are you trying to tell me that the US burns up all its extra CO2 supporting the military? Who are you trying to kid? By the way, in case you hadn't noticed I'm from Australia - about as far away from Europe if you can possibly get (not that we don't also appreciate the military alliance with the US).

As for mass transit, for at least 50% of Americans, it wouldn't be practical even if it was available, because they live in rural areas. Keep in mind that Texas is the size of France by itself; most Europeans seem to have no grasp of the sheer size of the US.
Funnily enough, living in Australia and growing up in a rural area I do have some grasp of sparsely populated rural areas. You're right - public transport is not practical for those areas. However, gas-guzzling V8 gasoline-powered pickups trucks and SUV's are *not* required to motor around even small towns. They're even less necessary for the huge numbers of outer-suburban mothers who use them as expensive, difficult-to-handle and expensive-to-run people movers and men who use them as penis extensions. If people want to do that, fine. It'd just be nice if they *paid* for the privilege of fucking up the rest of the world.
For another 40-45% or so, it isn't a desirable option for a reason that anyone who has used public transportation in any US city knows: a trip that should be 15-25 minutes ends up being 2 hours in smelly, poorly cleaned, cramped seating, IF you can find a seat, and that's if it runs on time.

You're just providing an excellent argument for additional investment in public transport. Even if this is too difficult for US cities to manage, it doesn't alter the fact that nobody needs a 5000-pound truck to drive to work.

[ Parent ]

*yawn* (2.00 / 3) (#55)
by streetlawyer on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 03:15:17 AM EST

Here's what I've never understood about Europeans demonizing the US over environmental issues:

actually, it's just a small sampler of what you've never understood. The reason that the USA is identified as the problem is twofold: The USA produces more carbon dioxide per head than anywhere else, and the USA produces more toxic pollutants per head than anywhere else. It's always easy to start gabbling about specific cases in this or that industry, but the big picture is clear. Each American consumes more of the world's resources and produces more of the world's pollutants than each citizen of anywhere else.

Oh yeh, and the USA is way behind Japan in almost all the areas in which you claim it "leads the world".

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Nuclear waste (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by thomasd on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 07:26:43 AM EST

The UK actually has a pretty good history of looking into the handling of nuclear waste -- or at least, they did until recently. The BNFL plant at Sellafield is certainly the leading edge in terms of reprocessing, and they have contracts around the world (I even heard talk about a contract in the US -- don't know if they got it in the end or not). But lately, nuclear power has got such a bad name in western europe that I'm not sure there's much future. Since Sizewell B opened something like 10 years ago, there hasn't been any serious talk of new nuclear installations in the UK. So I guess we're stuck with large amounts of CO2 for the forseeable future.

Sometimes I could shoot near-sighted `environmentalists'. *sigh*.



[ Parent ]
So what do you suggest we all do then? (4.00 / 2) (#83)
by seb on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 11:25:41 AM EST

You may or may not be correct that Europe is at least as bad as the US environmentally. You are certainly correct that Europeans regard the US with a mixture of bewliderment and anger over this issue.

But so what? I'm British, you're American. I'm bothered about what we're collectively doing to the world. I'm bothered about the whole nuclear power issue. I'm bothered about insane levels of car useage. Are you?

I'm not going to refuse to enter into a dialogue with you on the basis that you burn more fuel than me, and I'd like to think you wouldn't refuse to talk to me because I don't dispose of nuclear waste very well.

If your facts are correct, then the US position should be, "we'll commit to carbon emission decreases if you commit to sorting out your power stations" (for example). As far as I can tell (albeit from a US-sceptic european media), the US position has in fact been "we will do nothing that may jepardise our economy".


I'm worried that your "why should they tell us what to do" standpoint, with which I have some sympathy, hides a "why should *we* do anything" attitude. I'd love to be told I'm wrong, though.

[ Parent ]
Vonnegut does have a good point: (3.00 / 7) (#35)
by Colin Winters on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 04:33:40 PM EST

"I realized," said Trout, "that God wasn't any conservationist, so for anybody else to be one was sacrilegious and a waste of time. You ever see one of His volcanoes or torandoes or tidal waves? Anybody ever tell you about the Ice Ages he arranges for every half-million years? How bout Dutch Elm disease? There's a nice conservation measure for you. That's God, not man. Just about the time we got our rivers cleaned up, he's probably have the whole galaxy go up like a celluloid collar."

look at the problem from another point (4.33 / 6) (#60)
by luethke on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 03:52:35 AM EST

I suppose I will be flamed for saying this but there is still no real proof that we are responsible for global warning. In fact there is plenty evidence that we have very little to do with it.First off lets look at what has gone on in the past. We are comming of the end of an ice age - we still have not gotten back to the average temp that the earth has been throught time - we will continue to get warmer even if we COMPLETLY STOP producing greenhouse gasses. How many of you remeber when the greenhouse gasses were first found. I remeber in the early 80's hearing how we are going to push ourselves into another ice age, there were many many things theses gasses caused that will cool the earth. After several years they noticed the average temp was rising so then they worked out how the gasses cased heat. In 1992 when a simialr UN group met they predicted massive droughts, millions of people starving, canada and siberia being the main grain producers by the year 2000. Florida would mostly be under the ocean (obviosly from the US election news that one did not occur) and most of the southern US being one large desert. Of course this did not happen. take a quick look at the hole in the ozone. When they first were able to measure ozone it was there. The pictures you see when it is huge is taken during one of the times it is large, when it is at it's smallest it looks like a small coin stuck on top of the globe - not as frightening as the other picture. It's important to look at what they have predicted in the past, every ten years they give about the same prediction for ten years in the future - it has yet to come true. They use scare tactics "sure we have been wrong, but what if we are right?" They propose radical solutions that require massive investements in time and money. They ask nations to give up a large part of thier sovereignty and then are shocked and outraged when it doesn't occur.

I would like to temper what I said a little. The stuff we put into the atmosphere can not be good for us in high enough concentrations. There are common sense type things we can do - if there is a reasonable clean solution we should use it. don't spew freon in large quantities, use clean power plant if possible (and realise that there are places where clean may not work). I realise places that have smog problems that it is really a problem and should be combated. But why should someone in switzerland be put under strict emiisions because los angeles california has a smog problem? Another thing to look at: is the solution supplied beneficial. Bankrupting countries is a bad thing - countries with wealth are the countries that tend to try to develope and deploy clean solutions. Just doing something because "at least we are trying" is a horrid excuse.

one last thing is to keep this in perspective. First make sure it is us before we add sever hardships on the people. We are comming out of an ice age so we should be warming rather quickly (on of the ice age had something like a 5-10 degree drop in average temperature in 50 years - much faster than what the envirnmentalist are predicting now). Also take our pollution in perspective. the last large volcano eruption (don't remeber which one) put out more pollution in a week than we have in the history of mankind. If we had an industrial accident like that it would be the environmental distater of the century, instead many environmentalist classify it as "too much to quick to have an impact". They say that what we have done is much worse, but they have no proof, they can not because the impact would take so long. Because we can not show if it will have a huge impact over what they earth naturaly does we need to look closely at what is proposed. Do preventive measures (it is *possible* we can have an impact, we just simply can't know at this point) if the cost is not too high.

That's not quite the point .. (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 04:35:19 AM EST

... the point is not that there's 100% proof of the current temperature rise being due to human activity, or that non-human factors don't influence the weather.

It's simply that the average world temperature has risen 2-3 degrees the last century, and may rise another 3 degrees this century. That is an almost unprecedented increase, in an extremely short time span. It correlates rather well with the rise in emissions of manmade greenhouse gases. There is quite widespread scientific consensus on this; not every scientist agrees with this, of course, and not every dissenter is a crackpot or a lackey of the petroleum industry. But the overwhelming majority of trained, professional scientists who have spent time, energy and money investigating the matter have come to the conclusion that it is a problem, and that man-made causes are a significant contribution. That's the reason politicians and governments should sit up and take notice. That's also the reason I myself believe that human activities are a major contribution to the temperature increase: I am myself no expert, I have not personally conducted any research, and in the absence of any convincing objective reason to doubt their conclusions, I will accept the mainstream scientific conclusion, not the fringe conclusion.

[ Parent ]

re: That's not quite the point .. (none / 0) (#64)
by luethke on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 04:54:44 AM EST

It's simply that the average world temperature has risen 2-3 degrees the last century, and may rise another 3 degrees this century. That is an almost unprecedented increase, in an extremely short time span.
Actually it is NOT that unprecedented. It is not the fastest or the slowest we have seen. There has been very much faster changes well before humans ever produced a single greenhouse gas.

I am myself no expert, I have not personally conducted any research, and in the absence of any convincing objective reason to doubt their conclusions, I will accept the mainstream scientific conclusion, not the fringe conclusion.

I am not an expert exactly either but I have read alot of scientific journals (boy that sounds like some cooky commercial "i'm not a doctor but...." :) ). I, at one time, wanted to be a peleontlogist dealing with the mammals in the last few ice ages (untill I discovered computers that is). So while not an expert I can follow the arguments and know some of the history. I also enjoy reading journals from our local college library (real journals, not scientific american or newsstand journals). You have to realise that much of what we hear through mainstram media (including scientific american) is chosen based on magazine sales. Think about much of the things you read in these types of magazines about computers, how skewed they are, and assume they are that skewed about everything else they talk about. From what I have read mainstream scientific conclusion is inconclusive. They have observed an increase that co-incides with carbon production - but it also coincides with what should happen when on the tail end of an ice age. Us causing it makes better news so that tends to be run. Fringe conclusions tend to be people that are enmphatic at both sides. That was one of the points - nearly all thier predictions have been wildy off, so off that in any other field we would ignore them, or at the least be very skeptical of thier conclusions now. Another point I wanted to make is watch making sweeping and invasive legislation on what *might* be the cause.

[ Parent ]
I understand your position ... (none / 0) (#70)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 06:32:13 AM EST

... and while ten years ago, at the beginning of the nineties I would have agreed with you that the causes were unclear, right now my tendency is to believe that man is indeed responsible for a significant part of the global temperature rise. My major is in physics (Masters), so I have some experience in judging the leanings and biases of scientific journals.

I have seen in the 90's a general shift in mainstream opinion from "maybe" in the early '90s to "probably" in the late '90s and presently. There are all sorts of possible factors: we are in an Ice Age interstitium, the sun's output has increased slightly since the 1600s, natural effects like volcanoes contribute to climate shift -- all these things have to be modelled and accounted for. The question is, how great are man-made contributions? On the one hand, we have CO2 and methane emissions from industry, dams, livestock etc; on the other hand particle emissions like soot and smog block sunlight and reduce temperature; deforestation removes carbon sinks and releases CO2, increasing temperature; then again deforestation slightly raises the planet's albedo, also a temperature decreasing effect ... it's pretty complex, that's why I say I can't evaluate it objectively myself.

But what I have noticed in publications and reviews is that there is a shift towards acceptance of a significant man-made component of the recent temperature rise, and more confidence in the models and calculations that indicate this. (Pinch of salt: the only general scientific publications and popularizations I read on a regular basis in the 90's were Nature, Scientific American, New Scientist and to a lesser extent Science, so what these journals publish tends to influence my definition of "mainstream". I have never, ever read a mainstream climatological journal, only synopses and reviews of articles from them).

Finally, a P.S.: As far as popular-science magazines go, I find both the New Scientist and the Scientific American to be fairly level headed publications, with the Scientific American being the more even of the two. The New Scientist is a British weekly rag, and has a tendency to pay too much attention to the latest hype-du-jour, while the SciAm (a US monthly) takes a steadier, more balanced approach to its articles.

[ Parent ]

Failure for politicians; success for humanity. (3.62 / 8) (#71)
by sec on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 06:40:14 AM EST

Yes, the talks may have failed to produce any sort of agreement, but should that really be considered a failure?

There are two big problems with the whole thing:

1) The scientific evidence for the enhanced greenhouse effect is questionable, at best.

2) The conference wasn't about the environment at all.

Let me go into these two points in more detail:

As for the first point, everybody involved is begging the question: is the earth in fact warming, and if so, is it human activity that is causing it? Let's see...

Usually, the surface record is pointed to as proof that the world is warming. The surface record is a statistical composite of all the temperature readings from weather stations around the world. But, how accurate is it?

Not particularly, as it turns out. The biggest problem with it is what is known as the 'Urban Heat Island effect'. What is happening is that human-built structures absorb heat during the day, and re-radiate it at night, causing a net increase in the temperature recorded by any weather station in the vincinity. It is to be noted that this is a local effect, and the total effect it has globally is negligible (more on this later).

Indeed, many weather stations are in urban areas, and many that started out in urban areas are now being encroached upon by urban sprawl. Rural weather stations by and large do not show any warming trends.

Weather stations are also tempermental beasts. They are notoriously sensitive to placement, and to the configuration of any natural or man-made features in the area.

The surface record can also be vulnerable to political factors. For example, in the old Soviet Union, the central government allocated coal to the various regions based on how cold the region was. Problem was, they never allocated enough. Therefore, the authorities in various regions underreported the temperature, so that they would be allocated more coal, producing an artificial cooling in the data. When the Soviet Union broke up, there was no longer any reason to misreport the temperature, so they stopped. It therefore looked like there was a large warming in this area in the early 90's, even though there wasn't.

There are also no weather stations in the oceans. Consequently, there is little data for the ocean areas, even though they make up the majority of the earth's surface.

But, there's no need to rely on the surface record. Radiosonde data, and weather sattelite data also exist. Both show no significant warming trend since the late 70's.

Global warming advocates also like to point to their computer models, which invariably predict all sorts of warming. The problem is that these models predict that the warming should be most pronounced in the arctic and the antarctic, but neither area shows any warming.

The biggest problem with the models is that they make a questionable assumption. A little background is in order here. Carbon dioxide is actually a very weak greenhouse gas, and even the people who make these models state that the total warming due to CO2 is barely perceptible. The major greenhouse gas is in fact water vapour.

By analogy, consider a computer that costs $1000, and a cable that costs $10. If the cable were to double in price, to $20, it wouldn't significantly raise the price of a system consisting of a computer and a cable, right?

Well, water vapour is analagous to the computer, and CO2 is analagous to the cable. Increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere wouldn't significantly contribute to global warming.

However, the people who make the computer models posited a positive feedback mechanism whereby increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere causes the amount of water vapour to increase as well. The problem is that there's no scientific evidence for this. In fact, the evidence seems to be against it. Consequently, all of the computer models are flawed -- they overestimate the climate change.

But, there's scientific consensus that the enhanced greenhouse effect is real, right?

Wrong.

A petition has been circulated among climatologists and other related scientists, stating that the science behind the Kyoto Protocol is fundamentally flawed. It has been signed by over 17,000 scientists. That doesn't seem like consensus to me -- or, if it is, then it's consensus for the opposite point of view.

A good summary of the case against the enhanced greenhouse effect can be seen here.

So, the science looks pretty weak. What was the conference all about, anyway?

Economics, pure and simple. The environment wasn't the point of the conference at all, but merely an excuse for the various governments to try to come to an agreement which would benefit them by crippling other country's economies with strict and pointless environmental regulations. It was all about trying to get a competetive advantage.

So, citizens of both Europe and the US should be thankful that they failed.



tired of reading the same old rubbish (none / 0) (#77)
by codemonkey_uk on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 09:49:29 AM EST

If you'd bothered to read the comments already posted then you would realise that these arguments have already been marched out, and refuted.

It doesn't matter if its unprovable, the point is, there are two choices:

1) Assume that global warming is happening, caused by the influence of humanity, and take mesures to reduce that impact, potentially preventing, or at least delaying the effects global warming will have. Even if this assumtion is proved wrong, humanity will be prepaired for when fosal fuels run out.

2) assume that global warming is not an issue, and continue as we are. If this is proved wrong, then it will be to late to do anything about it.

Take your pick.

---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
I'm not the one spewing rubbish. (2.00 / 1) (#96)
by sec on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 01:53:44 PM EST

Not only is the enhanced greenhouse effect not proven, the science shows that it is quite likely to be _disproven_. This makes all the difference. After all, you could trot your argument out for anything -- better stop doing it, because you'll go blind. It's not proven, of course, but if you keep doing it, and you go blind, it will be too late to do anything about it. :p

Your arguement would have merit if there was some reasonable evidence that the enhanced greenhouse effect was occuring. A temperature record that's known to be faulty, and climate models that are known to be flawed just don't cut it, IMHO.

Besides which, another question that's being begged is that if the enhanced greenhouse effect does occur, then the consequences will be _bad_. That's not proven, either. In fact, during the last global warm period (ca. 1000-1300), indications show that there were fewer severe weather events than there were in the so-called Little Ice Age (ca. 1500-1850)



[ Parent ]

global warming is not the issue (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by Nyarlathotep on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 02:26:18 PM EST

<i>Economics, pure and simple. The environment wasn't the point of the conference at all, but merely an excuse for the various governments to try to come to an agreement which would benefit them by crippling other country's economies with strict and pointless environmental regulations. It was all about trying to get a competetive advantage.

So, citizens of both Europe and the US should be thankful that they failed.</i>

What countries are you claiming will have their economies harmed? It sounds like your claiming that the U.S. and Europe will have serious economic problems resulting from increased research and investment into clean fules? Bullshit! American and Europe will be almost totally uninfluenced by changing laws to require more polution controls. Specifically, the cost of increased polution control is negligable to the American and western European GNPs. (I suppose you might make some little arguement about increased regulation alawys helps the big companies by raising the barriors to entering the marketplace that small companies must get past, but that's clearly not what you were tring to say.)

Now, I might be willing to buy the claim that third world countries will have economic problems if western countries force them to change their powerplants, *execpt* it's pretty clear that these counties could not afford to build the plant the first time, so everyone understand that they will need to have economic assistance.

Really, the only people who could get hurt are eastern Europeans who live close enough to western Europe that the easy solution would be to buy the energy from western Europe.

Alternativly, you are maybe saing that it would cripple the economies of Saudi Arabia, Kuate, and Iraq if we were no longer dependent on their fuel? Who gives a fuck! Why should we have to pay them for all our energy.

Anyway, the issue is reducing the use and dependancy on fossile fules. It's just plain politically, economically, and scientifically stupid to use the same fuels for too much stuff. We want to have a wde variety of fuels, so that we will be robust to diffrent political, enviromental, and supply changes, i.e. you will not see OPEC raising oil prices when rasing oil prices just makes more people buy electric cars.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
That wasn't what I was saying. (3.00 / 1) (#100)
by sec on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 03:46:52 PM EST

What countries are you claiming will have their economies harmed? It sounds like your claiming that the U.S. and Europe will have serious economic problems resulting from increased research and investment into clean fules? Bullshit! American and Europe will be almost totally uninfluenced by changing laws to require more polution controls. Specifically, the cost of increased polution control is negligable to the American and western European GNPs.

Huh? you seem a little confused here. Increased research into clean fuels won't hurt any of the industrialized economies, but CO2 emission reductions on the order of what the Kyoto Protocol specified will.

It would probably be possible to meet the reduction goals with the use of nuclear power, but the environmentalists don't want to hear about that.

Anyway, the issue is reducing the use and dependancy on fossile fules. It's just plain politically, economically, and scientifically stupid to use the same fuels for too much stuff. We want to have a wde variety of fuels, so that we will be robust to diffrent political, enviromental, and supply changes, i.e. you will not see OPEC raising oil prices when rasing oil prices just makes more people buy electric cars.

This is true enough, but I certainly wasn't advocating that just because the enhanced greenhouse effect doesn't seem to be a problem, that we shouldn't bother investigating alternate fuel choices.



[ Parent ]

CO2 reduction (4.00 / 1) (#102)
by Nyarlathotep on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 05:59:52 PM EST

<i>Increased research into clean fuels won't hurt any of the industrialized economies, but CO2 emission reductions on the order of what the Kyoto Protocol specified will.</i>

I do not know the specifics of the proposals, but I would think that nothing which would seriously impact the economy would even be considered by *anyone* who could even get remotly close to being elected. Now, there might be a few extreamists members of the green party who would support drastic action, but I doubt even Ralf Nadar would consider any proposal which would actually hurt the economy.

Generally, these sorts of things will be implemented over a period of 5-10 years and the implementation it's self will be one long negotiation with industry to make shure that they don't need to stop producing things. Specifically, the government might realize that they can not reduce the CO2 in an enconomically viable way with additional regulation of large plants, so they would just raise the price of automobile gas and give real conomic insentives to use alternative power sources in cars. The point is that American is going to be capable of *massive* enviromental reform without really impacting industry at all, so it's obsured to claim that this protocol will necissarily hurt the economy.

Now, the only reason that cars are not more regulated now is that it's cheaper to regulate only industry and ignore individuals. Well it's not cheaper to really hurt the economy, so they will regulate cars before they really do anything really excessive to industry. I suppose it is unpopular to raise the cost of gas or ask people to get newer cars within the next 5 years, but it's less politically unpopular then throwing people out of work.

No, envirmental reforms do not push people out of work or hurt the economy. They just cause a mild inconvenience. We have only really inconvenienced the corperations thus far, but we really will need to inconvenience everyone eventually.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Failure at the Hague Climate Conference | 110 comments (104 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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