Fun with Global Warming - Part Deux!


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Message 509357 - Posted: 27 Jan 2007, 14:51:26 UTC
Last modified: 27 Jan 2007, 14:51:50 UTC

From The Economist print edition

The greening of America

Jan 25th 2007

How America is likely to take over leadership of the fight against climate change; and how it can get it right

A COUNTRY with a presidential system tends to get identified with its leader. So, for the rest of the world, America is George Bush's America right now. It is the country that has mismanaged the Iraq war; holds prisoners without trial at Guantánamo Bay; restricts funding for stem-cell research because of fundamentalist religious beliefs; and destroyed the chance of a global climate-change deal based on the Kyoto protocol.

But to simplify thus is to misunderstand—especially in the case of huge, federal America. One of its great strengths is the diversity of its political, economic and cultural life. While the White House dug its heels in on global warming, much of the rest of the country was moving. That's what forced the president's concession to greens in the state-of-the-union address on January 23rd. His poll ratings sinking under the weight of Iraq, Mr Bush is grasping for popular issues to keep him afloat; and global warming has evidently become such an issue. Albeit in the context of energy security, a now familiar concern of his, Mr Bush spoke for the first time to Congress of “the serious challenge of global climate change” and proposed measures designed, in part, to combat it.
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It's the weather, appropriately, that has turned public opinion—starting with Hurricane Katrina. Scientists had been warning Americans for years that the risk of “extreme weather events” would probably increase as a result of climate change. But scientific papers do not drive messages home as convincingly as the destruction of a city. And the heatwave that torched America's west coast last year, accompanied by a constant drip of new research on melting glaciers and dying polar bears, has only strengthened the belief that something must be done.

Business is changing its mind too. Five years ago corporate America was solidly against carbon controls. But the threat of a patchwork of state regulations, combined with the opportunity to profit from new technologies, began to shift business attitudes. And that movement has gained momentum, because companies that saw their competitors espouse carbon controls began to fear that, once the government got down to designing regulations, they would be left out of the discussion if they did not jump on the bandwagon. So now the loudest voices are not resisting change but arguing for it.

Support for carbon controls has also grown among some unlikely groups: security hawks (who want to reduce America's dependence on Middle Eastern oil); farmers (who like subsidies for growing the raw material for ethanol); and evangelicals (who worry that man should be looking after the Earth God gave him a little better). This alliance has helped persuade politicians to move. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's Republican governor, has led the advance, with muscular measures legislating Kyoto-style curbs in his state. His popularity has rebounded as a result. And now there is movement too at the federal level, which is where it really matters. Since the Democrats took control of Congress after the November mid-term elections, bills to tackle climate change have proliferated. And three of the serious candidates for the presidency in 2008—John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—are all pushing for federal measures.
Europe's good, and bad, example

Unfortunately, Mr Bush's new-found interest in climate change is coupled with, and distorted by, his focus on energy security. Reducing America's petrol consumption by 20% by 2017, a target he announced in the state-of-the-union address, would certainly diminish the country's dependence on Middle Eastern oil, but the way he plans to go about it may not be either efficient or clean. Increasing fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks will go part of the way, but for most of the switch America will have to rely on a greater use of alternative fuels. That means ethanol (inefficient because of heavy subsidies and high tariffs on imports of foreign ethanol) or liquefied coal (filthy because of high carbon emissions).

The measure of Mr Bush's failure to tackle this issue seriously is his continued rejection of the only two clean and efficient solutions to climate change. One is a carbon tax, which this paper has long advocated. The second is a cap-and-trade system of the sort Europe introduced to meet the Kyoto targets. It would limit companies' emissions while allowing them to buy and sell permits to pollute. Either system should, by setting a price on carbon, discourage its emission; and, in doing so, encourage the development and use of cleaner-energy technologies. Just as America's adoption of catalytic converters led eventually to the world's conversion to lead-free petrol, so its drive to clean-energy technologies will ensure that these too spread.

A tax is unlikely because of America's aversion to that three-letter word. Given that, it should go for a tough cap-and-trade system. In doing so, it can usefully learn from Europe's experience. First, get good data. Europe failed to do so: companies were given too many permits, and emissions have therefore not fallen. Second, auction permits (which are, in effect, money) rather than giving them away free. Europe gave them away, which allowed polluters to make windfall profits. This will be a huge fight; for, if the federal government did what the Europeans did, it would hand out $40 billion-50 billion in permits. Third, set a long time-horizon. Europeans do not know whether carbon emissions will still be constrained after 2012, when Kyoto runs out. Since most clean-energy projects have a payback period of more than five years, the system thus fails to encourage green investment.

One of America's most admirable characteristics is its belief that it has a duty of moral leadership. At present, however, it's not doing too well on that score. Global warming could change that. By tackling the issue now it could regain the high moral ground (at the same time as forging ahead in the clean-energy business, which Europe might otherwise dominate). And it looks as though it will; for even if the Toxic Texan continues to evade the issue, his successor will grasp it.
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Message 509371 - Posted: 27 Jan 2007, 15:21:22 UTC

A press release from Isabel Leal, Greenpeace International Communications;-


Launch of a comprehensive global energy strategy sets out a blueprint for tackling climate change

Brussels, 25th January 2007 - Renewable energy, combined with efficiencies from the ‘smart use’ of energy, can deliver half of the world’s energy needs by 2050, according to one of the most comprehensive plans for future sustainable energy provision, launched today.

The report: ‘Energy [R]evolution: A sustainable World Energy Outlook’, produced by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace International, provides a practical blueprint for how to cut global CO2 emissions by almost 50% within the next 43 years, whilst providing a secure and affordable energy supply and, critically, maintaining steady worldwide economic development. Notably, the plan takes into account rapid economic growth areas such as China, India and Africa, and highlights the economic advantages of the energy revolution scenario. It concludes that renewable energies will represent the backbone of the world’s economy – not only in OECD countries, but also in developing countries such as China, India and Brazil. The plan states that renewable energies have the potential to deliver nearly 70% of global electricity supply and 65% of global heat supply by 2050.

“The Energy Revolution scenario comes as the world is crying out for a roadmap for tackling the dilemma of how to provide the power we all need, without fuelling climate change,” said Sven Teske energy expert of Greenpeace International. “We have shown that the world can have safe, robust renewable energy, that we can achieve the efficiencies needed and we can do all this whilst enjoying global economic growth and phasing out damaging and dangerous sources such as coal and nuclear, “ he continued. “Renewable energies are competitive, if governments phase-out subsidies for fossil and nuclear fuels and introduce the `polluter-pays principle`. We urge politicians to ban those subsidies by 2010.”

However, the report also highlights the short time window for making the key decisions in energy infrastructure, which will have to be made by governments, investment institutions and utility companies. Within the next decade, many of the existing power plants in the OECD countries will come to the end of their technical lifetime and will need to be replaced, whilst developing countries such as China, India and Brazil are rapidly building up new energy infrastructure to service their growing economies.

Arthouros Zervos, president of the European Renewable Energy Industry Council (EREC) said: “The global market for renewable energy can grow at a double digit rate till 2050, and achieve the size of today’s fossil fuel industry. Wind and solar markets, already worth US$ 38 billion, are doubling in size every three years. We therefore call on decision makers around the world to make this vision a reality. The political choices of the coming years will determine the world’s environmental and economic situation for many decades to come. Renewable energy can and will have to play a leading role in the world’s energy future. There is no technical but a political barrier to make this shift.”

The report was developed in conjunction with specialists from the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and more than 30 scientists and engineers from universities, institutes and the renewable energy industry around the world. It provides the first comprehensive global energy concept which gives a detailed analysis of how to restructure the global energy system based only on a detailed regional assessment for the potential of proven renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and the utilisation of efficient, decentralised cogeneration. The Energy [R]evolution scenario is compared in the report to the effects on CO2 emissions (and, thereby climate change) of carrying on with a ‘business as usual’ scenario, that scenario being provided by the International Energy Association’s breakdown of 10 world regions, as used in the ongoing series of World Energy Outlook reports.

A copy of the Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook report can be downloaded at:

http://www.greenpeace.org/energyrevolution and http://www.energyblueprint.info


Notes:

The Energy [R]evolution scenario describes a development pathway which transforms the present situation into a sustainable energy supply, within a single generation. Exploitation of the large energy efficiency potential will reduce primary energy demand from the current 435,000 PJ/a (Peta Joules per year) to 422,000 PJ/a by 2050. Under the ‘business as usual’ scenario there would be an increase to 810,000 PJ/a, and a quadrupling of electricity costs. This dramatic reduction is a crucial prerequisite for developing a significant share of renewable energy sources, compensating for the phasing out of nuclear energy and reducing the consumption of fossil fuels.

1. The report was commissioned by Greenpeace and EREC from the Department of Systems Analysis and Technology Assessment (Institute of Technical Thermodynamics) at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).

2. The report develops a global sustainable energy pathway up to 2050. The future potential for renewable energy sources has been assessed with input from all sectors of the renewable energy industry around the world, and forms the basis of the Energy [R]evolution Scenario.

3. The energy supply scenarios adopted in this report, which both extend beyond and enhance projections by the International Energy Agency, have been calculated using the MESAP/PlaNet simulation model. This has then been further developed by the Ecofys consultancy to take into account the future potential for energy efficiency measures.

4. The Energy [R]evolution Scenario describes a development pathway which transforms the present situation into a sustainable energy supply through the following mechanisms:

• Exploitation of the large energy efficiency potential will reduce primary energy demand from the current 435,000 PJ/a (Peta Joules per year) to 422,000 PJ/a by 2050. Under the reference scenario there would be an increase to 810,000 PJ/a. This dramatic reduction is a crucial prerequisite for achieving a significant share of renewable energy sources, compensating for the phasing out of nuclear energy and reducing the consumption of fossil fuels.

• The increased use of combined heat and power generation (CHP) also improves the supply system’s energy conversion efficiency, increasingly using natural gas and biomass. In the long term, decreasing demand for heat and the large potential for producing heat directly from renewable energy sources limits the further expansion of CHP.

• The electricity sector will be the pioneer of renewable energy utilisation. By 2050, around 70% of electricity will be produced from renewable energy sources, including large hydro. An installed capacity of 7,100 GW will produce 21,400 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/a) of electricity in 2050.

• In the heat supply sector, the contribution of renewables will increase to 65% by 2050. Fossil fuels will be increasingly replaced by more efficient modern technologies, in particular biomass, solar collectors and geothermal.

• Before biofuels can play a substantial role in the transport sector, the existing large efficiency potentials have to be exploited. In this study, biomass is primarily committed to stationary applications; the use of biofuels for transport is limited by the availability of sustainably grown biomass.

• By 2050, half of primary energy demand will be covered by renewable energy sources.


Isabel Leal

Greenpeace International Communications

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Message 509394 - Posted: 27 Jan 2007, 16:10:49 UTC - in response to Message 509357.
Last modified: 27 Jan 2007, 16:12:06 UTC

From The Economist print edition...

A tax is unlikely because of America's aversion to that three-letter word. Given that, it should go for a tough cap-and-trade system. In doing so, it can usefully learn from Europe's experience. First, get good data. Europe failed to do so: companies were given too many permits, and emissions have therefore not fallen. Second, auction permits (which are, in effect, money) rather than giving them away free. Europe gave them away, which allowed polluters to make windfall profits. This will be a huge fight; for, if the federal government did what the Europeans did, it would hand out $40 billion-50 billion in permits. Third, set a long time-horizon. Europeans do not know whether carbon emissions will still be constrained after 2012, when Kyoto runs out. Since most clean-energy projects have a payback period of more than five years, the system thus fails to encourage green investment.

It's interesting that America now, after positive stalling, has decided to acknowledge Climate Change and is starting by criticizing Europe's efforts. Europe started taking it's responsibilities seriously some years ago, but now that the USA has started to act it simply belittles Europe's efforts and starts with a "What a mess you made, we can obviously do better".

No, the USA should be saying "We are idiots for not starting yet and leaving the Climate Change problem unaddressed for so long and we'll screw up like we screw everything up".

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Message 509401 - Posted: 27 Jan 2007, 16:29:00 UTC

Distributed computing and climate change (BBC)

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Message 509421 - Posted: 27 Jan 2007, 17:32:20 UTC - in response to Message 509394.

It's interesting that America now, after positive stalling, has decided to acknowledge Climate Change and is starting by criticizing Europe's efforts. Europe started taking it's responsibilities seriously some years ago, but now that the USA has started to act it simply belittles Europe's efforts and starts with a "What a mess you made, we can obviously do better".

Of course, what you quoted is from The Economist, an English magazine, from London.

No, the USA should be saying "We are idiots for not starting yet and leaving the Climate Change problem unaddressed for so long and we'll screw up like we screw everything up".

Uh huh. Yeah. That's what they should be saying. Of course, that comment as well could apply to every country involved. Especially China, India, Russia, and Mexico, that emit freely.

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Message 509425 - Posted: 27 Jan 2007, 17:45:03 UTC - in response to Message 509424.
Last modified: 27 Jan 2007, 17:46:28 UTC

Of course, what you quoted is from The Economist, an English magazine, from London.


Simple statement or opinion?

No, the USA should be saying "We are idiots for not starting yet and leaving the Climate Change problem unaddressed for so long and we'll screw up like we screw everything up".


Uh huh. Yeah. That's what they should be saying. Of course, that comment as well could apply to every country involved. Especially China, India, Russia, and Mexico, that emit freely.


Simple statement or opinion?

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Message 509429 - Posted: 27 Jan 2007, 17:54:55 UTC - in response to Message 509421.
Last modified: 27 Jan 2007, 17:56:01 UTC

No, the USA should be saying "We are idiots for not starting yet and leaving the Climate Change problem unaddressed for so long and we'll screw up like we screw everything up".

Uh huh. Yeah. That's what they should be saying. Of course, that comment as well could apply to every country involved. Especially China, India, Russia, and Mexico, that emit freely.

Yes it could. But could we trust China, India, Russia and Mexico to set the standards and get started with action on Climate Change without 'us' including the USA?

We seem to be in World War III here with the UK again alone facing the hoards of Climate Change, while everyone else is dithering and impervious to the fact that we are all going to cop it if we don't do our bit pretty quick. I doubt if China, India, Russia, and Mexico are going to commit unless Europe and the USA do.

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Message 509436 - Posted: 27 Jan 2007, 18:09:37 UTC - in response to Message 509429.

Yes it could. But could we trust China, India, Russia and Mexico to set the standards and get started with action on Climate Change without 'us' including the USA?

No, they weren't going to commit regardless. They know how expensive it will be--they were either going to opt out of Kyoto (net result, they emit as they wish), or they were going to be exempted (net result, they emit as they wish.)

We seem to be in World War III here with the UK again alone facing the hoards of Climate Change, while everyone else is dithering and impervious to the fact that we are all going to cop it if we don't do our bit pretty quick. I doubt if China, India, Russia, and Mexico are going to commit unless Europe and the USA do.

China, India, Russia, and Mexico didn't commit regardless of what anyone else did.
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Message 509438 - Posted: 27 Jan 2007, 18:12:13 UTC

As an aside, this thread is a continuation of the Fun with Global Warming! thread.
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Message 509715 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 8:59:26 UTC

So can we all agree that man is now influencing climate change due to it's emissions and lack of sound environmental policy?

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Message 509721 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 9:05:37 UTC - in response to Message 509715.

So can we all agree that man is now influencing climate change due to it's emissions and lack of sound environmental policy?


humans needs the nature but the nature dont need humans.

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Message 509730 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 9:20:06 UTC - in response to Message 509721.

So can we all agree that man is now influencing climate change due to it's emissions and lack of sound environmental policy?


humans needs the nature but the nature dont need humans.


True! Very true!
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Message 509733 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 9:32:44 UTC - in response to Message 509730.

So can we all agree that man is now influencing climate change due to it's emissions and lack of sound environmental policy?


humans needs the nature but the nature dont need humans.


True! Very true!

DITTO!
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Message 509785 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 12:47:55 UTC - in response to Message 509715.

So can we all agree that man is now influencing climate change due to it's emissions and lack of sound environmental policy?

There is no doubt that there is a climate problem, and there is no doubt that many scientists are pointing to the view that man is influencing climate change. While the indicators are still strong, there is still not irreputable proof. This is one of the reasons why many countries, including USA, have been slow to act. It is obvious that black holes exist and do this and that - but is it? There are certain things we cannot prove, just potulate about. We do not even know what lies on the floor of out deepest oceans, and neither do we know what is really happening at the upper levels of our atmosphere.

However, we can look at what evidence there is and and we can influence the best way we can. And this does not mean making statements about 'sound policy' which is at the behest of government nonsense. At least governments are starting to take note and acknowledge what could be a very serious problem. China admits to climate failings. However, it just shows that China is going backwards - making things worse. So how are you going to get the Chinese to accept 'facts' when they are simply interested in economic growth and grabbing what they can like the West did in their periods of economic growth?

It's all very well for you to sit their in your fancy house and fancy cars with fancy holidays burning tonnes of CO2 every time you fly - and then telling China it mustn't have all thees things because the West is already killing the planet but doing nothing about it. Tell that to India and Mexico while you're at it.

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Message 509806 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 13:56:50 UTC


Why global warming is giving Britons a never-ending cold


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Message 509834 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 14:41:34 UTC

Ethanol helps create Mexican food crisis

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Message 509836 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 14:48:31 UTC - in response to Message 509834.
Last modified: 28 Jan 2007, 14:49:00 UTC

Ethanol helps create Mexican food crisis


"Mexico is in the grip of the worst tortilla crisis in its modern history. Dramatically rising international corn prices, spurred by demand for the grain-based fuel ethanol, have led to expensive tortillas."

It's this a 'wonderful' idea to use biofuels, except it's driving up world food prices and causing more food shortages. Fantastic, the West gets to drive cars on biofuel and the rest of the world gets even hungrier. Good move, for those making money out of biofuels only. If Climate Change won't kill you, starvation will.

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Message 509842 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 14:57:05 UTC - in response to Message 509836.

If Climate Change won't kill you, starvation will.

Everything has a cost. Everything.

Though DA and others seem to dislike that idea, it's why every decision people make is fundamentally an economic one. They use economics to decide.
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Message 509864 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 15:39:24 UTC - in response to Message 509842.

Though DA and others seem to dislike that idea, it's why every decision people make is fundamentally an economic one.


They use economics to decide.


Well, yes, they rather would do, wouldn't they.







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Message 509878 - Posted: 28 Jan 2007, 15:56:15 UTC - in response to Message 509864.

Well, yes, they rather would do, wouldn't they.

Did you have a point?


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