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Scientists and Engineers are upset

If you read this site often, you will know that I am an engineer by training (even though I don’t currently practice). I tend to respect this profession a great deal as being fairly straight-forward and hard working. As a group, they also tend to be a pretty smart bunch.

One of the major trade rags in engineering is C&EN (Chemical and Engineering News). It is edited by Mr. Rudy Baum. If you aren’t in that trade, you would probably never pick up an issue so you may not be familiar with it. I haven’t read the publication in a long time but was recently made aware of a bit of controversy by Climate Depot. While the readers of C&EN are likely not climatologists, the science of CO2 and its affect on the atmosphere is very steeped in chemistry which their target market knows a bit about.

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Utilities seem to be a problem for analysis

I have had a few posts on the recent report from the US Administration regarding global warming. My posts all reference the great work of other bloggers on the subject. This post will be no different.

Steve McIntyre builds on the work of Climate Skeptic in digging into the utility industry and the vast increases in outages that they are suffering through due to the rampant bad weather that we are enjoying due to global warming.

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Climate Skeptic keeps up the work

I am going to continue to let Climate Skeptic keep up the good work on the latest report from the US Administration regarding the dire circumstances of global warming. He has posted again on the subject and has even done a follow-on to the worry the increased storm activity is upsetting the electrical grid (post number 4 on the subject).

I will quote a few things that I thought were interesting:

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House panel advances global warming bill

I don’t typically post news feeds here but I am making an exception in this case. It appears that the House committee has passed the bill to implement the foolish cap and trade (carbon trading) bill. Let’s hope that the larger House is more wise but I have my doubts.

This story is from AP.

By DINA CAPPIELLO and H. JOSEF HEBERT

WASHINGTON (AP) Legislation imposing the first nationwide limits on the pollution blamed for global warming advanced in the House late Thursday, clearing a key committee despite strong Republican opposition.

The Energy and Commerce Committee approved the sweeping climate bill 33-25 after repeatedly turning back GOP attempts to kill or weaken the measure during four days of debate.

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Report: Power giants likely to miss renewable energy goal

Sacramento Business Journal – August 4, 2008

Mr. Al Gore recently challenged the US to a goal of 100% renewable energy in 10 years. His lofty goals cited the need for domestic energy independence and his concern that the world would end due to global warming. Many people have questioned the feasibility of this goal and now it appears that California is going to even miss a much more reasonable goal.

The Public Utilities Commission has reported that California is not likely to hit its goal of 20% renewable sources by 2010. They may be able to get there by 2013 but that seems to depend on enough rainwater coming down to keep the dams working.  There is also a goal that California his 30% by 2020 (just a few more years from now then Mr. Gore’s 10 years) and this goal doesn’t seem to be attainable.

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Administration Releases EPA Report, Then Repudiates It

July 12, 2008 – Wall Street Journal

The Bush administration continues to struggle with what to do with global warming and carbon dioxide as a pollutant.  The Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant resulting from the burning of several fossil fuels. This has caused the EPA to try to figure out what to do with this new authority without destroying the economy.

As with most issues that revolve around Washington DC, this one is embroiled in politics with both major Presidential candidates chiming in.

The Bush administration published a government blueprint to reduce the U.S. output of global-warming gases, but at the same time rejected the document out of hand — saying it relied on “untested legal theories” and would impose “crippling costs” on the U.S. economy.

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Carbon-Market Concept Moves to Mainstream

Wall Street Journal – May 14, 2008

I really do not like the concept of trading in carbon. I think that carbon offsets trading only reward bad processes that are extremely cheap and are a band-aid to the real problem. If it is assumed that we need to vastly reduce the carbon footprint then the buying public should be encouraged to buy energy and products that result from lower carbon emissions and discouraged from buying the carbon rich ones.

Allowing a utility that has a coal burning plant in one part of the world to offset that footprint with a geo-thermal plant in another part of the world really doesn’t solve anything. If the two plants served the same marketplace, then their energy would compete but if the two plants are separated by oceans then we really haven’t solved any problems, we have just allowed a company to financially afford a carbon-rich coal plant.

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Alaska town sues over global warming

Portland Business Journal – February 27, 2008

I need to file this one under Ridiculous. How can a town in Alaska sue over global warming?  To make matters worse, they are suing oil companies and utilities! If they want to sue someone, they should sue you and me. Filing suit against the providers of a product that is bought by consumers, is like filing suit against the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for the high rate of heart attacks.

For those that live in other countries than the USA, I must explain.  The US is a very litigious society.  I can’t find accurate statistics on the number of suits filed in a given year but it is shameful. We have crazy stories of lawsuits for hot coffee and lost laptops. Just to give you an example, there is even a site that is dedicated to tracking stupid lawsuits!

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Federal energy ‘independence’ act threatens to chill solar industry

December 21, 2007 – Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

The tax subsidies for the solar industry are in danger of expiring. This could be a significant damper on the development of this industry. While I am rarely a proponent of government propping up an industry, I also do not think it is wise to abruptly halt a program which sends that group into a tailspin.

Regardless of your thoughts on global warming, I think we can all agree that we need to reduce our current consumption of energy from other nations, and solar is a possible way to help.

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Study: Climate change could cost economy billions

Jacksonville Business Journal – December 14, 2007

There has been a great deal of analysis on the costs of curbing emissions to the US economy but very little in analysis on a local scale of the costs of the change in climate if global warming continues. This study allows for causation to be a mixture of natural and human and doesn’t allocate responsibility to either side.

There are a few things in the article that don’t appear to be substantiated.

  • pointing to Ponte Vedra Beach as an indicator of the bad things to come for Florida seems like a red herring. Does the study really think any changes at that particular beach are due to the changes in the climate to date? Ocean levels have not increased that dramatically compared to 2 or 3 decades ago
  • there is quite a bit of counter-proof regarding increased hurricane activity. I have written on this several times.

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