Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Weather, Water, Energy 5-23-07

  • Proof that Britain's Labor Party is dumb to the bone, not just to the Blair. Taking scarce alternative energy funds and investing in more nuclear, which won't help homes at all, which are outfitted for gas, and which affects less than 4% of the nation's power. The Scots, OTOH, are telling the English where to stick it and investing in something that won't, uh, provide terrorists targets and weapons material, need tons of water that might not be as available with the warming for cooling the reactors, and require tens of millenia to store its byproducts. While we're whacking Brits, let's note Joseph Romm's nice takedown of the Labor Gov's now saying that it never thought Blair could get Bushnev to set emission targets at the next G8 meeting after, two weeks ago, saying that Blair was very confident that he could do so. Pat the good doggie on the head, Georgi, and send him away for his tea and biscuit.
  • Speaking of water disasters, maybe as many as 10 hurricanes in the Atlantic this coming season, with 5 maybe getting really nasty, according to the National Hurricane Center. How long before no insurance company will offer policies to people with homes anywhere near the coasts?
  • Everything you need to know to get you and/or your friends and relatives started on understanding global warming and all its desiderata, from the good folks at RealClimate.
  • Okay, we get how global warming can move environments in which living things can best survive, causing their migration if they can move and fast enough. That includes diseases as well, especially malaria and flu, apparently. But here's the other way those diseases spread, from all the damage done to water and sewage systems when severe storms (or 10 hurricanes) hit. Just another little thing you probably hadn't thought about at all.
  • “Canary in a coal mine” really does seem dead. Grist is asking for suggestions for new metaphors.
  • While at Grist, note that David Roberts links to a sad defense of cap-and-trade systems that seems to think business and corporations will actually permit adequate caps to be instituted. Tinker Bell’s dying, clap louder.
  • At Only In It For the Gold, Michael Tobis makes the argument we’ve made here, and backed up with recent reports of latest findings, that those who argue that the uncertainty of our future means only that things can turn out better are ignoring that things could also turn out worse. He says it in perhaps a more convincing way. Here are a couple of his points:

    Those people who doubt the consensus in a rational way (e.g., Broecker, Lovelock) advocate for a very vigorous policy. We don't know how bad it can be, so we really ought to give considerable weight to it being very very bad. The asymmetry arises because we know how good it can be. Climate change can at best amount to a (relatively) very small net gain, if it is modest and slow enough. At worst it can quite conceivably be a threat to civilization. . . .
    Most people stressing the uncertainty, though, seem to me to deliberately strive to confuse the policy process, or to echo others who do so. It is discouraging how effective this tactic continues to be, given that it is based on a completely irrational argument. The only remotely sensible way to argue for small or no policy response is not to argue for large uncertainty. A rational argument for policy inaction requires arguing that the consensus position is certainly wrong and oversensitive. A rational, conservative response to uncertainty would be to take more effort to avoid the risk.
  • As if meaning to prove him correct, a new report from Australia's chief scientific body: "Global warming is occurring faster than predicted because rapid economic growth has resulted in higher than expected greenhouse gas emissions since 2000, said an Australian report on Tuesday.
    Emissions from burning fossil fuels have increased about 3 percent a year since 2000, up from 1 percent a year during the 1990s, said Australia's peak scientific body, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)."
  • Let's all welcome AL (Alabama, not Alaska) to those SE states getting whipped by drought and water problems. Tell me again what percentage of your vote went to the Busheviks??
  • MIT type has an op-ed in the Boston Globe on the way our auto makers monkey with fuel efficiency standards and recommends some good stuff to change incentives toward buying more efficient cars, such as a 10-cent a gallon increase in the gas tax and a higher tax on guzzlers and rebates for gas sipping cars.
  • And here’s why that tax increase needs to be many times higher if it’s going to have an impact since the increases in gas prices so far haven’t done much to discourage driving.
  • You’d think rational, decent, and responsible companies wouldn’t have to be asked but . . . wait, we’re talking oil companies. Forecasters urged the oil industry this summer to stockpile supplies away from the U.S. Gulf Coast, which they predict will be hit by hurricane-force winds, potentially sending sky-high gas prices even higher, according to hazard models released on Wednesday.
    "It is almost certain there is going to be significant production disruption in the Gulf of Mexico this year. That's not good," said storm tracker Chuck Watson.
    "We're really urging the oil industry to keep the stocks outside the Southeast as high as you can because otherwise you risk disrupting the whole country if there is a storm impact."
  • Finally, the Smithsonian sells out its mission and us once again by downplaying global warming in its Arctic exhibit. You see, the way you teach science is to give in to morons and ideologues every chance you’re given. And we wonder why this nation is becoming second world in science and engineering, much less the important advanced technologies. God help us, folks.

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