Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Weather, Water, Energy 5-9-07

Didn't have Internet service yesterday so you're going to get two, two, two days in one. Had I been able to post Tuesday, you would have seen this:

A 2-week meeting of 166 countries and orgs to get a new agreement on greenhouse gas emissions to replace the oh-so-successful Kyoto accord. Everyone's talking the talk. Don't see many footsteps yet. . . . The land of the idiot PM, Australia, fortunately does have a few brain-enhanced officials getting global warming efforts budgeted. Too little, too late, says the opposition party leader, but anything from that cork-headed government is better than nothing, especially now that it's clear the warming is behind the Great Barrier Reef decline. . . . Maybe the Aussies just don't want to be upstaged by their more intelligent and proactive neighbors in New Zealand, which will have an emission trading system up by the middle of 2008 if things go to plan. And maybe the Zealies(????) can help their far neighbors to the north, the Chinese, who are seeing the earliest summer in over 30 years . . . while they continue to bring coal-fired power plants online daily. . . . Back here at home, the Dem candidates are finally, warily, grasping the global warming issue that should have been their centerpiece in 2000. Obama told our carmakers to stop screwing around. Bet that took. Edwards also has a plank on warming in his platform, it appears. . . . Historical evidence from past climate shifts that it may not take the giant ice sheets slipping off into the ocean to bring on major current and weather changes. Looks like littler ones did before. Put that in your climate models and smoke it. . . . More cheery evidence indicates that tropical plants may be more adaptable and survivable in differing rain regimes than previously thought. But other plants and trees, the Swedish spruce, are getting hammered by the bugs brought in or not killed off by the warmer winters. Really sad stuff for the folks who earn their livings off those forests. . . . Get ready for the next perfect crop for ethanol--jatropha, "grown in wastelands, needs relatively little care or refinement, and is inedible – meaning it will not take food from the poor for the gas tanks of the rich." The economics and logistics aren't really there yet, though, so don't let all the cash being invested sway you yet. . . . Finally, a nice tirade by Ken Ward at Grist on the futility and pointlessness at this stage of continuing to argue with the deniers and obstructionists. Reality is happening and has to be dealt with. There’s no time anymore to mess with these determined morons. Give up being MisterRogers. Global warming isn’t going to change based on some never-to-be-achieved “compromise” through discussion with naysayers. They’re fools and they’re better at that than we will ever be. Cede the low ground to them and move on. We have work to do. (While you're at Grist, check out Ward's multi-part series, now finished, on what can and should be done to deal with the climate problems facing us. Too sensible to make much headway, but at least you'll feel smart while you read it.)

But, since today is Wednesday, this is what you get to hear about:

A UN agency is warning against all the possible long-term disadvantages to short-term hysteria over ethanol, especially that made with edible products, but the possible human hunger isn't the only thing. . . . You know those "intelligent" cars, the ones with sensors that predict traffic flows? Folks are hyping them as just as efficient as hybrid cars. . . uh, and why is it that we can't have both together??? . . . USA Today has a long but actually informative and provocative piece up on natural gas as a vehicle fuel, with a technology already here, just not widespread, as a supplement for the dirtier, more emitting, much more expensive gasoline. As usual, the Japanese come away looking best, but US carmakers do have some things going for a change, and hydrogen backers wonder why waste your time on natural gas when the world's just clamoring for what they have to offer. Uh-huh. . . . Speaking of alternatives with problems, looks like the solar farm planned in DE may screw up radar systems on important military aircraft. The mills may take out some birds, but don't let them mess with bombers. . . . The EU talks the best talk and actually does some walking, but this accounting of their actual meager emissions reductions in 2005 show starkly exactly how hard it's going to be even when you agree something should be done. . . . CA's getting the most credit for the agreement announced yesterday to measure and jointly track emissions by major industries, but remember that 30 other states signed on. The question is, where are those other 19, and what's their problem? "Al Gore" is the best they can do? . . . And speaking of cooperation and partnerships to combat global warming, the corporations forming the US Climate Action Partnership just doubled in size and managed to even get GM on board (is this really a good thing?). . . . Here, a good discussion of what should actually be counted as “water savings” in determining impact of water use on power generation, farming, etc. . . . The Northeast can talk all it wants to about regionalizing cooperation to reduce greenhouse gases, but it’s action that actually speaks. This news about plans to expand power capacity by linking to cheaper coal-fired plants in the Midwest says all you need to know about how serious they are there. And they’re the ones supposedly showing the leadership we’ll need. . . . Michael Tobis at Only In It for the Gold has been raising some valuable and entertaining questions about the relevancy of economics as a discipline to the problems posed by global warming and getting some predictable (aka irrelevant, dogmatic, and clueless) responses. . . . When historians try to figure out why we didn’t respond as quickly or comprehensively to the obvious dangers presented by global warming, one of the first places to look will be the media and oh-so-reasonable, oh-so-moderate op-eds like this idiot piece out of the Christian Science Monitor. By all means, let’s not jump the gun and do something that might hurt us and certainly we can put up monitoring systems that will warn us well in advance that bad things are about to happen so we can act, unlike the IPCC reports and their more accurate rebuttals that are only screaming signals at us right now. Humans just don’t seem to have the collective capacity to pull their heads out of their asses until the danger is right on them, and, facing nonlinear dangers with real tipping points, having the time to react will not likely happen the way we want. But by all means, don’t go getting yourself ready or upset. . . . Finally, Subtropical Storm Andrea formed Wednesday off the Southeastern U.S. coast, more than three weeks before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters said. Three weeks before. . . uh-oh.