This week President Obama announced his plans for outflanking Congress with regard to global warming by implementing a series of executive orders that don’t need congressional approval. Foremost among these orders is one that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to require caps on the carbon emissions of power plants. Coal burning power plants produce roughly 40% of the global-warming CO2 produced by the United States (and possibly a larger proportion of the CO2 produced by China, a country outside the jurisdiction of the EPA).
The reaction by the coal industry? Shock if not awe. The immediate responses of that industry tended to be focused on the jillions of jobs that would be lost by coal miners, operators of the forecast-to-be-shut-down coal-fired power plants, small businesses that would be adversely affected by the higher costs of plants using alternative energy sources and so on down the impact-chain of dominoes. Free-market war is about to be declared: the carbon requirers versus the carbon eschewers.
Continue reading The coming Carbon wars
In mid-May the atmospheric carbon dioxide measurement at Mauna Loa in Hawaii hit 400 parts per million (ppm). The scientists of the world (at least 95% of them) have declared that 450 ppm is the point where it may cause the atmosphere to warm to at least 2° Celsius, to the point where it was 3 million years ago (when sea levels were 75 feet higher). That, according to many forecasts, could produce many serious climate change events such as extra strength hurricanes and tornadoes—like the one that leveled parts of Moore, Oklahoma last week—not to mention inundation of all low-lying coastal areas.
Yet, apart from the immediate victims of these catastrophic events, most of us are blithely unconcerned about the omens such disruptions represent. It reminds me of the old fable about the frog in a pan of water. Continue reading Passing 400 on the way to the frog test
The Durban climate change meetings are over. The results are in. They are: not much has been resolved. The 2012 expiration date of the Kyoto protocols is unchanged. No new protocol was adopted. Still, there is movement toward a global agreement on climate change sometime around 2020 or so. This agreement would/might include China, India, and other large carbon–emitting nations. But 2020 may be way too late to have the world avoid serious temperature change.
The general impression that this meeting leaves is that, if you feel that action is required now to reduce further global warming, you had better not depend on any government (except maybe the state of California) to make it happen. As I stated in my previous blog on this topic, Mother Nature is indifferent to the actions of mankind. The laws of physics remain in effect regardless of who believes himself in charge. This year, 2011, was again one of the warmest on record with a number of serious weather events. The non-climate disaster in Japan simply added to the toll of misery inflicted on humanity. So, what to do?
Here’s a list of rescue resolutions you might want to make for the coming year: Continue reading Death by Durban, Part 2