TCS Daily


A Little Eco-Nomics Never Hurt

By Roy Spencer - July 31, 2006 12:00 AM

Technological advancements have elevated mankind to its healthiest and wealthiest level in history. Our lives are longer, our health is greater, our food is more plentiful, and modern conveniences are now so affordable that even the poor among us own what only the rich could afford 50 years ago.

It is against this backdrop that we now find ourselves debating the merits of many of these conveniences and advancements. From the chemical scares of the 1960's and 1970's (e.g., DDT, dioxin, food preservatives), to the fear of runaway population growth and rapidly dwindling petroleum supplies, the very people that have been blessed with the prosperity that unbridled human ingenuity brings are increasingly anxious about the world we have created for ourselves.

Fear of the ultimate environmental threat, global warming, is now striking at the very heart of modern life, casting doubt upon the future availability of inexpensive energy that is necessary to keep society running. Al Gore's movie 'An Inconvenient Truth', Discovery's recent special 'Global Warming: What You Need to Know with Tom Brokaw', and a deluge of media stories and editorials are all dedicated to convincing you that we need to be saved from ourselves.

And while it is true that there are potential negative side effects of our use of fossil fuels (as well as most other natural resources), little attention is ever paid to the practical question: what should be done about it? It is much easier to point out a problem than it is to actually fix it....and 'fixing problems' too often leads to unintended negative consequences.

A century ago people would be too busy working -- trying to stay fed, clothed, and sheltered -- to worry about any ill effects from the industrial revolution. Today, though, we have enough wealth to not only support ourselves and clean up most of our messes in the process, but to donate to causes that claim to be 'making things better' by lobbying for ever-increasing levels of cleanliness and safety in our environment.

What reasonable person could be against 'clean water', 'clean air', and 'clean renewable sources of energy'? Who dares argue with politicians, scientists, and other pundits who lead the fight against global warming?

The dangerous illusion underpinning many environmental efforts is that it is both possible and preferable to keep pushing toward a 100 percent clean and safe existence. Those of us who try to point out that there are practical limits to cleanliness and safety are immediately branded as shills for big business. Meanwhile, environmentalists and politicians get to hold the high ground of altruism and concern for the public's interest.

P.J. O'Rourke once said, "Some people will do anything to save the Earth...except take a science course." To that I would add, "...or a basic economics course". If for a reasonable cost we can remove 98 percent of the contaminants in our drinking water and make it quite safe, is it then a good idea to spend ten times as much to push that purity from 98 percent to 99 percent?

In the real world, there are only limited resources to accomplish everything we want to do, and resources diverted to wasteful ends are no longer available to tackle more pressing problems. Only in the imaginary world of the environmental lobbyist, pandering politician, or concerned journalist is it a public service to keep pushing toward 100 percent purity.

Occasionally, the light bulb will go on, and someone realizes the practical limits that (thankfully) keep "Earth saving" goals from rarely being achieved. This happened to '20/20' consumer advocate John Stossel in 1994, with his special "Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?". For me, it was about 1985, when I started reading about -- and understanding -- basic economics.

While most people are out making the system work, others are devising ever more alarmist ways to make it look like the latest drought, flood, or hurricane is mankind's fault. The implication is that, if only enough of us can agree that something bad is happening, we will then be motivated into action. And we indeed should do those things that make the most economic and scientific sense -- for instance national investments in energy research.

But when the pundits push for solutions that will not work (the Kyoto Protocol, or the rapidly failing EU carbon trading scheme), one begins to wonder about either their intelligence or their motives. In the end, these efforts do little more than redistribute wealth and let their proponents feel good about themselves.

Could redistributing wealth be the true motive? Disdain for 'wealth' and 'big business' arises when people neglect the fact that these conditions only occur when someone figures out a better way to provide more desirable goods and services, at a lower cost, that people want. Economic transactions benefit the seller and the buyer, otherwise they would not occur.

But instead, our language belies persistent beliefs in economic myths: 'workers' versus 'management' (as if managers have no economic value), or 'price gouging' (when gasoline supply is disrupted, or has a threatened disruption, and prices rise, we somehow expect the laws of supply and demand to be repealed). We may be envious of those that have more than us, but it is misguided to believe that if they had less, that we would have more.

Everyone benefits from the promise of profits that motivates investors to risk their money on better ways to provide what people want. You say you don't like the disparities in wealth that a free market generates? I would be glad to have my wealth increase by only 40 percent as the rich see a 200 percent increase in their wealth. The alternative is for all of us to be equally poor and miserable. If you must, think of profits as a necessary evil...but for the good of all of us, profits (as well as the risk of losses) are a necessary part of our high standard of living.

As long as the media continues to portray the global warming issue (as well as other environmental threats) as an ideological battle between politicians and scientists who are trying to save humanity on the one hand, and evil petroleum-pushers bent on maintaining our 'addiction to oil' on the other, we will be no closer to solutions to our energy problems.

Journalists have the power to frame the debate, and so far that power has been, at best, misused. At worst, it has been abused.

Dr. Roy Spencer is a principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA's Aqua satellite.

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118 Comments

taking courses?
Why would the eco-freaks need to take courses? Remember, the comunists were also clueless regarding economics yet they kept up with their mischief, including so many 'useful idiots' in the States. Now, those reds turned greens couldn't be expected to worry about things that get in the way of their hidden agenda like science and economics. Reality doesn't matter when you're out to save the world.

Econots stuck at Maslow 2 - threats everywhere
The econots, not to be confused with the econuts, which are a close cousin, don't seem to be able to separate primal survival needs with societal (Maslow) needs.

Maslow's theory of needs (see Google)
[1] Survival needs (food, water, sex, warmth)
[2] Security needs (economic, protection, peace)
[3] Social needs (group membership, team player, love)
[4] Self esteem needs (group recognition, status etc)
[5] Self worth needs (creativity, innovative challenges)

The econots seem to see threats everywhere and if so, are stuck at low Maslow levels. Whether it's from evil conservatives, Christian zealots, corporations, the rich, Republicans, Cheney or W. I'd argue that they never progressed past Maslow-2 and some, such as PETA, ELF, DemocraticUnderground and DailyKos readers are stuck at Maslow-1.

timstevens

Ecofascists are aware of economics, they just don't care.
A primary component of any ecologists ideology is the concept of moral obligation to "Mother Earth." If we have a moral obligation to treat animals, trees or oceans the same way we treat our neighbors, then economics simply does not figure in. Humans and their quaint ideas like human and property rights are subordinated to the needs of the planet and the other inhabitants thereof.

According to this philosophy, since we are all really just another species, our rights do not extend to interfering with them. Cattle ranches should be seen as gulags. PETA even put out a series of advertisements comparing the treatment of hogs on factory hoglots to Jews in Nazi death camps. (www.masskilling.com, or search Google with the terms 'PETA nazi death camp' and you will find plenty of articles.) Who cares about the economics of death camps? They're DEATH CAMPS! They MUST be stopped!

Property rights, specifically the right to do with ones ' own property as one wishes, must also be done away with. Every house is a memorial to our creulty to trees. Every garden a perversion of nature's way. We have to protect the grass as if it was our own brother, and do the same for the rocks and trees that help to keep Mother Earth fuctioning. Once again, in the face of mass murder of grass and trees, who cares about the economics of the issue?

Ehrlich and friends have created an entire movement dedicated to the idea that human beings are just another bunch of monkeys who happen to be pretty good at using tools. If you think I am overstepping the bounds of propriety by comparing environmentalists to fascists, consider the implications of this "moral obligation." No property rights. Human life valued at the same level as that of a tree or a cat. The requirement that human beings reduce their "footprint" (the amount of change they cause to the environment around them) to as close to zero as possible, inevitably leading to mass-starvation and death from disease as civilization breaks down.

Do your part to stop these lunatics. Eat a steak. Pave your driveway. Buy wood floors. Nuke a whale. Get yourself a Hummer. Moreover, never give in to the fantasy that we have some moral obligation to cockroaches and mice.

A Little self parody never hurt
Witness Spencer's splendid EcoEnquirer site .Too bad your species of parody lacks an object other than itself

Perspectives
"New research from around the world has begun to reveal a picture of humans today that is so different from what it was in the past that scientists say they are startled. Over the past 100 years, says one researcher, Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago, humans in the industrialized world have undergone “a form of evolution that is unique not only to humankind, but unique among the 7,000 or so generations of humans who have ever inhabited the earth.”

The difference does not involve changes in genes, as far as is known, but changes in the human form. It shows up in several ways, from those that are well known and almost taken for granted, like greater heights and longer lives, to ones that are emerging only from comparisons of health records.

The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they used to. There is also less disability among older people today, according to a federal study that directly measures it. And that is not just because medical treatments like cataract surgery keep people functioning. Human bodies are simply not breaking down the way they did before.

Even the human mind seems improved. The average I.Q. has been increasing for decades, and at least one study found that a person’s chances of having dementia in old age appeared to have fallen in recent years.

The proposed reasons are as unexpected as the changes themselves. Improved medical care is only part of the explanation; studies suggest that the effects seem to have been set in motion by events early in life, even in the womb, that show up in middle and old age."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/30/health/30age.html?pagewanted=1

Yes, let's go back to the good old days.

To all who truly believe global warming will melt the glaciers next decade and drown NYC, if you want to be effective in convincing people like me, do not go down the socialist path.

Free markets and technology have demonstrated their effectivness at improving conditions around the world for all. Any solution proposed that inhibits free markets and liberty will make conditions worse and lead me and others to believe your motivations are for power and control, not effective solutions.

No parody intended, but the website is funny.
www.EcoEnquirer.com everybody. A very funny website. I'm a big fan of the article "Hurricanes Before Global Warming?"

I used the PETA example to demonstrate the seriousness of the idea I was presenting. I could also use the Endangered Species Act and what it has done to property, the repeated use of mandates rather than incentives by the government to correct pollution problems, placing whale's hearing ahead of training sonar operatives and sandflies ahead of highways. There is example after example of this sort of lunatic thinking going on across the world.

If my post seems absurd, it is because the logical consequences of the idea when taken to the extreme are insane.

What, me worry??
The main theme of Spencer's present rant seems to be that we have solved so many problems that we simply do not have the energy (emotional, physical) do solve the next one. It's sort of a weary Superman post. Spencer thinks the economic cost of averting the global warming disaster (which he doesn't deny here, possibly because he's tired of doing that too) is too great to bear.

Main stream environmental scientists believe that the economic costs of global warming are higher than the costs of avoiding it. Recent history suggests that the cost of solving global warming are vastly overstated by the carbon energy industry. Modern cars achieve fuel efficiencies the auto industry said were impossibly expensive two decades ago. The cost of reducing sulphur (acid rain) from coal fired electricity generators also was far less than predicted. Then there are PFCs, which we seem to be able to do without.

If the US set as a goal reducing carbon emmissions by 50% within 20 years, I think Spencer would be impressed at how cheaply our industrious entrepeneurial economy could get the job done. The U. S. of A. is far too strong to fear upsetting the fragile Exxon Corporation.

How much will it cost to deal with an earth that at most 0.5C degrees warmer than today.
As usual, LG points to a non-existent consensus to justify his claims.

LG's rampant hypocrisy
Just Friday LG was telling us that the science of economics was full of c**p. Yet today LG uses a "consensus" of economists to prove that the cost of global warming is bearable.

As usual with LG, it's c**p when it comes up with an answer that he disagrees with. Unquestionable oracle, when he likes the answer.

Set a goal for carbon emissions...
just like the Kyoto treaty. Then we can be just like the Europeans and fail to meet those goals because it's simply to economically harmful.

The answer to 'fix' the 'problem' of carbon emissions is to let the market work, developing better, more efficient, and alternative means of creating and transporting energy. Adding governmental regulations on some energy creation means while giving government funding to others will only slow the market response.

Unfortunately there isn't any real viable general fuel replacement technology that is ready yet (emphasis on the yet). There are some coming, but government involvement complicates and slows the process of innovation.

So what you are saying is...
that the benefits of preventing something that hasn't been proven to be our fault, not to mention being unable to calculate actual damages, vastly outweighs the costs of implementing drastic changes to all sectors of our economy?

Tell me, do any of these "mainstream" environmental scientists have degrees in economics? Should any of us listen to economic projections from people who can't even prove their scientific theories? Perhaps they are using the Mann model to show the upturn in profitability by implementing Kyoto? I hear that graphing technique can make anything look like a sure thing.

How many of them live in Europe? Perhaps you can describe for us the impacts that have taken hold in Europe due to the implimentation of Kyoto. I am certain that their levels of unemployment have plummeted along with their carbon emissions. Right?

All that sarcasm aside, if all economists are now in "Consensus" on the benefits and cost savings of Kyoto-like, or more extreme, carbon reductions, why do we need regulations? The market will move towards carbon reductions by itself. Perhaps the best thing would be NOT to regulate carbon emissions at all.

Fortunately for us the economy is not run by AGW alarmists.

BP's Lil ol' Eco-Nomics
UK, Calif. to Strike Global Warming Deal
July 31, 2006

...British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plan to lay the groundwork for a new TRANS-ATLANTIC MARKET IN CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS, The Associated Press has learned. Such a move could help California cut carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists blame for warming the planet. President Bush has rejected the idea of ordering such cuts.

...Monday's meeting was being hosted by Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group, and LORD JOHN BROWNE, CHAIRMAN OF BRITISH PETROLEUM. British and American business leaders planned to use it to also discuss other ways of accelerating use of low-carbon technologies.

Link
BP is not an "evil petroleum pusher"

(link for the previous post) http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/feeds/ap/2006/07/31/ap2916399.html

Shell: The Debate Is Over
Q&A: John Hofmeister, president, Shell Oil Co.
Houston Chronicle, July 29, 2006

Q: Does global warming exist? If so, does human use of fossil fuels perpetuate the problem?

A: The debate is over about climate change. Shell shares the widespread concern that the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities is leading to changes in the global climate. Oil and gas will continue to provide an important share of the world's energy needs in this century, but we clearly recognize the challenge of meeting future energy demand while simultaneously addressing the issue of climate change.

Q: Do the major energy companies have a responsibility to seek out and develop alternative energy sources?

A: Finding environmentally and socially responsible ways to provide more oil and natural gas is an important part of our energy future. So is developing commercially viable alternatives. Shell is serious about doing both. In fact, we've invested $1 billion in renewables over the last five years. Shell plans to have a substantial commercial business in at least one alternative energy technology.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/4080720.html

one of these days I'm going to figure out why
Rhampton thinks quotes from politicians and CEO's matters to anyone?

No you won't.
Although it is amazing that the amount of PR that Big Oil(!) and "Green" investment brokers are using is roughly equal to the amount of PR the AGW alarmists are using.

That said, if you require that amount of PR you most likely are not working from the most scientific base.

The up side of Rhampton's little Pez's of annoyance is that we can see that all of these companies trying to sell everyone on the "Green" issue is actually stealing away the momentum from the Marxist Greens and putting the drive to reduce carbon emissions in the hands of the market, where it belongs.

Capitalism and innovation is how we solve energy needs, not ignorant regulations pushed by leftists.

A meme gathering steam
First the Great Mark says that I refer to a consensus of economists, which I didn't, then Tlaloc runs with that notion. I actually said that environmental scientists believe global warming will have huge economic consequences, because Mark and others keep saying GW is only half a degree and therefore harmless.

It doesn't take a PhD in economics to understand that climate changes of the kind environmental scientists forecast will cost lots of people lots of money. These are not based on large scale econometric modeling of the Laffer variety. When you distroy a billion dollars worth of farmland, that costs someone a billion dollars.

smbell, Tlaloc, and others. I'm saying the cost of avoiding GW are exaggerated. How much did the sulphur cleanup cost? The PFC ban? The improvement in car fuel efficiency? Am I wrong?

Some say the technology doesn't yet exist. They should remember that in the 80's people worried that proven oil reserves only would last until 2000 (or something like that). Producers don't bother to "prove" reserves that aren't be needed for 20 years. The same goes for technology. As long as there is little demand for non carbon based energy, the technology and supply will be slow. Slap on a $1/lb carbon emission tax and we would see US "clean" energy technology go to the moon.

Currys Favors Solar
Currys brings solar panels to the High Street
The Register (UK), July 31 2006

Electrical retailer Currys will start offering solar panels for sale from three of its stores. Currys reckons you'll need to spend about £9,000, for nine panels, to cut a three-bedroom house's electricity bill by half. Grants may also be available via the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/31/currys_offer_solar/

-------

Low Carbon Buildings Programme:
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), 2006

Launched on 1 April 2006, the DTI’s low carbon buildings programme will run over three years and replaces the previous DTI Clear Skies and Solar PV grant programmes. Open to householders, public, not for profit and commercial organisations across the UK (except the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man), the programme will demonstrate how energy efficiency and microgeneration can work hand in hand to create low carbon buildings.

http://www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk/how/householders/

LG lies, yet again
from his original post. Second paragraph.

"Main stream environmental scientists believe that the economic costs of global warming are higher than the costs of avoiding it."

no, you will never figure anything out.
So let's make a list, based on previous postings, of what ?matters to anyone", per MTG:

'quotes from politicans and CEOs" -- no
statements by scientific bodes, including all national academies - absolutely not
scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals - no, of course not

TCS propaganda pieces - yes, yes, yes!

We just base this off of what we know of you.
In this case "mainstream" meaning the Consensus.

>"It doesn't take a PhD in economics to understand that climate changes of the kind environmental scientists forecast will cost lots of people lots of money. These are not based on large scale econometric modeling of the Laffer variety."

That is why you wouldn't base your economics on what a climate scientist "believes". While warming may cost money, it can also make it depending on how you view it and how you work with the changes.

>"When you distroy a billion dollars worth of farmland, that costs someone a billion dollars."

Who is "you"? The whole concept of economic impact is moot until you prove the driving force of climate change is humanity. Currently the driving force has eluded the AGW alarmists and has yet to be proven.

I also find it funny that you use oil reserves to demonstrate your point since it certainly proves that we should not rely on unproven junk science promoted by alarmists. Shot yourself in the foot on that one!

It is typical of a liberal to believe that merely slapping a tax on something will promote change. The government already makes a great deal more profit on oil than the oil companies do. Consider which politician is going to promote himself as the one who makes gas prices GO UP. Not many out there I am sure.

This does bring up the point that Democrats for the longest time wanted to hike the gas tax higher and higher and then were the first to scream bloody murder when gas prices reached the level they actually wanted. Gotta love'em!

Thanks for highlighting my point
The market in action folks!

Except for the second example that basically makes the public pay for offering to cut the costs of everyone else. Which means you pay for it anyway. Great deal.

A little sulphur will fix it
"Injecting sulfur into the atmosphere to slow down global warming is worthy of serious consideration, according to Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego. His thought-provoking paper1 is published in the August issue of the Springer journal Climatic Change, devoted this month to the controversial field of geoengineering."

http://www.springer-sbm.com/index.php?id=291&backPID=132&L=0&tx_tnc_news=2646

Let's hope some volcano doesn't decide to erupt or the sun's radiance changes after S is injected into the atm.

when you quite lying about what others say, you will be listened to
then again, it would also be necessary for what you write to make sense, before people start listening to you.

As myself and others have shown, the NAS and the other organizations have said the exact opposite of what you have been claiming.

So now Dr. Spencer is an economist??
We have a Renaissance man right here on TCS: an expert on the science, and now, an expert on the economics. Coming soon: Spencer on the political science and philosophy of human caused climate change.

As for this:

And here domes the priedictable "100 percent" straw man

>The dangerous illusion underpinning many environmental efforts is that it is both possible and preferable to keep pushing toward a 100 percent clean and safe existence.

> Those of us who try to point out that there are practical limits to cleanliness and safety are immediately branded as shills for big business.

Let's look at how this has worked out in the past in such debates as the ones over smog, leaded gasoline, ozone depletion. In fact, the people who objected to action _were_ shills for big business. In fact, effective environmental protection was achieved without crippling (or, for the most part, even noticeable economic dislocation.

>Meanwhile, environmentalists and politicians get to hold the high ground of altruism and concern for the public's interest.

You mean, there was no cause for concen for the public interest when questions about lead in gasoline, etc was raised?

Climate Scientists are statisticians?
Economics is a field EVERYONE should understand.

Taxes
The socialists want to control our behaviour by paying high taxes on gasoline, like in Europe.

What percentage of those taxes were invested by the government to research and develop alternate sources of fuel?

What incentive would a government have to reduce consumption of gasoline if it generated so much revenue?

Exxon is using its profits to develop more oil fields and returning some to its investors. And I would suspect all oil companies are investing in alternate sources of fuel becasue they know people will reduce consumption if prices are too high. (The world's largest bio-diesel plant is being built now in South Dakota by a joint venture with farmers and an Austrailian company.)

Even Saudi Arabia doesn't want oil prices too high because then companies will have incentive to pursue alternate sources of energy and improve efficiency.

That is the real economics of energy, efficiency and pollution reduction.

speaking of strawmen, stay away from fire eric
Dr. Spencer says that it is economically inefficient to go for 100% purity in the environment.

eric counters by comparing the good doctor to those who didn't want any improvement in the environment.

Then he declares that anyone who opposed anything the environuts proposed, was just a shill for big corporations.

the law of diminishing returns is something everyone should be aware of
not just statisticians.

Who is calling for 100 percent??
Seriously. This is ridiculous in this context.
In some contexts, sure. All lead out of gas. That was possible, and that worked. But otherwise, Spencer's notes are a cartoon.

Who's ignoring it?
Specifically. Spare us the noise about leftists and watermelons and eco-extremists.

Please source your statements.
>As myself and others have shown, the NAS and the other organizations have said the exact opposite of what you have been claiming.

You have done nothing of the kind. Please supply my quote and your demonstration that the NAS believes the opposite. While you're at it:

You say that warming can be confidently expected to be no more than .5 degree. You say it right here in this thread:

>"How much will it cost to deal with an earth that at most 0.5C degrees warmer than today. by MarkTheGreat"

What is your source for this confident, no-doubt-about-it assertion?

Economists are climate scientists?
If everyone understands it, then why do people disagree about it? And if people disagree, why in the world do we assume Spenser is right?

Exxon's Alternative to Alternative Energy
"And I would suspect all oil companies are investing in alternate sources of fuel becasue they know people will reduce consumption if prices are too high."

Exxon Mobil Shareholders Defy Board
Washington Post, June 1, 2006

...Several shareholders urged CEO Rex Tillerson to diversify investments for the good of the company, but he said that MOST ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES WEREN'T WORTH EXXON'S INVESTMENT.

"I'm looking at the world 15 to 20 years out," he said. "That's where I'm living." He said that the mix of energy sources 20 years from now would RESEMBLE THE MIX TODAY. "It's a question of whether these are going to make a meaningful difference or not," he said. "We're going to do what's in the best long-term interests of shareholders."

...Tillerson was most combative with critics of EXXON'S FUNDING OF SCIENTISTS AND INSTITUTES THAT CAST DOUBT ON GLOBAL WARMING. With reference to the global warming debate, he said that the phrase "scientific consensus" was an "oxymoron." And he denounced those who said the company was underwriting "junk science," arguing that Exxon was simply taking part in the "debate" over global warming.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/
2006/05/31/AR2006053102050.html

If you think they are a cartoon, then you haven't been paying attention to the debate.
...

leftists and watermelons and eco-extremists
Why should I spare them? They are the ones ignoring it.

Sell your shares
If you don't like what Exxon is doing, sell your shares and don't buy their gas.

How do we inject sulphur?
Will we use some sort of government program to do so? Have governments across the world build gigantic acid rain factories to inject sulphur in to the air?

Or, do we simply remove all of those scrubbers that LiberalGoodman was talking about earlier? (The scrubbers he was referring to were required because West Virginia coal burns in a way that is much dirtier than coal from the Western USA. Se. Byrd slapped the requirement for scrubbers on power plants that burn coal so that burning West Virginia coal would be cheaper than buying clean coal from the West.)

Excellent article in general on the concept of renewable/clean energy, and the politics behind it:

http://www.perc.org/publications/percreports/sept1998/politics.php

Somewhat complicated, but worthwhile examination of the effects of government efforts to mitigate acid rain and the political-economy behind some of the decisions, particularly Sen. Byrd's decisions:

http://web.mit.edu/ceepr/www/96003ud.pdf

Check their report
If you bother to read their report, maybe you'll find they are doing something with all their profits.

http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/Files/Corporate/tomorrows_energy.pdf

".Tillerson was most combative with critics of EXXON'S FUNDING OF SCIENTISTS AND INSTITUTES THAT CAST DOUBT ON GLOBAL WARMING. With reference to the global warming debate, he said that the phrase "scientific consensus" was an "oxymoron." And he denounced those who said the company was underwriting "junk science," arguing that Exxon was simply taking part in the "debate" over global warming."

And why shouldn't he? There ARE climate scientists who do not share Gore's view. In fact, there are several and not on Exxon's payroll.

They are also forgetting dose-response theory:
Green on the outside, red/pink on the inside... I can't believe I didn't figure out what a watermelon was until a second ago.

I will find something heavy and attempt to club this new knowledge in to my thick skull after I finish this post.

When demanding ever-smaller amounts of any sort of chemical in our water and air, most watermelons seem to forget the most fundamental principle of toxicology: Dose-response theory.

The idea is simple: Our bodies respond differently to different dosages of a chemical. Alcohol is one such chemical. Alcohol is a pretty potent toxin. In large doses over the short term, alcohol can cause dehydration, loss of coordination and mental faculties, nausea and vomiting, even death. In small doses, over a long period, consuming alcohol actually improves our heart health.

The same is true of quite a few other chemicals and even radiation. Small doses of elements like Molybdenum and Arsenic are critical to the functioning of our bodies, large doses can kill. Background levels of radiation in Colorado are almost twice that of Massachussets, and yet Coloradans experience 18% fewer cases of cancer. Levels in Ramsar, Iran, are some 70 times that of Colorado and yet the residents have approximately the same cancer risk as most control populations. (http://home.comcast.net/~john.kimball1/BiologyPages/C/CancerRisk.html)

The point is: Decreasing the dose by 99% will not necessarily have any impact on the health of those exposed to a given chemical/form of radiation. In fact, the impact of doing so might be negative. Without clear and convincing evidence that reducing the concentrations of a chemical in our air and water below a certain level will have a statistically significant effect, who cares if we drop the dose or not?

Status Quo
Sadly, you are correct. Exxon will follow the path of General Motors and lose marketshare to competitors who developed alternatives.

Texan sangfroid
The Economist, April 27, 2006

Mr Tillerson is making a genuine -- and risky -- choice. Some rivals, such as BP, are piling into renewables such as solar power. Others, including Chevron, have bought rival oil firms despite the cost. Still others, such as Royal Dutch Shell, have rapidly increased their spending on exploration and development. But Mr Tillerson says that he plans to run the company without making any bets on the oil price. That, in itself, is a gamble: if it remains high, and he sticks to his guns, then Exxon will lose ground to its competitors.

http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=6850162

Wrong, wrong, and wrong again
The changes environmental scientists predict are costly. You must be playing dense pretending not to get that point. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or an economist to figure out that crashing a car is expensive. You try to avoid natural car distruction (falling rocks) or man made car distruction (Mel Gibson driving). No car --> monitary loss regardless of the cause.

Taxing carbon (economic incentive) is the conservative approach. Libs just want to make polluting illegal. California politicians get elected all the time promoting conservation measures that make gas more expensive, and it is more expensive in California. Angelinos understand that it's the price of sometimes seeing the sky through the haze.

Dems have a case to rub Bushies on gas prices. We're spending billions invading Iraq to "protect our vital interests" (i.e. keep oil prices low), but it doesn't seem to be working. Oil prices are driven up by the political instability in the middle east that incompetent newcon policies created.

Again, sell the stock or...
believe Tillerson is correct. Oil will be an important commodity for the next 20 years and hyrdogen will be the best alternative to gasoline in the long term.

What are the current trends for cars? Hybrids use gasoline as do E85 engines.

There is an air hybrid engine in development that uses oil as do diesels.

Exxon is number one and the rest need to do something to compete. Maybe the competitors will get lucky. Either way, we all will benefit from the competition.

meaningless labels
Who, specifically calls for this? Is this the position of (for example) the state of California under (R) Arnold Schwarzennegger? If not, what are you talking about?

Who is forgetting this??
Why do you assume that elementary principles of toxicology are ignored for political reasons?

It will come as a suprise, but epidemiologists have learned to split apart causes and control outcomes very completely. This kind of sutff:

"Small doses of elements like Molybdenum and Arsenic are critical to the functioning of our bodies, large doses can kill. Background levels of radiation in Colorado are almost twice that of Massachussets, and yet Coloradans experience 18% fewer cases of cancer. Levels in Ramsar, Iran, are some 70 times that of Colorado and yet the residents have approximately the same cancer risk as most control populations."

is quite familiar to them. If you have a specific problem with a specific stanard, there are very elaborate ways to protest it. But just to say that the people involved with suggesting or ruling on standards don't know elementary science doesn't cut it.

ps - what are your toxicology credentials? do you have a phD in the disclipline? Or are you just cutting and pasting from the web?

Except you have nothing to add on the subject
No specifics, no refutation, just a headline. Stop wasting everyone's time.

Stabilizing the climate with CO2?
Since we are hell bent to stabilize the climate through CO2, we should be aware of the natural cycles of temperature changes. It would have taken all of the known fossil fuels to pump out enough CO2 to counter the Little Ice Age. We have had at least 3 high/low cycle since the LIA and there may be several before the next ICE AGE, but we cannot be sure because it could come at any time. In the past a cold cycle followed a warm cycle. The Solar output appears to be in sync with these cycles. A pulsating sun is behind the recent warming since 1978, we are now in a transitional period between warm and cold where the Artic cold and the warmth of the tropics is not
mixing. This causes hot and cold areas sometimes fairly close to each other. Yes it's time to start wringing of the hands and start shouting, "an Ice Age is coming, an Ice Age is coming"!

Liberal: someone who is happy to spend other people's money
From LG's post:

[1] "Main stream environmental scientists believe ..."
I don't believe that, do you really believe it?

[2] "Recent history suggests...costs overstated..."
I don't believe that either, same question.

[3] "...goal reducing carbon emmissions by 50% within 20 years, I think ...get the job done."
Where did you get these numbers? What is their impact? What is their cost to implement them? Where is your analysis, where is an analysis you can quote?

No analysis, no proof, just handwaving generalizations culminating with the implication that we (USA) are weak if we don't "do something" and confront the oil cartel (Exxon etc).

Questions
[1] What the hell IS global warming?
[2] If it is bad in some sense, is humanity responsible for causing it?
[3] If [2], what can be done about it?
[4] Should we do ANYTHING about it?

Best answers I've heard from the local socialist/liberal/intellectual at work is

[1] Deviation of measured from expected (by 'scientists') long term temperature trend.
[2] Bad: world flooding, famine, end of civilization
[3] Reduce living standards to pre-1930s.
[4] Definitely hell NO. Developing economic powerhouses China and India are not willing to reduce their living standards (nor should they) to accomodiate the latest "end-of-the-world fad".

Moreover, I am absolutely NOT willing to reduce my living standards because some people state as fact it is "good for the world." I will continue to to do what best for me and my family within my economic constraints.

Quiet, submarines crossing
Since live cetaceans can be handy in some naval contexts quite removed from the late Spanish head of state's penchant for recreational whaling, perhaps you should focus on those sandflies with a heavier hand .

Set a goal for carbon emissions...
...but why bother?

During the last 550 million years, there have been only two relatively short periods when atmospheric CO2 levels have been below 550ppm, including the present. For the rest of the time, levels have been at least 1 order of magnitude above present levels, and Mother Earth survived! If the disasters predicted by alarmists had any validity, there would be ample evidence in the geological record. There is none! There is nothing magical about man-made CO2, compared to the natural product, so the contrived panic by climate alarmists is misplaced. CO2 has not been a major driver of climate in the past, so there is no reason, other than ideology, to imagine that it has suddenly become one.

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