TCS Daily


Our Green ICE Age

By Dwight R. Lee - March 13, 2007 12:00 AM

All environmentalists should be singing the praises of the internal combustion engine (ICE) instead of damning it for polluting the environment. The environmental advantages of the internal combustion engine have been obvious for a long time. But a recent story in the British newspaper, "The Independent," on the methane from livestock flatulence makes the advantages of internal combustion even more obvious. According to "The Independent," a recent study by the Food and Agricultural Organization finds that "livestock are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together."

Global warming became a concern, however, long after the internal combustion engine began improving the environment. In 1900 most of the horsepower we had available really was horse power -- or mule power, or oxen power. As reliance on the internal combustion engine increased in the early 1900s, we began replacing the emissions that came out of the tailpipes of animals with those coming out of the tailpipes of cars and trucks. And the latter emissions were a lot less harmful than the former.

Consider the effects of horse emissions in our towns and cities at the beginning of the last century. The air and water pollution from horse manure contributed to a death rate far greater than that generated by the pollution from cars and trucks. No one denies that photochemical smog from gas powered vehicles is a health risk, but it is not nearly the health risk of cholera, typhoid, typhus, yellow fever, diphtheria and malaria. These diseases killed tens of thousands of Americans in the early 20-century and these deaths began to decline as cars and trucks replaced horses and wagons.

And the improvements in the environment weren't limited to just the towns and cities. Before gasoline power arrived, beasts of burden were polluting agricultural communities along with meat producing animals such as cows, chickens and pigs. By eliminating horses, mules and oxen on farms, tractors and other types of gas-powered farm machinery greatly reduced the problem of animal waste that environmentalists, with justification, still complain about. This also eliminated the need to grow the food required by millions of farm animals. It has been estimated that it took about 93 million acres of land in 1900 to grow the food to fuel the farm animals that were soon replaced by motorized farm machinery. Much of that land has now gone back to woodlands.

Based on the above consideration alone, environmentalists should favor building an environmental shrine to the internal combustion engine. And now the evidence indicates that by eliminating all those barn-yard animals, the internal combustion engine also eliminated vast amounts of methane-producing flatulence, which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide produced by gasoline engines.

Instead of giving credit to internal combustion for its contribution to environmental quality, the news on the harmful effects of animal flatulence has resulted in another culprit being blamed for global warming; meat eaters. According to a recent article in the "Christian Science Monitor," some environmentalists are urging people to become vegetarians to combat global warming. There is no mention that this vegetarian solution, if taken seriously, would make the internal combustion engine even more critical to environmental protection. Imagine the amount of animal manure and methane that would be produced growing all those extra vegetables without motorized farm equipment.

Even though the internal combustion engine is less polluting than the animals it replaced, it is not pollution free. But the gasoline powered engines are far less polluting today than just a few decades ago. Successful efforts to make it even less polluting will continue to be made, and some day internal combustion will be replaced by an even less polluting technology. But the internal combustion engine has been a major contributor to the steady progress toward a healthier environment over the past century.

The author is Ramsey Professor of Economic, Terry College, University of Georgia.


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69 Comments

small error in the article
If we all became vegetarians, then the food needed to feed the animals that we eat wouldn't need to be grown. That amount of food is greater than the extra amount of food that would have to be grown to feed us. It would be a net reduction in farmland, and hence a net reduction in the amount of fuel needed.

Won't we produce more methane then?
If we consume our protein via legumes rather than meat, won't we simply be shifting methane production from the cow to (ahem!) ourselves?

Sorry for being so scatalogical.

Nice Article
That's an angle I had not considered. I come from a part of rural Indiana that has a large concentration of Amish. They use farm animals today. You are dead on.

Talk about emmisions.
I grew up on a farm.
I am really tired of talking about the emmisions on cows.

Come on! Can we gives this subject a break.

Moral, "Never stand behind a Cow when it is coughing".

Not really
Because we can't digest cellulose.

This subject...
will never be considered as real by the MSM or the AGW alarmists. This will be grouped with the other theories of cosmic radition and solar wind which means that it will be conveniently avoided or played down to push the CO2 agenda.

I do like the article as it is factually correct while making AGW alarmists and unscientific environmentalists angry.

Ah yes you are correct but the hard core environmentalism would counter...
... that without the ICE much fewer people would be alive today and to him this would be a good thing. Now we know that would be becuase more people would have died but to him it is still a plus.

a quote from the all powerfull, authoratative, and unbiased Wikipedia
"The government are very keen on amassing statistics. They collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But you must never forget that every one of these figures comes in the first instance from the village watchman, who just puts down what he damn pleases." (quoting an anonymous English judge.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josiah_Stamp,_1st_Baron_Stamp

CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF LATE PLEISTOCENE, ABRUPT, GLOBAL, CLIMATE CHANGES AND GLOBAL WARMING
http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2005AM/finalprogram/abstract_95510.htm

CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF LATE PLEISTOCENE, ABRUPT, GLOBAL, CLIMATE CHANGES AND GLOBAL WARMING
EASTERBROOK, Don J., Dept. of Geology, Western Washington Univ, Bellingham, WA 98225, dbunny@cc.wwu.edu
The sensitive, global synchroniety of abrupt Younger Dryas climate oscillations, shown by double YD moraines in the Pacific NW, Rocky Mts., Swiss Alps, Canada, Scandinavia, and New Zealand, challenges the viability of changes in the North Atlantic deep current to explain such abrupt changes in both hemispheres with no time lag. New cosmogenic dates from twin YD moraines in the North Cascades and Sawtooth Mts. confirm that the western U.S. was sensitive to these abrupt climate changes, far removed from any oceanic connection to the North Atlantic.

These late Pleistocene, global, climate changes have implications for understanding present–day global warming. Climatic modelers have predicted that global temperatures will soar in the next several decades as a result of increased atmospheric CO2. However, evidence from glaciers and the oceans suggest that these predictions may be premature. Advance and retreat of glaciers in the Pacific NW and elsewhere show three distinct oscillations, each having a period of ~25–30 years. Glaciers advanced from about 1890 until the early 1920s (cool cycle), retreated rapidly from ~1930 to ~1950-55 (warm cycle), readvanced from ~1955 to ~1980 (cool cycle), then retreated rapidly from ~1980 to the present (warm cycle). Comparable, cyclical, oscillation patterns occurred in the North Pacific (PDO), the North Atlantic (NAO), Europe, and Greenland. Global temperature curves show a cool reversal from ~1950 to 1980) at a time when large amounts of CO2 were introduced into the atmosphere, inferring that global temperatures then were not driven by atmospheric CO2. During this cool cycle, solar irradiance curves almost exactly match the global temperature curve. Satellite data indicate intensifying solar radiation over the past 24 years, coinciding with the present 25–year warm cycle and suggesting a solar cause for the warming. If the cycles continue as in the past, the current warm cycle should end in the next few years, and global warming should abate, rather than increase, in the next 25–30 years, followed by renewed global warming in the following 25–30 years.

The NYT chastises Gore
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/science/13gore.html?ex=1331438400&en=2df9d6e7a5aa6ed6&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

Hardly a week goes by,” Dr. Peiser said, “without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory,” including some reports that offer alternatives to human activity for global warming.

Geologists have documented age upon age of climate swings, and some charge Mr. Gore with ignoring such rhythms.

“Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said in a September blog. “Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.”

In October, Dr. Easterbrook made similar points at the geological society meeting in Philadelphia. He hotly disputed Mr. Gore’s claim that “our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this” threatened change.

Nonsense, Dr. Easterbrook told the crowded session. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to “20 times greater than the warming in the past century.”

Getting personal, he mocked Mr. Gore’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. “I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company,” Dr. Easterbrook told the group. “And I’m not a Republican.”

Biologists, too, have gotten into the act. In January, Paul Reiter, an active skeptic of global warming’s effects and director of the insects and infectious diseases unit of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, faulted Mr. Gore for his portrayal of global warming as spreading malaria.

“For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims,” Dr. Reiter wrote in The International Herald Tribune. “We have done the studies and challenged the alarmists, but they continue to ignore the facts.”

Read the fine print...
and you will see this is hardly a "hit-piece" or a slam against Gore. It immediately reverts to the old myths of the cause being good even if the science is being misrepresented.

ICE and ice
I am an advocate for less “ice” (the frozen H2O variety) on planet earth. Much of the earth’s land resources cannot be fully utilized due to ice and cold. But the consequence of less ice is higher MSL (mean sea level). MSL has risen 130 meters in the last 18 thousand years. Yet MSL currently stands about 75 meters below the long term average for the last 550 million years, and 225 meters below MSL on an ice free earth.

MSL fluctuation over geologic time is a long term threat to mankind. Too high an MSL reduces human access to land and could destroy current lowlands and cities. Too low an MSL would create a new coastline, and worse be a harbinger of a new ice age. What would be helpful is a plan (and the appropriate technologies) to stabilize sea level. This is an engineering challenge. In the last 15 years, MSL has been increasing about 3mm/year…this is the equivalent to about 1,000 cubic kilometers (km3) of water. For comparison, the volume of water in the Great Lakes is about 22,800 km3. A project to stabilize sea level would require a very large “pond” to hold any excess water, and an efficient method to move the water. The recent discovery of the “Beijing Anomaly”…an underground ocean (15.7 million km3)… in China offers some hope. If similar geological formations exist elsewhere on the planet, there is an opportunity to control rising oceans by move water underground.

I agree with the author that ICE has provided exceptional utility to mankind. But I also believe that ICE technology will not meet our needs in the 21rst century. The challenges are bigger and the stakes are higher…it is time, with respect, to move on.

The other end.
I think a lot of the methane produced by ruminents comes out the front end during cud chewing.

I'm not sure about that and would appreciate confirmation or refutation.


ANY criticism from NYT on Gore is a big deal.
One small crack in facade is beginning to appear.

"opportunity to control rising oceans " : MOVE to higher ground.
That would be easier.

read the entire article
It includes quotes from people who disagree with AGW at a fundamental level.

For the NYT, that's a major about face.

moving
sea levels are only rising a foot or two per century.
That gives us plenty of time to move the most vulnerable.

Great Article
Interesting observation on environmentalism. Economically driven environmentalism makes ultimate sense.

Technology will phase-out the internal combustion engine when it is economically advantageous to do so. My solution to shortening the process for new technologies to develop is to "drive" our way out of OPEC oil dependency.

By using the Arab oil up as quickly as possible, we will hasten the day when other fuels and technologies become economically appealing.

Just a thought.

55% of Democrats worry that AGW will cause human life on earth to cease to exist
http://www.galluppoll.com/content/Default.aspx?ci=26842&VERSION=p

It's near the bottom of the article.

If we all became vegetarians,
then our flatulence would increase.

We would also be generally unhealthy.

It's been known for some time
http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2005/05/10/global-warming-something-new-under-the-sun/

The added forcing from increased solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface has contributed nearly 10 times as much energy as greenhouse changes! When compared to the overall greenhouse forcing since pre-industrial times, it’s four times larger.

New Career Opportunity!
They can pay some of us to drive and drive and drive all across the country (and even all throughout Canada)! It will give "professional driver" a whole new meaning.

cosmic rays
and that's before adding in the decrease in cosmic rays that occur when the sun gets stronger.

Cosmic rays play a role in the formation of low level clouds.

Well, if you believe Wikipedia...
Subject: Flatulence, subtopic Environmental impact:

"Livestock are a significant contributing factor to the greenhouse effect, accounting for around 20% of global methane emissions[10]. Less than 10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions from livestock is produced by animal flatulence; most is produced by animal burping. Livestock in New Zealand account for 60% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions[11]. Livestock in Australia contribute approximately 14% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions [12]."

Are the global warming alarmists buying land along the coast of Maine...
... 20 feet above sea level hoping for ocean front property.



Aquaculture is in its infancy...
... My kids love to eat seaweed. Aquaculture does not require irrigation.

Very little land is required for people to actually live on.

Not that I believe that global warming will bring much sea level rise in the next couple of hundred years.



More than a small error...
This article is full of fundamental mistakes. Dr. Lee is a college professor? This is a mess.

Yellow fever and malaria are caused by mosquitos. The sources of Cholera and Typhoid Fever are human sewerage. Typhus is carried by rodents and transmitted to humans by fleas. Diphtheria is an upper respiratory bacterium passed from human to human. None of these diseases are caused by, facilitated by or have anything at all to do with horse manure or cattle manure.

Nevertheless, Dwight said: "These diseases killed tens of thousands of Americans in the early 20-century and these deaths began to decline as cars and trucks replaced horses and wagons."

Alright. Economists are social philosophers. But this is ridiculous. Only equalled by his "A Market for Citizenships" piece.


Do some
real fact checking first, Lost In the Forest.

another phoney issue
Sure that's all very well and true but the problem is that the liberals and eco-***** will never admit it. Many of those nut cases have a phoney romanticism about farms no matter what the evidence is. So you get flakes like Willy Nelson lamenting the loss of farms while riding around in his SUVs and private planes to his various houses, one of which is in Hawaii. A lot of these liberals are even more carbon heavy than al gore. Also, remember how it was when Paris Hilton and and some other spoilt rich kid tried to work on a farm for even a couple of days; and in modern times, not like farms of yesteryears. So we should celebrate the ICE and build some monuments. Now if Americans really got smart they would use cars like the ones in euroland that already get about 80 miles/per/galon. Whoops, they're all diesel though, and they're not trendy in the States.

farming
roy once declared that the worst tragedy of NAFTA was that it destroyed subsitance farming in Mexico.

alternative cars aren't as green as advertised
http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/editorial/editorial_item.asp?NewsID=188

I did and you should to
A majority of the article portrays Gore as someone who is just slightly overzealous in his desire to spare the world from a coming global climate crisis. In fact, the article gives top billing to those researchers who agree with Gore but wish he would "tone it down" a notch.

Easterbrook and Reiser are good quotes on how out of touch Algore is with the science behind his pandering but the last paragraph is what people are left with:

>"On balance, he did quite well — a credible and entertaining job on a difficult subject,” Dr. Oppenheimer said. “For that, he deserves a lot of credit. If you rake him over the coals, you’re going to find people who disagree. But in terms of the big picture, he got it right."

Nice try by the NYT to finally put their liberal slant to the side but in the end they failed. This piece, as a whole, is fluff. I just don't see the impact you do.

the impact is that this piece is in the NYT at all.
The fact remains that they have moved from al gore is infallible god, to al gore has feet of clay after all.

In the past the NYT would never have given space to an AGW denier.

Here they do.

new study shows that UHI may account for 65-80% of warming since 1980.
Abstract:

Temporal change in urbanization-induced warming at two national basic meteorological stations of China and its contribution to the overall warming are analyzed. Annual and seasonal mean surface air temperature for time periods of 1961~2000 and 1981~2000 at the two stations of “Beijing and Wuhan Cities and their nearby rural stations all significantly increase. Annual and seasonal urbanization-induced warming for the two periods at Beijing and Wuhan stations is also generally significant, with the annual urban warming accounting for about 65~80% of the overall warming in 1961~2000 and about 40~61% of the overall warming in 1981~2000. This result along with the previous researches indicates a need to pay more attention to the urbanization-induced bias probably existing in the current surface air temperature records of the national basic stations”.

They start off with the problem:

“Urbanization may have affected the surface air temperature (SAT) records at many city stations in continents, especially in industrial regions like Europe, North America and East Asia. However, this issue is still under debate at present. It is generally hold that urban heat island effect is of secondary importance, and it is unlikely to surpass 0.05°C in the past a hundred years on global average, a magnitude lower than the optimal estimation of the global average annual mean SAT change of 0.6°C [Jones et al., 1990; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2001; Peterson, 2003; Li et al., 2004a]. On the other hand, some researches have shown that the urban heat island effect may play a significant role in the global and regional SAT trend estimated up to date, which should be paid more attention to and should be emended [Hansen et al., 2001; Kalnay and Cai, 2003; Zhou et al., 2004; Zhou and Ren, 2005]”.

Their conslusion:

“In summary, temporal trends of annual and seasonal mean SAT for time periods of 1961~2000 and 1981~2000 at Beijing and Wuhan stations and their nearby rural stations are all significantly positive, and the annual and seasonal urban warming for the two periods for Beijing and Wuhan stations is also positive and significant. The annual urban warming at the city stations can account for about 65~80% of the overall warming in 1961~2000, and about 40~61% of the overall warming in 1981~2000. The quality control and the in-homogeneity examination and adjustment for the data of the stations used for the analysis have been made”.

Ref.: Ren, G. Y., Z. Y. Chu, Z. H. Chen, and Y. Y. Ren (2007), Implications of temporal change in urban heat island intensity observed at Beijing and Wuhan stations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L05711, doi:10.1029/2006GL027927

Missed a big point.
It doesn't mater if the global tempature is accurate or even meaningfull by its self. The point is if you use the SAME methodology of measuring temputare over time you will discover a trend.

I have a pet peeve about this. Both Republicans and Democrates have urged the Census to change the form, year after year. Thus following trends is really quite difficult, if not impossible.

The problem is, they haven't
Years ago, the only measurements recorded were daily highs and lows. (which are useless for calcualting average daily temperatures) The readings were taken and recorded manually.

Nowdays, some stations take hourly readings, automatically.
Some still take just high and low. Of these, some are manual, some are automatic.

For the high low stations, the average time of day has gradually drifted from morning to evening.

Many stations have been moved.

Most stations have had their equipment changed. Some more than once.

Finally, there has been no effort to keep the area around stations free from change.

The total number of stations has changed. It gradually increased until the 80's. Topping out at a grand total of 6000, covering the 197 million square miles of the earth's surface.

Today, the number has dropped to around 2500.

Why there is a Warm Bias in the Existing Analyses of the Global Average Surface Temperature
http://climatesci.colorado.edu/2006/01/23/why-there-is-a-warm-bias-in-the-existing-analyses-of-the-global-average-surface-temperature/

NASA Studies How Airborne Particles Affect Climate Change
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=22116

so much for roy's claim that we know enough about aerosols to use them to "fix" the models.

Maybe this is why the alarmists are afraid of free and open debate
http://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/VoteResultsAll.aspx?id=12

Well known and reputable scientists on both sides of the issue.

The priesthood
never wants the peasantry to understand the facts. Next thing you know, the grimy masses might get the outrageous notion of thinking for themselves.

Director of the International Arctic Research Center warns against a rush to judgement
http://www.iarc.uaf.edu/highlights/2007/akasofu_3_07/

If non-scientists shouldn't do science, should non-statisticians be doing statistics?
stephen is always crowing about how people commenting on global warming don't have degrees in atmospheric sciences (Like only atmospheric physics has something to say about the climate.)

Mann's hockey stick is the product of intense statistical manipulations of proxy data. Yet the team did not have a single statistician on it. Nor did they think to consult someone knowledgeable about statistics.

Are you, for once, going to be consistent, or are you, as usual, going to invent some pathetic excuse why the "scientists" that you agree with don't have to live up to the standards you set for everyone else?

Hansen Calls IPCC Adjustments “Ad Hoc” and of “Dubious Validity”
Hansen et al 1993 (Clim Chg 25, 186), Commentary on the Significance of Global Temperature Records.

A Danish scientist said the idea of a "global temperature" and global warming is more political than
A Danish scientist said the idea of a "global temperature" and global warming is more political than scientific.


http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Science/danish_scientist_global_warming_is_a_myth/20070315-012154-7403r/

I guess Exxon's pocketbook is getting to more scientists than we thought.

Solar Cycle 25 peaking around 2022 could be one of the weakest in centuries.
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/10may_longrange.htm

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(The data is out there for those with the courage to look.)

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