June 26, 2008

It's going to get burnt anyway

It's pretty safe to say that Dr. James Hansen is not my favorite scientist. But I do find myself in curious agreement with one part of his recent testimony and DC talking tour, that we're not going to stop oil from getting burnt anytime soon. "Practically, I don't see how we can stop putting the oil in the atmosphere, because that's owned by Russia and Saudi Arabia" he said and there's a great deal of truth to that. The second part of his idea is that we could stop coal use, "what we could do is stop the coal" in his words. That's nonsense on stilts. The same problem, that the fossil fuel is under the control of countries not much interested in sacrificing energy use for the prevention of global warming is just as much a problem for coal as for oil. Wikipedia's got the stats. They don't paint a picture of a world where we could "stop the coal".

The US controls 256 billion tons of coal in proven reserves. The next three reserve leaders, Russia, the PRC, and India control 157, 114, and 92 billion tons respectively for a total of 383 billion tons and none of these three are any more likely to stop mining coal than Saudi Arabia is likely to stop pumping oil.

The PRC is currently pulling coal out of the ground at better than twice the US rate (2300 v 1000 million tons per year) and will not exhaust its reserves for half a century. Russia is mining more sustainably. It's reserves will last centuries at its 300 million ton rate. India's extraction rate of 450 million tons will exhaust their reserves in two centuries. So even if we stop mining entirely, coal will not be stopped. It will not even be significantly ameliorated as mining elsewhere will likely pick up as coal prices rise. We'll just have swapped our well regulated coal plants for 3rd world coal plants that, on balance will be dirtier.

Now Hansen is obviously not stupid and the necessary numbers to demolish his claim are publicly available and easy to get at. So why did he spout such nonsense? It's difficult to say why. Maybe he just didn't think things through. Maybe he wanted to inject a note of sanity into environmentalism by getting them to swallow the idea that oil control is impossible and he's just letting others take the reputational hit for extending the logic out to other energy sources. Maybe he really does think that we can control coal mining in a way that we can't control oil drilling. Essentially the choices are thinking that Hansen is outrageously sloppy, breathtakingly cynical, or economically ignorant.

Not a pretty picture.

April 18, 2008

Earthquake Blogging

I slept through last night's midwest quake but my wife woke up. I'll get it this morning as I am in charge of writing up our nonexistent office disaster recovery plan that's supposed to complement our pretty good data center disaster recovery plan.

Oh fun.

It's not the first time I've slept through a 5 magnitude quake. I did it once on the east coast when I lived in Westchester county, NY.

Posted by TMLutas at 07:09 AM

May 02, 2005

Scientists Need to Drop Science

Science (the journal), apparently is applying political criteria on global warming article submissions. Nature seems to be on the anti-science bandwagon as well. The journals are spiking scholarly articles that cast doubt on the "consensus" opinion that global warming is real, caused largely by human action, and correctable.

If scientific journals are willing to prostitute themselves to further a public policy agenda, they cease to be scientific journals and become pseudo-scientific. The only cure is for scientists to drop their subscriptions, tell people why they are doing it, and to make publication in these journals a mark of shame, not one of pride in the profession.

Self-policing is the only solution or science itself as an institution for good in society by discovering and documenting the world as it really is will be lost.

Posted by TMLutas at 12:19 PM

April 14, 2004

Lamm the Pollution Foolish

Environmentalism is supposed to be concerned with saving the planet. Richard Lamm's version is perfectly happy with a dirtier planet so long as the dirt is conveniently out of sight.

Immigration is generally a flow from poor nations to rich nations. And those poor nations generally have horribly polluting economic systems. People come here to get a better life, for themselves and for the next generation. This basic desire can be accommodated in their own lands if we close down the borders but the extra economic growth will likely come with a higher amount of pollution per $ of GDP.

So what is Gov. Lamm advocating here? Either he wants the US clean and relatively empty while the rest of the world puts out more pollution, or he wants the US clean, relatively empty and the rest of the world stuck in economic hell where they don't live very decent lives but they don't pollute much either.

Now I'm not a Sierra Club member so I won't be voting on whether Lamm merits a board seat but the Sierra Club has got a problem on its hands if Lamm makes it to the Board. They need responsible people to carry out their charter. Gov. Lamm simply does not fit the bill.

Posted by TMLutas at 12:33 AM

April 02, 2004

George HW Bush's Secret Smile

A decade and a half ago, George HW Bush, the current president's father introduced the idea of pollution trading credits as a way to gain pollution curbs while limiting economic damage. The idea that pollution was a commodity that could be paid for and traded scandalized Europe. This was viewed as an unfeeling, uncaring solution to pollution that would permit polluters to pollute forever.

Now, in the face of Kyoto, Europe is adopting just such a trading regime. The EU climbdown from its previous opposition has to be galling for people who remember the introduction of the original innovation in the US and the controversy it engendered. But, in retirement, I have no doubt that GHWB has a very discreet, secret smile plastered all over his face on the news.

Posted by TMLutas at 08:57 AM

February 26, 2004

Pentagon Report on Global Warming

Some time ago there were media reports on a Pentagon study regarding the security implications of global warming. Much emotion ensued but the actual report wasn't on the Internet. It is now and the actual report link is here. Contrary to a lot of the speculation at the time, the study is largely aimed at a few options that are anathema to the conventional global-warming priesthood, geo-engineering, adaptation, and pro-active increases in the ability to adjust to changes.

Now it makes perfect sense why the text wasn't released at the same time as the scare stories.

Posted by TMLutas at 12:12 PM

February 17, 2004

Global Warming Models All Wrong?

New arctic research is pointing to the conclusion that the arctic has an active role in carbon sequestration. In simple layman's terms, all those complex models that scientists used for global warming assumed that the arctic was a big, fat zero as far as release or absorption of CO2, the greenhouse gas that the global warming theorists are highly concerned about. If this research is confirmed, all those models were absolutely wrong.

Bzzzt. Start from zero and create new models boys because you missed a huge chunk of the system and we have no clue what it does and how it will adjust. Now, if Russia had buckled and ratified Kyoto, putting the treaty into force, wouldn't everybody be feeling really dumb right now?

HT: Slashdot

Posted by TMLutas at 11:54 PM

December 17, 2003

DDT ban death toll

One of my pet peeves is the moral superiority that many on the left put on, even as their policies cause the deaths of so many. They have blood dripping from their hands and piously proclaim that they are the true moralists. Communists are probably the most famous for this but today, I thought I'd let loose a bit on environmentalists.

To save some birds from DDT it must be banned. But how are we to save people from malaria? There is no real answer to that as DDT is unique in its effectiveness, safety, and low cost. And while the environmentalists force DDT to the sidelines in the fight against malaria the death toll keeps climbing. Here's a malaria death clock in french and the google translation in english.

The next time you see an environmentalists pretending to be a moralist, look at your watch. Every 10.5 seconds of blather = one death, most of the time a child under 5 or a pregnant woman.


HT to Tech Central Station which is running a good article on the precautionary principle as applied to pesticides.

Posted by TMLutas at 11:40 AM

July 22, 2003

Will Russia step off the Kyoto cliff?

With the Kyoto environmental accord, there's signature, ratification, and actually following the treaty. Signing is easy, if you don't intend to ratify. Ratification is easy, if you don't intend to follow the requirements, and finally, following the requirements is easy if your economy happens to have imploded since the treaty start date of 1990. The stronger your economic growth is, the less likely you will be able to fit into the Kyoto restriction regime.

Russia has signed but not ratified and the EU is putting the pressure on. As the article notes, 10 of the 15 EU states are simply out of compliance, thus making a mockery of the whole process but their noncompliance makes it clear that actually reducing pollution is not the intent of the exercise.

Posted by TMLutas at 01:16 AM