Frack That

“Clean natural gas” from fracking has been touted for years as a cure for global warming.

But scientists say that fracking pumps out a lot of methane … into both our drinking water and the environment.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas: 72 times more potent as a warming source than CO2.

As such, fracking actually increases – rather than decreases – global warming.

(The fracking boom is also causing other harmful effects.)

Nuclear Dud

Numerous scientists have also pushed nuclear power as a must to stop global warming.

But it turns out that nuclear is .

Scam and Trade

One of the main solutions to global warming which has long been pushed by the powers that be – cap and trade – is a scam. Specifically:

  • The economists who invented cap-and-trade say that it won’t work for global warming
  • Many environmentalists say that carbon trading won’t effectively reduce carbon emissions
  • Our bailout buddies over at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and the other Wall Street behemoths are buying heavily into carbon trading (see this, this, this, this, this and this).

As University of Maryland professor economics professor and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission Peter Morici writes:

Obama must ensure that the banks use the trillions of dollars in federal bailout assistance to renegotiate mortgages and make new loans to worthy homebuyers and businesses. Obama must make certain that banks do not continue to squander federal largess by padding executive bonuses, acquiring other banks and pursuing new high-return, high-risk lines of businesses in merger activity, carbon trading and complex derivatives. Industry leaders like Citigroup have announced plans to move in those directions. Many of these bankers enjoyed influence in and contributed generously to the Obama campaign. Now it remains to be seen if a President Obama can stand up to these same bankers and persuade or compel them to act responsibly.

In other words, the same companies that made billions off of derivatives and other scams and are now getting bailed out on your dime are going to make billions from carbon trading.

War: The Number One Source of Carbon

The U.S. military is the biggest producer of carbon on the planet.

Harvey Wasserman notes that fighting wars more than wipes out any reduction in carbon from the government’s proposed climate measures.

Writing in 2009 about the then-proposed escalation in the Afghanistan war, Wasserman said:

The war would also come with a carbon burst. How will the massive emissions created by 100,000-plus soldiers in wartime be counted in the 17% reduction rubric? Will the HumVees be converted to hybrids? What is the carbon impact of Predator bombs that destroy Afghan families and villages?

The continuance of fighting all over the Middle East and North Africa  completely and thoroughly undermines the government’s claims that there is a global warming emergency and that reducing carbon output through cap and trade is needed to save the planet.

I can’t take anything the government says about carbon footprints seriously until the government ends the unnecessary warsall over the globe.

So whatever you think of climate change, all people can agree that ending the wars is important.

(War also destroys the economy.)

Fascism: Not a Great Idea

In 2010, James Lovelock – environmentalist and  creator of the “Gaia hypothesis” – told the Guardian that we might need fascism to curb global warming:

We need a more authoritative world. We’ve become a sort of cheeky, egalitarian world where everyone can have their say. It’s all very well, but there are certain circumstances – a war is a typical example – where you can’t do that. You’ve got to have a few people with authority who you trust who are running it. And they should be very accountable too, of course.

But it can’t happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems. What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.

Lovelock subsequently apologized for being too alarmist and going too far.

Dumb as a Mongoose In Hawaii

In addition, “government scientists are studying the feasibility of sending nearly microscopic particles of specially made glass into the Earth’s upper atmosphere to try to dampen the effects of ‘global warming.’ ” Others are currently suggesting cutting down trees and burying them. Other ways to geoengineer the planet are being studied and tested (and see this and this), involving such things as dumping barium, aluminum and other toxic metals into the atmosphere.

Remember, the mongoose was introduced to Hawaii in order to control the rats (which were eating the sugar cane used to make rum). It didn’t work out very well … mongeese are daylight-loving creatures while rats are nocturnal. So the mongeese trashed the native species in Hawaii, and never took care of the rats.

Similarly, the harm caused by many of these methods have not been thought through … and they could cause serious damage to our health and our ecosystems.

So – whatever you think about climate – you can obviously agree that we should approach climate change from the age-old axiom of “first, do no harm”, making sure that our “solutions” do not cause more damage than the problems.

So What’s the Answer?

If nuclear, fracking and cap and trade aren’t the answer, what is?

Decentralization of power generation and storage.

That would empower people and communities, produce less carbon, prevent nuclear disasters like Fukushima, reduce the dangers of peak oil (and thus prevent future oil spills like we had in the Gulf), and have many other positive effects.

In addition, top climate scientists say that soot plays a huge role in the melting of snow and ice.  The director of Stanford’s Atmosphere and Energy Program and professor of civil and environmental engineering (Mark Jacobson) believes that soot is the primary cause of melting arctic ice, and says:

Controlling soot may be the only way to significantly slow Arctic warming over the next two decades …

Reducing soot will be cheaper than the “decarbonation” which many policy-makers have proposed. And it would increase the health of millions of people worldwide.

We don’t need fascism to make this happen.  A modest amount of money could replace quite a few of these with these … drastically reducing the amount of soot in the atmosphere.

Our Changing Scientific Understanding of Climate Change

When I studied environmental science at UCLA decades ago, we were taught that increased CO2 leads to global warming and melting ice … and that no other factors were involved.

Scientists have since discovered that climate change is a little more complicated.

For example, scientists announced last week that heat from the Earth’s upper crust and mantle contribute to melting the ice sheets … and that more melting occurs where the Earth’s crust is thinner.

A scientific experiment by one of the world’s top scientific laboratory showed that cosmic rays affect cloud formation … which in turn affects climate.

How could climate scientists be wrong about the factors which go into climate change?

Science is not a one-time, all-or-nothing endeavor.  It is the process of refining our understanding of the universe and – if our model doesn’t fit reality – adding details or changing the model altogether.

And even well-known, well-intentioned scientists sometimes push incomplete or counter-productive ideas.

For example, top scientists, government agencies and publications have – for over 100 years – been terrified of a new ice age. (And – in the “for what it’s worth department”,  NASA said 7 months ago that we could be on the verge of another solar minimum.)

Well-known scientists considered pouring soot over the Arctic in the 1970s to help melt the ice – in order to prevent another ice age.  That would have been stupid.

Even Obama’s top science adviser – John Holdren – warned in the 1970′s of a new ice age … and is open to shooting soot into the upper atmosphere. That might be equally stupid.

We have to think like true scientists … and learn from our mistakes.

Category: Energy, Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

15 Responses to “Scientists Gain New Insight Into Climate Change”

  1. RW says:

    Thinking like “true scientists” means you understand what a mistake really is so that learning from it:makes a difference. Nothing in Washington’s blog’s little screed appears to have any actual relevance to that; e.g, it is neither expert nor possessing sufficient humility to grasp the enormity and complexity of a problem that makes error inevitable ….and that’s just for starters.

    This ain’t ping pong, it’s a real (as opposed to the usual bullshit) existential threat; get off the high horse and quit trying to score pissant points …ya don’t have the juice and we don’t have the time.

  2. Richard W. Kline says:

    Predictions a generation since regarding an impending solar minimum were not, in fact, wrong at all—but circumstances changed. Anthropogenic global warming since the Industrial Revolution has been so powerful that it has completely overwhelmed the multi-millennial long-term trend which would have us within the onset of an ice age by this point on background gloal climate patterns. Problem solved, right? *HAHAHA*

    I’m all for decentralizing the power grid with solar and other spot power sources. The technology has been there for a generation, and if governments had been faster at putting money into it, the conversion would have already occurred. Solar is at grid parity in many areas already though, and will be so everywhere by the end of this decade. The quiet revolution is happening despite the eco-crime which is fracking that Big Money way long into Big Carbon would have us know. We can scream about ‘cheap Chinese solar panels’ as an economic problem all we want, but the world desperately needs those panels right now. That’s socialism for us, right? Saving us from ourselves, the cavil’s of the extractive rich notwithstanding.

    The one real lack in the new power system is portable fast-draw power storage. There is still no ready-power source as easy to use as a 5 gal. can of gasoline, and until we can _store_ power in portable units in a comparable fashion we won’t be able to shake hydrocarbon’s toxic death grip on live, organic matter. —But if we put a tenth of the money into a program on that that we’ve put into paying fealty to the organized criminal financial system in the last five years we WOULD have a solution to that problem. People are dumb, what can I say . . . ?

  3. sudeepj says:

    Barry,

    The benefit of Nuclear is that it can provide baseload power. Right now, baseload power is provided by coal and nuclear plants, with the fluctuations in the wind/solar capacity handled by natural gas power plants. We need something to replace the coal power plants and because wind and solar are not always on technologies, our only options are big dams and nuclear. Nat gas is cleaner than coal but nuclear is an order of magnitude better. Big dams come with their own problems.. Therefore nuke power plants must be pursued.

  4. 4MYGRANDKIDS says:

    1. How much methane is produced by livestock?

    Globally, ruminant livestock produce about 80 million metric tons of methane annually, accounting for about 28% of global methane emissions from human-related activities. An adult cow may be a very small source by itself, emitting only 80-110 kgs of methane, but with about 100 million cattle in the U.S. and 1.2 billion large ruminants in the world, ruminants are one of the largest methane sources. In the U.S., cattle emit about 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year into the atmosphere, accounting for 20% of U.S. methane emission
    http://www.epa.gov/rlep/images/pie3.gif

    This amount is growing annually as people continue to eat “higher on the hog”. Protein consumption has more than doubled in the last 50 years.

  5. webmartians says:

    I like the idea of fracking and releasing methane! Methane, although extraordinarily potent, persists atmospherically “only” a decade (compared to carbon dioxide which hangs around for a century or more). While CH4 does (much) more damage than CO2 in the short term, its lifetime is limited.

    How to spin this … Consider the surgeon’s scalpel: it makes great, immediate changes but saves lives.

    As a former “Santa Barbarian” (fracking is occurring apparently on the remaining rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel), I say bring on the fracks/frackers/frackerizers! Make the situation really bad in the short term and for only a (relatively) short time! It’ll kill some portion of the planetary population (I’m arrogant and vain enough to believe it won’t be me) and that, alone, will reduce the subsequent overall carbon footprint of the remaining … uh … let’s not call them “survivors” … FOLK … yes, folk.

    Woo hoo!
    (I’m gonna regret I ever posted this.)

  6. Frilton Miedman says:

    The most lethal mass extinction event in Earth’s history was the Permian-Triassic that was caused by abrupt global warming from mass ejections of frozen methane hydrate deposits on the oceans floors that was triggered by a global temperature increase of just a few degree’s by a supervolcano.

    Once that critical temperature was reached, there was no stopping the methane releases.

    Methane is hundreds of times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO, once a global chain reaction is triggered, it may not be stoppable.

    As we speak, ice in the Siberian Sea has melted and Methane hydrate deposits that were concealed beneath that ice are spewing methane into the atmosphere.

    • victor says:

      From Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian%E2%80%93Triassic_extinction_event as well as Geophysics 101: “There is doubt, however, about whether these eruptions were enough on their own to cause a mass extinction as severe as the end-Permian. Equatorial eruptions are necessary to produce sufficient dust and aerosols to affect life worldwide, whereas the much larger Siberian Traps eruptions were inside or near the Arctic Circle. Furthermore, if the Siberian Traps eruptions occurred within a period of 200,000 years, the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide content would have doubled. Recent climate models suggest such a rise in CO2 would have raised global temperatures by 1.5 to 4.5°C (2.7 to 8.1°F), which is unlikely to cause a catastrophe as great as the P–Tr extinction.[90]

      • Frilton Miedman says:

        This doesn’t explain the concentrated layer of C12 in the layer of Earth that coincides with the Permian-Triassic period.

        C12 is the byproduct of methane.

      • DeDude says:

        Exactly; if you only count the released CO2 and model its effects on temperatures you get 1.5 to 4.5 C. The catastrophe came because the CO2 induced increase in temperature was enough to release methane hydrate (a hundred fold more potent greenhouse gas). That is why people are concerned about the current release of methane form melting permafrost (and fracking).

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-25/arctic-methane-could-devastate-economy3a-study/4842994

        We don’t know exactly when that would take off in an unstoppable positive feed-back loop.

  7. DeDude says:

    The underlying basic climate cycle (ignoring human interference) is for a cooler climate. Before scientist recognized the magnitude and effects of human activities on climate they naturally predicted cooling. The fact that they then instead observed a drastic warming, made them do what good scientist do – reevaluate and change/modify their models. This was the main reason that we went from a 20-80 split of scientists (with regards to warming or cooling) to all but a few jokers recognizing that human activities have been able to turn the natural trend and that we are facing substantial warming. The continued revisions to models based on new studies and insights regarding the “unexplained” part of climate fluctuations is a natural part of the scientific process. This is also why we have moved from an exclusive focus on CO2 release alone to other human activities as we try to explain the undeniable increase in global temperatures.

  8. cdwight says:

    Unfortunately, we have already passed the tipping point. If all human carbon emissions were stopped tomorrow the planet would still warm for the next 50 or 100 years. The author is just sniping at the problem with no real solution. Distributed power would be great, but its not going to solve the problem. The only way to slow or stop global warming at this point would be to inject particles into the atmosphere despite the author’s environmentalists resistance and the risks. Other than that, we can expect higher temperatures and higher sea levels. I am sitting right now in a house a 1/4 mile from the ocean that will likely be underwater a century from now.

  9. victor says:

    NB, worth opening this link: “Lovelock subsequently apologized for being too alarmist and going too far.” Also in a SPIEGEL interview, meteorologist Hans von Storch discusses how this “puzzle” might force scientists to alter what could be “fundamentally wrong” models. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-hans-von-storch-on-problems-with-climate-change-models-a-906721.html

    • DeDude says:

      Very scary. Oceans “in particular at more then 700 meters dept” absorbing more heat than predicted. Can anybody say “mass ejections of frozen methane hydrate deposits on the oceans floors”? But for those who want to be blind its “no increase in surface temperatures = nothing to worry about”. And that will off course be true until its not.

  10. Willy2 says:

    Mother Nature throws more curveballs at us. E.g. the Western US (especially the South West) is definitely warming/drying up. But this is the result of the Pacific becoming cooler (!!!). Cooler pacific waters mean less water evaporation and less clouds. The prevailing western winds push therefore less clouds inland where less rain falls.
    The Pacific was relative warm from the late 1950s up to say 2005. But now the Pacific will be cooler for at least a number of decades.

    Second curveball is the Atlantic. The Atlantic flows much faster and therefore more heat/warmth is transported to higher lattitudes. Remember a superstorm called ‘Sandy” ?

    • Willy2 says:

      And less clouds also mean that more sun shine/radiation/warmth reaches the earth’s surface. Hence rising temperatures. And southern California is actually a semi desert.