OP-ED: The Elephant in the EV Room, Part II: Why I don’t ‘Believe’ in Global Warming

JUN 1 2014 BY ASSAF ORON 73

Op-Ed:  The Elephant In The Room Part II

Op-Ed: The Elephant In The Room Part II

In Part 1,  I made the case that global warming is a main reason, and arguably the main reason why EV technology is finally getting its day in the sun. Unfortunately in American circles – still the world’s largest EV market – there is a culture of silencing and self-censorship regarding global warming, even within EV communities. Just recently there was a nice example here for how different the conversation is elsewhere: the founder of the UK’s highly effective quick-charge network has no qualms about showcasing global warming as a main motivation, both for the network and for customers. In the US people in similar positions do somersaults to avoid mentioning the issue. So the first post’s aim was to open up a space, in which one can talk about global warming with other EV fans and visitors of this site, without being set upon. The fact Post #2 is seeing the light of day, indicates at least a partial success 🙂

This second post will not talk much about EVs directly (I did sneak in one Tesla Model S eye-candy for you). Rather, it’s about the science underlying global warming. Given the topic’s contentious nature, and the style of the “debate” about it, I devote quite a bit of space for a reminder/refresher/primer about what science is and how it works. Since EV technology itself relies upon lots of science, this is not a bad conversation to have here – global warming or not.

fsd

Some Scientists Might Look Like This…Although They Better Have Safety Goggles On While Doing Lab Work (via phillipmartin.info)

The bane of global-warming perceptions in the US, is that politicians and media figures have injected so much partisanship and “He said, She said” chatter into the topic, that it comes across as purely political. It is not. Yes, What to do about global warming can become heatedly political. However, the study of global warming itself is not a political question. Rather, it is a straightforward application of scientific theory and methods.

This is why I don’t believe in global warming. Belief and faith belong in the realm of religion, ideology, etc. Global warming, OTOH, is a collection of field measurements, scientific descriptions of reality, and scientific forecasts of future natural processes – all of which are based on several rather well-established, mainstream scientific theories.

A bio note: I have a B.Sc. in physics, an M.Sc. in environmental science, and a Ph.D. in statistics. As a statistician, too, most of my work has been in collaboration with scientists on scientific research projects. FWIW, I was also raised by a pair of scientists. I am not a climate scientist. However, the components of global warming are simple enough that anyone with a science degree can understand them on a pretty good level, and explain them in to others with less background.

hgfh

This is NOT an ideology, religion, or any other type of belief system

I am not waving “Science” here as a codeword to hide behind. I am well aware that over the years there have been things calling themselves “Science” which were not. One shameful example is Eugenics, in vogue in many academic circles around the 1920s and 1930s. It turned out to be an intellectually compromised attempt to cloak racism in “Scientific” attire.

But here’s the deal. The scientific theories that indicate anthropogenic global warming is happening, are among the most plain-vanilla, settled, non-questionable science you can find. Most of these theories have been around – and have been used extensively by all of us – for ~100 years.

Here’s a list of the major components of global warming science.

  1.  The chemistry of combustion (19th Century established science) – showing that industrial society has been releasing an excess of CO2 into the atmosphere;
  2. Straightforward measurements of atmospheric concentrations (e.g., the “Keeling Curve” plotted above) – showing that natural CO2 sinks (e.g., plants) are unable to absorb all that excess CO2, and therefore concentrations have been rapidly increasing. In fact, the “Keeling Curve” has been increasing every single year since the start of measurements in 1958; (Of course, massive destruction of native forests doesn’t help either; but fossil-fuel burning remains the #1 cause.)
  3.  Calibrated reconstruction of historical and prehistorical concentrations and temperatures, mostly from ice cores (using established lab methods, relying upon, e.g., stable-isotope ratios – a theory/practice that has been mainstream since mid-20th Century) – showing that our current (and still-rapidly-increasing) CO2 levels are well beyond anything seen on Earth in the last couple of million years, since well before the Ice Ages;
  4. “Black-body” electromagnetic radiation (data known since late 19th Century; usable theory stabilized in early 20th Century, in fact Einstein got his Nobel for his contributions to this theory) – showing that the Earth’s surface emits electromagnetic radiation as a function of its temperature, with the most intense emissions being in the infrared range;
  5. Molecular absorption spectra of radiation (1st half of 20th Century, but data known before that) – showing that CO2 molecules (unlike, e.g. nitrogen and oxygen) absorb lots of infrared radiation;
  6. Heat and mass balance equations of gases and liquids (19th Cetury, although the advent of computers has revolutionized the way it is practiced and its ability to make predictions in complex systems) – showing how these phenomena play out in terms of the Earth’s overall heat budget.

This is enough to establish that anthropogenic global warming is expected, because the Earth’s ocean-atmosphere-land system has been running an ever more positive heat budget, driven mostly by the relentless increase in CO2, year over year. And since CO2 keeps rapidly increasing, we are nowhere near a new equilibrium yet.

Note that the words “Marxist Economics”, “Social Engineering”, “Stalin” or “Trotsky” are nowhere to be found in the list of scientific theories above 🙂 Rather to the contrary, all of us use these very same underlying theories, every day, in a zillion different ways, without feeling the least bit controversial.

The less-certain part of global-warming science, is the task of trying to pinpoint how, where and when global warming will be felt worse/earlier/less/later. The inherent noise of weather systems, the difficulty of calculating a single global index for the Earth’s surface temperature, the interaction with oceans (CO2 increase also causes ocean acidification, which is its own big problem, but also complicates climate predictions) – all these make exact predictions very difficult, especially since the entire system is out of balance at the moment. But this prediction task, too, is based mostly on mass and heat balance equations, mentioned above.

Recent and current field measurements of temperature and related variables, confirm that even though weather signals are noisy and difficult, global warming and other associated changes are indeed happening, pretty much as expected. In fact, generally worse than expected.

If you want to delve into more details on the scientific basis of global warming, besides the links above, here’s the National Center for Atmospheric Research. UC-San Diego’s Scripps Institute (they’re the ones who started measuring CO2 at Mauna Loa in 1958) offers this free online course on the subject. And the following link has what seems like an earlier version of this class, without videos – but also without needing to register.

Yup, the science says this trend *is* related to the one above. And scientifically speaking, this is not a controversial statement.

Yup, the science says this trend *is* related to the one above. And scientifically speaking, this is not a controversial statement.

Ok, a few words on how science works. It’s a bit tricky and not quite what we are taught in, say, middle school!

We humans have always tried to explain and predict the world around us. What sets science – a relatively recent yet wildly successful endeavor – apart from other such attempts, is science’s dogged commitment to submit ALL theories to a rigorous reality check. Any scientific theory, large or small, that demonstrably fails its reality test, is discarded to be replaced with one that fits reality better. This encourages theories that are more general, more logically coherent, more defensible. (a semi-related aside: that’s why economics is not a science; for example, economic theories proven horribly wrong by reality in the 2008 crash are still alive and well as if nothing happened…)

But this property of science, known as Falsifiability, also means that from a purist perspective, all scientific theories are by definition Wrong!!! The only question, is when and how we will find out they are wrong.

So… if all scientific theories are wrong, how can we ever use any of them ??? Obviously we do use them, right?

Ha. I guess I lied to you when I wrote scientific theories are always discarded when proven wrong. Many theories are indeed too flawed to be useful after proven wrong (stuff like “Cold Fusion” comes to mind). But some theories, are proven wrong in a way that helps define their limitations, i.e., it is understood where, when and why they fail. Moreover, it can be shown that within these limitations, the old disproven theory is still a very close approximation to the new and better theory (which is usually more complicated), making the older one still useful thanks to its simplicity.

The classic example is Newtonian mechanics, in particular Newton’s Second Law F = ma. For over 100 years now, it is known that Newton’s Laws break down as one approaches the speed of light, and also at subatomic size scales. And yet, professionals all around the world successfully use Newtonian dynamics in myriads of ways, e.g., when designing cars. In essence, we have modified Newton’s Second Law to say,

For bodies with masses much larger than an atom’s, and moving at speeds much smaller than the speed of light, F = ma is a very, very, very, very, very good and useful approximation.

Besides these “proven-wrong-but-still useful” theories, we of course have the state-of-the-science theories: theories that have been tested and accepted broadly enough, to function as our best current working description of reality. Put another way: science is the system of coming up with logically coherent, reality-tested, continually-improving approximate explanations of the natural world. While motivated by the search for the truth, science will always be imperfect, and never attain the full absolute truth, if such a thing exists.

Misrepresenting the imperfect nature of science has been a favorite tactic of anti-science type – whether their target is evolution, vaccinations or global warming (the old “It’s Only a Theory, they are still figuring it out” canard). Of course, this imperfection-by-design is part of why science works so well. Once you demand absolutely perfect knowledge of the Universe, no less – it’s a very short road to blind faith in someone who (purportedly) possesses that knowledge.

Yes, this baby was designed using science that has been demonstrably WRONG for over 100 years

Yes, this baby was designed using science that has been demonstrably WRONG for over 100 years

I wanted to end with an EV-based allegory for the ridiculous and unacceptable situation of global-warming discourse in America today (in case you’re curious, it involved Nissan Leaf range anxiety, and whether to trust what the maps show, or to say all mapmakers are conspiring to mislead us). But Jay convinced me this might sidetrack people into mud-slinging, so instead I will re-iterate the main message, with a bit of flair:

Measuring human civilization’s emissions, and figuring out how they affect the atmosphere, ocean and the climate – is all about researching natural processes and physical reality. Such tasks belong solidly in the realm of science. Now, unlike some other professions, scientists are actually pretty good at what they do. For example, it is thanks to science that our lifespan is now double what it was for our great-great-grandparents.

It is supreme folly – nay, an absolute travesty – to take an inherently scientific question, hijack it from the scientists, and hand it over to talk-show hosts, random bloggers who specialize in provocation, conspiracy-theorists, politicians and empty-headed pundits: in other words, people who cannot even do their own jobs properly, let alone contribute positively to domains outside their profession.

Why would anyone want to do that? The bitter irony is, scientists didn’t ask for this weird fight with talking heads. Anyone who knows some scientists personally, can attest that most of us tend to be shy and to avoid mixing science work with politics. This is one reason why the earlier IPCC reports were rather nuanced and muted in language. The other reason is that the uncertainty about the rate and extent of the damage was greater; however, the scientific foundation was rock-solid and straightforward from the start.

In the 1990s most climate scientists thought that just pointing out the process to society would be enough; and for a while it seemed that way. But in the 2000s the topic fell prey (like many others) to the deepening polarization in American politics, and became political football – a game in which scientists feel like fish out of water. The few among them who are more outspoken (James Hansen comes to mind) have been singled out for vicious personal attacks aiming to destroy their career and good name.

In short, it is the height of Chutzpah to claim that climate scientists are “alarmists” about global warming. So far, they have been the grownups in the room.

Neil Kudelka (The Australian) sets the record straight on 'Climate Change Alarmism'

Neil Kudelka (The Australian) sets the record straight on ‘Climate Change Alarmism’

That’s why right now, all leading scientific communities – not just climate scientists, but organizations representing ALL scientists – are practically screaming from the rooftops while tearing their (remaining) hair out in despair, trying to get people to start taking it seriously rather than yet another Sunday-morning talk-show chatter.

Here, for example, is the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Here is the US National Climate Assessment. And last but not least, here is the IPCC website.

Finally, a news flash: even ExxonMobil, which for years had bankrolled much of the attempts to produce warming-denial research (attempts that have failed spectacularly on the scientific front), does not deny global warming anymore. The outright denial position has become too untenable for any global business leader. So now they “only” say we shouldn’t do anything drastic about it, the darlings. See here for their current official view. They are not alone: recently there has been a mass realignment of many former outright-denialists towards this new “Yes it’s happening, but it’s not a big deal” frontline, from which they continue to wage the very same battle (oppose and delay action on global warming). Of course, none of these not-denying-anymore opinion shapers have bothered to inform or explain their recent shift, to the millions of good honest people who have trusted and followed them into outright denial.

In the final Part III, I will return to EVs and examine how they play out on the “What to do about global warming” front. Thank you.

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73 Comments on "OP-ED: The Elephant in the EV Room, Part II: Why I don’t ‘Believe’ in Global Warming"

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Bonaire
In a petri dish, bacteria reproduce by splitting their cells if there is enough food available. They will split cells from a small sample to 1%, 2%, … 50% of available space – while the next cell splitting cycle takes them to 100% of all available food in the petri dish. The bacteria do not know when they are at 1%, 32%, 50% but they eventually find that when they hit 100% their food sources are gone and they end up “toast”. Are we living a life leading to “toast”? We have over-fished the oceans, polluted them, turned farmland into resource-reduced land needing heavy fertilizer to raise very-hungry crops of corn and wheet which both have limited value in our diets. I guess the elephant in the room is the inability to give up convenience for future sustainability. I’ve met Michael Mann, read his hockeystick book, looked at 350.org and more. I got a solar pv array, Volt and I even turn off the lights when I leave a room. I think there is going to be serious pain in the future when 2 billion in Asia try to build a middle-class lifestyle similar to what they saw happen with… Read more »
Assaf

Bonaire hi,

Thanks for the reply, and thanks to Jay for posting this piece.

A few links fell out however. First the links to more global-warming resources.
UCSD Scripps institute free online course: https://www.coursera.org/course/4dimensions

UCSD class without videos, from 2002: http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/climatechange1/cc1syllabus.shtml

NCAR resource page: https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/news/backgrounders/hot-questions-about-climate-change

Assaf

Links to the 6 components I listed.

1. Combustion and CO2 – Elmhurst U link: http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/511natgascombust.html

2. Keeling curve – it’s just the figure appearing in the post, you can google the term.

3. Ice cores – U of Maine link: http://climatechange.umaine.edu/icecores/IceCore/Ice_Core_101.html

4. Black-body radiation – U of Virginia link: http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/classes/252/black_body_radiation.html

5. CO2 absorption spectrum – NIST link: http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/cbook.cgi?ID=C124389&Type=IR-SPEC&Index=1

6. Heat and mass balance equations – Michigan Tech link: http://www.cee.mtu.edu/~reh/courses/ce251/251_notes_dir/node3.html.

Clif

I come to insideevs.com to read about EVs not anyone’s opinion of global warming or climate change. Everybody has a right to their own opinion, just post it on a website that is pertinent to the topic. Like me, I think the author lost folks when he felt it necessary to tell everyone about his educational prowess.

Assaf

…and if it wasn’t for global warming and massive worldwide awareness and action to mitigate it – you would have far, far less to read about EVs right now.

Which was the point of post #1. I’ve been rather clear that the present post does not talk about EVs directly. You are welcome to skip it with or without protest, but IMHO is still necessary as a logical bridge between the first and last one that do talk about EVs.

Anon

+1

GSP

+2

GSP

Brian

1) You don’t have to read every article on this site (heaven knows there are plenty to choose from thanks to the enthusiast, prolific writers here!)

2) You missed the entire point of the article – Global Warming is not a matter of “opinion”. It is hard science.

3) The author was noting his educational background not to brag or show off. He did it to lend credence to the entire article. This was not written by some ambitious high school student who has a moderate interest in climate science. It was written by a studied scientist/mathmatician with extensive academic background to do so.

Francisco

+1
Yes, exactly. I was going to say that’s called establishing your credentials. Contrast with all the “doctors” writing “scientific” books about creationism.

Alfred Balitzer
The author of this piece knows not what he writes. “He states: I made the case that global warming is a main reason, and arguably the main reason why EV technology is finally getting its day in the sun. Unfortunately in American circles – still the world’s largest EV market – there is a culture of silencing and self-censorship regarding global warming, even within EV communities.” To the contrary, global warming is a topic amongst politicians and civic activists, corporations, teachers and religious leaders throughout the country. It is a matter of debate but it is out there and comes close to dominating public discussion of key issues. As for his nonsense that the theory of global warming is a settled matter and for which data exists for 100 years, I recall learning at an early state in my education that a theory is the best accounting we have at a given moment explaining two or more data sets, but is not an absolute or final truth but a temporary explanation, awaiting other explanations in the future. In the early twentieth century the adherents of Newton protested Einstein’s theory of relativity on grounds that Newtonian theories of gravitation and the… Read more »
Assaf

Alfred,

I am scratching my head as to whether you’ve actually read my post, in particular the part about how science works.

Since you provide Newtonian vs. relativity, I am willing to wager you didn’t because that’s precisely the example I gave. At low enough speeds and large enough masses, Newtonian mechanics *are* settled science for all practical purposes.

According to your logic, we should *never* use science because it is *never* perfectly settled. Let’s get rid of all cars then, electric or not.

Science is imperfect by design and that’s part of what makes it so useful.

As George E.P. Box said: Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Alfred Balitzer

Science does not dwell in the realm of “for all practical purposes .” That’s the realm of common sense. There is a distinction as you know between theory and practice. Sound principles of practice recommend using resources judiciously and observing sound environmental practices as, for example, limiting the pollution of the air we breathe and the water we drink. On these grounds electric vehicles make for a fun driving experience and an investment in our common well-being. For these reasons my son and I have each purchased a BMW i3. But to make the leap into theory, which is always open ended–in which the true advancement of science is to be found–is to open science to the corruption of politics and the distortion of persons with an agenda of one kind or another.

Unplugged

Balitzer – I always read with suspicion when someone starts out his response with, “The guy doesn’t know what he is talking about.” I say, let the reader make that conclusion based upon your response.

And based upon your response, I am more inclined to think you don’t know what your’re talking about. Specifically, your claim that global warming is not settled science. That is simply not true. The few outliers in the scientific community provide less of a percentage than quacks in the medical profession. Sure, any profession has its quacks, but there must be very few in environmental science.

George Bower

As Assaf says it is a simple matter of CO2 into the atmosphere minus CO2 absorbed by the earth.

The earths oceans and forests can only absorb so much. If you swamp the input stream to such high values as compared to how fast the earth absorbs the CO2 it just builds up.

It’s pretty simple really. I don’t quite understand how people can deny such a simple easy to understand principle.

Anyway. Arguing about wehther it is really happening is a waste of time. The only discussion worth having is what to do about it.

BTW we will get a big announcement from the EPA on Monday on new power plant CO2 limits.

Stay tuned.

Thx for the article Assaf.

Assaf

Thanks George!

As to whether it’s worth talking about whether it’s happening or not, I think it’s actually a good teachable moment as to how science works and how it differs from other human pursuits.

I believe the vast majority of those indifferent to, or even denying global-warming science, are good honest people who – if given the space to do so (in terms of social setting, etc.) would generally trust the scientists more than the fishy types who peddle science-denial.

Just like most people do on, e.g., medicine. But the case, and the plea to listen to scientists, needs to be made.

Of course, “what to do about it” is of prime importance. But – vis-a-vis the upcoming coal plant standard revision – steps in the right direction will be much easier to take, if the public atmosphere around global-warming science changes from partisan-polarized to generally supportive.

Anon

Ah, something we finally agree on. 🙂

David Murray

OK… Here’s the problem with this entire OP-ED piece. It is too long. Anyone who claims global warming is false is not going to waste their time reading this entire article. Unfortunately, just like with things like evolution, some types of science is just too difficult for people to grasp from a 5 minute conversation or from reading 3 pages of information on the internet. And since they like their ideology the way it is, they aren’t going to want spend a lot of time reading a lengthy text explaining why they are wrong.

I actually believe and understand in global warming, and even I wasn’t able to make it more than half-way through the article.

Assaf

David hi,

Points well-taken.

The article’s primary target audience is not a hard-core science denying contingent. Rather the people I had in mind are

a. Those stuck in the middle and preferring not to approach the subject because it’s so “political”

b. Those accepting the science, but lacking resources/explanations to handle questions and confrontations over it.

For sure, this single and long-ish post (at a certain pt I wanted it split in 2 as well, but Jay said we can only afford 1 post in this series that doesn’t address EVs directly) will not be the end-all be-all answer for all such readers.

But hopefully it will help some people, here and there 🙂

Happy rest of your Sunday,

Assaf

David Murray

OK, thanks for clarifying.

Unplugged

Mr. Murray – I don’t think this article was aimed at global warming deniers. Ninety-five percent of those deniers haven’t actually read anything about global warming. They just deny its truth without knowledge. Others, such as Mr. Balitzer above, read a bit, but then claim that the whole thing is contrived by biased scientists looking for grant money. Or there are those (Balitzer) who claim that the two percent of scientists who oppose the global warming truth make the issue unsettled. This is a convenient crutch on which to oppose global warming. Find a few quack scientists who oppose it and then use that as evidence that global warming is a disputed issue.

This article was aimed at providing knowledge to those who want a further understanding of the science behind the truth. The deniers will continue because in one way or another, it supports their need to hide their heads in the sand.

Open-Mind

“Ninety-five percent of those deniers haven’t actually read anything about global warming. ”

What scientific survey generated that statistic? I ask, because it sounds made up.

Also the overuse of the word “deniers” (usually directed at anyone interested in debate) makes global warming sound like a religion.

Anon

Are anti-vaxers considered a cult, since there is no single established finding that vaccines actually cause autism? Examples of twisted pseudo-science are everywhere. Perhaps willful ignorance is but a fad with our current political conservative’s folly? I certainly hope do, as ignorance certainly flourishes aplenty in the popular conservative press; but quite rarely in academic circles concerning climate change and an anthropogenic causality. Power to those who can think and reason rationally for themselves. Oh wait…

We’re doomed. Doomed I say. 🙁

Scott Franco

%36 percent of statistics are just made up on the spot.

Assaf

37% including yours 🙂

Francisco

Debate? What is the point of debating something that is already established as fact? By definition, if someone is debating the existence of GW, then he or she is a denier. No?

Marc

+1. YES, agreed 100%.

Open-Mind

I think it’s worth asking whether the 100-year “hockey stick” graph is accurate. I think it is probably not accurate based on this study of most US surface temperature stations:

http://surfacestations.org/

That study shows (with photos) that most of the stations are positioned next to parking lots, air conditioners, transformers, and other artificial heat sources that did not exist 100 years ago. The stations have also been refinished with paint (instead of whitewash) that absorbs more heat. As a result, most are reading a few degrees higher than they would have read 100 years ago. That’s more than enough to account for the hockey stick.

Assaf

Are you suggesting that climate scientists are too stupid to figure that out?

The increase in CO2 concentrations is very real, very steep, and unprecedented in Humanity’s history. That’s the main driver here.

Open-Mind

I’m not suggesting they are stupid. I’m suggesting they are corrupt.

Please provide any evidence that the study has been taken into account. You won’t be able to, because your “scientists” will not even acknowledge that study, much less show how any correction was applied. Most AGW protagonists don’t even know about that study.

Assaf

@Open-mind, thank you for clarifying things.

As my post says, this weird “debate” is taking place between scientists on one hand, and conspiracy-theorists and hacks on the other hand.

Once this becomes crystal clear – and I hope over the next few months it does – we can all venture to guess which way the chips will fall.

Anon

Corrupt scientists… Unlike human activities like religions or politics, the very process of conducting science, makes it self correcting over time. Dogma eventually dissolves, and the unpleasant peer reviewed facts remain.

After 100 years of vetting data on this topic / issue alone isn’t enough to convince you of some unsavory climate future, or even reasonably short term environmental consequences for using the very thin atmosphere of this planet like a landfill for carbon and other heat-trapping molecules– then you’re just not too bright.

You can’t teach a dumb dog, new tricks.

Marc

Very well said sir! I guess “Open-Mind” needs to revisit that nickname…

Nix
Open-Mind (M) – Actually, all you’ve accomplished is to prove you’ve never read any of the primary source material regarding global temperature studies. Because all the major leaders in research (NOAA, NASA, the Department of Energy, etc) have all adjusted for “islanding” for decades. Climatologists have been aware of UHI since the early 1800’s, and have been using scientifically proven formulas to adjust for it ever since then. The reason you don’t know that this is already in the data, is that you don’t know enough about the data to actually know what is in it. Pointing you to the data won’t help, because you won’t read it. Heck, this very short blog was deemed “too long to read”, much less hundreds of pages of primary source studies. But I’m certain that now you’ve denied that the data contains adjustments for Islanding, you will come back right next and deny something else about the UHI adjustments. You will completely ignore the fact that you were wrong in claiming it wasn’t already in the data, and come back and claim there is something wrong with the science — even though you just got done incorrectly denying the adjustments even existed. Or… Read more »
Nelson

” other artificial heat sources that did not exist 100 years ago”

Ding, ding, ding… give that man a prize.
In 2010 there were 1.015 billion motor vehicles in use in the world.

NPNS! SBF!
Volt#671

Gene Frenkle

Great column. The primary problem with climate change action is that it involves changing human behavior, so you actually need to include “fake” social scientists into the discussion. As a historian I can tell you that having major carbon spewers like Al Gore or President Obama (when he became a multimillionaire in 2005 the first two things he bought were a car with a V-8 and a 6,200 square foot house) preach about climate change you will have a backlash.

My advice to people who feel strongly about climate change would be that they devote their energy to creating new technologies like EVs, solar panels, more efficient air conditioners, etc., and do not preach to anybody!

Assaf

Ok, I get it…. If only President Obama lived in a dark cave and walked everywhere, then all the 70-year-old Southern white racists would eagerly listen to him and fulfill his wishes.

Once again, since global warming is not a religion, this is not about “preaching” or about who is the “preacher” (yet another overused distraction) – but about getting people to first accept reality, then move forward to addressing it, inconvenient as that may be.

Gene Frenkle

The reality is is that President Obama, like most Americans, simply does not believe in doing anything about climate change! I bet Al Gore has never taken Megabus from LA to SF even though it barely emits any carbon on a per passenger basis. He doesn’t take it because he believes saving several hours of his time by flying is worth spewing more carbon. People like Gore and Obama refuse to make even the tiniest sacrifice for climate change–which I can tell you as a social scientist is consistent with human nature.

I like how you think Obama’s only options in 2005 were living in a cave or buying a 6,200 square foot house with a felon’s help. Also, he could either buy a Chrysler 300 or walk (Democratic politicians do have to buy American cars). Face it, Obama doesn’t believe in making personal sacrifices based on the dire predictions of climate change activists just like most Americans–because if he did he would have bought a 3000 square foot condo near an L or Metra station!

Spec9

Yeah, you can’t win the haters.

If you fly and have a big house, they’ll call you a hypocritical jerk that is not practicing what you preach.

If you reduce your flying and live in a small house, they’ll say you want everyone to walk everywhere and live in “hobbit homes”.

Nonsense. It is just about doing simple practical things. Install lots of wind turbines. Put solar PV on your roof. Drive an electric car. Severely reduce coal burning. Instituted a REVENUE NEUTRAL carbon fee. Put a tariff on imported goods that are not doing these things.

Doing these things will severely reduce carbon emissions, reduce nasty toxins in the air (like mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, etc.), improve the economy by reducing oil imports, create millions of jobs (solar PV, wind turbine installation, efficiency, smart grids, etc.), etc.

You won’t have to significantly change your life style and it won’t crash the economy.

Gene Frenkle

Yes, because 6,200 foot houses in Chicago are so practical!?! Especially when you need the help of a felon to buy the house. The houses in the Chicago suburbs featured in John Hughes’ movies aren’t even 6,200 square feet!! Obama is not a hypocrite, he just clearly does not believe in the dire predictions of climate change activists…his behavior is consistent with human nature.

As a social scientist I can tell activists are doing much more harm than good by preaching to people…especially when activists are not even happy with fracking that has actually reduced emissions!?! Let me put it in stark terms–Senator Inhofe has done more to slow global warming than Al Gore…and I voted for Gore in 2000! Inhofe is more deserving of the Nobel Prize than Gore.

Marc

Careful with that fracking analogy. Extensive studies that are still being conducted to analyze residual unburned natural gas (which escapes during fracking processes) and measure the leak rates of such gasses.

Sadly, it appears that this unburned gas actually contributes a LOT more to the greenhouse effect than the gain of burning natural gas vs. petrol. Fracking companies will tell you the leak rate is very low (~1%) but it turns out it’s a LOT higher (>10%). For reference, if the leak rate is 3%, there is NO benefit to burning natural gas vs. petrol 🙁

vdiv

Cosmos tonight will be on this topic. Not expecting to hear about EVs, but remain hopeful.

offib

It is impressive, I saw a recent clip on that. Just him walking his dog ont he beach that’s zig-zaggin across while Neil deGrasse Tyson walked in a straight line. I did not know what on earth that was about or what was oing to happen until they represented the wandering dog as the fluctuating weather while Neil was resmebing the predictable climate. To be honest, with a show that well put together, simple to understand and largely broadcasted, I’m surprised that it has still recieved plenty of stubborn deniers, conservatives and conspiracy theorists, hacking away at Twitter whever it talks about the Big Bang and Evolution (religion in their opinon) or about Climate Change.

I should really get into the habbit of watching it.

Anon

It’s a brilliant series, and I’m glad Neil is layin’ the science smack-down using the heart of the US conservative propaganda machine of willful ignorance– Fox.

Eat science, you gun toting, bible thumpin’ rednecks! 😉

Spec9

Cosmos is AWESOME. A hearty thanks to the foul-mouthed obnoxious comedian with a heart, Seth McFarlane, for putting this show together.

I’ve already got the Blu-Ray set on order.

Marc

You guys should also check out “Years of living dangerously”, a showtime docu-series still being produced with 6 episodes already released.

offib
What a great read. I’m afraid that I don’t have much to add here. When it comes to politics, I was reminded of something I’ve read recently in the past 2 weeks from deGrasse Tyson. “Climate change has taken on political dimensions…That’s odd because I don’t see people choosing sides over E = mc2 or other fundamental facts of science.” It’s pretty much what you said in your third paragraph. It is an annoyance to see such a crock-full of bull on a discussion on Climate Change on Sky News or the BBC. There’s always at least one economist or more given an abundance of time while the one person with some credible answers who gets interrupted and is labled a bully. I see similar opposition on small news sites (the Journal). On the discussion with the infamous protests in the little fishing town of Bellmullet against Shell Oil. ie. The Corrib Gas Project, going on since 2005. Among the comments were rethced, throwing insults at certain protestors, calling them alarmists, wasters, attention seekers, etc, etc. Compplaining how the protestors shouldn’t get in the way with people’s jobs (Most of the jobs are from private security firms, actuall drilling construction… Read more »
offib

I knew they’ll be a few hiccups in a message that long. Just fix that “warm day in Winter” to cold.

But anyway, Assaf, I was greatly impressed with this!

Assaf

Thanks offib!

I should probably sit to watch the DeGrasse Tyson Cosmos show. For some reason I thought it was on cable (which we don’t have) – but it’s available online anyway… no excuses.

Will find a time to see it with the kids.

Cheers, Assaf

Jeff D

From my point of view as an average American, the problem with the global warming science that we tend to hear about continues to focus on does it exist or not, as was nicely illustrated in the Neil Kudelka cartoon. The people that accept this science are ready to move on to the next step and the people that don’t are not likely to change their minds any time soon. All we keep hearing is nothing is being done even though most people I know are trying to do something and would like more science on how effective what they are doing is. Or are the things they are doing actually doing harm. One example is the paper vs. plastic debate. It wouldn’t be an issue if people didn’t care. Many people want to do more but don’t want to go bankrupt to do it. They also don’t want to spend a bunch of money doing something to help the environment only to find out that they money would have been better spent on something else more effective.

Assaf
Jeff, Here’s my 2 cents re your comment. 1. IMHO the warming-denial position is crumbling as we speak. We tend to have short political memories. To take an example from a completely different realm, who remembers now that in 2004 gay marriage was a winning issue for Republicans, and even in 2008 the pro-equality forces could not win a referendum in freakin’ California? Politicians like to pick wedge issues and ride them till they die on them. Gay marriage was good for a few years, then Obamacare, and so on… so they’ve jumped on global warming for a few years, but the ride is pretty much over. 2. You have a point that there’s a lot of talk about the half-empty part of the glass (to be fair, it’s probably more than half empty). And yes some aspects of technology are not a clear-cut case; even on EVs there are many environmentalists who are skeptical it helps (more on that in the next post). But there’s plenty of stuff to do that’s pretty clear, there’s no need for someone to tell you. A rather straightforward guideline is just to consume less energy and resources. After all, no society in human… Read more »
Anton Wahlman

It is not possible to take any of this nonsense remotely seriously until I see these high priests of telling everyone how to live their lives, to stop flying private jets. Once I see non-military private jet flights ended, I will listen to a discussion about cars.

Anon

What a dumb set of self-prescribed criteria to allow decades of collaborating data to filter into the realm of “will cease being willfully ignorant”, to occur…

Douglas

Anton is right. I also refuse to believe in electricity until my utility lowers its rates. I also refuse to wear clothes until Lady Gaga stops wearing hood ornaments. I also haven’t believed that fire is real since my home burned down and refuse to do so until it stops insisting on being so hot. Anton and I have it all figured out. The rest of you are all fools.

Scott Franco
Two graphs, carbon content and averge temperature. Aaaaaand the problem is that one of them stopped trending upwards: https://www2.ucar.edu/climate/faq/how-much-has-global-temperature-risen-last-100-years http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/ http://climate.nasa.gov/interactives/warming_world Its been flat since about 2000. Its hard to tell, because most published graphs gog back a looong ways, like 100 years or more, mainly because if you only graph 50 years, then you get a really unfortunate flat spot in the last 10 years. Go to 100 or more and it does not look noticeable anymore. See for example your own graph in this article. In fact, this flat spot is getting to be more and more of an “inconvenient truth”. The global warming crowd hopes it picks up again, and are predicting that this halt in global warming is just a temporary leveling off. Humm. So lets run it back now. The atmosphere used to be mostly carbon in the form of carbon monoxide. The plants *loved* that, and went wild, multiplied and produced *tons* of oxygen, a pollutant to (to them). I’m sure the plant scientists of the day warned of the coming apocalypse. So today, we have people quoting 100 years of data, when (by coincidence), we have just celebrated the 100th year anniversary of… Read more »
Assaf

Scott,

I will ask you the same one-sentence question I’ve asked before.

Do you really think all climate scientists are idiots?

Thanks, Assaf

scott franco

I think people bend their thoughts to their agenda. The anti-frac movement is a great example. Fracing is delivering natural gas in great quantities, and offers an interim solution to the issue, reducing carbon pollution immediately.

But it isn’t “pure” enough for the greens, and worse, is has the possible side effect that people might like that solution and be happy with it, thus (in the green mind) slowing the adaption of “real” solutions like solar or other renewables.

Thus, the greens feel the need to fight against what is a perfectly reasonable and immediate solution. Irrational behavior from rational thought.

Marc

Scott, read my post above RE: fracking. It’s actually creating more greenhouse effect (due to leakage of unburned natural gas) than burning coal or petrol.
If you’re too lazy to read the data in details, watch episode 6 of ShowTime’s “years of living dangerously” docu-series.

Francisco

Fracking also has the “possible side effect” of causing widespread seismic instability and ground water contamination, and host of other maladies.

“Real” solutions? Just as with conventional coal and oil, gas is a fossil fuel and is finite, regardless of new technologies for extracting it. So no, it isn’t a “real” solution. Solar is in fact renewable, and essentially infinite, so yes, it is fundamentally different, and is a “real” solution.

zoe-driver

Hi folks. Just a point from europe. We had Peak-Oil in 2001. Until then we are now in th 80s from Oil production. EU is actually around 80% dependent from external countries. We all hope that these countries love to deliver oil, very cheap to europe.
60% of this oil is been used in transportation. This is beside any warming/colding very urgent here. And Ukraine is VERY close.

BTW: The EIA has just cut the largest US shale oil field in California production rate by 96% a week ago.

Enough arguments for an electric car.

Scott Franco

Correction: The EIA cut the “estimate of recoverable oil” in California.

See:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/21/eia-monterey-shale-idUSL1N0O713N20140521

Loboc

Earth will stabilize itself. There is no guarantee that she will stabilize in support of humans.

I’m all for this flawed generalization that excess (is it really excess?) CO2 is causing climate change. Because if we move to reduce CO2 emissions we also are moving to less emissions of other nasty compounds.

I prefer to breathe clean air.

Red HHR

Yes, the sky will be blue the grass will be green. The ocean will be a most beautiful turquoise green.
/sitting at a Tiki bar on the ocean in the Bahamas

Nelson

“Rather, it’s about the science underlying global warming.”

Why do so many smart people overlook the heat emitted by combustion engines as a contributor to global warming?

“The U.S. publisher Ward’s, estimate that in 2010 there were 1.015 billion motor vehicles in use in the world. This figure represents the number of cars; light, medium and heavy duty trucks; and buses, but does not include off-road vehicles or heavy construction equipment.
This was a jump from 980 million the year before. “
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/23/car-population_n_934291.html

How much heat do scientists think 1 billion running combustion engines release into the atmosphere daily? When they figure that out they might solve global warming.

Let’s not even consider how much oxygen is used daily during the combustion process of this 1.015 billion vehicle giant or what that lack of oxygen does to the climate and human health.

I’m not a scientist, but during my studies in Mechanical Engineering I learned to leave no stone unturned. The cause of one problem can come from a combination of many factors.

NPNS! SBF!
Volt$671

Red HHR

I have always wondered how many but’s are put out by our activities. Yes we create climate change when we burn a gallon of gas. Do we produce a small amount of global warming when we toast our bread with power from the Hoover Dam?

Red HHR

BTU,s
Darn auto correct.

Nelson

I predict BTU output of every manufacturing process and daily activity will be carefully scrutinized in the future when all the polar ice has melted. Why the future and not today? Because of there are so many people who think why worry today for something I won’t be around to experience. In other words selfishness and greed. Car companies, energy companies, coal mining companies ….etc, are making money destroying the planet for future generations.

NPNS! SBF!
Volt#671

Red HHR

From this article I was hoping for another reason for electronic vehicles other than the carbon in the atmosphere reason. There are two other very compelling reasons.

No name calling. Two other reasons.

Spec9

I hope this image comes through . . .

Spec9

Ack! How do I get images to show up?

Spec9

Well here is the link:

Red HHR

Pretty good reply. Now where are the world’s tallest buildings, and what built them.

Spec

So wouldn’t we be wise to stop sending them our money?

Red HHR

That is what I say!